First time to Sabah and don’t know what to eat? Most travel guides would recommend famous Sabah cuisines such as Tuaran fried noodle, Ngiu Chap (mixed beef noodle) and Sang Yuk Mee (mixed pork noodle) but leave out fish noodle. Sabah is renowned for its seafood and its seafood noodle is probably one of the best in Malaysia.
Reef fishes from the warm tropical ocean are the most delicious seafood in the world, and they are the preferred fishes in seafood noodles of Sabah. Depend on the restaurants, groupers, wrasse, snapper, amberjack (ikan tofu) and other seafood would be used. Though seafood noodles are more expensive than other noodles, you won’t get a 4-digit bill amount for having seafood noodle.
There are variety of serving styles for seafood noodles in Sabah. I list the popular seafood noodles below, as well as the recommended Kedai Kopi (coffee shop). Most of them are served by Chinese shops so I post their Chinese names too, easier for Chinese readers.
1) Mixed Fish Noodle (鱼杂)
Mixed Fish Noodle is the favourite seafood noodle of Sabah people, to enjoy different parts and serving styles of fish. For first timers, fresh or fried fillets, fish cake, fish chunks and fish ball are good start. Some foodies would go for the fishy parts such as fish head, fish skin and fish maw. For noodles, you can choose between the mee hoon (rice vermicelli) and yellow noodle (and kuey teow flat noodle). You may have your noodle served in broth or a separate bowl. For broth, you can pick the savoury and sour tomato soup, or the spicy and milky tom-yam soup (or hamcoi, salty vegetable in soup).
I prefer vermicelli in soup because the thin noodle absorbs the rich seafood flavours well. By Malaysian standard, our tom-yam soup is not really hot. I had an American friend who insisted on trying tom-yam and his whole face turned red and sweaty, but he still liked it.
Fatt Kee Seafood Restaurant Hilltop (发记鱼杂专卖店)
Location (View Map): Lot 8, Ground Floor (Hilltop), 1-0-1, Kolam Centre Phase 3, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Phone: +60 16-8104884
Kedai Kopi How Kee (好记茶室)
Notung Kusan Cafe
Kuo Man Restaurant (国民茶室)
Kedai Kopi Wan Wan (旺旺茶室)
Kedai Kopi Tien Hwa (天华茶室)
Location (View Map): Jalan Milimewa Lama, Keningau, Sabah
2) Giant Grouper Noodle
Giant grouper is the king of grouper (known as Ikan Keratang in Malay, 龙趸 in Chinese). It can grow to a massive size of nearly 200 Kg, which spooks the scuba divers sometimes. Huge giant grouper is a highly sought-after seafood here. The flesh of giant grouper is firm and its head is packed with collagen. For gourmet seafood lovers, it’s the ultimate delicacy.
Sabah Keratang Sadong Jaya (沙巴龙趸专卖店)
Location (View Map): Block J, Sadong Jaya, 74, Lorong Karamunsing, Karamunsing, Kota Kinabalu
Phone: +60 14-3349986
Kedai Makan Gembira (大家乐茶餐室)
3) Crispy Noodle (海鲜香底米粉)
You won’t forget the mouthfeel of eating the fried crispy noodle mixed with juicy seafood gravy. The aromatic noodle sucks the rich seafood flavours and you can’t stop once you start. The big prawns and squid look so good, but the most important thing is they are fresh.
Empire Seafood Restaurant (傅贵林门海鲜餐厅)
4) Other Seafood Noodles
The following are more seafood noodles of Sabah for your tastebuds to explore.
a) Fish Paste Noodle
The noodle itself is made of fish paste. 100% fish noodle baby.
Kedai Kopi Makan Kong Teck (康德小食馆)
b) Tomyam Seafood Noodle
You love big prawns served in spicy and creamy broth? I thank God every time I have this.
Seng Hing Restaurant (成兴茶餐室)
Gaya Fish Noodle (加雅鱼面馆)
c) Spring Noodle (弹弓面)
Spring noodle is a Chinese-style yellow noodle that is named for its dense and chewy texture. This noodle from Sandakan goes well with seafood broth.
Kampung Pukat Fishboat Street Sandakan (渔船街)
Note: Though most, if not all the Chinese shops listed here don’t serve pork, they are not certified as Halal. Some Muslims feel ok to dine there, while some don’t, so decide at your own discretion.
Some of the shops accept online orders by Foodpanda or Grab Food, so you can avoid the long queue and have these seafood noodles delivered to your doorstep. Just a heads up, the seafood noodles by reputable shops are very likely sold out in the morning.
Photos taken in Sabah, Malaysia Borneo