Monday, March 08, 2010

Makaning (local) Kota Kinabalu

With plenty of waters to dive in and a mountain to conqure, I recently found myself in Kota Kinabalu twice within a short period of six months. I also had the good fortune of meeting JB, a friend of a friend, who took us around and fed us lovely food and whisky, and with that we were fast friends.

perspectives of mount kinabalu

I first visited Kota Kinabalu in 2009 to spend a few days underwater fining amongst fascinating colours and potentially delicious items in the water. This time around in 2010, I traded in my fins and mask for a pair of hiking shoes and a head torch and took to conqure the mountain. Scaling the mountain knocked some wind out of me but the as we gradually ascended and my legs grew weary, the landscape and view progressively improved. The night trekking on the other hand is not my cup of tea, it is dark and it is cold, and not being able to see the end point was torture. The only upside of the darkness were the star filled sky as we gazed up and the city lights as we gazed down. The peak if you ask me, it is overrated. The surreal landscape on the way up and the barren raw beauty revealed on the way down were far more breathtaking and rewarding. So to me, the peak it is really just an end point and a maybe great photo op.

On this visit, JB was kind enough to take some time off to take us out for brunch to recharge our tired bodies and aching legs, and to act as a good food ambassador of Kota Kinabalu. We got into this car and drove away from the city centre and towards an invisible noodle trail that he set out for us.

(from top left to right: pork noodles, kopi special, ngiu chap and fish parts in tomato broth)

We first started off with the famous Kah Hiong Ngiu Chap with their super hot homemade chilli and a local kopi concoction called kopi special, a combination of local coffee, milk and gula Melaka (palm sugar). The kopi special has a caramel smoothness and gives the coffee a soft sweetness with an additional layer of flavour. The super hot chilli, I'm not too hot about, in fact it was just too hot for me. The beef noodles on the other hand, good. The soup is sweet and tasty, although a tad overcompensated with a boost from the good old msg. The braised beef tender and although it is a beef noodle place, for me the braised radish was the winner. The next stop, pork noodles. Here, the bowl of noodles is all flavour and texture - springy noodles tossed in dark sauce and served with a side dish heaped with lard bits. The pork broth is surprisingly sweet but its contents were slightly overcooked. And just when I thought we were done with brunch, JB said, one more stop if you still have space, we can all share a bowl. So on we drove towards bowl number three, a bowl of selected fish parts up to your own choosing – from fish balls, fish maw, slices fish, fried fish to fish lips and fish stomach … prepared in a slightly sour tomato broth, light enough to let the ingredients speak for themselves. Something else you need to order is the fried bean skin with fish paste, crisp on the outside and tenderly bouncy on the inside.

Aside from the noodles we slurped. We ate a lot of seafood during my visits to Kota Kinabalu. Surrounded by waters, it offers fresh and affordable seafood options. In the casual buzz of Filipino market or a variety of what I call, pick-and-point seafood restaurant, where you choose your dinner from tanks filled of seafood. My picks from the Filipino market are the sea grapes, a real taste of the ocean that we had dipped with a chilli concoction and the barbequed succulent squid, everything else that we had weren't particularly fantastic. And from the restaurants, other than platters of prawns, mantis shrimp and bivalves, make sure to order a serving of the local Sabah vegetable - sayur manis - a crunchy local fern, like a skinny skinny asparagus that is delicious, stir fried either simply with garlic or spiced up with sambal.

So if this is Kota Kinabalu: diving, natural beauty, fresh seafood, Sabah vegetable, kopi and teh specials and a host of local eateries still to be discovered, I’m liking it.

Noodle Trail

Kah Hiong Ngiu Chap
Block A, Ground Floor,
2-0-10, Kolam Centre Phase 2, Hilltop,
Jalan Lintas,
Sabah, Malaysia.

Kedai Kopi Melanian
Lot 7-0, Ground Floor, Lorong Lintas Plaza 1,
Jalan Lintas, 88300 Penampang Kota Kinabalu

Fatt Kee
Lee Wong Kee Seafood Restaurant
Lot 6 Ground Floor,
1-0-3, Kolam Centre Phase 3,
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.



Blogger Sorin said...

I got hungry by just looking at the pictures.

10:58 PM  
Blogger reiz said...

KK is a nice place to relax. The whole simplicity of the place. I went KK twice within a span of 6 mths too :P

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Yasmin Lawsuit said...

Great photos.

1:53 AM  

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