Food in Kota Kinabalu

Was in Kota Kinabalu a few weeks back and had a great time eating the local street food. We stayed in the Gaya area and there was absolutely the best food around. We went with the flow and ate mostly at the crowded shops although we did dine at some of the not so crowded and we immediately knew why they were not crowded!

Our first stop was dinner at this Bak Kut Teh place. The place was absolutely swamped with people from the minute it opened in the afternoon till it close at night.

This is the typical Malaysia style bak kut teh and comes with all sort of side dishes like pork ball, intestines, livers, stomach etc

Next up was breakfast at this place just across the road from the Bak Ku Teh store. There were 2 stalls inside the coffee shop, one selling Sarawak kolo mee and the other Sarawak style laksa. The kolo mee was the more popular stall. But I thought the laksa was not too bad too.
Kolo mee
Laksa
On the way back from race pack collection, we had lunch at this place that one of the guys recommended. The place was crowded and hot. There were many people ordering the noodles from one of the stall within but we went for the fried noodle stall and sadly the food were so so. Dinner was zhi char food at a shop next to our hotel but it was just passable and so all these shall not get a mention here. 
Breakfast on Sunday was at a dim sum shop. We had dim sum and noodle but these were normal and nothing to rave about. 

The only reason the dim sum shop get a mention and a picture here is that they used those 3-in-1 packet for the teh tarik that we ordered! Either they must be darned proud of their Sabah produced 3-in-1 tea or that is the way tea and coffee are made in the country but I don’t really fancy those commercially produce tea.
For lunch we went to what must be the most famous Western food outlet in town, Little Italy! See we are kinda  weird, we do our carbo loading after the race and not before! Our party had pizza, pasta, salad the usual Italian stuff. Was the food really that good? I guess if there is a scarcity of such food in the country, it will be considered good and of course we wolfed down the food but frankly I think there are better pizza and pasta back home.

Dinner was the highlight for us of course. For both Saturday and Sunday night, we went to this place which we also went during our last visit to KK. The Seri Selera Seafood centre at Kampung Air, a sprawling semi-open place with a few seafood stalls together much like the carpark seafood place, Top Spot Food Court in Sarawak. 

Both nights we were there, we had fish, crab, tofu, prawn, vegetables, beer etc and the food cost us about RM$190 for our first night 3 of us; and around RM450 for 8 of us on the 2nd night. Of course we went to different stall but I believe the prices are thereabout.

The food was not really that great but it was great value for money and when I come back again next year, I will be back eating seafood here. 
We did went to the waterfront where there are another lot of seafood stalls but managed by the Malays. There were barbecue galore but I was disappointed that the seafood were pre-barbecue and left in the open and reheated when somebody ordered them. So in the end I didn’t eat them although our group did ordered a few items to try.
Our last meal in Gaya before we flew home was at another “famous” stall.

This one specialises in a type of kiam chye soup with dry ee-noodles. Sort of like our zhu-zhar tang or pig intestine soup with noodles but without the kiam chye! But this was good or rather, unusual which makes it good and apparently the whole of Sabah seems to agree because it was packed like hell!

So the next time you are in Sabah – go try these few stalls. No regrets!

Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

Whenever I go oversea, I prefer to eat at the local food streets, trying out the local food rather than dine at posh restaurant. Of all the famous food streets, some that come to mind are the food streets of Taiwan, Penang and Bangkok. 
Singapore used to have its own food streets like the Ellenborough Market, Bugis Street and even the Orchard Road car park. But now all these are gone or sanitized into tourist traps like Newton or the Chinatown Food Street.
While in KL recently, we went to one of the more famous food street there the Jalan Alor Food Street. At least famous according to our guide. 

But disappointingly, instead of individual stalls like Penang’s Gurney Drive, there were a whole stretch of restaurants. Each one of them is a self contained restaurant serving all the local food from bak kut teh to char kway teow to satay to seafood. Of course, with such a combination, the variety was there but the food wasn’t so great.

Nevertheless, since we were already there,we went ahead and ordered a whole lot of food

KL Bak Kut Teh

Local version of Escargots
Special vegetables mix
Egg Oyster or is it Oyster egg?

Char Kway Teow

Price was rather reasonable but food merely so so. But if one was in a rush and just want to savour a bit of everything Malaysian, I suppose this will be the place to go.

New Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh

Have passed by this new bak kuh teh outlet at Jalan Kayu but had not walked in previously. One evening decided to pop by to try it out.
First thing first was the pork knuckle. Their version was really jet black, a bit sweet but soft enough. Much better than most of the pork knuckle at other bak kuh teh joint.

 

We also ordered one of their house speciality the tofu .Topped with spicy taucheo, it was soft and succulent and just slide down the throat.
We also have the claypot sesame chicken. This was just average and nothing to rave about.

 

Finally the item that we had come all the way to try. The pork rib soup. Their version is the herbal type and not the light spicy Teochew type. I didn’t think it was that great. The meat was not soft enough and could not be chew off easily.

Overall, I felt the food was a tad too pricey and not really worth it. The hype over this place was more because this is a social enterprise outlet opened by a ex-prisoner and employing many more ex-convicts to run the place. But at least there is now another reasonably ok bak kut teh joint in this area of town and I don’t have to travel to Katong or Balestier for my fix.

Rong Cheng Bah Kut Teh

I love bak kut teh. And I make it my mission to go to all the “famous” one in Singapore. So far I have tried all those that have featured in newspapers, blogs and tv programes. My favourite so far is still the humble little stall at Ang Mo Kio. Worst so far was the Johore Bahru Bah Kut Teh at Tampines.
Recently, I went to this outlet at far flung Midview. Okay it isn’t that far but it was located right in the middle of an industrial park.

Like all bak kut teh that are located in their own premises, prices here are not cheap cheap. Each serving of the ribs comes with only 1 big rib and 2 smaller pieces.

I am also crazy over pork trotters and so we also ordered one to go along. 

Overall, we didn’t find the bak kut teh to be that spectacular to warrant coming all the way here. But one man meat is another man’s poison and obviously judging by the good tutnout, some must have consider it good enough.

Johore Bahru Bak Kut Teh in Singapore!

Was out running and came across this place that proudly proclaims it sells Johor Bahru Bak Kut Teh. So that got me all curious. Was it going to be as good as those in the real JB or a dud like the Johor Bahru Bao? So  to satisfy my curiosity, we went down one evening to try out the food. The place was packed but a look at the tables revealed that most people were eating the zhi-char items rather than the bak kut teh. In particular, every other table was having the curry fish head. 

 Like any typical Malaysian stall, there is a cooking counter where the various items for the bak kut teh is cooked. Very “china” right?

But we were there for the bak kut teh and so will leave the fish head for another day.
We ordered the pig stomach soup which came in the form of a very murky soup.
We also have the mixed soup which basically comprises some pork ball, intestines, liver, stomach and pork meat.
And of course the bak kut teh or pork ribs. There were 3 pieces and plenty of tau kee.

And so how was the meal?

Let just say I now know why more people are eating the zhi-char and fish head curry rather than the bak kut teh.

Marina 21K

At $58 and $48 respectively for the 21km and 10km  distances, the Marina 21K has got to count as one of the most expensive local running race. The lure was an early bird opportunity to run in the brand new Bay East at Garden, part of the Gardens by the Bay, a giant garden scheduled to be opened only in mid next year. For me, it was ‘triply’ expensive as I had to pay for 3 participants (me, M and the Kid). Of course, to add salt to the injury (this time literally), I had to sit this one out as well. What a bummer!
The event didn’t got off to a good start as well. In addition to the expensive race fee, the route was announced extremely late, in fact just 2 weeks before the race leading to all sort of speculation including one from me

Then the lack of a goodie bag raised another howl of disappointment. Why? Not that the organiser had promised any but for the price the participants were paying, they had rightfully or not expected something more than the usual t-shirt and medal. The organiser didn’t help by keeping silent. Maybe they got a bit worried after the Tri-Factor debacle last week!.

Back to the race. Dropped off M and the Kid. The kid was doing his first competitive race and I think we were more excited for him than he himself. After that, the princess and me went to recce the route in the car. The route had attracted a lot of controversy by firstly it late announcement and secondly the many u-turns. The map itself was not so clear. There was no distance marker on the route map. There were several overlaps and the return route clashed with the forward runners. We took this picture of one portion of the route where the runners have to run next to parked vehicles severely restricting the running space. 

Subsequently, we parked ourselves at the 10km u-turn point and witnessed the 2 marshals sitting there eating while the runners came along. The ambulance was parked right in front of the u-turn and timing mat and the lead rider had to scream for it to get out of the way so that the runners can do their u-turn! The 2 marshalls were also totally clueless about the logistics like the distance they were at, how other participants were to get to the race site and even directing runners to turn!

It was blazing hot at 6 plus in the evening and after the Kid came along, we packed up and went for dinner before I returned after 9 to pick up M after she completed her 21km run. The 21km runners have to do 2 loops of the 10km route which means 6 U-turns plus running on narrow path, grass and roads.Of course, the promised run in the Bay East turned out to be just a short 1km round the perimeter. Oh well…. But generally, there wasn’t too much complaints as I think by then everybody just want to get the race over and go home.

One final note. There was only 1 single finisher tee for both group of runners. That should not have been the case. The least the organiser should have done is to print 2 separate set of finisher tee (for the 10k and 21k) or have one generic shirt without the word “finisher”. Another issue was that they ran out of X-S and S size shirt very early. That again smack of lack of foresight knowing that most locals are of smaller physique.

From comments by friends, most will not be back if there is a next year edition but knowing the runners’ mentality and general apathy, it will still be business as usual if there is one next year.

Some photos mainly of the 10k runners here