UFO tarts of Sandakan

UFO Tart of Sandakan

If you visit Sandakan, just ask any local there, “Hi! I want to eat cow dung. Where to get one?” and they will recommend you to try Cow Dung Tart, the most famous dessert of Sandakan (or even Sabah). Cow Dung Tart is also known as UFO Tart because of its flying saucer shape. To sound more appetizing, the name UFO Tart is preferred on media.

Cross section of a UFO / cow dung tart
UFO tart is made up of a biscuit base and with sweet custard and creamy meringue.

However, the local Chinese has been calling it Cow Dung Tart (牛屎挞) since day one and don’t want to change this, as they think the original name is cute and amusing. Personally I nickname UFO Tart as “Bull Shit Tart” lol.

Taking a photo of UFO tart by smartphone
Cow Dung Tart is also known as the UFO Tart because its shape resembles a flying saucer.

You can find UFO Tart easily in Sandakan. Many coffee shops (kopitiam), restaurants, even night market, are selling UFO tarts. Now you can buy this tart at a few shops in Kota Kinabalu City too.

Cow Dung Tart is an iconic dessert of Sandakan and Sabah
Cow Dung Tart is a creation by accident. No cow (and UFO) is hurt in the process.

UFO Tart has a soft and butter-flavored cake base topped with sweet custard and fluffy meringue. You can gulp the whole tart in only two or three bites. For me, it tastes like an eggy cookie with rich aroma of vanilla. UFO Tart goes well with a cup of hot coffee. If you ask me, I enjoy UFO Tart more than egg tart.

Nostalgia picture (1950s) of UFO Tart (or Cow Dung Tart)
UFO Tart (or Cow Dung Tart) is invented in 1955, the time Malaysia (and Borneo) was still ruled by the British. To some people, UFO tart is a taste of their childhood.

The born of UFO Tart is simply an accident happened over 60 years ago. No, it’s not a dessert introduced by the aliens from the outer space. In 1955, a Hainanese cake baker named Fu Ah On (符和安) was baking tarts as usual one day. While busy mingling, he over-baked his tarts. Surprisingly, the scorched tarts tasted good. Then he introduced this new tart and people loved it, hence it became a traditional cake unique to Sandakan until today.

Different looks of UFO tart
Every bakers design the look of their UFO tarts. The left one looks like UFO and the right one looks like cow dung. You can find four designs in this article.

Today UFO Tart has become an iconic food of Sabah. To commemorate this popular Sandakan delicacy, 5 May is declared as the “UFO Tart Day” of Sabah.

UFO Tart / Cow Dung Tart
May 5 is declared as a ‘UFO Tart Day’ in Sandakan

Where to Buy UFO Tart?

UFO tart costs about RM2.50 (≈USD0.60) each. It is not cheap because it takes many tedious steps to create this tart. Someone said the original recipe of UFO Tart is lost, so every bakers have their own formula to recreate the original flavours, then the tastes would be inconsistent. Anyway, the following are the shops that sell delicious UFO tarts, highly recommended by the local foodies.

Sandakan City

  1. Syn Ming Hing Cafe & Cake (新民兴): Jalan Lebuh Dua, Sandakan City Centre
  2. San Da Gen Kopitiam (三大羹): next to NAK Hotel
UFO tarts
The making of UFO tart is complicated and difficult, so it’s quite expensive.

Kota Kinabalu City

  1. Kedai Kopi Mee Ngar (味雅面包茶餐室): HQ in Sandakan and have branches in Kota Kinabalu (Iramanis, Damai, Telipok, etc.)
  2. Syn Syn Biscuits (新新): Damai Plaza in Luyang
Kedai Kopi Mee Ngar (味雅面包茶餐室) in Kota Kinabalu City
Kedai Kopi Mee Ngar (味雅面包茶餐室) sells one of the best UFO tarts in Kota Kinabalu.

Do you like UFO too? Please recommend other places where you can find excellent UFO Tarts.

DIY: making your own UFO Tarts

Photos taken in Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

6 thoughts on “UFO Tart of Sandakan

  1. I would have to add that not all UFO tarts are the same. In fact I truly believe the local do think the ones you have are NOT the original recipe as the original recipe was never passed down due to the baker having a heart attack and took it to his grave. All the ones good or bad are all experiments over the years to get as close as possible to it. I personally wouldnt eat them except for the one at Syn Min Hing and they apparently have a sister shop in KK…only theirs taste like the original. My two cents worth! haha

    1. Thanks for the info. Yes, seem like this tart has so many forms and styles in the market, hard to tell which one is original recipe.

  2. Great blog and you are obviously very passionate about your Sabah….they are now available in sydney made by Sandakian…if you ever drop by sydney. Check out facebook.com/moopootart 🙂

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