Category Archives: Food

Lobster Nasi Lemak, First in Malaysia

(Update (Jan 2019): This dish is no longer available in Tavern restaurant).
Malaysians love Nasi Lemak (Coconut Milk Rice), which is our unofficial national dish, and I wonder why 1Malaysia campaign doesn’t use Nasi Lemak in their logo design, as this is the food that can unite every races. Well, probably it isn’t a good idea to have a patriotic logo that makes people drool lol.

Lobster Nasi Lemak

The rice of Nasi Lemak is normally cooked with coconut milk and pandan leaves that give it a pleasing aroma and creamy flavour. Standard nasi lemak is served with sambal (chili-based sauce) and various garnishes such as crispy ikan bilis (fried anchovy fishes), roasted peanuts, fresh cucumber slices and boiled egg.

close-up of Nasi Lemak

Nasi lemak can be served in a variety of ways. For example, you can add fried chicken, cuttlefish, or rendang daging (beef) to the rice for a more fulfilling meal. You may have eaten hundreds of nasi lemak, but have you ever tried it once with lobster?

dinner with MeiTzeu and Alex

With me were MeiTzeu, a famous blogger and her husband Alex

For those who have curious tastebuds, Tavern Kitchen & Bar, one of the best restaurants in Kota Kinabalu City, is creative to make this exclusive menu for you.

Lobster Nasi Lemak

Similar to traditional nasi lemak, Lobster Nasi Lemak consists of coconut infused steamed rice, pandan leaf and traditional ingredient to enhance the rice flavour, accompanied with tomato & cucumber slices, crispy anchovy, toasted peanuts, acar (mixed pickled), boiled egg & sambal (hot & spicy, pre-cooked). On top of these, it is also served with a 400gm lobster oven baked with chef marination ingredient, preferred sauce (3 topping choices: buttermilk, satay sauce and spicy sambal) top with cheese.

lobster meat

The cuisine is placed on banana leaf and mini bamboo sieve, giving it a nice touch. Nasi Lemak is always sold as an economic food in roadside stalls and hawker food centres, so I applaud the bold idea of Tavern Kitchen & Bar to push it to higher level.

Lobster Nasi Lemak and side dishes: tiger prawns and giant squid

Lobster Nasi Lemak tastes wonderful. The lobster meat is tender and well-marinated, and blend well with the taste of nasi lemak. Rice is the soul of Nasi Lemak and is well taken care of by Tavern. The savoury coconut milk-infused rice has fluffy texture and not oily.

Lobster Nasi Lemak by Tavern Kitchen & Bar

Limited Time Offer: Tavern Kitchen & Bar offers promotional price of RM49++ for Lobster Nasi Lemak from October to December 2017 (Normal Price is RM79), and it’s limited to only 30 plates daily. FYI, even a normal nasi lemak is sold for over RM45 in Vancouver (Canada). For Lobster Nasi Lemak like this, it could cost 10 times more overseas.

Virgin Mojito

Virgin Mojito

The recommended drink to go with Lobster Nasi Lemak is Virgin Mojito (lime juice with brown sugar and fresh mint, topped with club soda, RM15.90 per glass), a sour drink to remove the oily feel in your mouth.

Tiger Prawns

To enjoy three kinds of seafood flavours, you can order two other side dishes:

  1. Tiger Prawn (RM49++): grilled tiger prawn 500gm, marinated with garlic, tuhau (local wild ginger) and top with cheese
  2. Giant Squid (RM38++): grilled large squid weight 450 gm with chef special marination, served with sambal and acar

Giant Squid

For more information about Lobster Nasi Lemak, please visit:

Tavern Kitchen & Bar is located in Imago Shopping Mall, just next to Nike shop, on the same row as Starbucks in ground floor.

Address: Lot G-93, Aramaiti Street Walk, Imago Shopping Mall, KK Times Square Phase 2, Jalan Coastal, 88100 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.
GPS Location: 5.971437, 116.066320 (see Location Map)
Opening hours: Sun – Thu: 10am to 12 Midnight; Fri, Sat & Public Holiday eve: 10am to 2am
Tel: +60 12-5860093
Facebook: tavernkk
Instagram: @tavernkitchen
Twitter: @tavernkk

Lobster Nasi Lemak and side dishes: tiger prawns and giant squid

Photos taken in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

Sunset, Fireflies, Sambah River Cruise

Beautiful sunset at Tenghilan

River cruise in mangrove forest is one of the most popular tours in Sabah. Normally tourists pay about MYR200 to see long-nosed monkey, sunset and fireflies in wetlands of Klias, Weston or Kota Belud.

Sambah River Cruise

FYI you can see these in Tenghilan (in Tuaran district) for about half of the price (MYR80), but without wildlife such as proboscis monkey. Anyway, its advantages are: (1) the destination is less than an hour drive from Kota Kinabalu City (KK), (2) You will have a chance to sample a delicious snack called Udang Salai (Smoked Shrimps).

smoking fresh shrimps

Udang Salai (Smoked Shrimps) is a special product of Sambah Village

This tour is named Sambah River Cruise because it is based in Kampung Sambah (Kampung means Village in Malay language). Before the river cruise, my group was invited to the house of David (our host) in Kampung Bunga, where welcoming drink and light refreshment were served, and an introduction about the trip was given.

Briefing at Kampung Bunga, Tenghilan

Briefing at Kampung Bunga, Tenghilan

Then we moved to the jetty in Kampung Nouga (GPS: 6.233895, 116.307495) around 5pm to start our first river cruise in mangrove forest.

Jetty in Kampung Nouga, Tenghilan

Jetty in Kampung Nouga, Tenghilan

Mangrove Forest

As part of the Sulaman Lake, this wetland has been a fishing zone. If you are an avid angler, you can request them to include fishing as part of the activities.

river cruise in mangrove

Mangrove is the breeding place for seafood.

Technically this swamp is a lagoon as it is directly connected to the sea via a channel. During high tide, fishes such as grouper follow the sea current to enter this mangrove to forage and breed, so it’s not uncommon that you can catch very big fish here.

River cruise at Kg Sambah

The river cruises are between 5pm to 8:00pm

Tuaran has one of the best mangrove forest near KK. The area we visited was mostly intact and large. The brackish water may look dirty, but crabs and prawns grow faster and fatter in such environment. The mudflat of mangrove is also the best place to harvest clams.

Navigate in maze of mangrove forest

Navigate in maze of mangrove forest

Located between sea and river, mangrove swamp is one of the most peculiar forest in the world. The trees can grow in the water and tolerant to saline water, and they breathe with roots. Living among the trees are some weird animals such as the walking and jumping fish, mud-skipper and colorful fiddler crabs with huge pincer.

Approaching Kampung Sambah, a fishing village

Approaching Kampung Sambah, a fishing village

Our boat navigated in a maze of mangrove forest network. The panoramic view of lush mangrove forest is impressive. Some trees grow over 10 Meters. I think Sabah Wildlife Department can bring in some proboscis monkey families. I’m sure they can live happily here.

Group photo at jetty of Kampung Sambah village

Group photo at jetty of Kampung Sambah village

59% of the mangrove forest of Malaysia is located in Sabah. Do you know Sabah has both the smallest (KK Wetland) and largest (Kinabatangan) Ramsar sites of Malaysia? Ramsar Site is a wetland site designated of international importance in terms of conservation, ecology and biodiversity.

Kampung Sambah next to Sulaman Lake of Tuaran

Kampung Sambah is a small fishing village next to Sulaman Lake of Tuaran

Udang Salai (Smoked Shrimps)

Around 5:30pm, we arrived Kampung Sambah, a water village next to the lake.

Taking a stroll in Kampung Sambah Village

The tour includes a stroll in Kampung Sambah Village

stilt houses in Kampung Sambah village

The houses in Kampung Sambah are on stilt to avoid flood and high tide

We took a walk in the village, which has a population of 200 of mainly Bajau people. Most of them live in wooden houses on stilt on the mudflat of mangrove, a typical view of fishermen village in Sabah.

Smoke House for making Smoked Shrimps (Udang Salai)

Smoke House for making Smoked Shrimps (Udang Salai)

Only two villages, Kampung Sambah and Kampung Penimbawan, produce Smoked Shrimps (Udang Salai)

Only two villages, Kampung Sambah and Kampung Penimbawan, produce Smoked Shrimps (Udang Salai)

However, this ordinary village has an extraordinary snack called Udang Salai (Smoked Shrimps). Believe me. The taste of Udang Salai is unforgettable. Once you try it, you would crave for it occasionally.

The burning wood for Smoked Shrimps

The burning wood gives Smoked Shrimps (Udang Salai) very nice aroma

Shrimps are abundant in this area. Only fresh shrimps (no frozen shrimp) are used in making Udang Salai.

Udang Salai (Smoked Shrimps) is one of the tastiest Sabah snack

Udang Salai (Smoked Shrimps) is one of the tastiest Sabah snack I’ve ever tried

They have a simple small hut with wood burning stove to smoke the shrimps. The small shrimps are placed on mesh wire above the burning wood and being smoked until they are totally dry and cooked. The taste is yummy and crunchy with nice barbecue flavor. Even the shell is edible. You can’t stop once you start eating it.

Udang Salai (Smoked Shrimps) in a plate

A small pack of Udang Salai can cost about MYR30

Sambah Village is one of the largest producers of Udang Salai, apart from its neighbors Kampung Penimbawan in Tuaran. Smoked shrimps are sold at tamu (morning open market) of Tenghilan on Thursday and Tuaran on Sunday. It’s always sold out before 8am.

Making Smoked Shrimps (Udang Salai)

You can buy Smoked Shrimps (Udang Salai) in weekly open market (tamu) of Tenghilan (Thu) and Tuaran (Sun)

Sunset & Firefly

Though I wanted to stay back to eat more Udang Salai, we had to start our second river cruise at 6:10pm.

Departing for sunset and firefly cruise

Departing for sunset and firefly cruise

Waiting for the magic hour of sunset

Waiting for the magic hour of sunset

Soon our boat approached the estuary, where we could see the sun started sinking into the ocean. The blazing sun ray gradually turned into warm and golden beam, marking the start of twilight.

Love shape cloud

See the love shape cloud?

nice sunset at estuary


The sunset view was hypnotizing. Even though it rained earlier, the extra moisture in the air is the recipe for making of a beautiful sunset. The colors of the sky and cloud went wild and intense, and we were lucky to see the famous flaming sunset of Sabah.

Beautiful sunset at Tenghilan

Spectacular sunset at Tenghilan

After the sunset, our boat cruised slowly in the total darkness in mangrove. We saw some congregating fireflies flashing on the mangrove tree like summer Xmas tree. The density and scale of fireflies here are small, but good enough for people who never see firefly.

Dinner at the end of tour, rice with fried chicken, crabs, mixed vegetables and some fruits

Dinner at the end of tour, rice with fried chicken, crabs, mixed vegetables and some fruits

Fresh crabs from the mangrove

Fresh crabs from the mangrove

The river cruise ended around 7:30pm and we enjoyed our dinner at David’s house.

How to get there

This destination is less than 50 Kilometers from KK. The tour operator can pick you up at your hotel. The fee is about MYR80 (about USD$20) per person for this half-day tour (3:30pm-8:30pm).

Below is contact information and more details for you to find out more:
Tel: +60 14-6751256
Facebook: sambahrivercruise
Instagram: @sambah_river_cruise

Photos taken in Tenghilan, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo