The sprawling Malaysian town of Kota Kinabalu lies in Sabah State on the South China Sea coast of Borneo, the fabled island split between Malaysia and Indonesia. The place to find over 30 different nationalities in its conglomeration of formerly separate villages and towns, the city is a confusing, totally fascinating mixture of heritage, cultures, traditions, legends and religions. From the Kota Kinabalu City Centre hotel, visitors can wander the streets and markets, spend some time on the seafront in the fishing harbour and explore the diverse districts close to town, all the while absorbing the unique flavour of this totally Asian city.
Unique flavours aren’t confined to the obvious cultural aspects of the city, they permeate the distinctive Sabah cuisine available everywhere from street food stalls to upscale downtown restaurants. A mix of Malay, Arab, Filipino, ethnic, Javanese Indian and Chinese cooking, the main ingredients here are meats and also the ultra-fresh daily catches of seafood, spiced or flavoured with roots, anchovies, oil-sautéed chilli pastes, nuts and fragrant herbs. Coconuts, their milk and their flesh, are important for the richness they add to a rice dish, for the delicious desserts and for smoothies and ice cream. Shellfish, crustaceans and deep-sea fish are caught offshore, and even unfamiliar offerings such as grilled stingray wings really are a taste thrill.
Kota Kinabalu is renowned for its plethora of cheap dining options, with visitors arriving from the remainder of Malaysia for any culinary weekend visit. The famous Night Market’s open-air food court is a favourite haunt for domestic and overseas visitors, with its plastic seating and sheeting detracting not at all in the delicacies available. Continue reading