My day job brings me to Kota Kinabalu quite often these days, which is a bit of a blessing when it comes to work travel as this North Borneo city does offer a full package of beautiful ocean & beaches, the magnificent mount KK, and a host of rather unique hawker dishes not easily found this side of Klang Valley. I’m also particularly blessed to have friends who would bring me to explore these places.
Kedai Kopi Wah Juan, Kota Kinabalu
During my last visit, I had to go offshore for a short stint. For Sabah, that meant using the old Terminal 2 at BKI airport (who has flown Air Asia flight via this side before?). On my return trip, my friend Yann May picked me up and we decided to stopped by this rather busy looking kopitiam located by Tanjung Aru, between Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 of the airport.
As it turned out, this was the famous Kedai Kopi Wah Juan that offers mixed pork (or pork offal) noodle which if I remember correctly, is an addiction of a friend who claimed to eat clean otherwise.
our lunch spread for two
We ended up ordering a plate of noodle with roast & bbq pork (as the lady doesn’t eat pork offal, WHYY!?), a bowl of beef ball soup, a plate of noodle with pork offal, and an additional small plate of pork offal.
Well, the result? It was awesome!
Can’t say much about those BBQ & roast pork, but the pork offal was on point, soft, flavorful, and properly braised to perfection. In addition, the home made noodle were superb as well, subtle in taste which compliments the other ingredients, and soaks up those sauce just nice. The beef ball soup too did not disappoint, and would be something I order again.
If I had to nitpick, they could do with slightly better chili paste, that’s about it.
I think I’ve just found my favorite restaurant at Kota Kinabalu for dinner, and yes, it does have seafood like any other “tai chao” places in Sabah, but no, it’s not one of your typical big seafood restaurants in North Borneo.
Of course, we’re talking about Tung Fong Seafood at Inanam.
steamed garupa, fish lips, paku pakis with sambal
For those who aren’t familiar with this area, Inanam is located about 10 km away from KK city center, and you’ll be right to say that this area is mostly frequented by only by locals, Chinese or Korean tourists can’t be found here.
The restaurant is pork free, and they have their menu hooked up on the wall ala billboard style for your convenience (see below). While carrying a variety of typical Chinese taichao dishes, the claim of fame for Tung Fong is their fish dishes.
You basically pick the type of fish/seafood you want – from garupa, green wrasse, giant garupa, sea carp, to fish lips, innards, and sea cucumber; then pair it with the preparation method of your choice – braised, onion ginger, scallion oil, rice wine, or black bean.
braised, steamed, or lips?
I’ve already been to this place three times on the past three trips to the city.
Had two different types of garupa as well as the rather interesting fish lips. The fish here are so, so, so good! Fresh, flavorful, and prepared with seasoning that doesn’t take away the natural flavor of these seafood. They’re simply addictive.
the other accompanying dishes were good too
The vegetable dish here are typical of Sabah standard, sweet, crunchy, and fresh. They also serve a side of tomato soup as standard, and these tasted pretty much like Fatt Kee’s fish noodle soup.
If you’re at Sabah, do yourself a favor and check this place out. Expect to spend some RM 30-40 per pax for some good seafood.
Following my only dive trip at Pulau Kapas back in 2017, I actually managed another underwater excursion in October 2018 while on a work trip to Kota Kinabalu that involved staying over the weekends.
Since this is still a blog documenting my travel & food adventures, here’s the short entry to serve as sort of an online dive-log of mine. Do check out the short video I made using the Olympus TG-Trekker, which since died after that trip for reasons unknown (I gotta call the service center, been weeks!)
Anyway, back to the trip.
Kota Kinabalu is a great city to live in if you love to go underwater. The jetty heading out to the islands is conveniently located just a few minute’s drive from the city center. In fact, you can realistically walk there.
a lousy day out diving is better than any day at the office!
The dive trip itself was arranged by Yann May with the local guide (Johny), and during this trip we were the only two divers, which made for a relaxing trip that doesn’t involved being hurried or having to wait for others.
You can get a 3-dive package for RM 250-300 or so around here, usually with a meal thrown in.
While visibility wasn’t the best during our dives, they were relaxing, and we did see a few eagle rays (first minute of first dive!), some clown fish, cleaning shrimps, starfish, pencil fish, lion fish, puffer fish, and more, mostly documented in the video.
While Sarawakian street food has been making its way to Klang Valley, Sabah hawker fair is still largely confined to Northern Borneo. So if you find yourself at Sabah, one of the dishes you should definitely try is Tuaran Mee.
Kentin Bakut, Sabah
Tuaran mee is a type of noodle originated from Tuaran, located some 30 kilometers away from Kota Kinabalu. While the original version that comes with chicken, meat, or seafood is plenty good, my favorite has got to be the version served up at Kentin Bakut – specifically their Fried Tomyam Tuaran Mee.
Kentin Bakut is some 25 or so kilometers from town, but conveniently it is situated along Jalan Tuaran Bypass, the road that you would take going from KK town to Kundasang, and if you’re going to KK, you should visit Kundasang anyway, so this place makes a good natural food/rest stop.
fried tomyam Tuaran mee
Kentin Bakut actually serves quite a number of different dishes, they have fried rice, hor fun, mee hun soup, kon lou mee, and even bitter gourd soup with fish fillet.
But if you have only space for one meal, make it the fried tomyam tuaran mee. Yeap, it is as you would expect, the unique springy texture and flavor of tuaran mee packed with spicy tomyam paste, expertly fried with charred bits plus those prawns and deep fried fish filet makes for a plate of rather unique goodness I’ve never had from anywhere else. Remember to squeeze the lime for that extra kick as well, it’s good! So good I would drive that distance just to have it.
seafood tomyam meehun
I also tried their seafood tomyam meehun, which did not disappoint either. Spicy tomyam with fresh Sabah seafood, you can’t really go wrong here.
The dishes cost RM 7.50 and RM 8 each, and yes, I’m going to go over again when I have a chance. This place is pork free and you fit for Muslim friends.
On my previous trip to Kota Kinabalu, I was feeling a little bit under the weather due to a bout of not entirely moderate case of flu. My KK buddy was kind enough to take me to some comforting food fit for my condition – Seafood Porridge at Foh Sang.
How Lee Coffee Shop Seafood Porridge
The operation is located at How Lee Coffee Shop by the shop lots at Foh Sang that’s packed with quite a few other restaurants that aren’t short of customers during dinner time. After a couple rounds of circling the premise, we found a parking spot, and another few minutes of waiting, we finally landed on a table for two.
At this place, the star is their seafood porridge, but you can also have them with chicken, pork, scallop, crab, fish fillet, or prawns. Additionally, this is also a full fledge “tai chao” operation, so you get to order a pretty good selection of accompanying side dishes, or even have rice or noodle if porridge isn’t your calling for the night.
seafood porridge, choi sum, asam chicken, salted egg
For dinner, we ordered a standard bowl of seafood porridge with a salted egg, a plate of deep fried asam chicken, and a portion of choi sam for fiber and vitamin.
The porridge was certainly top notch, and as expected of any seafood dishes, the quality was top notch and super fresh. The vegetable was probably produce from kundasang, crunchy and sweet. However, the asam chicken was perhaps a little too over fried for my liking, the slight bitter after taste didn’t really do it for me.
wholesome dinner especially when you’re under the weather
Overall dinner came to about RM 60+ for the two of us, I’d say that’s decent value for the quality of seafood we got. Will not hesitate to go again.
Address: Seafood Porridge How Lee Coffee Shop No. S-26, Lorong Mawas 1, Jalan Kolam, Taman Foh Sang, Luyang, Kota Kinabalu 88300 Sabah GPS: 5.957661, 116.088143 Tel: 016-839 1938