The Top 10 Food You Must Eat NOW in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah 

I remember that I have a special liking to this old man who cooked a very nice plate of char kuey teow at Bukit Padang, Kota Kinabalu. But recently when I returned, this old man was no longer there. His stall was taken over by one lady which, unfortunately, the noodles that she cooked was far, far from my expectation. And it looks like I would never get to eat the same plate of char kuey teow that the old man once cooked.

This time, I returned to Kota Kinabalu, hoping to savor some of my favorite food there. While some are still around, many have slowly dissipated and replaced by others. 

So, before it’s too late, these are the 10 food that you must eat now when you are in Kota Kinabalu. Kid you not as you would not know when these restaurants/stalls, or even the same old chefs will still be there to cook you the delicious and traditional taste of the Sabah food.

1. Cinnamon Pancake (also known as Ham Xin Piang) @ Kedai Kopi Seng Loong


Ham Xin Piang (RM1.00 each)

One of the favorite delicacies among the locals hence, you can see it sold at various places, from morning markets to kopitiams in the morning. I tried a few in various places and somehow, this dedicated pancake sold in Kedai Kopi Seng Loong champed it all. Sold at RM 1.00 each, it carries a delicate cinnamon smell with a bit saltiness that gives you an extra kick in taste.


Plus, it comes with a very unique texture where it is crispy outside and soft inside – just like how Yu Char Kuey is made of and not like the ones sold in other places that gives you the feeling of eating bread or pau.


Kedai Kopi Seng Loong

No. 2, Jalan Teluk Likas,

88400 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

2. Tuaran Noodles @ Kedai Kopi Seng Hing


Brunch / Lunch

Tuaran Noodles (RM11.00)

Many eateries actually sell Tuaran noodles (a dish of fried egg noodles) as it is one of the staple foods for the locals there. However, what makes Tuaran Noodles special at Seng Hing Restaurant is the addition of ‘Huang Jiu’ or local rice wine. This gives the smooth and silky texture to the noodles with a hint of the rice wine aroma.


Kedai Kopi Seng Hing,

Block G, Lot 10, Lorong Sinsuran 2,

Sinsuran Complex,

88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

3. Tom Yum Noodles @ Seng Hing Restaurant

Brunch / Lunch

Tom Yum Noodles (RM12.00)

Another specialty in Seng Hing Restaurant is its Tom Yum Noodles. This soupy dish is so flavourful and it is not the typical tom yum broth that you get elsewhere. Giving a tinge of sourish taste, I do believe that it carries a mix of laksa broth which comes with at least 3-4 fresh prawns and bean sprouts.

Kedai Kopi Seng Hing,

Block G, Lot 10, Lorong Sinsuran 2,

Sinsuran Complex,

88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

4. Homemade Butter Bun @ Kedai Kopi Jeong Hin


Brunch / Lunch

Butter Bun 

Located at the centre of Inanam town, I managed to buy the homemade butter bun (or sometimes they call it custard bun). Baked fresh from the oven, the butter bun carries the traditional taste, just like how our grandma once used to bake buns for us but at the same time, giving a glimpse of a modern custard bun. Best to eat it while it’s hot.


Kedai KopiJeong Hin,

Block E, Lot 10, Jalan Tuaran,

Inanam Newtownship,

88450 Inanam, Sabah.

5. Tenom Noodles @ Restaurant Tenom Mee

Brunch / Lunch

Tenom noodles @RM 17.60

The shop is always packed in the morning but trust me, it’s worth the wait. Tenom noodles are their signature and we decided to go all out by adding all sorts of ingredients like char siu and lean meat on this plate of tenom noodles.


When it was brought to our table, voila – this hearty noodle is to die for. The thin homemade noodles that were fried before it was immersed in the broth had the strong wok hei, giving the extra oomph and aahh.


You can also order tofu and homemade meat roll to accompany this noodle.


Restaurant Tenom Mee,

Lot 28, Jalan Penampang,

Towering Industry Centre,

88200 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

6. Claypot Seafood and Tofu @ Restaurant Yu Hing


Claypot Seafood (RM60)

From the appearance of the shop, you might not even want to choose this place as your dining choice. However, you must pay a visit there when locals recommend this dining place. In particular, their seafood claypot. If any chance that you don’t favor seafood, you can opt for fish too. Comes with a potluck full of fish fillets, tofu, and fresh vegetables, the broth is still at its best with thick texture and strong seafood taste. It’s just so complicated to describe the taste though so best you try it on your own.


As we embrace the modern world now, bear in mind that the chef no longer uses claypot to cook it but has opted to use a wok to do the heavy job and then, serve it in the claypot. Though there may be a slight difference when comes to its taste, still, this claypot seafood is a must to have in Kota Kinabalu. 


Restaurant Yu Hing,

1, Jalan Lintas, Kolam Centre,

88200 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

7. Beaufort Fried Noodle @ Restaurant Yu Hing



Beaufort Fried Noodles (RM 12.00)

One of the local delicacies that you must have in Yu Hing is the Beaufort Fried Noodle. To me, the noodles looked the same as compared to all other kinds of noodles that I had in Sabah. However, that one small bite of this noodle then changed my perception. It was filled with so much of wok hei plus the abundance of char siew, pork meat, and vegetables. 


By the way, can you see the difference between Beaufort Noodles and Tenom Noodles? Well, somehow or rather, I find these two noodles are the same but not what the locals think. The noodle itself is different – tenom noodles are flat in nature whereas beaufort noodle is likely springy. Plus, the broth is different.


Restaurant YuHing,

1, Jalan Lintas, Kolam Centre,

88200 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

9. Steamed and Pan-fried dumplings @ Kedai Kopi New Mui Vui

Dinner / Supper

Dumplings (1 for RM0.80)

Ask the locals for the best dumplings and 99% will direct you to this place. Located at Hilltop, the restaurant serves gyoza, grilled fish and a selection of different noodles. But one thing that you must order is their dumplings. The meat is packed with rich and strong taste, containing little broth while the dumplings skin is made from scratch.  Be it steamed or pan-fried, both have a distinct aroma, taste, and smell. Best to eat it with a dip of vinegar too.


Kedai Kopi New Mui Vui,

No.2, Lorong Gunung Ulu Merak 2,

Taman Far East,

88300 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

9. Chicken Wings


Dinner / Supper

Chicken wings (RM2.50 each)

One of my favorites! Squeeze lime on the chicken wings, eat it with your hands while it’s hot and enjoy the juiciness of the chicken wings. And you will realize that one is never enough!

10. Chocolate Milk @ Desa Fresh Mart


Chocolate Milk (250ml - RM2.27, 500ml - RM 4.37)

How can you miss the local fresh milk from Desa Dairy Farm, Kundasang? Instead of driving up to Kundasang, you can now get it at their retail outlets. Come in three flavors from original milk to coffee and chocolate, I literally had a packet of 250ml a day. Besides milk, there are a variety of offerings such as yogurt (which I had two tubes in two days which speeds up my digestion process), roast chicken and etc.


Desa Fresh Mart,

At various places in Kota Kinabalu.

With such a short trip to Kota Kinabalu, in less than 48 hours, I was glad that I managed to indulge and savor into so much of good food, not forgetting some of the so-so food which I decided not to post it here. Nonetheless, it’s certainly a great foodie trip as less queue is required with lesser people in town now (due to Covid-19).