Friday, October 12, 2007

Tantalising tastebuds in Sabah

This is my last post covering my trip to Kota Kinabalu - nothing better than to talk about food!


Most people associate Sabah with cheap seafood (we love our seafood, don't we?) but as we are considered 'tourists' we didn't really know where to go. We ended up twice in Api-Api seafood centre which was catered for the tourists. It's located along the same area as the GSC cinema, and comprises many seafood restaurants offering different delicacies. According to Tham's mum, prior to upgrading, this place was regarded by the locals as the best place for seafood. Now that it is a tourist spot, she doesn't know where the locals go to for seafood.

Chee Jiat chose Twinsky Seafood (pronounced Twin Sky, not some Russian name) as he received recommendation from his friends despite less seafood choices compared to the next shop.

We had mantis prawn, crab, fish and of course Sabah Choy (literally means "Sabah vegetable"). Sabah Choy is a must because this is not found in West Malaysia.

Mantis prawn in a bottle

The Api-Api Seafood Centre also provides cultural shows 5 days a week. On Friday we were entertained by cultural performances including traditional Kadazan dance, blowpipe demonstration and bamboo dance.

On our way to Mount Kinabalu, we were also privileged to be able to buy fresh mud crabs and huge mushrooms for our steamboat dinner at Zen Resort. What better way to enjoy the cool air with a hot steamboat meat! Needless to say, we were so full after that!

Before and After



If you think Malaysia has enough 'exotic fruits' - Durian, Mangosteen, Rambutan, Cempedak - wait till you come to Sabah!

This fruit is locally known as 'buah tarap' or 'buah talap', depending on how you spell it. From the outside, it looks and feels like a cempedak or nangka - soft and fuzzy.

The fruit emits a pungent smell similar to kerosene or diesel. We bought two buah tarap in Nabalu and put it into the van. Lucky no one threw up in the van!

This is how the contents of buah tarap looks like. At fist glance, it looked like a brain.

Link took one bite and spat it out immediately.

"Yucks! Taste like medicine!"

Tham took one bite, and said he's OK with the taste, but did not like the texture of the fruit.

No one else wanted to touch the fruit anymore, except for Chee Jiat (who claims he love buah tarap so much he could finish it all.)

Next - My turn.

I plucked one out and popped it into my mouth. The texture is similar to mangosteen, but the taste - it's hard to describe it but it certainly doesn't taste like kerosene. Surprisingly it tasted all right.

In fact, I quite like it :)

So Chee Jiat and myself ended up finishing the plate of buah tarap.

We also tried this fruit called buah pulasan. It looks and tastes like a mixture between a rambutan and lychee. The ones we got was sour so we didn't enjoy it at all.

Then there's also the wild durian which is different from the kampung durian. The size, shape and colour is different, and the flesh just bare minimal.

But the taste was one of a kind.


In fact, we ate this right before dinner and Link wanted more of the durian, but we managed to convince her not to have it, or else she can't have her crabs during dinner...


A friend told me that when in Sabah, I should try the Tuaran mee. Ideally I'm supposed to go to Tuaran itself to try this delicacy. However, since we can only wander within Kota Kinabalu itself, I thought we try out their version of the Tuaran Mee.

We were supposed to find the Tuaran mee shop on Monday morning prior to our departure back to KL.

BUT there was one problem : Chee Jiat has gone back to Tenom already. We had to ask around the shops to find blank looks. One problem was that I know the dish as Tuaran mee, but the locals call it 斗亚兰面. No wonder they don't know what is that because of different names! It was by chance we finally found the shop. BUT according to the lady, it's already sold out. Sigh......We ended up having breakfast in the shop anyway.

As I almost finished my meal, I noticed the patron at the next table ordered Tuaran mee AND it was served to him. Turns out the patron ordered when the fresh batch of Tuaran mee arrived to the shop. I quickly went over and ordered a plate of 'kon low' Tuaran mee.

Voila! The eagerly anticipated Tuaran mee :

At first sight, it looked like Wanton meet. However, as I chewed the noodle, it was pleasantly springy and slightly crunchy. The sauce and char siew complements the taste and texture of the noodle. As I'm not a very descriptive person when it comes to food, just imagine as eating a better version of the IndoMee Goreng

I like :)

Now why don't they serve Tuaran mee in KL?


We were at one of the mamak shops around the Apit-Api area during the rainy Friday. While some of the guys were ordering lunch, the 'Teh Si Special' poster caught Link's attention. We all ordered the same thing and how here it looks :

Once stirred, the concoction was actually very well balanced. I can taste the tea, and a little bit of the milk, plus the occasional Gula Melaka, much to my delight. Not sure why I don't see this in the local mamak shops yet...

That wraps up my posts on Kota Kinabalu. I hope to be able to go there again next year - for mountain climbing, white-water rafting, snorkelling and eating!

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