Kota Kinablu is a cultural melting pot. Here Chinese meet Malays and Bruneis, Javanese, Filipinos and even a couple of Europeans, all of whom have brought along their own cuisine. Try out the many specialties offered at the various kedai kopi (often in buffet form making it easy to order) and shun fast food chains.
For meals, head to the outdoor food stalls fronting the sea or coffee shops along the streets. The less adventurous could make a beeline for fast food outlets in the Centrepoint shopping center while those with deeper pockets could try the pier-side restaurants just after the open air fish market. The promenade restaurants between the Philippino Craft Market and the fish market are poor value and only frequented by tourists. Try SEDCO Square in the evening for top value.
@mosphere, Menara Tun Mustapha, ☎ +60 88 425100, . Revolving restaurant in Borneo's tallest building serving predictably generic "Pacific Rim" cuisine. Open throughout the day and for drinks at night.
Anjappar, Asia City Complex (facing Api Api centre, diagonally across the street from CentrePoint) ☎ +60 88 227969, . Chettinad (North and South Indian) cuisine. Serves authentic Indian food such as banana leaf meals, biriyani, naan & roti, tandoori dishes, and dosai. Prices range from RM3.50-RM10.00. Hours 10:30AM-3:30PM and 5:30PM-10PM. Anjappar is an Indian franchise with branches in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sri Lanka and Canada.
Bella Italia, 69 Jl. Gaya. (Under the Jesselton Hotel in Kota Kinabalu's business area). ☎ +60 88313366. Italian restaurant serving pizzas and pastas and if you get there early there are discounts.
Borneo 1945 Museum Kopitiam, No. 24, Jl. Dewan. (Under Borneo Backpackers). ☎ +60 19 883 3829. They serve the best coffee in town. Malaysian food is available. Great price for bike rentals to tour around city. It is also has a museum with a focus on the the Second World War on Sandakan Death March. Contains many pictures and antiques.
Grazie Ristorante, Wawasan Plaza Complex, (Next to Tang Dynasty Hotel), ☎ +60 19 821 6936 . An Italian restaurant. Serves no pork.
Ferdinand`s Italian restaurant, (At the Magellan Sutera Harbour Hotel). ☎ +60 88 303900. Italian restaurant an Sutera Harbour hotel, next to the international airport.
Jeff De Corner Grd Flr, Luyang Ph 6, Shophouse, approximately 15 min from the city. Dishes include lamb and beef steak, oxtail soup, lamb shank, BBQ lamb and the exclusive Wagyu beef steak. Please call for reservation. ☎ +60 19 8818427
Jothy's Fish Head Curry and Banana Leaf Restaurant, Api Api Center. An eat with your hands restaurant. A chicken dish RM8, a mango lassie RM4. Fish head curry, fish cutlets, fried fish pieces, chicken nasi biryani, assam soup and dried bitter gourd. They'll bring you a spoon and fork if you wish. Ask for a banana leaf (for additional 50 cents) and eat with your hands. English menu.
Kohinoor ☎ +60 88 235160, . North Indian food by the waterfront. Claims to have invented the "Chicken Cheese Tandoori Tikka". Indoor and alfresco seating.
Man Tai Restaurant - Located in Likas, Dah Yeh Villa. Beaufort-style Fried Noodles. They serve Chinese style a-la carte dishes as well.
Mario's Pizza 1 Borneo Hypermall, Jl. UMS. Mario's Pizza at 1 Borneo C-702 Lower Ground. Serve Italian pizza slice or Pizza al Taglio.
Pete's Corner, Located in Asia City in the heart of Kota Kinabalu. A breakfast place which specialises in steaks and other western dishes for RM10-18.
Pirates Rib Shack Diner. In Asia City. Pork and lamb ribs, steaks, burgers and seafood, on Sunday they hold a weekly BBQ Pork roast.
The Stonebridge Galley Provides all day English Breakfast.
Charles Cafe Halal food and drink.
Salim Lintas Square. (Approximately 20 min drive from the city) Supper spot specialising in many local "mamak" foods and delicacies including the Malaysian roti styled bread, cooked over an open flat iron skillet which is bathed in oil. The meal along with a cup of Teh Tarik Madras would range at around RM5-8.
Yu Kee's Bak Kut Teh, Located along the famous Gaya Street, its a Chinese operated restaurant that serves pork dishes for dinner time only (usually opens after 4pm until night time). A small single dish costs about RM4, soup top up is free. All types of pork meat and organs served with special Chinese herb soup.
Seafood in Kota Kinabalu is very popular, so getting a dose of it is a must. Here are some places to try:
Kampung Nelayan Floating Seafood Market Restaurant, ☎ +60 88 8823 1003. 10 min drive away from Kota Kinabalu city, this seafood restaurant is built within a botanical park/lake using Malay architecture. There is a nightly cultural performance with a fire show performed during the weekends.
New Gaya Seafood Restaurant, ☎ +60 88 8838 5020. One of the most visited seafood restaurant by locals. Prices are fixed and maybe 20%-30% cheaper than some city seafood restaurants. Deep fried crabs with egg yolk & butter prawn. Its located next to Gaya Sports Recreation Centre. ☎ +60 88 88426075, Inanam. 20 min by taxi, highly recommended for visitors who have spare time.
Ocean Seafood Restaurant, Right next to the Promenade Hotel and Parkson Grand. The restaurant faces the coastline. You can take a pick on your seafood orders by the fishtanks, or if you prefer, you can let the waiters recommend at your table.
Portview Seafood Restaurant, There are 2 branches of this in Kota Kinabalu. One of them is opposite Centrepoint Shopping Centre, called The Waterfront. This one is quite new, a very popular place for tourists and orders can be taken either way similar to Ocean Restaurant. This restaurant is nestled amongst other popular nightlife hangouts, mostly bars and clubs, but also cafes like CoffeeBean. The other older one is in front of a pier.
Salut Seafood Restaurant, It takes about 20 min car journey from the city center to Salut where the restaurant is located near the Sepanggar Bay and Telipok. It is a famous place for cheaper seafood dishes as the prawns are bred by the restaurant owner.