Planning to go on a food trail with a reasonable budget? Why not make a trip to Sabah, particularly Sandakan to hunt for delicious fare especially seafood? After all, it takes only 2.5 hours from Kuala Lumpur to Sandakan and you will be surprised at how amazing your food trail will turn out to be at the end of the day.
At first, I was reluctant to go but thankfully, I made the right choice to visit this beautiful, small town. The people are friendly, the scenery is beautiful and most importantly, Sandakan is a food paradise to all.
If this is going to be your first time there, I reckon you must, must eat these top 10 food in Sandakan. They are: -
1. Century Egg Dumplings and Springy Noodles @ Sim Sim Water Village (No.84)
Sim Sim Village is pretty well known among the locals and tourists alike. It’s a place where you can pick your favorite seafood like fish, prawns and then, pass it to the chef to fire them up. In the morning, there’re a couple of restaurants that sell noodles and one of them is at Sim Sim No.84 – it sells very good century egg dumplings that are filled generously with meat and prawns. Pair them either with a bowl of curry noodles or dry version. I ended up buying a few packets to bring back home too.
Nudge, nudge – as we walked around the village, my eyes were caught by a plate of soy sauce squid. Imagine having a plate of fresh squid in the morning and I must say, voila! Syioknya.
Sim Sim Water Village
No. 84 (for dumplings) and No. 88 (for seafood)
Lorong H, Jalam Sim Sim
Go there as early as 7.30am
2. Freshly Made Fish Noodles @ Kedai Makan Kong Teck
Yes, you see this right! Their specialties are to serve noodles that are made of fish meat. It’s one of the best fish noodles that I’ve tasted in Sandakan with its rough, chewy texture. There's a couple of soup bases for you to choose from but we decided to go with the basics. Just be sure to go there early before it’s gone.
Noodles made from fish meat
Kedai Makan Kong Teck,
Jalan Pak Tak, Mile 7,
3.Fish Noodles @ Bak Seng Lau
I chanced upon this place when we were driving around this small town on a Sunday morning. Many people were queuing and we decided to join the fun. Apparently, this place is pretty well-known among the locals – the soup is fantastic as you can add your own ingredients/meats. In fact, there are more than 20 ingredients for one to choose; from the fish head, fish fillets, fish balls, pork balls, chicken slices to pork intestine and pork balls.
Not the typical yellow noodle
Bak Seng Lau
4. Seafood Bah Kut Teh @ Good Taste Bah Kut Teh
Lady luck was with us – as Sandakan is famous for its fresh seafood, it makes sense to have seafood bah kut teh than your usual ones. I took the first sip of the broth and voila, it won my heart immediately. The sweetness of the seafood has enriched the broth, giving the diners an extra kick without much herby taste. Aww, and I really, really miss this!
Good Taste Bah Kut Teh,
Lorong Bandar Nam Tung 2,
Pusat Bandar Sandakan
You will not want to mess with the weather in Sandakan. Extremely hot and humid. Yet, a bowl of ‘lai liu fah’ is all I need to quench my thirst when I was exploring the new area of Sandakan. Located at one of the corner shops, this bowl of ‘lai liu fah’ comes with its distinct taste and flavor.
Jalan Avenue Mall 2,
6. Avocado Sticky Rice @ Soul Sweet Café
Sandakan is pretty well known for its avocado. While we know that Thailand is popular with its Mango Sticky Rice, you will be amazed that the avocado sticky rice served in Soul Sweet Café is a must to try – it is packed with its strong, milky flavor while accompanied with hot sticky rice. One bite is definitely not enough.
Soul Sweet Café,
7.Urban Café @ IJM Sandakan
Again, I chanced upon this place when my legs refused to walk any further under the hot sun. It was definitely a wise decision to stay indoor while I made myself comfortable at Urban Café. I did a quick check about this restaurant and then, put my order for a slice of their signature avocado cake. Hmm, a pretty cake in nature but it’s quite hard to eat since it’s a frozen cake. You got to leave it for several minutes before you can start indulging them.
Lot 151, Ground Floor,
Block G, Lorong Avenue 5,
Bandar Utama IJM,
8. Seafood galore @ Persatuan Perikanan Sandakan (Sandakan Fisherman’s Association)
Legendary as it is, we had a seafood feast in Sandakan Fisherman’s Association. Forget about getting a menu as the dishes are all fixed. Serving only the freshest seafood available on the day, all you need to do is to say ‘yes’ to all of them. Usually, there are only about 5-6 dishes, but trust me, all their dishes are absolutely delicious! Best quality ever and you will be sure to want to visit this place again. Just remember to make a booking before visiting.
Dark soy sauce tiger prawns are to die for!
Signature soup is a must-to-have
Persatuan Perikanan Sandakan,
Pusat Bandar Sandakan,
9. Sang Har Mee (Fresh Prawn Noodles) @Empire Seafood
Though I was pretty full, I went ahead to whack a plate of Sang Har Mee at Empire Seafood since it’s known for its fresh, fresh seafood. The prawns were fresh and succulent. The broth of the noodles was simply rich. And most importantly, it was cheap!!
Empire Seafood Restaurant,
Lot 174 & 175, Block CC & DD,
Lorong Avenue 5, Bandar Utama,
Batu 6, Jalan Utara,
10. Balin Rooftop
The view is amazing if you manage to get a table at the rooftop. But bear in mind that it will make you sweat which is most likely considering the scorching hot sun. Food-wise – I think they are just normal as we can get better Western food elsewhere. However, for a small town like Sandakan, I believe it’s worth to pay a visit to hang out and chillax while mesmerizing the beautiful sea view which you can see at a distance.
8th Floor, Nak Hotel
All in all, there are plenty of food in Sandakan. I wish I could cover all of them but I know it’s impossible since I was there for just 4 days and 3 nights. Overall, it’s a good trip as I managed to discover lots of good and delicious food. And surely, I’ll return to Sandakan for its food again.