The 10 Best Restaurants in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
What’s better than the beaches in KK? The food, of course.
If you’ve lost your salsa, this is the place to find it. This restaurant-bar brings Mexican cuisine to downtown KK, and adds a few of its own selections. Satays and mezze platters are served alongside tacos and fajitas, and the four-cheese pizza will be the melt-in-your-mouth reason to break your diet. Vegetarian options are available.
You may be 6,624 miles (10,661 km) away from Italy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t feel like you’re eating food straight out of Tuscany. Established in 2000 by the Ceresas, this bistro-style restaurant imports up to 80% of its ingredients, and makes fresh pastas and sauces every day. The Spinach Cannelloni offers warm pockets of delight, while the Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia is carbo-loading at its best. This place tends to get crowded, so don’t be surprised if you have to queue.
If you’re more about food than ambiance, then this is the place to enjoy your fill. Seafood is caught and weighed in front of you before it goes into the kitchen, and you can choose the cooking style. Fried? Sauced? Garlicky, spicy or lemony? It’s all up to you!. Try the Wet Butter Tiger Prawn, Salted Egg Crab, and the Chili White Clam — you might get a mini seafood orgasm. And they have beer, too, if that’s your thing.
With fresh sashimi platters, sweet grilled mackerel, and generous bento sets, Sakagura is KK’s top Japanese restaurant. Depending on your company, you can choose to sit at the sushi bar, the teppanyaki counter, or at small tables and booths. This place is on the ground floor of the Oceanus Waterfront Mall, and you have a choice of sitting inside or outside.
If it looks like a pub and feels like a pub, it probably has pub grub. Located in Lintas Plaza, Brass Monkey is a funky little joint with eccentric decor, a laid-back ambiance, and spectacular food. The King Kong steak and the Roast & Grilled Combo Lamb (with meat so tender it falls right off the bone) are out of this world. And if you fancy some dessert, the Monkey Business is a fruity, chocolatey, Swiss roll delight.
Almost as busy as the street it’s located on (Jalan Haji Saman), Chilli Vanilla is your go-to destination for delectable Eastern European cuisine. Serving Hungarian classics like the Hungarian Goulash and Chicken Roulade, this bistro also gladly offers “international” cuisine — their Moroccan-Inspired Lamb Stew and Chilli Chocolate Braised Beef are dishes made with love and time (slow-cooked).
Ever get bored while doing your laundry? Have no fear! Laundroluxe comes to the rescue with an elegant dining experience featuring beautifully-presented European-style cuisine. The creamy seafood risotto is a must-try, and the braised lamb shank is so deliciously tender you’ll wonder why you don’t do your laundry more often.
Indian food is known for the spices, and few places do spices better than Kohinoor. For an exciting, hot-to-the-tongue treat, try the Mutton Rogan Josh, a thick, Kashmirian meat dish that will thrill your taste buds and at least three other senses. Supplement it with Jeera rice and a mango lassi, and you’re set for the evening. This restaurant in located at the Waterfront Esplanade, so you can sit outside at the terrace and enjoy the sea view.
Snugly situated in the popular Gaya Street, this urban-looking café offers an appetising retreat from the crowd outside. Food here tends to be European (think burgers, steaks, risottos), but there are local options, too, including the beef stew rice and the lamb curry rice. For an innovative Italian surprise, try the pizza rolls. And if you like your desserts creative, go for the Matcha Adzuki Mousse Cake — it’s yum!
This self-service, cafeteria-style eatery offers dim sum favourites (like prawn dumplings and black glutinous rice), breakfast toast with kaya (coconut jam), and well-loved local selections like Laksa, Nasi Lemak, and Curry Mee. It’s like eating at OldTown White Coffee, but for half the price. With all that money saved, you can even supplement your meal with Malaysia’s favourite mamak drink, the teh tarik (pulled tea).