I’m blessed with many friends who know I love to explore different foods, and it is also from suggestions of these friends that I manage to experience all these different places documented in this spot on the interweb.
But even better than suggestions though, is when friends brought me to the source of food – like during my last work trip to Kota Kinabalu, May picked me up and took me to this place by the name of Sabah Keratang.
Restoran Sabah Keratang, Kota Kinabalu
Keratang is the local name for Giant Garupa – the largest bony fish that offshore Sabah. While there’s a misconception that giant garupa is just normal garupa that grew old and huge, it is actually an entirely separate species of garupa that can grow to half a tonne and has distinctively thicker skin.
Unlike full fledged seafood restaurants like Welcome Seafood, Salut Seafood, New Gaya, or fish noodle places like Fatt Kee, Taukefish, Sabah Keratang wedged itself pretty much right in the middle, offering fish noodle soup, fried rice or noodle with garupa, and a selection of seafood and other dishes to go with rice.
three dishes for two hungry souls
Over the dinner for two, we ordered a garupa soup (RM 30 for small), 3-in-1 seafood (RM 29.50 for small), and vegetable (RM 10) with a couple plates of steamed rice.
The garupa soup was as good as any seafood noodle places, with tomato and salted vegetable tofu soup base that compliments the fatty nature of the garupa meat with its thick skin. Portion was rather healthy as well even though this was a supposed to be a “small” one.
the giant garupa skin, check it out!
The 3-in-1 seafood came with prawns, squid, and of course, giant garupa slices. This turned out to be our favorite dish, the seafood was fresh and super tasty, and while it was slightly on the saltier side, with steamed rice it was perfect. I love it.
As for the vege, it wasn’t anything to shout about, not anywhere near the Kundasang sort of vegetable I enjoy.
Overall though, I thought Sabah Keratang is definitely a worthy place for a meal if you find yourself at Kota Kinabalu.
On my last trip to Sabah for work, Ben, as usual, brought me to one of those special food places where tourist business isn’t one of their aims. The place is called Taukefish Recipe, a restaurant with a rather peculiar set up that you’d think it is some sort of a joke.
Tauke Fish at Kota Kinabalu
The restaurant is converted from a house located at the deep end of a small kampung a stone’s throw away from the airport. While they have put up signboards leading to the eatery, they are about as tiny as half a piece of A4 paper, just to ensure that no one would ever notice it, but at the same time big enough to serve as a confirmation that you’re on the right track.
Secondly, the restaurant isn’t opened for business at all time. Ben mentioned that it is always best to call in prior, as the boss tend to only open for business when he could procure top quality fresh fish. Sounds good to me.
giant garupa fish meehun, only the freshest
Our lunch was their signature giant garupa fish meehun, served in typical Sabah style tomato broth (not entirely unlike the version at Fatt Kee), with a couple homemade fried fish balls, tomato, and salted vegetable. The meehun used here is also of the slightly thicker variety which does a good job of soaking up those broth a little bit more readily.
The portion of fish is certainly generous and of the best quality I’ve sampled from anywhere. They’re cooked just so you get to taste the natural sweetness of the seafood, perfect execution. If you like to spice things up, they also offer 2-3 different types of chili sauce to pick from.
you can almost smell the freshness from the photo
The taste and freshness of fish is definitely key to the existence of this place. If you’re at KK and love your seafood, this is a place to check out. Prices are definitely on the high side at over RM 30+ per bowl, but if you’re more than willing to pay such prices for some sushi, why not these?
The one food that you absolutely must try when in Sabah is of course, their seafood. Situated by South China Sea, Kota Kinabalu is blessed with some of the best the ocean has to offer.
And when it comes to KK seafood, the locals definitely have their own list of restaurants they prefer – Welcome Seafood at Penampang is one of those places.
Welcome Seafood, at Penampang, Sabah
The restaurant is situated some 10 KM away from the city at this place called Fu Guan Industrial Centre. Parking can be a bit of a challenge especially on weekends as the place is almost always packed with locals looking for a good meal.
Modus operandi here isn’t too different from many other seafood restaurants – pick your fresh catch or live seafood, weigh them, and get the restaurant to prepare them in the cooking method of your choice.
clams, fresh shrimps, and steamed jewel garupa
Since it was just Ben and myself, we were pretty modest on our visit. We had live clams with leek and onion, steamed live prawns, and a portion of steamed deep sea jewel garupa with soya sauce.
When the seafood is of good quality, you want the preparation method to be as simple as possible to bring out the natural sweetness.
the coconut jelly is a must order too
True to Welcome Seafood and Sabah’s reputation, the meal was absolutely top notch. The seafood was fresh, and the value offered was very very hard to beat, all those for RM 124.00.
If you’re there, be sure to leave some stomach space for their coconut jelly too!
On our Mt. Kinabalu Hiking trip, we took the opportunity to dine at perhaps the most popular Kadazan restaurant in town on the last day of our visit. The reason is simple, D’Place is located at Kepayan Perdana, which is just a few minutes away from KK International Airport, most strategic place for dinner prior to flying back since KK traffic can get quite horrific and requires a bit of management at times.
Update 28/11/2016: Moved to 2.01&2.02 2nd floor, Plaza Shell, from 12/12/2016
D’Place Kinabalu, a short drive from KK Air Port
The restaurant itself is easy to miss if you’re not familiar with the area as it is actually located on upper floor and does not have very visible signage from the most common angles. Alas, we found it, and fortunately parking isn’t too big of a hassle.
Haze and I had the pleasure of having my colleagues Kelly & Zureen joined us for dinner, which made the occasion that much better.
part of Kadazan Set A
D’Place serves no pork, and while you can order each dishes separately, most people ended up with their sets.
We ordered Set A, Set B, and Gulu Gulu Set to be shared among the four of us. Each of the sets are priced at RM 20.90 and comes with a free traditional drink.
These are what the sets have:
Bambangan Om Tuhau
Ikan Masin Masak Lada Putih
Sambal Ikan Masin
Set B is the same thing but with Basungan Guring in replacement of Pinasakan Bangusan
pinasakan basungan, linopot, sayur kampung etc
The Gulu Gulu Set has the following:
Bosou/Nonsom Sada (fermented fish with rice)
1 Sup Pinasakan
Ikan Masin Asam Limau
Jantung Pisang Tumis
this is the gulu gulu set
Feel free to google on what these funny words mean and what the ingredients actually are. They mostly tastes slightly salty and sometimes slightly gamey though not in a bad way. The sambal was most excellent, and we did enjoy the various preparation of smallish fishes that went well with the rice served.
It was an certainly an interesting experience but at the same time it’s not difficult to see why the cuisine does not gain wide spread popularity. Personally I prefer Sinalau Bakas anytime.
Zureen, Kelly, KY, Haze
One thing that I do regret not trying is the sago worms (butod). You can have it here either alive or deep fried at RM 12.90 for 8 pieces. Since this is a delicacy in Kadazan cuisine, I’ll make sure I do that the next time!
Address: D’Place Kapayan Perdana Lot E36-2 Block E, Kepayan Perdana Commercial Centre, Jalan Cybercity, 88200 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah GPS: 5.919138, 116.062750
Address: D’Place Kapayan Perdana 2.01&2.02 2nd floor, Plaza Shell
29, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu, 88000 Kota Kinabalu
GPS:5.977140, 116.074755 Tel: 016-833 2381
After getting down from the Mt. Kinabalu climb, we decided that the best course of rehab from all that physical exertion was spending a few nights at Kundasang. The area is close to 2000 meters above sea level with temperature that’s about 10-20 celsius, and a scenery worthy of postcards, so why not?
The only thing left to do then is, where do we go for dinner?
best non-halal meal to have near Kinabalu Park or Kundasang
So we consulted our mountain guide and they came up with the suggestion for 89 Station, which is conveniently located only about a kilometer from Kinabalu Park entrance, and coincidentally, also pretty close to our hotel – Nik Gold (which was an “ok” place to stay.)
89 Station is one of the few places that offers “tai chao” style dishes that features quite a variety of dishes, including wild boar, deer, ostrich, and more.
black pepper ostrich, clay pot beancurd, fish maw soup
The menu came in the form of a giant blackboard on the wall, and the server is pretty well-versed in Mandarin, Cantonese, English, and probably several other languages.
We went there twice for dinner, tried 5 dishes in total, including black pepper ostrich, clay pot beancurd, fish maw soup, wild boar with salted egg yolk, and yau mak vegetable. Prices are pretty reasonable at RM 10-15 per dish and portion is rather big as well (which is why we ordered only two dishes 2nd time around)
wild boar with salted egg, yau mak
Most importantly though, the quality of food is well above average. One thing though, if you haven’t had vegetables from Kundasang, you absolutely have to, they are crunchy, sweet, and really come close to those fancy imported Japanese produce you’d find in up class restaurants in KL.
The restaurant opens from about 9 or 10 am till 8pm (it gets dark much earlier in Sabah), so give it a try if you’re around the area.
Address: 89 Station Restaurant AH 150 Highway (1 km from Kinabalu Park Entrance) Kundasang, 89308 Sabah GPS: 5.999966, 116.546559 Tel: 08-888 1300