Japanese & Korean
Japanese NEW Nagisa Lobby Level, Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Jalan Datuk Salleh Sulong, Kota Kinabalu (08 822 1234).
The only Japanese restaurant attached to a five star hotel in the city, Nagisa is popular among the city’s business elite and for its Sunday Bubbly brunches on the first Sunday of every month where its teppanyaki, tempura, sushi and sashimi galore with free flow sparkling wine. Do check with them first however as their timing may change. If it’s à la carte you’re looking for, the grilled wagyu beef and cod fish never disappoints. Halal. Disabled-friendly. Credit cards accepted. $$$$
NEW Sushi Tei Ground level, Suria Sabah Shopping Mall, Kota Kinabalu.
A Singapore-owned franchise, Sushi Tei may have deteriorated a little since its opening a few years ago, but it’s still one of the busiest Japanese restaurants in the city. The extensive menu with all manner of Japanese cuisine keeps the throngs of shoppers coming back for more. Pork-free, Credit cards accepted. Daily, 11.30am– 2.30pm, 6.30pm–10pm. $$$
Yamagoya Ramen Lot 108, Jalan Gaya, Kota Kinabalu.
Yamagoya Ramen is the only speciality ramen outlet in the city. The franchise, based on Kyushu-style ramen offers several options but our favourite is the black garlic and spicy tobanjan
ramen. Black soup may not be the most desirable colours of food but think of it as powering up a tonkotsu. You might need to order additional slices of pork as the paper-thin melt-in-your-mouth cha siu will not be enough. The gyoza, karaage and yakitori are also highly recommended. Credit cards accepted. Free parking at night. $$
Japanese NEW Bintulu Korean Restaurant Lot 1-1, First Floor, Block E, Lorong Lintas Plaza, Kota Kinabalu (08 827 0470).
Bintulu may be located in a very popular suburb full of cheaper and plentiful local food but it holds its own with an extensive menu and plenty of seating. Service can be slow if you come during peak dinner periods but this doesn’t seem to stop people from savouring their jap chae, seafood pancakes and kimchi stew. Free parking at night. Child friendly. $$$
NEW Korean BBQ Supul Lot S-1-8, First Floor, City Mall, Jalan Lintas Kota Kinabalu (08 844 8844).
BBQ Supul may be located out of town but this is one of the few places that has refillable banchan. They have a decent menu with all the usual Korean favourites and cater to the suburbanites around Luyang and Lintas.
Credit cards accepted. Child friendly. $$$
NEW Koryo Jeong Korean Restaurant B-01-09, First Floor, Block B, Warisan Square (08 844 8860).
Koryo Jeong is run by a friendly husband and wife team who have a limited menu of Korean barbecue, bulgogi, and soups that taste just like what you would find in a Korean home. A sizeable Korean community in KK means quite a lot of Korean restaurants for the city and Koryo Jeong is one of the favoured ones not least because of the friendly service and the convenient location.
Child friendly. $$$
Malaysian NEW Fook Yuen Beginning of Gaya Street, next to Sabah Tourism building
Everyone goes to Fook Yuen. For the everyday breakfast, lunch, tea or supper, Fook Yuen has it. They earned their stripes as the go-to coffee shop for their freshly baked fluffy bread which makes exceptional roti kahwin, and for their fried chicken wings. Eventually they introduced typically Malaysian fare like economy packs of nasi lemak and siam mihun in banana leaf, cooked dishes, dim sum, and pastries. Cheap and cheerful and open till late, this self-service place is busy every time of the day.
Kak Nong Restaurant B26 & 27, first floor, Block B, Harbour City, Sembulan, Jalan Pantai Baru (08 848 7411).
A famed restaurant in Sabah to discover and patronise, Kak Nong’s runs a full house during lunch. The specialities are nasi ayam, gulai kepala ikan, soto nyonya ikan, ABC and an abundance of kuihs such as gado-gado, sri kaya, kuih lapis, onde-onde, buns and curry puffs. Halal. Child friendly. Disabled friendly. Free parking.
NEW Kedai Kopi New Man Tai 107 Jalan Gaya (two shops next to Jesselton Hotel) Kota Kinabalu.
This non-descript coffee shop does Beaufort-style cuisine. The fried noodles come with a heap of green leafy veg, bbq pork and thick gravy, and is highly recommended. Their fried rice, sweet and sour pork, assam (tamarind) fish and omelette are also very popular. Cheap and cheerful, this is a great choice for a quick and satisfying lunch or dinner.
Free parking at night. $
Kah Hiong Ngiu Chap 2-0-10, Block A, ground floor, Kolam Centre Phase 2, Jalan Lintas, Taman Hilltop.
Get ready for yummy beef noodles. Made with a combination of minced beef balls, stewed beef, tripe, tendon and tongue, the signature Sabah dish ngau chap is sold at RM7. It takes them about 30 minutes to bring your dish to you on a busy day but it’s worth the wait. Be sure to try a bowl of a dried version as well, if your appetite is up to it.
NEW Lucy’s Kitchen Lot 10, Ground Floor, Block H, Lorong Pusat Komersil 88/1, 88 Marketplace, Kota Kinabalu (08 825 9866); Metrotown Block I, Lot 6 & 7, Lorong Metro 3, Jalan Bunga Ulam Raja (08 838 2866).
Lucy’s Kitchen opened its doors a few years ago and has earned an impressive following, mostly thanks to some yummy desserts. The extensive menu has everything from nasi lemak to oxtail assam pedas, to grilled salmon in a modern café environment. Its mango and durian pancake is a fluffy pillow of crepe, cream and sliced fruit that is the perfect ending to any meal. We also like their sago mango pomelo dessert and the oxtail assam pedas is worth a try. Pork-free. Child friendly. Kids’ Menu. Free parking at night. $$
NEW Restoran Sri Melaka 9, Jalan Laiman Diki, Kampung Air, Kota Kinabalu (08 822 4777).
Having been around since 1980, Restoran Sri Melaka has been serving generations of customer a wide selection of authentic Malaysian cuisine including Malay and Chinese cuisine by local cooks. Pork-free. Child friendly. Free parking at night. $$
Seafood 88 Sim Sim Seafood Restaurant Bridge 8, Sim Sim Water Village,Jalan Buli Sim-Sim, Sandakan.
A little hard to find if you don’t know where to look, the Sim-Sim seafood restaurant is definitely the go-to for locals when it comes to seafood. Nestled deep in a water village, it does make a lot of sense when you think of it. You get the freshest fish here and sometimes, straight off the boat. Locals think nothing of ordering a freshly-steamed whole fish for breakfast. You can have noodles with the freshest seafood for breakfast, or a feast of lobster and crabs for dinner here and prices won’t break the bank. A must-visit when you’re in this part of Sabah.
Child friendly. Free parking. $$
NEW Alu Alu Café Jesselton Point Lot 6, Tanjung Lipat, Jalan Gaya, Kota Kinabalu (08 823 0842).
Alu Alu Café is an extension of Alu Alu restaurant on Gayana Eco Resort and has the same concept of serving organically farmed-fish and produce. Although it doesn’t have an extensive menu like other seafood restaurants that cater to tourist groups, its signature dishes like wa tan ho, fish head curry and steamed chicken are hearty and wholesome.
Pork free. Child friendly. Free parking. $$
Coast at Shangri-La Rasa Ria Shangri-La Rasa Ria, Dalit Beach (08 879 2888/www.shangri-la.com).
This beachfront restaurant comes highly recommended for its excellent seafood. Popular items on the menu include lobster tortellini, blackened tuna and their mouth-watering crab cakes. And that’s just for starters. For the main course, you can’t go wrong with the seared salmon or rack of lamb. There is a marine-themed raised bar at the heart of the restaurant but it’s worth heading towards the outdoor terrace to toast the stunning sunset with a cocktail or two. Pork-free. Child friendly. Kids’ menu (breakfast only). Credit cards accepted. Disabled friendly. $$$$$
Gayang Seafood Restaurant Kg Baharu, Jalan Sulaiman, Tuaran (016 810 2395).
Established in 2002, Gayang Seafood Restaurant is perfect for food enthusiasts looking for a seafood feast. It’s a little out of the way, but the drive is worth it! Take your pick from the clear tanks of live fish, mantis prawns,
freshwater eels, crabs and shell fish. Standout dishes include steamed fish in assam sauce, deep-fried soft-shell crab, stir-fried whole clams in spicy Kam Heong sauce and the sublimely simple steamed prawns accompanied by a light soy sauce or sambal belacan dipping sauce. Word of advice: come early to avoid the dreaded phrase “out of stock” and the huge crowds. Pork-free. Child friendly. Credit cards accepted. Disabled friendly. Free parking. $$$
NEW Night market Filipino market, Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, Kota Kinabalu.
The KK night market is an orgy of grilled seafood served in an open air environment. The mind-boggling array of seafood is a sight to behold – rows and rows of pre-cooked or raw fish, squid, prawns, crabs, and stingray all waiting to be torn into with your fingers. All you need is some chilli and lime, or a side of seaweed. Food is served on plastic sheets for hygiene purposes, but do take some precautions like drinking bottled water. Expect to pay around RM10 for a medium sized fish for two, and RM15 onwards for those jumbo prawns. Make sure you ask for the price first and try to find the freshest ones! The market is on every night, till late.
Pork-free. Free Parking. $$
Port View Seafood Village Lot 18, ground floor, Anjung Samudera, Waterfront (08 822 1753).
A fine variety of seafood can be chosen from a large room of tanks here. Unfortunately we found the service a bit lacking, which detracts from what could have been a pleasant dining experience. It is also on the pricier side but you are in prime location at the Waterfront strip. Make sure to order the coconut pudding as it makes a tasty dessert after your ikan bakar. Halal. Child friendly. Credit cards accepted. Disabled friendly. $$$
Salut Seafood Restaurant Mile 13, Jalan Tuaran Telipok, Kota Kinabalu (08 822 8301).
With a location that’s rather out of the way (you’ll definitely need a car), Salut is a sprawling wooden spot built on stilts. Their appetisers of pickled fruits are quite a unique starter for the selection of fresh dishes to come. Butter prawns, juicy scallops, and smooth fish come highly recommended. Try the ‘dragon beard’ vegetable for some crunchy fresh greens. Good food aside, the service here leaves much to be desired with slow-moving staff and various misplaced orders. Pork-free. Child friendly. Credit cards accepted. Disabled friendly. Free parking.
NEW Seri Selera Seafood Village Kampung Air
4 Jalan Kampung Air, Kota Kinabalu City Centre, also known by its old name of Sedco Square.
Seri Selera Kampung Air is a food square consisting of several seafood restaurants as well as hawker stalls. You will be inundated with tanks and tanks of seafood so just choose the one which appeals the most. Popular dishes to order are soft shell crabs, boiled prawns or butter prawns and grilled stingray on banana leaf. You might also be treated to some cultural dances when you dine here in the evening. Pork free. Disabled friendly. Free parking at night. $$$
NEW Wan Wan Fish Noodles Lot 24, HSK Industrial Centre Phase I, Jalan Bundusan, Penampang (08 871 6698).
It’s all about fresh fish here at Wan Wan. Fish slices, fish head, fish tail, fish skin, fish cake and the occasional prawn. Fish in soup, fish in assam curry, or tom yam fish. The ‘kon lau’ or dried noodles are topped with minced chicken and goes down a treat with tom yum soup. Wan Wan recently expanded and now includes two lots which has only increased their loyal following. Only opens for breakfast till lunch.
Pork-free. Free Parking. $.
NEW Welcome Seafood Restaurant Lot G13-18, Ground Floor, Asia City Complex, Kota Kinabalu (08 844 7866).
Welcome Seafood Restaurant is currently the most popular seafood restaurant in KK city with hordes of tourists and locals flooding their doors every day, despite them expanding twice. The restaurant is located within the city centre and there is a good variety of fish, shellfish, crabs and prawns for cooking here. The pak chok ha or boiled prawns is a firm favourite, as well as kam heong crabs, and assam steamed fish, although we still prefer the one in Gayang (see below). Even if you get there early, be prepared to haggle to get your order, although service is pretty quick and efficient once you do get over that hurdle. Pork-free. Credit cards accepted. Free parking at night. $$.