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7 Eateries in Kota Kinabalu You Should Totally Check Out 

Traveling can be tiring. And at the end of a long day of city exploring and sunset watching, our stomachs start telling us that it needs to be fed.

In Kota Kinabalu, that wouldn’t be a problem as it’s got various restaurants and cafes for you to give a try. But if you’re not sure where to start, no worries! We’re here to help and we’ve rounded the 7 best eateries in town you should check out while here, listed in no particular order as we love them all.

Little Sulap Café

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Little Sulap Cafe is the place to get your fix of traditional and delicious Sabahan food. Wanting to share his love and passion for traditional Dusun Tatana recipes passed down for generations, the founder of Little Sulap Cafe, Chrisboy, really knows his way around local food.

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When sitting down inside the café, a bohemian vibe is the first thing that comes to mind with a hot pink door to match. The café gives people space to loosen up their worries and to just focus on the present moment. It also helps that the staff are super friendly! 

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It’s a must to try out their Original Sabahan or Ambuyat Set. Both serve the same local kampong dishes such as Bambangan, a native fruit, and Tuhau, wild pickled ginger. But the Original Sabahan set comes with brown rice and the Ambuyat Set comes instead with ambuyat, a white sticky sago. One tip for you: ambuyat is really sticky so the technique of twist and twirl is needed to get an ample amount. Dip it in their in-house special sauce and gulp it all in without chewing. 

If you want something a little closer to home, then their Swedish and Chicken meatballs (hilariously named Oh My Balls) is worth a try. Their Chicken Wings are also a must order as they are cooked using a secret recipe. Their Teruna Kesepian dish is a recommendation as well. We won’t tell you what the dish’s name means so the only way to find out is to ask the staff; they’ll be more than happy to explain. As for drinks, we recommend the hot Pink Lemonade or the refreshing local coffee, Kupi Bantaton

 

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Opening Hours: Opens Daily from 10am to 10pm

Address: Jalan Dewan, Pusat Bandar, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah 

Phone: 016-202 7597


Pando Cafe ITCC

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100% vegan. 100% delicious. Pando Café ITCC is one of the first vegan cafes in KK and possibly one of the best. Using only vegan ingredients in all their dishes with an extra eye for detail, their aim is to make sure the food tastes as great as it looks. Together with friendly staff, great service and beautiful rustic interior, the restaurant is both cosy and welcoming. 

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Try out their Matcha cake if you’re looking to indulge. The rich and creamy filling layer the cake, made from ground cashew and coconut oil. Complement it with a warm glass of Spirulina Root Latte to top it all off perfectly. Coming in for lunch and dinner? We recommend the Vegan Nasi LemakSalad with Seaweed Topping and Aglio Olio Mushroom with cashew cheese, packed with flavour and nutrients. Wash it all down with the Infused Water or the Orange, Carrot, and Ginger Juice

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But their pizzas are really the main stars of the show! Made with sourdough thin crust fully fermented for 10 hours, their pizzas are packed with nutrients! Start off with a BBQ Shredded Mushroom Pizza or a Veggie Delight Pizza.

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And don’t get us started on their burgers! With hand-made vegan patties and plant-based ingredients topped with two fresh whole meal buns, it’s about time you treat yourself minus the guilt. If you’re interested, order the Black Pepper Burger and the Tempeh Burger with Roasted Pineapple and BBQ Sauce. You’ll start noticing that cashew cheese is a staple for many of their dishes so keep your taste buds on the alert! 

Do keep in mind that Pando Café will be moving from ITCC to the hip and trendy Goodang at Gaya Street very soon, which is located at the heart of Kota Kinabalu! Renovations start October and they'll be ready to open to the public by November. Don't miss out and keep yourself updated on their Facebook and Instagram!

 

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Opening Hours: Opens Daily from 10am to 10pm 

Address: ITCC Penampang, Jalan Pintas, 89500 Penampang

Phone: 012-700 2094

Superono  

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Poke bowls upon poke bowls is what you’re going to get here at Superono! Not a surprise when the woman who started Superono, Kath, was one of the first pioneers of poke bowls in Kota Kinabalu. Her ventures to Bangkok and KL saw her falling in love with the humble poke bowl, giving her the inspiration to bring it back to Kota Kinabalu (KK). And we thank her all the more for it! First starting out as Pokeboru in Jesselton Artisan Market, Kath then went on to open Superono, the first restaurant in KK to exclusively offer poke bowls. 

However, her passion for poke bowls extends beyond the ordinary; together with the main chef, Aaron, they craft and design unique poke dishes that are sure to snatch our taste buds. And in line with the name of their restaurant, their poke bowls are hands down, super ono which means super delicious in Hawaiian. So, rest assured that you’re in safe hands when it comes to taste because hands down, they make some of the best poke bowls in town. 

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There are different varieties of poke bowls to choose from at Superono; all you have to do is take your pick! 

Vegetarians, rejoice! Because their Buddha Bowl is about to be a sure favourite of yours. For those who don’t mind a little protein, their Chicken BowlSalmon Aburi Bowl, and Seared Ahi Tuna Bowl is the perfect choice. 

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If you want something a little different but equally delicious, we recommend their Wrap & Roll, the newest addition to their menu! You have a choice between salmon tartare and baked chicken, though we do recommend their salmon tartare as it is divine. You can also customise your own poke bowls so go crazy! 

As the restaurant aims at promoting a healthy and balanced lifestyle, you won’t find any Pepsi’s or Cola’s here, just good ol’ iced lemon tea. 

 

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Opening Hours: Opens Tuesday to Sunday from 11am to 10pm, Closed on Mondays 

Address: Lot 7, 1st Floor, Block A, Plaza 333, Lorong Plaza 333-1, Penampang, 89500 Kota 

Kinabalu 

Phone: 016-718 3373

Camaca Imago

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If you thought sugar-free is not your thing, then it’s time to let Camaca prove you wrong!

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Camaca specialises in serving sugar-free treats and desserts and they’re pretty darn good at what they do. Offering custom-made macarons to gelato (their Musang King and Kinabalu Coconut are a must-try), no longer do you have to indulge in guilt when you’re craving for something sweet! It’s also perfect for people who are diabetic, since artificial sugar is replaced with Maltitol

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Coffee is also something Camaca does very well and pride themselves on. Their coffee skills are spot on and they even individually hand pick and roast their own beans! Talk about dedication! They’re also one of the few outlets in KK to use the Japanese siphon method to brew their beans, which requires a high level of precision and detail to brew the perfect cup. Go over a minute and you’ve got yourself a botched brew. 

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A tip by Camaca for those new to specialty coffee: take a piece of dark chocolate and melt it on your tongue. Once it’s slightly melted, take a sip of their freshly prepared coffee and swallow it together. Let’s just say that your taste buds will be thanking you. And if you’re looking to buy a gift for a friend or relative who loves coffee, then their in-house made Camaca beans are a great option! 

 

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Opening Hours: Opens Daily from 10am to 10pm 

Address: G-51, Ground floor, Imago Shopping Mall, KK Times Square 2, Jalan Coastal 

Highway, 88100 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, 88100, Sabah 

Phone: 088 – 276 069

Damn Good Burger

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They weren’t kidding when they named their restaurant ‘Damn Good Burger’ because that’s exactly what their burgers are. Damn good. They’re known for serving up delicious beef and lamb burgers. And though we adore their beef burgers, it’s their lamb burgers that are the show stealers and a favourite amongst new and returning customers.

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Order yourselves an a la carte or set of the burgers and prepare to be blown away. The DGB Notorious is just that, notorious with melted cheese and a huge lamb patty stuffed between two buns. The DGB Phat burger comes with a sunny side up egg whereas the DGB Classic burger comes topped with a grilled beef strip. But eat it while it’s hot because that’s when the flavours are at their most extreme and juiciest. Share it with your friends or even eat it by yourself, because after one bite we’re not sure if you’d want to share at all! 

If you’re feeling thirsty, then pick from their selection of drinks made in-house named Ping Popo! Meaning 'grandmother' in Chinese, these drinks are made by the founder's grandmother! Their drinks consist of classic local favourites such as Milo Ping, and the popular Kopi Ping, Kopi O Ping, and Teh Ping for those who need the caffeine kick. 

 

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Opening Hours: Opens Daily from 12pm to 11pm 

Address: No.8, Ground floor, Lorong Dewan, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu, 88000 Kota 

Kinabalu, Sabah 

Phone: 012-838 9804 

Biru Biru

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If you’re thinking of a place to relax and have a great time, then there’s no better place to blow away your Monday blues with friends than at Biru Biru (‘blue blue’ in Malay or ‘beer beer’ in Japanese). You can’t miss the place! The front of the restaurant is literally decked out in blue. 

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Biru Biru is spacious and gives off a vintage yet modern vibe, from the lighting to the colour scheme. First entering the restaurant will make you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. And when the night hits, the ambience turns relaxing, making you want nothing more than a cocktail in hand. Better yet, sit by the bar and watch their skilled bartender craft your drinks up close. Friendly banter is expected.

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Biru Biru is one of the first cafes in Kota Kinabalu known for having good waffles, coming with a side of coconut ice cream and their homemade custard. And when paired with a Piccolo Latte late morning with natural light streaming in, you’ve got yourself the perfect way to laze away the rest of the afternoon. And with their waffles coming in different flavours, one may not be enough! 

If you’re opting for something healthier, start your lunch hour right with their poke bowls. And don’t even get us started on their quesadillas because they deserve a page on the menu, if you ask us. Complement it with a chili infused cocktail - it's one of their newer drinks called Diabito and well named, we might add - and end your long workday with a much-needed kick. But if you want a fruitier punch to the liver, then get the Kaffir Lychee Lemongrass Slash. You won’t be disappointed. 

 

Website: InstagramFacebook

Opening Hours: Opens Daily from 11am - 12am 

Address: 24, Lorong Dewan, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah 

Phone: 019-790 3810

Sabah Chili Pan Mee (Non-Halal)

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When it comes to chili pan mee, you can't go wrong with Sabah’s very own chili pan mee, and there’s no better place to try it than at Sabah Chilli Pan Mee.  

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When you enter their restaurant at their Gaya Street branch, you’ll be greeted by the friendly staff who will lead you to your seats. The interior is a mix of modern and traditional, with wooden tables and air-conditioning, perfect for the hot days Kota Kinabalu is known for. Their signature dishes are also put up on the walls for easy browsing and easy choosing!

Credit: Leon Kuan | Instagram

And of course, we can’t forget the food! Their most popular dish and literally the name of the restaurant is – of course – their Chili Pan Mee. There is a specific way to eat it, and that is to mix, mix and mix! Your taste buds will be hit with so much flavour when you take that first bite! Not spicy enough? There are chili flakes at the ready on every table if you ever need that extra spicy kick. 

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But don’t just stop there as their pan mee series goes beyond just chili pan mee! Dig in to the Claypot Dry Pan Mee and Curry Laksa Pan Mee with a side of Taiwanese Popcorn ChickenFried Oyster Mushroom, and Special Juicy Pork Ball. Every single one of these dishes are so well-flavoured that it’ll have you ordering seconds! And of course, their signature chili flakes can also be added in if you wish! If you’re looking for something more filling and extra savoury, then their Taiwanese Braised Pork Rice is a must-eat! You’ll like this small yet flavourful dish as it packs a punch. 

Order a variety of juices and drinks to complement all the richness. Want something refreshing? We recommend their Kitzai Ping, a term used by locals when ordering a cold lime drink, and their Teh Tarik Ping, a cold pulled tea. Watching your weight or just want something cooling after a day of sweating? Their juices such as the Weight Fighter Juice and the Thirst Quencher Juice are great choices! 


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Opening Hours: Opens Mondays to Saturdays from 7am to 10pm, and Sundays from 7am to 9pm 

Address: Sabah Chili Pan Mee 123, Gaya Street, Jalan Gaya, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu, 

88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah 

Phone: 088-278 626