I wrote this article in continuation of our incredible culinary journey in Brunei Darussalam. After we discovered some magical cuisine in Bandar Seri Begawan, we moved back to Kota Kinabalu and spent a few days there trying all the foods that we saw especially at the KK Night Food Market. So lively, full of energy, and the smell of those plates of seafood grilling was a typical scene.

My constant visit to Kota Kinabalu and Kudat leads me to common places locals would usually eat. I was so lucky to have my local friends Des, Adam, Paulin, and Addy who would always introduce authentic Sabahan food. Last time we were in KK City, we were bombarded by sweetness and delicious meals. Foods that are very common to our palate as Malaysia and the Philippines share most of the common cuisine. After a few days in Brunei, I wanted to show my friends my favorite spot in Sabah. A beach which is 4 hours’ travel from KK. Kudat still maintained its laidback vibe with fewer hotels and establishments dotting the powdery west coast. I will never be tired recommending this place to friends looking for recommendations in Sabah. It’s affordable, tranquil and one of the places in Sabah that maintain the Rungus lifestyle. Our last night in Kudat culminated with camping, bonfire and a bottle of Jack Daniels. At night after the sesh, we were stormed with unforgiving wind and casual rainfall. I can only imagine Ian who opted to stay outside with a hammock. And our newly-found friend Malika decided to go back to his hotel.

Nasi goreng or fried rice topped with fried dried anchovies. This is my favorite rice meal in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Ayam (chicken) and daging lembu (beef) rendang is also a must-try. Filled with local herbs. Meaty, tender and saucy.
Tanjung Simpang Mengayau is still my favorite spot in Sabah. Affordable, tranquil, and more natural.
This beautiful art was created by a small sand bubbler crabs. You’ll see a lot of them frolicking at the beach.
While mesmerizing at the sunset, we used to collect some edible mollusks called cockle for dinner. Priceless!
I always order this ceviche (kinilaw in Filipino) in one of the restaurants near the beach. Though this isn’t something Sabahan dish.

While we stayed inside the tents, Ian opted to stay outside. Such a brave act.

After enjoying the sunset in Tanjung Simpang Mengayau for 3 days, we had to go back to KK and enjoy city life. The small plane that took us from that piece of paradise in Kudat made some inconvenience to us. However, we found some options and didn’t let them have my favorite camping knife. That was to ship it to KK via van.

We were the only passenger during that day plus one they picked up somewhere close to Kudat, so 6 of us.
Kudat Airport is a basic airport with no scanner. So they check bags manually. Better hide anything such as Swiss knife or else you risk of confiscation. They confiscated mine but I never let them have it. Instead, I asked my friend to pick it up there and send it to KK. And the classic was the handwritten boarding pass.nmn
The airport staff lied to us telling us that they have to confiscate the knife since our luggage will be with us inside the plane at the cabin. Not knowing that they have a small cabin for luggage. I was totally ripped off by MAS Wings.

Going back to KK City, we had the chance to experience how the Sabahans would celebrate Ramadhan. Sometimes, it’s not a good idea to travel during Ramadhan due to limited opening restaurants during the day which we experienced in Brunei.

The giant Marlin Statue at the KK waterfront was inaugurated when KK got its city status. At the background is Pulau Gaya of Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

Kota Kinabalu Waterfront is commonplace for sunset watching. After witnessing the sunset, walk a few meters to Night Food Market and enjoy sumptuous plates of seafood and other Sabahan delicacies.

If you’re traveling and on a diet regimen, you should not go here since you will be tempted to eat. Before and after we visited Tanjung Simpang Mengayau in Kudat, we always had our foodtrip in Night Food Market. It was like a reunion for me after the last time I was in KK. How I love the atmosphere there especially when you got to talk to kababayans (Filipino term for countrymen) working and running a food business at the market. With good haggling skills I have, the group was able to choose a good spot. I’m not a newbie with the prices and I know the regular from touristic price. By establishing rapport with the owner, we got a huge discount from them.

The making of my favorite teh tarik requires a careful and skillful preparation from concocting the black tea extract to mixing of tea and condensed milk. Brought by Indian immigrants in Malaysian Peninsula after the 2nd World War, got its name from the word “tarik” which is the process of pulling the teh during preparation. It is the national drink of Malaysia served in restaurants, food stalls, and, kopitiams or traditional coffee shops.
This family from Zamboanga moved to Sabah to try their luck and they made it. Each family member has a specific function at their food stall. The lady is the cashier/waitress, 2 guys are the cook and the boy as an assistant.
Buttered udang goreng. Juicy sweet shrimps in butter and leeks.
Crab omelet. Not bad.
Sweet and spicy crab. If you love spicy food then this is for you. Perfectly-spiced.
And where’s Ian?
ABC or Air Batu Campur. Crushed ice with mixed flavors of choice such as mango, avocado, corn, and, durian.

That was our food journey after we came back from Brunei. The second one was when we came back from Kudat. While waiting for my knife that was interdicted by MAS Wings at the tiny airport in Kudat, we checked to some of the cool places to eat in KK including the Ramadan Food Bazar. Locals just go here to have food-to-go and normally eat at the waterfront. With Paulin, Addy, and Des as our food tour guide, we were able to sample some of the best local dishes they normally enjoy on a typical day. Please join us!

I love watching the sunset and this view from our serviced apartment in KK made my day.
We invited our couple friend Addy and Paulin for dinner and tried our Filipino pride dish, the adobo and they loved it. Together with our newly-found friend Malika.
My friends had to enjoy the amenities of the apartment. It was worth it of the ringgits we spent.
Onde-onde. This was the dinner of the show. This reminds me of way back home. When we were kids, we used to sell this sweet tapioca balls to our neighbors. Mano Marsing is a popular person in the barangay who makes this sweet snack made from shredded balanghoy (tapioca), mixed with sugar and cooked in boiling water or steamed. Afterward, it will be rolled into the desiccated coconut and skewed using coconut midrib or gihay. Such a sweet childhood memory.
Kuih Cara Berlauk Ayam. Mainly made from flour, coconut milk, chicken, onion, chilis, and other local traditional spices. A traditional cake that is usually served in special banquets. It’s one of the high-demand cake during festive Ramadhan.
Kuih Muih Nyonya. These are bite-sized sweets of Malay-Chinese (Peranakan) mixed heritage origin. Typically made from sticky rice. This colorful dessert has a very rich history and according to historians, it was improvised by the Peranakans who settled the Malaysian Peninsula.
Ngiu Chap or Mee Sup Daging. Beef mix noodle soup. This is a rich soup and a common comfort-food.
Ayam panggang. Roasted chicken. I loved this tender and juicy chicken. I need rice for this.
Kuih lidah buaya is a traditional snack for Sabahans made from flour, powdered milk, sugar, butter, and cooking oil.
This guy is frying martabak ayam or daging. Depends on what’s inside. Martabak is actually an Indonesian dish. The Malaysian version of it is called “murtabak” where the only difference is the use of a minuscule amount of oil.
Air batu campur. Literally translated as mixed ice. A mixture of flavorful sweets, fruits with shave ice, red beans, and, milk
Fried Kuih pau sambal (mini-burger) and popiah goreng (fried spring rolls)
I wondered what she was thinking. Anyway, this girl sells mee goreng, bihun goreng, and nasi goreng. Sedap!
Almost sold-out mee goreng (fried noodles).
Sayap bakar. Sweet succulent barbecued chicken wings.
Nasi kunyit ayam sambal. Turmeric rice with sambal chicken. This one was really good. We got some for to-go.
Char Kuey.
Nasi kerabu ayam. A traditional Kelantanese dish, it’s another culinary invention of Peranakans when they settled in Malaysian Peninsula starting in the 16th century. The blue rice is produced by the butterfly pea flower-infused while cooking.
Nasi kunyit sambal ayam is sticky rice cooked in turmeric and coconut milk. Commonly served during special occasions such as weddings. The golden rice produced by turmeric symbolizes fortune and wealth.
ABC in a bowl. So we tried this and we had the same as this in the Philippines. It’s crushed ice mixed with sweet stuff.
Ayam goreng or fried chicken. I remember we’re really full at that time and all I can do is to just stare at it.
Special thanks to Addy and Paulin for showing us around. I hope I can return the favor in the Philippines or Morocco. We really had an awesome time with you guys!
Food Bazar where old friends meet, families reunited and travelers enjoy authentic Malaysian food!

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I live my life everyday celebrating. An easy go lucky guy. Always hungry for adventure and learning different cultures. If I'm not at the summit, I'm at the sea. Traveling is my way of life. Deeply in love with mountaineering, swimming, skinny dipping, island hopping, fishing, and cycling. Loves good food, beer, music, and good human conversation. At home, I used to cook, do yoga, and meditate. A coffee lover. Stay most of my time at the outdoors, breathing the cold air, tasting the saltiness of sea breeze, watch the waves swiftly caressing the sand, listen to the flowing water of the river, pitch my tent or hang my hammock and sleep under 5 billion stars. I hate manicured places (resorts). Adores sunrise and sunset which gives me extraordinary energy.