Best Food to Eat in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (3 Days 2 Nights Foodie’s Trail)

Prawns & Crabs – Best Seafood in Kota Kinabalu Sabah

Delicious food, seafood straight out the sea, and a kaleidoscope of flavours – no we’re not talking about Penang. Again. If you’re a true blue foodie looking for an island food trip without the traffic, give the capital of Kota Kinabalu a go. All you need for a holiday where it’s all in Tune is a long weekend, a few good friends, and a ravenous appetite.

TL;DR

  1. Day 1
    • Ayam Penyet at Warung Padang Jawa & Catering
    • Kuih Jala at Mari Mari Cultural Village
  2. Day 2
    • Breakfast at MAKAN
    • Chili Vanilla
    • Little Italy
    • Restoran Thien Thien
    • Sinsuran Night Market
    • Bars at Gaya Street
  3. Day 3
    • Breakfast at MAKAN
    • Filipino Market
    • Kedai Kopi Yee Fung
    • Kedai Kopi Fook Yuen

Day 1

Upon arriving in Kota Kinabalu, you’ll want to make a beeline for the hotel to drop off your luggage. Hotels normally set their check-in times at 2pm – 3pm, but will be more than happy to keep an eye on your bags in the meantime so you can hit the ground running.

PRO-TIP: If you wish to get your rooms earlier, book directly on the Tune Hotels website. Some bookings include free early check-ins at 11am and late check-outs by 2pm, because holidays should start with a bang and end with ease.

In the meantime, you get to hit up your first order of business: lunch. Warung Padang Jawa is located a 5-minute drive from Tune Hotels. Famed for its finger-licking, mouth-burning Indonesian cuisine, the ayam penyet set is rumoured to be the best in Kota Kinabalu. Watch out for the sambal. Tongues have wagged tales of how spicy the sauce can be.

Next on the island’s must-eat is some kuih jala which you can make yourself at Mari Mari Cultural Village. While you’re at it, you’ll be treated to an educational experience on the Orang Asli way of life. Located in a remote rainforest, Mari Mari Cultural Village is made up of several tribes with their own unique cultures and traditions. This hands-on tour experience includes pick-up and drop-off from your hotel, with prior booking required.

While the foodie in you might want to hunt for just one more meal, the tired part of you might just want a good rest. After a productive first day, a bite at the newly renovated MAKAN situated in Tune Hotel could just do the trick. They even offer a halal version of a Sabahan street favourite, ngiu chap beef noodles.

Interior of Tune Hotel 1Borneo Kota Kinabalu Sabah

All that’s left to end the day is a hot shower and restful sleep on a luxurious bed.

Day 2

Start your day right with breakfast at MAKAN, which may be included when you book your rooms directly at Tune Hotels. After a leisurely breakfast, it’s time to hit the beach!

Breakfast at Makan – Tune Hotel 1Borneo Kota Kinabalu Sabah Restaurant

If you head out before noon, you’ll have just enough time to grab an early lunch at Gaya Street where you can choose from an array of restaurants ranging from the high end like Chili Vanilla and Little Italy, to kopitiams like Restoran Thien Thien which offers halal tuaran noodles, a Sabahan specialty.

Just across the street from Gaya Street is Jesselton Point, where you’ll be able to access the five islands located within Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Choose which island you’d like to visit, pay the fees, and you’ll be on a powdery white sandy beach and snorkelling with the fishes in no time. The park closes at 5pm, when the last boat heads back.

Sapi Island Kota Kinabalu Sabah

Sapi Island at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

Once you’re back at Jesselton Point, the next order of business has to be dinner. And what kind of island vacation would it be without fresh-out-the-ocean seafood. Sinsuran Night Market is arguably the best place to get in on some of that fishy action. Keep your eyes peeled for the stalls with the freshest looking catches and most competitive prices. Take your time exploring each stall and haggling with the shopkeepers. While you’re at it, a side of grilled chicken wings never hurt anyone either.

Post-dinner, you could very well grab a drink or two at the bars around Gaya Street just a short walk away. But don’t sweat it if you decide to head back to the hotel, wash off the sand, and call it a night instead. We say have it your way.

Day 3

Take it easy on your last day on the island. Grab some breakfast at MAKAN and go back for a second nap, it’s your vacation after all.

After packing your bags and checking out, we suggest dropping by Filipino Market where you’ll be able to pick-up a few souvenirs. We highly recommend the kuih cincin, kuih lidah, and keropok amplang, unique Sabahan snacks that are perfect for sharing. The market also offers knick-knacks on the cheap, such as pearl necklaces and local craft, but remember to always haggle, haggle, haggle. It’s part of the experience.

Kuih Cincin – Filipino Market Kota Kinabalu

Kuih Cincin – Filipino Market Kota Kinabalu Sabah

For a final meal, local hawker fare at Kedai Kopi Yee Fung should hit the spot. The curry laksa, ngiu chap beef noodles, and claypot chicken rice are mainstays at this joint. Come prepared to brace the crowd though, as it’s a very popular lunch haunt. Do it like the locals, and share your table with strangers. Look forward to it, as new flavours are even better with new friends.

Still feeling peckish and have some time to kill? The roti kahwin at Kedai Kopi Fook Yuen would be a sweet way to end the trip. Fluffy bread, slathered generously with homemade kaya and a thick slice of butter, toasted or steamed into a melty, heady delight that will make you want to put a ring on it.

Lok Fook Yuen Café & Bakery in Kota Kinabalu Sabah

Three days may not seem like much, but you can pack a whole lot of experiences and tastes with a bit of thoughtful planning. For the best rates and extra awesome perks, book your stay directly with Tune Hotels.

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