Best Soto Noodle Soup of Sabah

Soto Noodle Soup
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The recent rainy days turn Sabah into a cool place, so having a bowl of delicious Soto noodle soup is a delightful way to warm my stomach. Soto is a beef soup served with Mihun (rice vermicelli). It is so common that you can find it in almost every Malay or Muslim restaurant in Malaysia. Though Soto is everywhere, few restaurants offer very good Soto. To save cost, the cook would use beef bouillon cubes for the soup.

Kedai Kopi Yuan Yuan (源源茶餐室)

Kedai Kopi Yuan Yuan (源源茶餐室)
The best Soto I have so far is at Kedai Kopi Yuan Yuan (源源茶餐室 in Chinese) in Tawau, east coast of Sabah. You might be surprised that it’s a Chinese restaurant. Same as traditional Soto, their beef broth is flavorful, but cooked with spices (e.g. pepper, cinnamon, star anise, lemongrass) in Chinese style. Though Yuan Yuan is not a Halal (for Muslim) restaurant, they serve no pork (to some Sabahan Muslims it’s ok).

customers in Kedai Kopi Yuan Yuan
What does the full house photo above tell you? It’s a social proof of excellent food. I had to wait nearly 10 minutes for an empty seat, but I was more than happy to stand behind a long line for the best Soto. The workers there were as busy as bees, to serve the noisy customers who sounded like hungry chicken waiting to be fed.

Soto Seafood
The Soto of Yuan Yuan comes with a few flavors such as Daging (Beef), Ayam (Chicken) and Seafood. As there were many customers, I had to wait another 10 minutes for my Soto Seafood. My mouth was dripping just by smelling and looking at it.

close-up of Soto Seafood
My Soto Seafood noodle soup has fish balls, prawns and egg, with fried garlic and sliced green onion as condiment. Tawau is abundant with seafood, and from the taste, I can tell they use fresh seafood (instead of frozen one). Their beef soup is richer and darker than other Soto. The soup also has strong pepper flavor, with mild spicy taste and very appetizing.

fish and prawns
The soup is not oily, and I give A+ to their fish and prawn balls as they are springy, and without heavy use of flour. I notice they don’t use cucumber slices, which are used a lot in other Soto (because it’s cheap).

If I live in Tawau, I will have Soto here as breakfast every day. Too bad I have only one mouth, or I’ll try all flavors at a time. Anyway, I took a few photos of other Soto, as shown below:

Soto Ayam
Pic: Soto Ayam (Chicken)

Soto Daging
Pic: Soto Daging (Beef)

Soto Campur
Pic: Soto Campur (Mixed), if you like to have beef, chicken and seafood in one serving.

chili sauce
Pic: minced chili
Personally I think you must add a bit of minced chili made by Yuan Yuan. Unlike the sharp hotness of red chili that attacks only tongue, you can feel heat spreads in your whole mouth as if it’s fire inside, quite potent in a pleasant way. It tastes more like pepper though.

Yuan Yuan Restaurant (源源茶餐室)
Pic: the best time to drop by Yuan Yuan is after meal hours in weekday, when there are less people.

Kedai Kopi Yuan Yuan is open from 8am to 1:30pm/2pm every day (rest 1 day every fortnight). The shop is located at:
TB10749 Taman Megah Jaya, 3.5 Miles Jalan Apas, 91000 Tawau, Sabah, Malaysia (near to SJK(C) Kung Ming Chinese school) (See location map in Google)
Tel: +60 89-761986

food menu and price
Pic: the food menu and prices of Yuan Yuan. The price of Soto ranges from RM5.00 – RM7.00 (≈USD1.50 – 2.10) *as of Apr 2013

Restoran Happy Muslim (Happy Muslim Restaurant)

Another nice place for Soto noodle soup is Restoran Happy Muslim (non-Muslim is also welcomed) in Kota Kinabalu city center. It is a Halal restaurant that serves true Malay style Soto. The soup is clear and it tastes slightly bland, but highly recommended by many. Sometimes I saw tourists tried the Soto there too.

Happy Muslim Restaurant
Address: Lot No.9, Block H, Ground Floor, Sinsuran Complex, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia (See location map)
Tel (Mobile): +60 14 6555516 (Mr. Wau)
Opening Hours: 7am – 5pm daily

Soto Daging
Pic: Soto Daging of Restoran Happy Muslim, RM4 per bowl (≈USD1.20) *as of May 2013

Soto Daging noodle soup
Besides Soto Daging (Beef) and Ayam (Chicken), they have other varieties such as Soto Tulang (bone), Soto Perut (Beef Tripes and Omasum) and Soto Urat (Beef Tendon), each costs about RM5.50 per bowl (≈USD1.70) *as of May 2013

Other Types of Soto

There are many types of Soto that bears different names and getting popular. You can find the following Indonesian-style Soto in Sabah too.

Coto Makasar
Pic: Coto Makassar
Coto Makassar originates from South Sulawesi. I tried this Coto in Restoran Sri Mandahan next to the road near to Bongawan town. Coto has grinded peanut in the beef soup so the taste is sweet. Instead of noodle (rice vermicelli), you eats it with rice cubes (Ketupat).

Coto Makassar
Pic: beef meat, tendon, liver, intestine and tripes in Coto Makassar

Bakso
Pic: Bakso (means meatball)

Bakso is Soto in Bugis style actually. The highlight is the meatball, which is commonly made from beef or chicken.

By the way, I was told more than once that Soto can relieve hangover. Now is the month of Kaamatan (Harvest Festival) and everyone will be drinking a lot. Hope this tip will help you, haha.

Do you know any other Sabah restaurants that serve excellent Soto? Please share with me in comment section below. :-)

Photos taken in Tawau and Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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  • jipp

    I shouldn’t have read this post at 3.40 in the morning. It makes me suddenly so hungry. Anyway, soto is certainly one of the things that I miss most about Sabah. I used to frequently go for those at the pasar malam of Keningau to satisfy my craving for soto. Unfortunately I don’t see much of them here in KL. huhu

  • http://www.mysabah.com/ Murphy

    Hi Jipp, so Soto can cure homesick as well as hangover. :-D I thought Soto is also common in KL. You are not coming back for Kaamatan kah? Ngiu Chap, Tapai, Soto, Sang Yuk Mee are all waiting for you here.

  • Bonny

    I miss Sabahan’s Soto!! i currently work in Johor Bahru and I had tested Johorean soto…frankly speaking i don’t like it..they put too much stuff on it…kacang la…rice la..cinnamon la…

  • http://www.mysabah.com/ Murphy

    Hope you will come back to Sabah soon. I’m sure you have a long list of food to eat besides Soto :-D

  • Val

    Other than Happy Muslim, my other 2 favourites for soto:
    1. Borneon, I can’t remember the name, it’s the Malay/Muslim corner shop facing the Foh Sang traffic light. Same row with Yen Ai (their pisang goreng is very good too!)

    2. Sutera Bayu, the Malay/Muslim corner shop (again!) near Grace Ville or the Double 6 Memorial.

  • http://www.mysabah.com/ Murphy

    Thank you so much for your recommendation, Val. Now I know where to have my Soto in coming weekends. :-)

  • Zephyr

    Restoran Sofa in Block D, Segama? Always packed.

  • http://www.mysabah.com/ Murphy

    Thank you Zephyr for the info ^^

  • Jill S. Sarfhy

    Ini kali lah….haha….i love sabah’s soto very much…suggest u several places..highly recommend soto at restoren effira, centre point food court basement (same branch with Val’s recommended restaurant that one near fohsang) the mee goreng oso wowww…u should try, next u might go to restoren taufik near wisma dang bandang shell petrol station (there are many restoren taufik branches around kk, u oso will get coto makasar here), ermm..1 java restaurant at jalan lintas restoren rezeki if not mistaken, soto there oso superb…and if u go to tg aru..restoren sri dewi and another restaurant near the grocery shop there(haiyaaa…i forgot the name) oso sdap…hehehe…but if u come to tawau & semporna, u really must try the soto & bakso & rojak & gado2 & ayam penyet with kick sambal belacan…ayooo…delicious… And many more…heheheh

  • Jill S. Sarfhy

    1 more, not soto la….but u should try dishes at WAN WAN…near bundusan penampang..hehe….mmg org kuat makan la kan….but im just sharing..hehe…

  • http://www.mysabah.com/ Murphy

    Hi Jill, I love soto too. :-) Thank you so much for spending time to show me such a impressive list of recommendations (making me hungry). I can’t wait to try them all. :-p~ Lately I was told that there is Soto Tennis in Tawau. The meatball is as big as a tennis and the restaurant is always crowded with foodies. Sabahans are getting very creative in food. Last month I also tried “Gear Box Soup” in Lahad Datu, haha.. it is sup tulang actually.