We spent 10 days in this fantastic city in the Sabah region of Borneo. We mainly used it as a point to transfer on and off the beautiful islands, which you can read about HERE. What I didn’t realise before coming was that Kota Kinabalu has a thriving food scene! There’s a lot of Chinese, Indian and western influence which makes for a great mix. I have put together my top 5 restaurants out of around the 20 or so we went to, they are in no particular order and all offer very tasty dishes.
The western choice with fantastic burgers, fresh salads and loads more all at a reasonable price. The homemade burgers where my absolute favourite, think I went back 3 times for burgers, is this wrong? The standard burger is RM22 (£4) and comes with fries and slaw … bargain! The salads start from RM14 and go up to RM20 for this beautiful steak strip salad.
Radha’s Banana Leaf:
How can I compliment this place enough … hmmm. When you enter you’ll be greeted by a very well spoken lady from Kuala Lumpur. She will chat to you about what sort of food you like and the tastes you enjoy. They don’t have a menu, but she will reel off their signature dishes, which include banana leaf rice with vegetables, banana leaf with lamb and a few different biryanis. I highly recommend the Banana Leaf dishes, they are just incredible. Also a must try is their lassis, the mango was so addictive. Radha’s also happens to be incredibly cheap, we had 2 Banana Leaf dishes, one with lamb and one vegetarian, some popadoms each and a couple of lassis, the total bill was RM39 (£7ish).
We stumbled upon El Centro when we got caught in an afternoon downpour. After we visited I looked them up and were happy to see them sitting at number 1 spot for Mexican restaurants in Kota Kinabalu. That position is thoroughly deserved! We went twice and on both occasions shared the vegetable fajitas (sharing portion is RM35). The portion is massive and comes with cheese, salsa, black beans, tzatziki and 6 wraps. We also had the humus to start which was big enough to share and great value at RM15.
With a Hungarian owner/chef this restaurant always had the potential to do amazing food. Any owner who dons the chef whites will always take the most pride in every dish they serve. I went for the Hungarian chicken roulade with mash, and for the first time in months it felt like I was eating some freshly home cooked genuine food. The chicken was tender and moist, stuffed with spinach and cream cheese, the mash was thick but smooth. Every box was ticked and for RM18 (£3ish) it’s an absolute steal. Also on a side note their cocktails looked really good but we were having a dry week so didn’t try.
Glass bar and restaurant:
People will think this is a weird choice … but let me talk you through it. This is a restaurant that sits on the 8th floor of a shopping centre, near the cinema. Usually these sorts of establishments serve out low standard, rushed food (don’t like using “fast food” as McDonalds is down stairs if that’s your cup of tea) but this was an exception. Again we came across the menu by luck, usually we research and then go to a restaurant we choose. This time it was a spur the moment decision as we had 2 hours to kill before a film. I’ll put my hands up and say your probably not going to get the best pizza youv ever had or the best pasta from here but please try the Indian/ local food! We went for the butter chicken masala, aloo gobi masala and a side of vegetables in oyster sauce. Both mains came with rice and prawn crackers (why not popadoms I don’t know). The portions were huge and so so tasty. Usually restaurants within shopping malls are overpriced, just to take advantage of tourists and hungry shoppers, but our meal including 2 drinks came to a grand total of RM49 (£9ish). You can’t go wrong with good food at that price.
If you want to see our up to date food journey follow @sammulhall