Eat List: Savoring Kota Kinabalu

I am attempting to write everyday but it ain’t easy.   I’m also attempting to write about past travels…from 7 seven years ago!  That’s doubly hard. I don’t have this backlog because I’m a full-time traveler (not yet, anyway) and I somehow have an idea how difficult it is to write from the road.  I have this backlog because  I’m every inch a full-time mom.  So I’m mostly sleep-deprived and very busy especially in the morning when I have to juggle breakfast prepping, baon-making, and everything else needed for my kid’s school.  What I’m trying to say is I would like to write prolifically but I can only squeeze in 2 to 3 posts a week.  So bear with me.

So now I’m in the mood to write about Kota Kinabalu again.  In fact, I just wrote about a DIY Kota Kinabalu city tour you can do in under 3 hours.  Since it’s 6 years ago, I’m finding it hard to recall important details but one thing that leaves a lasting memory is always food!  And I have the fondest memories about food in Kota Kinabalu.  Whether it was breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks,  there’s no doubt we enjoyed every meal here.


Sin Kee versus Syarikat Yu Kee for Bak Kuh Teh

Sin Kee Bah Kuh Teh
Bah Kuh Teh served in traditional claypots


There were two restaurants we frequented during our stay here — Sin Kee and  Syarikat Yu Kee.  I prefer Yu kee over Sin Kee but both my son and father loved Sin Kee.  But really, both were good!  Perfect for sleepyheads or those with hangover as slurping a bowl of Bak-kut-teh or Pork Soup would ideally wake up one’s senses. It’s even tastier if served a day old. Imagine its distinct aroma and taste which is perfect for a morning entrée.  I’ve been to Singapore and other cities in Malaysia and they all serve this delicious dish but Kota Kinabalu has the best Bak Kuh Teh I’ve tasted.

Syarikat Yu Kee
At Yu Kee, different types of meat and vegetables are served in ceramic bowls instead of claypots. We had ribs, intestines and mushrooms.

We also tried a dry version of this dish at the mall but the original is still the best.

Dry Bah Kuh Teh with thick brown sauce
Siaw Er Bak Kuh Teh at 1Grand Borneo Hypermall


Yee Fung
Yee Fung Laksa

But for those of you who want an extra kick in your soup, Laksa may just be what your taste buds need. Laksa’s coarsely granular sauce is made from a fine concoction of ground dried prawns and spices.  In Malaysia, each region or city offers a unique twist.  In Penang, the laksa is kind of sour.  This one in Yee Fung is curry-like similar to the one I had in Vietnam.  If you’re not into Laksa, I would suggest you try the resto’s other specialties like the Ngau Chap and Claypot Chicken Rice.

Claypot Chicken Rice
Yee Fung Ngau Chap
Yee Fung

But we like the Kuching Laksa at a stall along Jalan Gaya better.  It’s pleasantly different. The broth is not as thick and not as rich. I guess we are just used to watered down Laksa.

Stall along Jalan Gaya that serves Kuching Laksa
Kuching Laksa

Mee Goreng



Always paired with vegetables in Kota Kinabalu

Mee Goreng is another option if you’re not into soupy dishes.  Aside from its distinct flavor, the vegetables tossed with the noodles add another component to this delicious Malaysian dish.  And it’s found everywhere i n Kota Kinabalu.  You can even find Mee Goreng on the island of Manukan.


The Chicken Rice Shop

The Chicken Rice Shop at 1Borneo Hypermall


Back home, a meal would not be complete without rice. Having rice as a staple food, the Hainanese Chicken Rice here felt familiar yet different.  Chicken rice is my son’s favorite meal.  If only he could have this dish everyday, he would.

Big Apple Donuts


Our favorites were: (from top left) Californian Almond, Say Cheese, Chocoholic and Green Tea Off

For snacks, Big Apple Donuts were always on top of our list. We would always find reasons to indulge on these mouth-watering donuts whenever we can.  We just couldn’t resist it.  It has the same concept as J. Co Donuts so this was new to us at that time.  J. Co donuts hadn’t even landed on our shores back home.  It was only introduced in 2012.  We took this trip in 2011.  So you could just imagine how much we ate here.  We even bought 3 boxes of assorted donuts for pasalubong.




Old Town White Coffee

This cafe is basically where we hang out to pass the time.  In Kota Kinabalu, there’s not much to do except to eat, go to the mall (lots of malls here), and have coffee.  Old Town has branches all over KK.  The signature white coffee is amazing.  It’s rich, strong and creamy.  Loved it so much that I bought 3-in-1 sachets to take back home to Manila.  Good thing we can already find Old town instant coffee in major supermarkets around Metro Manila.

Old Town White Coffee and Traditional Kaya Toast


How original, right?  Why KFC when we have this back in Manila? Potato Wedges.  That’s the only thing you need to know.  Plus I’m crazy about their catsup.

KFC Potato Wedges
I love the taste of the tomato catsup and chili sauce in Malaysia but I always forget to buy to take back home to Manila. 

Little Italy

And then there’s pizza.  After how many days of eating Bak Kuh Teh, Laksa and Chicken rice, it was normal to crave familiar food.  This always happens when I’m with my children. Personally  I can go for weeks just eating local cuisine but my kids can’t last a week without McDonald’s or KFC or in this case, pizza!  In KK, Little Italy is popular with both tourists and locals.  There’s another Italian restaurant called Grazie but Little Italy is more affordable and uses flavors that more people prefer.

Cheese Pizza
We tried some of their pasta dishes. Spaghetti with Meatballs
The Cannelloni is a must order. 

Seafood Dinner at the Night Market

What’s fresh is what’s for dinner in this night market by the waterfront.  You can find different kinds of seafood here from shellfish, stingray, squid, crabs and fish.  You can have it cooked — grilled or barbecued– for a fee.  It’s not cheap considering the set up (not fine dining, open air, sanitation is questionable), but it’s still much cheaper compared to air-conditioned or more upscale seafood restaurants.

Fresh Seafood at the Night Market
We ordered a feast. We had chili crabs, grilled shrimps and fish but what I loved were the grilled plump squids. They were gone in 5 minutes. That’s why there’s no photo or evidence of it.


This is only a small chunk of all the wonderful food Kota Kinabalu has to offer.  It’s actually impossible to sample them all given we only had a week to tour the city.  But this is a start and should give you an idea how diverse Malaysian cuisine is.

Click here to read more EAT LISTS!


Not fond of DIY tours?  You can join one of these tours, and don’t forget to compare hotels, vacation rentalsrooms, or even homes for your trip before you go. And never leave home without Travel Insurance!

2 Comment

  1. […] Bukit Bintang is over-rated.  It’s just this one huge area in KL lined with big malls.  If you’re into shopping, this would be heaven.  But for us who don’t even frequent the malls in Manila, this was torture.  We only go to Lot 10 for the food.  And that we did.  We just came from a hearty lunch and we found ourselves ordering Bak Kuh Teh.  MG and I shared it.  Friend had a taste and decided she didn’t like it.But you must know by now how much we love Bak Kuh Teh! […]

  2. […] straight to Ng Ah Sio Pork Ribs Soup Eating House.  If you are a regular reader, yo know how much I love Bak Kuh Teh.  It’s not a household name and a winner of the Singapore Prestige Brand for nothing. […]

Leave a Reply