kota kinabalu food

17 Must-Try Kota Kinabalu Foods

This Kota Kinabalu food list is for the travelers who've like to taste local food (foods those are difficult to find somewhere else). Here are some “local staple food” or old restaurants that stood the challenge of time.

Foods featured in this lists are mostly started or originated locally from Sabah. There are many highly recommended restaurants, but it's a tad common for visitors who want to have a taste of “local food”.

From the famous seafood dishes to traditional noodles, and the delicious local desserts, there's something for everyone to enjoy.

Whether you're a foodie or just love to eat, get ready to discover the tasty treats that Kota Kinabalu has to offer.

Tuaran Noodle 🐖

Tuaran noodle is a traditional dish hailing from the town of Tuaran in Sabah, Malaysia. It is a type of noodle dish that features egg noodles in a rich and flavorful broth made from a blend of spices and ingredients such as chicken or beef, bean sprouts, and green onions.

Sang Nyuk Mee (sliced pork noodle) 🐖

Sang Nyuk Mee is a type of noodle dish commonly found in Sabah, particularly in Kota Kinabalu. The soup is made from thick pork broth, with a mixture of fresh, and tender slices of juicy, succulent pork.

The noodles are typically tossed in a savory sauce and topped with a variety of ingredients such as pork lard, scallions, and crispy garlic bits. Sang Nyuk Mee is a filling, flavorful, and satisfying meal that is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.

Ngiu Chap Beef Noodle 🐄

Ngiu Chap is a popular beef noodle dish made with tender pieces of beef simmered in a flavorful broth and served over a bed of fresh noodles.

The broth, which is made with a blend of spices and soy sauce, is typically rich and hearty, making Ngiu Chap a popular comfort food for locals and travelers alike.

Fish Noodle 🐟

The soft, delicate texture of the fish paste and the savory broth make this dish a popular comfort food for locals and a must-try for travelers exploring Sabah's food scene.

Made with a blend of fish paste and spices formed into nuggets shape and served in a flavorful broth with noodles.

Hinava, Tuhau and Bambangan 🐟🥭

Hinava, Tuhau, and Bambangan are traditional dishes, made with fresh fish and local ingredients. Hinava is a type of ceviche made with raw fish marinated in lime juice and chili, while Tuhau is a condiment made from sliced ginger and chili, and Bambangan is a sour fruit often used in salads and curries.

These dishes showcase the rich and diverse cuisine of Sabah, reflecting its unique blend of indigenous, Chinese, and Malay flavors and ingredients.

Sinalau Bakas 🐖

Sinalau Bakas is made with slow-cooked wild boar meat and a blend of spices and ingredients such as lemongrass, ginger, and chilies.

Typically served with rice and is a popular comfort food for locals, reflecting Sabah's rich culinary heritage and love for bold and savory cuisine.

Seafood Feasts 🐟

KK is known for its thriving seafood scene. From fresh and succulent seafood catches straight from the South China Sea to traditional seafood dishes that blend indigenous and Chinese flavors, Kota Kinabalu offers a diverse and delicious array of seafood options for both locals and travelers alike.

Bak Kut Teh (Herbal Pork) 🐖

Kota Kinabalu is home to a thriving Bak Kut Teh scene, with many restaurants opened along the strip of Gaya street, offering their own unique take on this popular pork rib soup dish. Originating from China, this dish features tender pork ribs simmered in a broth made with a blend of herbs and spices.

Coconut Pudding 🥥

Coconut pudding is a sweet and creamy dessert made with coconut milk and sugar. It is a popular treat in KK, where it is often enjoyed as a refreshing and satisfying way to end a seafood meal. This dessert is typically served chilled, making it a perfect ending to a day of exploring Sabah's rich food culture.

You can try roasted coconut too, a variation of the coconut.

Laksa Noodles 🧄

Laksa noodle is a spicy and flavorful soup made from a rich coconut milk-based broth, mixed with noodles and a variety of ingredients such as shrimp, fish, beansprouts, and herbs.

The dish is known for its harmonious blend of sour, spicy, and savory flavors that create a unique and satisfying taste experience. Laksa is a staple food in Malaysia and is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.

Fresh Buns & Breads 🌾

Roti Kaya

Roti Kaya is a traditional breakfast dish from Malaysia, made with a thin and flaky bread called roti, spread with a sweet and creamy filling made from coconut milk and eggs.

This simple and satisfying dish is often enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee or tea, and is a staple of the food culture in Sabah, Malaysia, where it is widely available at street stalls and cafes.

Speaking of coffee.. we shouldn't forget our coffee culture in Sabah too.


Coffee is a staple drink for locals and visitors alike. For a truly authentic coffee experience, be sure to try the traditional coffee shops, where you can savor the rich, full-bodied flavor of Sabah's coffee culture. One of Sabah's specialty coffee is Yit Foh Tenom coffee.

Tamparuli Noodle 🐖

Tamparuli Fried Noodle, a noodle dish hailing from the Tamparuli town in Sabah, Malaysia, differs from the traditional version by featuring egg noodles instead of rice noodles. It is often mistakenly confused with Tuaran noodle due to its similar attributes, but it boasts a stronger egg aroma as the noodles are freshly handmade.

This delicious dish typically comes with egg roll slices, succulent roasted pork, and fluffy scrambled eggs, with a seafood option also available.

Beaufort Noodle 🐖

Beaufort Noodle is a popular noodle dish named after the town of Beaufort in Sabah, Malaysia. It is made of spring noodles, stir fried and topped with a savory broth, include ingredients such as pork or seafood, and is known for its rich and flavorful taste.

The dish is only available in restaurants that serve Beaufort dishes and is considered a staple of the Beaufort town. Other dishes are also recommended such as seafood claypot, pork omelette, and stir fry vegetables with pork.

Fried Pork Noodle 🐖

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Chicken Wings 🐓

Chicken wings are often prepared in a variety of ways, including crispy fried, grilled, or coated in a flavorful sauce, and can be found in local hawker stalls and restaurants.

For those looking to try the best chicken wings in Kota Kinabalu, popular recommendations include stalls specializing in spicy and savory sauces, as well as those offering a variety of cooking methods to suit different taste preferences.

Fried Chickens 🐓

Ah the infamous fried chicken, a popular dish that is enjoyed all over the world. A staple food in many cultures, each with their own unique twists and variations, including Kota Kinabalu.

This dish is often served as a main course with sides such as french fries, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, and is known for its crispy exterior and juicy, tender interior. Many said our version taste much better than KFC.. and large portion too!

Butod (Raw Sago Worms) 🐛

Butod sago worm are harvested from the trunk of the tree and are then cooked and served as a savory dish. They are considered a delicacy and are often enjoyed as a snack or as part of a larger meal. Some even eat it raw for the “fear factor” purpose 🙂

The worms have a chewy texture and a slightly nutty flavor that is enjoyed by many. Butod sago worm is an important part of the local cuisine and is considered a symbol of Sabah's rich cultural heritage.

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