Alright, let’s talk about food this time!
There’s this question when everyone asked me, even tourists from overseas asked me, “Chloe, where can I find local food in Kota Kinabalu (KK)?” Oh how I wish I could answer them “Try out Hinava, Tuhau, Sayur campur, Paku Pakis …”. You will know what I am talking about if you are a Sabahan but if you don’t, Hinava is actually a raw fish which normally is the Tenggiri Fish mixed with lime juices and all and Tuhau is the Wild Ginger stem. Sayur campur (mixed vegetables) is always my favourite one because I learnt to cook this special dish at Walai Tokou Homestay during my pageant few years back. Paku Pakis is the Wild Fern.
In January 2013, here comes the miracle, finally. Remember the last year when I wrote something about an Upside Down House in Borneo in several magazines here in Borneo? It’s a blast! Once again, the owners of Rumah Terbalik contacted and asked me if I am able to make a review for his new restaurant.
A beautifully structured building mainly designed with glass panel windows (I like this kind of buiding, it makes me think of Europe again), the new restaurant is situated alongside of Rumah Terbalik. I was told that it was an old Mango farm that transformed to a Mango Garden Restaurant.
Carefully planned, visitors no need to pay for the parking and entrance. Unless your main reason is to visit the interior of Rumah Terbalik, then you need to pay the entrance fee. Seriously, if any of the local or international travellers who would like to try local native food, you might need to travel all the way to other district of Sabah which is far from Kota Kinabalu town itself. Now, you can enjoy local native food here in Tamparuli (30 mins drive from Kota Kinabalu, if the traffic is good).
Firstly, Mango Smoothies and Mint Tea
Both are great but the Mint Tea is special. For your info, Mint Tea is not on the menu so you may need to have a special request on that. (Both rating: 5/5)
2. Sayur Kailan Masak Dua Rasa
If you are able to remember, there was a restaurant called the Penang Restaurant in 1Borneo Hypermall which no longer operate that served the same dish. That was the first time ever that I tried deep fried kalian and I get couldn’t get it from other restaurants here in Kota Kinabalu. I did mention and interesting story about this dish just came to us that it was the same chef who made this special dish! Well, what a small world. The Kailan is served in two styles of preparation, deep fried and stir-fried with seafood, topped with crispy anchovies. It is a fusion dish between the Bajau Semporna tribe and Chinese method’s of cooking. (Rating: 4/5)
3. Hinava Sada *Highly recommended
OMG. Out of all the native cuisine, I love Hinava the most. It is actually raw fish, mixed with lime juices, chilli, and other things that depends on the chef; but most importantly is the lime. The Hinava in Mango Garden Restaurant is fresh and I love the sourly taste that is just right; freshly selected fish fillet marinated in lime juice, shallots, ginger, sliced chili and grated Badu (wild mango seeds). This is a must try dish, very popular in Sabah and originated from the Kadazan Dusun Tribes. (Rating: 5/5)
4. Nonsoom Bambanggan
I’m not sure if you are a fan of the Bambangan but definitely not me. For visitors, it is good to try out because it is one of the most well-known dishes in Sabah that everybody loves. Homemade preserved sweet, sour and salty bambangan fruit (wild mango) with bird’s eye chili. This is my first try out; it is milky and sour! (Rating: 4/5)
5. Ayam Goreng Berempah *Highly recommended
It may not look good but it is delicious! Deep fried chicken marinated in local herbs and spices, cooked until it become crispy and golden brown. (Rating: 5/5)
6. Ikan Goreng Kerabu Mangga
Crispy fried fillet off fish topped with our home made signature kerabu mango dressing and crushed roasted dried shrimps. For me, hmm… we can get this dish elsewhere too. Nothing special about it but the taste are fine. This is a must try fusion dish is prepared with locally grown herbs with a twist of Malay and Chinese ingredients. (Rating: 3/5)
7. Tuhau Miampai Daging Salai *Highly recommended
Something special about this dish is that the tastes are perfectly blended in. Not many people like the smell of the Tuhau but I find it okay and we normally eat with chili at home; so. Char-grilled sliced beef marinated with Tuhau (Local Ginger Stem pickles), chili, lime, lemongrass and herbs. The meat is juicy and tender. This dish is taken during drinking session known as Pamusas (titbits) but it’s also delicious if taken with rice. (Rating: 5/5)
8. Manuk Tinapah *Highly recommended
You will never get to try something like this in the town. Boneless chicken back quarter marinated with selected herbs and spices, rolled and barbequed to perfection, topped with delicious and thick coconut milk gravy. A fusion dish originated from the east coast of Sabah which is usually served during the breaking of fast in the holy month of Ramadan. (Rating: 5/5)
Mango Garden Restaurant are able to cater for about 150 pax in and out of the restaurant. While you are on your way to Kundasang or Ranau, why not just stop by and say hi? Apart from hunting for Tamparuli mee in Tamparuli town, now you can hunt for special local native foods which I highly recommended!