As mentioned in my previous post on Sabah, I wanted to write about my great food experience at D’Place Kinabalu restaurant, which was conveniently located at the heart of KK town centre itself. It was only about 10 minutes walk from our hotel (Yomi Hotel), but we were lazy to walk so we called Uber which only cost us around RM3.
The restaurant specialises in traditional Kadazandusun cuisine, which I’ve never tried before, and was lucky enough to get the opportunity to explore various authentic dishes. The Kadazans are an ethnic group of people living in Sabah, Malaysia. Traditional Kadazan cuisine are cooked in a healthy way – boiling, grilling and with a little use of oil. It also uses locally available ingredients, such as bamboo shoots, ambuyat (sago palm), fish, etc.
We had an amazing dinner buffet, pricing as below (as at Nov 2017):
And to all of my Muslim friends, it’s completely halal!
One thing that really fascinated me was that they kept a tank of live butods! These were fat sago worms kept for consumption. I didn’t have the stomach to eat it alive or cooked, but one of the staff kindly ate it in front of me haha.
These babies felt so slimy and cold. I was grossed out but strangely fascinated to see them wriggling around:
Upon arrival, we were immediately taken care of by some of the staff at the restaurant. They served us hot lemongrass tea which gave quite a kick like ginger beer. Lisa, the restaurant manager and owner, kindly took us around and talked about the delicacy of Kadazan cuisine, and described each dishes presented on the buffet tables.
This beautifully green-wrapped babies were Red Bario Rice, which tasted similar to brown rice. Bario rice is a premium staple food named after the highlands where it is grown.
Red Bario Rice:
Chicken curry with potatoes and beancurd:
I really loved this curry. It was so creamy and rich in flavour. Seriously I couldn’t get enough of this. For a curry, I’d give this 9/10!
The making of ambuyat:
Ambuyat is a dish derived from the interior trunk of the sago palm. It is a starchy bland substance, similar to a tapioca starch. Ambuyat is actually quite easy to make. Just pour hot water into a bowl of ambulung and stir it until the texture becomes sticky and thick.
Ambuyat itself was bland, hence I dipped it with turmeric soup mixed with belacan (shrimp paste), chilli and lime. And it was such a refreshing delight. It reminded of ikan singgang (because of the turmeric), but more sour and spicier with a hint of lime.
Pucuk ubi with bambangan (wild mango):
Fried Basung fish:
The fish itself was lovely. It tasted ‘masam-masam’ like crispy keropok lekor.
Traditional fish curry with tomatoes & okra:
Famous mee rojak:
Yam stalks cooked with salted fish:
Dried salted fish:
Bambangan, which is wild mango. It cost about RM20 per fruit. It added more flavour when I ate this wild mango with the rice. I could taste the sourness of the mango, the spicy of the curry, and the saltiness of the fish. Yummy!
The dessert section was filled with traditional local delights. It was also my first time trying out kuih cincin (the dessert at the top) which was really good and crisp.
This was one of the dishes that I had at the restaurant. I had chicken essence soup as a starter which was very strong in flavour and amazingly good. Then I put every bit of the dishes I could get and plated them with my red bario rice. The flavours together were intense and so gastronomically good! I loved how they ignited all of my taste buds with all sorts of strong and subtle tastes. Definitely 10 stars for me! Seriously great Michelin level food 🙂
Can you see that my cheeks were chubbier there? 😀
We also had performers that night who did traditional dancing and other entertainment. I was also pulled in to participate, and I learnt how to menyumpit (shoot needle from a long bamboo), and I managed to hit target!
Standing there with the two owners. On my right was Sandra, who was chef to all the great food that was set out on the table that night. And you know what? She’s only 25! Lisa on my left, was the mastermind of this entire restaurant concept and ideas. They make such a great team! Overall, I had such a terrific time here. Thank you D’Place Kinabalu for kindly collaborating with me during my trip in Sabah! I would love to visit here again and eat more delicious food!