If you’re a traveller, chances are you might be a little adventurous. However, not everyone is an adventurous foodie. If you are one, you’re already one step ahead of the other travellers as you get to have richer travel experiences. For those travelling to Kota Kinabalu or KK, try these top five unique local foods:
Pinasakan is a sweet and soury dish made of a preserved fatty fish called ikan basung. The fish is cooked over low heat together with salt, chili, lemongrass, ginger, turmeric, and asam keping (garcinia atroviridis). The traditional dish is not often found in the restaurant’s menu, but you can still make a request.
Umai is a Melanau dish made of thinly sliced raw fish which has been marinated with ingredients that include salt, chillies, onion, and assam paya (a kind of sour fruit taken from wild palms). The dish is one of Sabahan fishermen’s staples while they’re out at sea, as umai is quite easy and fast to make even with no proper kitchen.
Ambuyat is a starchy and gluey porridge made of sago starch normally eaten as a rice substitute (especially during celebrations) along with several side dishes and savory dips. Because ambuyat usually tastes quite bland, it has to be eaten with sour, tangy, or spicy dishes like pinasakan or even midin (wild fern).
- Butod (sago worms)
Sago worms are a popular delicacy in Sabah and Sarawak. The creamy, fatty, and slimy creature can either be eaten cooked (sautéed, boiled, or fried) or raw if you have the stomach for it. Found at some restaurants and street vendors, you can eat them for snacks on its own or dipped with any sauce of your choice.
If you’ve ever tasted caviar, perhaps you might want to try latok, which is a kind of seaweed that’s often eaten fresh either as a side dish or salad. The green colored latok looks pretty similar to caviar because of its bulbs, which have grape-like texture that just burst in your mouth. It’s best enjoyed with fresh chilies and lime.
With so many food establishments all over Sabah’s capital city, finding delicious food in KK should be a breeze. Depending on your food tolerance level, there may be unique food that won’t scare you off if you look around. For even stranger foods to try, ask the local people for recommendations and where to find them.