Tag Archives: fish

Nom Nom Sabah Food at Sim-Sim Water Village

century egg dumpling

Let me tell you what are the must-do things when you go to Sandakan City. First thing is Eat, second thing is also Eat, third thing is… well, you know. I may sound like joking but there are really a lot of delicious Sabah food you must not miss in Sandakan.

Sim-Sim Water Village

Sim-Sim Water Village

One of the best places for eat out is Sim-Sim Water Village, which is about 3 KM away from city center of Sandakan and along the main road Jalan Buli Sim Sim. Sim-Sim Water Village is built by hundreds of wooden stilt houses on the sea and has over one century of history. Travel agents always bring tourists here for sightseeing.

Going for lunch at Sim-Sim

Going for lunch at Sim-Sim

The water village is really a big maze. It is divided into over 20 zones and each zone is accessible by a “bridge”, which is a long concrete or plank walkway extending a few hundred meters to the sea and flanked by houses and shops. The famous dining area is on 7th and 8th bridge.

Eat out at Sim-Sim

Walking on 8th bridge of Sim-Sim Village

7th Bridge (or Lorong G)

If you want to taste iconic food of Sandakan, go for Spring Noodle and Century Egg Dumpling (弹弓面 and 皮蛋饺 in Chinese) at 7th Bridge of Sim-Sim Water Village. Actually these two food are also available in other places of Sabah (even in Kota Kinabalu City) due to their increasing popularity, but 7th Bridge serves the most original and authentic version.

Spring Noodle (left) and Century Egg Dumpling of Sandakan

Spring noodle (left) and Century Egg Dumpling of Sandakan

The highly recommended restaurant for both dishes are Kau Kee (九记) at G68 of 7th Bridge. This coffee shop opens from 6am to 11am daily, but the food can be sold out before 10am, so you better be there early.

Century Egg Dumpling

Century Egg Dumpling

The texture of Spring Noodle is dense, thereby nearly doubling the flavor and aroma of yellow noodle, and a small bowl can make you full. As its name implies, the noodle is springy and a bit chewy. Eat it with savory deep fried pork and enjoy their lusciousness bounced in your mouth.

Century Egg Dumpling

Century Egg Dumpling is a must-try at Sim-Sim

Oh boy, next one is my favorite, the Century Egg Dumpling. The cook mixes the pork with century egg (jelly-like preserved egg), giving this dumpling a meaty taste blended with rich and creamy yolk flavor. However, some westerners might think the smell of century egg is repulsive. If you are first-time trying, you can order small quanity to sample, and order more if you really like it.

8th Bridge

For seafood lovers, head to 8th Bridge, which is just next to 7th Bridge.

Seafood restaurants of Sim-Sim Water Village

Seafood restaurants of Sim-Sim Water Village

When you reach the end of 8th Bridge, turn right to Sim-Sim 88 Seafood Restaurant (Chinese Name: 森森海上风味餐厅). This Chinese restaurant doesn’t serve pork but it’s not truly halal, though some Muslims think it’s acceptable.

White-bellied sea eagle statue of Sim-Sim 88 Seafood Restaurant

White-bellied sea eagle statue of Sim-Sim 88 Seafood Restaurant

Sea view at Sim-Sim 88 Seafood Restaurant

Sea view at Sim-Sim 88 Seafood Restaurant

You can enjoy sea view and breeze while having your meal.

Sim-Sim 88 Seafood Restaurant

Sim-Sim 88 Seafood Restaurant

The opening hours of Sim-Sim 88 Seafood Restaurant are 6:30am-3:30pm and 5:30pm-9:30pm.
Address (see Location Map): Kampung Sim-Sim, Off Jalan Buli Sim-Sim, 90000 Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia
Tel: +60 89-226558
They accept payment by credit card.

Steamed fish of Sim-Sim

Steamed fish of Sim-Sim

Sandakan City is one of the most important landing ports of seafood, so the restaurant is never short of fresh seafood such as fishes, crabs, prawns, squids, lobsters and seashells.

Big Sabah fishes

Sandakan is never short of big fishes

Some seafood dishes of the restaurant

Great variety of seafood dishes at the restaurant

There are many ways to cook a seafood, e.g. steamed, fried, broil. You can always ask the waitress to recommend the best way to enjoy it.

Butter Prawns

Butter Prawns

Clams

Clams

Big oyster of Sandakan

Big oyster of Sandakan

You can find many positive reviews on the Internet that Sim-Sim 88 Seafood Restaurant offers yummy seafood at affordable price. I won’t say it’s very cheap but it’s great value for money. The best seafood is fresh seafood. They don’t even need to use MSG.

Juicy big oyster

Juicy big oyster

If you want only quick and simple meal for one person, you can order the following items too.

Seafood noodle

Seafood noodle

Fresh seafood with noodle

Fresh seafood with noodle

Crispy seafood noodle (香底米粉 in Chinese)

Crispy seafood noodle (香底米粉 in Chinese). The noodle absorbs all the broth from seafood.

Milky seafood noodle soup

Milky seafood noodle soup with sour pickle, very appetizing

Want to have some “snack”? You will love their fried baby squids. It’s crispy and chewy but you will enjoy its fragrant smell.

Fried squid

Fried baby squid (with dark soy sauce) goes well with beer

fried squid

Close-up of fried baby squid

Piranha

Piranha in fish tank of the restaurant. Can order? 😀

Other Sandakan Food

As I mentioned, Sandakan City is great for a gastronomic tour. The following are more Sandakan food to make you happy:

Photos taken in Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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Leisure Diving at Islands off Kota Kinabalu City

scuba diver

I’m certified as a scuba diver since year 2008, but it’s a shame that I don’t dive quite often. I even stopped once for 2 years. When my friend Dodo invited me to join a diving group last month, I agreed without second thought. One of the best things living in Kota Kinabalu City (KK) is – we have dozens of dive sites located in Tunku Abdul Rahman Park (I prefer to call it KK Islands Park), which is only 15 minutes away by boat ride from KK.

Scuba divers onboard

Scuba diver friends onboard. At the right is May, my Sifu.

It rained heavily in the morning on our diving day. Luckily it stopped before 7am so we just proceeded with our plan. The diving team gathered at STAR Marina and we departed at 9:30am with Borneo Divers, which has a Dive Centre on Mamutik Island. My Dive Instructor, May, was onboard with us too. I confessed to her that I had given her back everything she taught me (which means I forget everything) LOL.

diver ready

I was a bit nervous but excited

However, there was no time to bother with the butterflies in my stomach, after suited up and got our dive equipment loaded on-board, we headed to the first dive site at 11am. On the way, I was busy to recall all the steps in my mind.

Entering the water by back roll

Me entering the water by back roll

I was the last one entering the water with my compact camera in underwater case (can stay waterproof up to a depth of 40 Meters). Due to the rain earlier, the water was a bit murky but the visibility is quite ok, about 6 Meters in average. Two Divemasters, Christine and Jonathan were covering our front and back during the dive. The following are summaries of my experience in 3 dive sites.

Dive sites of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park

Dive sites of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. We covered North Sulug Reef, East Sulug Reef and The Rock

1. North Sulug Reef

Depth: 18-22M (Dive Time: 11:14am-12:00pm)
My first dive was quite terrible. It took me 2 minutes to equalize (relieve pressure to eardrums caused by increasing depth). Then sea water leaked into my mask, I couldn’t see things clearly half of time. I also couldn’t control my buoyancy effectively while busy setting my camera. All these are caused by lack of practices.

School of Yellow and Blueback Fusiliers

School of Yellow and Blueback Fusiliers

Anyway, we spotted two green turtles and a school of barracuda! There were school after school of yellowback fusiliers swimming close to reef to catch plankton.

Plate coral of Sulug Island

Plate coral of Sulug Island

Many table corals, sea whips and feather stars (marine animals that look like plants) were present. Though the variety and density of corals wasn’t impressive and I saw 5 to 7 Crown of Thorns (a cunning and thorny marine creature which preys on corals), this dive site has the most reef fishes compared to my next two dives.

Lettuce Corals

Lettuce Corals

scuba diver

Special thanks to Dodo for sharing her photos in this article. She is a hardcore diver who has done over 200 dives.

Slowly I got used to the water and able to navigate freely around the reef. The dive ended after 45 minutes and we went back to Mamutik Island for lunch.

2. East Sulug Reef

Depth: 9-16M (Dive Time: 1:20pm-2:04pm)
After lunch buffet and a short nap on the island, we started our second dive near Sulug Island again. To focus on polishing my rusted diving skill, I left my camera behind. This dive site is far more interesting than the first one.

A pair of mating nudibranch

A pair of mating nudibranch

The corals here is much more denser and it has become a good hiding place for numerous ocean critters. We saw a pair of mating nudibranch (also known as Orchids of the Ocean) on the coral rubble. In fact, you can find more wildlife underwater than on the land, and some of them are very bright in colors.

Hawksbill sea turtle

Hawksbill sea turtle

That day must be our lucky day. We saw a Hawksbill turtle swimming toward us. It seemed so relax and only a few Meters away from us, probably it thought we were just big fishes. The population of Hawksbill turtle is 10 times less than Green Turtle, so this sighting is really a treat.

Giant clam

Giant clam

I spotted at least two very big and old giant clams. If this park is not protected, there wouldn’t be any of them left due to overfishing. However, if a giant clam grows really huge, like over a Meter wide, many local fishermen would not dare to touch it because they believe there is a spirit dwells inside.

Cuttlefish camouflaged as a coral

Cuttlefish camouflaged as coral

We dived along a long stretch of underwater coral garden. I noticed a coral was “flashing”. A closer look showed that it’s a big cuttlefish camouflaged as a coral. We would have missed it if it didn’t change colors. Divers have to be very observant or they would miss many cool stuffs. I believe we only spotted a few percent of the wildlife lurking in this reef.

Puffer fish in a barrel sponge

Puffer fish in a barrel sponge

East Sulug Reef has a lot of lettuce corals, mushroom corals and barrel sponges. Among them, I saw two Christmas tree worms retreated into their burrows, and orange-spotted grouper, angelfish, etc. Without a camera, I could dive more freely. Most of the time, I hovered between between a depth of 10 to 14 Meters, where visibility is better and beautiful corals concentrated.

3. The Rock

Depth: 12-13M (Dive Time: 3:25pm-4pm)
For the last dive, we explored The Rock just behind Mamutik Island. The corals at The Rock is as fabulous as East Sulug Reef but with more variety of soft corals. Too bad I don’t know most of their names. I will buy a guide book and learn to identify the marine lives so I will enjoy diving more.

Coral Razorfish

Coral Razorfish

The seascape here is a gradual sloping ridge. Ten of us dived gently along its side full with fringing reef.

Dense coral in Sulug Reef

Dense coral in The Rock

Hard corals grow an average of 1 to 2 cm per year. Many corals in the marine parks of Sabah are estimated 3,000 to 6,000 years old. But they can be totally destroyed in a matter of minutes by destructive fishing method such as blast fishing (or fish bombing).

False Clown Anemone fish in Ritteri anemone

False Clown Anemone fish in Ritteri anemone

We saw two Magnificent Anemones with Anemonefishes (Nemo) living in them. Magnificent Anemone is very hard to survive in aquarium, so you have to see them in the wild.

Pink Anemonefish in purple Magnificent Anemone (Heteractis magnifica)

Pink Anemonefish in purple Magnificent Anemone (Heteractis magnifica)

Even though KK Islands Park isn’t a world-class diving spot, it’s still a great playground, even experienced divers find pleasant surprises in every dive.

sea fern

Shrub-like sea fern

Everyone was really happy. The sighting of sea turtles and barracuda is already worth the trip. My interest on diving is reignited. I’ll do more dives regularly to perfect my skill and take more underwater photos in future.

Recommended Dive Operators

Sabah has so many high-quality diving spots all over the state. The nearest dive site could be less than 20 KM away from our home. If you don’t know how to dive, it’s like living next to a snowy mountain but don’t know how to ski.

Gear up for the dive

Gear up for the dive

You can find more about how to get certified as a scuba diver in my blog. To get certified or arrange a diving trip, I highly recommend the dive operators below:

1. Borneo Divers

Borneo Divers is the most established PADI 5-star dive operator in Sabah and has dive centres on Mamutik and Mabul Islands.
Tel: +60 88-222226, +60 88-221340
E-mail: information@borneodivers.info
Website: www.borneodivers.net
Facebook: BorneoDiversMabulResort
Office Address: 9th Floor, Menara Jubili, 53, Jalan Gaya, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

scuba diver showing OK sign

Ok Bah! Everyone can dive

2. Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventures

Downbelow is run by a nice couple, Richard and Joanne from UK. They are very passionate about the nature of Sabah, and their service is highly rated in TripAdvisor. Downbelow has a PADI 5-star dive centre on Gaya Island Base Camp and a Dive Shop in KK Times Square.

E-mail: info@divedownbelow.com
Website: www.divedownbelow.com
Tel: +60 88-488997, +60 12-8661935
Office Address: KK Times Square, Lot 33-G, Block F, Kota Kinabalu, 88100 Sabah, Malaysia
Facebook: DiveDownBelow
Google+: +Divedownbelow
Twitter: @divedownbelow
Youtube: divedownbelow
Instagram: divedownbelow

Divers descending to the bottom

Scuba Diving is fun

3. Asia Diving Vacation

Asia Diving Vacation was started by my old buddy, Jacob, who is an avid diver who loves to introduce divers to the best dive sites in Asia, for example, Layang Layang, Lankayan, Sipadan and even Maratua (Indonesia). You can join him stalking whale shark around the islands of KK.

E-mail: customercare@asiadivingvacation.com
Website: www.asiadivingvacation.com
Office Address: Duis Dive, 23, 3rd Floor, Block C, Damai Plaza IV, 88300 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Facebook: AsiaDivingVacation
Twitter: @advonline

The fee of leisure diving (fun diving) day trip ranges from RM320 to RM360 (≈US$90-103), which normally includes boat transfer, 3 guided boat dives, rental of scuba equipment, diving permit and lunch. Please visit their websites for detail on dive packages.

Cheering for the exciting dive

Cheering for the exciting dive

Photos taken in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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