One of the main highlights of travelling has got to be food and the second, eating of course. Besides being an awesome destination for wildlife viewing, exploring pristine rainforest and diving, Sabah Borneo actually has some of the most tantalizing dishes that’s sure to send your tastebuds on a trip!
Here are are 12 top foods you need to try when you’re travelling in Sabah:
Its mango-like flesh doesn’t taste one bit like it, but some people do call it the wild mango. The bambangan has a pungent smell and it tastes somewhat sweet and sour. Not ideally eaten raw, locals prefer to pickle it and it makes a great appetizer- Perfect when eaten with hot steaming rice.
Not many people like the strong distinct smell and taste of the tuhau so it’s really an acquired taste. Made from wild ginger, the tuhau is a local favourite of the Kadazan-Dusun people. It has a combination of tastes; sour, salty and a little spicy and is often eaten with rice.
Another traditional favourite, this famous Kadazan-Dusun dish is Sabah’s version of sushi. Hinava is super fresh raw fish that is mixed with lime juice, shallots, grated ginger and cili padi. Eaten as an appetizer or with rice, this raw fish salad is not just delicious but healthy as well. Hinava is usually marinated, then chilled for a couple of hours before it’s eaten.
The ambuyat is actually a national dish of Brunei, but is also a common dish that can be found in Sabah. This dish is a starchy mixture that is mixed with boiling hot water until it becomes a whitish or clear glue-like paste. It is normally eaten with sides like fish with bambangan soup and fried vegetables with smelly belacan is the best!
5. Paku Pakis
Or also known as Pucuk Paku or wild fern, this vegetable grows mainly in the wild. The vegetable is often cooked stir fried with belacan, dried shrimp and chili. Sometimes, it is also cooked in ulam. It’s not hard to have a taste of this vegetable in Sabah because many restaurants there serve it.
6. Tuaran Mee
Named after a district in Sabah, this noodle is one of Sabah’s most loved noodle dishes. Tuaran Mee is handmade egg noodles that is fried and is commonly served with Char Siu, Chun Kien, eggs and vegetables. Today, you can find some halal Tuaran Mee outlets around Sabah too!
7. Sayur Manis
Also known as the Sabah Veggie because apparently, you can’t get this good stuff anywhere else- Not even in Peninsula Malaysia. The name of the veggie speaks for itself- Sweet and delicious, it’s usually fried with egg and garlic. Sabahans who are abroad often crave this while they are away.
8. Ngiu Chap
Besides all the traditional food mentioned, Sabahans also love their Ngiu Chap! This beef noodle dish has many variations today but the most common and most loved version is the noodles in plain tasty beef broth with tender beef slices and meatballs. Other ngiu chap variations include laksa ngiu chap and kon lo ngiu chap.
Sabah is known for being the hub for seafood and it’s one of the things the state is famous for. Seafood here is affordable and there’s an array of fresh seafood you can get your fill of, cooked in various style of your choice. Speak to the locals there and they will gladly recommend you the best place to have seafood.
This dish came about way back in the days, when refrigerators were still non-existent. The Kadazan-Dusun people prepared the Pinasakan which is braised fish, and it can last up to two weeks! Cooked with just asam keping or garcinia atroviridis, lemon grass, turmeric, salt, ginger and cili padi or Bird’s eye chili over very low heat.
The butod or also known as the sago worm is an amazing source of protein. Yes, sago worm- You read that right. The butod or sago worm eats sago palm, and that’s how it got its name. It can be eaten alive or cooked and it doesn’t taste or smell bad- Surprisingly. Need a protein fix? Have some butod!
Not a common dish you can find just anywhere nowadays, the Linopot is a unique dish of rice and mashed yam that is wrapped in tarap leaves. Often served during special Kadazan-Dusun occasions like weddings and Harvest Festival, the Linopot is served with sides of other traditional delicacies like the bambangan, tuhau and others.