Late Night Guide: Kota Kinabalu

Late Night Guide: Kota Kinabalu

Home to South-East Asia's tallest mountain, don't feel guilty grabbing a snack because you could always burn off those calories when you hike to the summit.

You don’t have to feel guilty grabbing a late night supper. At Kota Kinabalu, you get to eat all you want and have a fun workout afterwards to keep the calories in check.

On the northwest coast of Borneo, Kota Kinabalu has a beautiful seaside atmosphere, overlooking the vast South China Sea. Due to its accessibility to pristine islands, crystal clear diving waters, lush tropical rainforests and the famous Mount Kinabalu, it has become a popular holiday destination for tourists exploring Sabah and Borneo.

With a vibrant culinary scene, ranging from their exotic local cuisine to an extremely fresh selection of seafood, picturesque landscapes and graciously welcoming locals, travellers are guaranteed an enjoyable stay and will have no trouble keeping themselves occupied all through the night. Start exploring the city with this Late Night Guide!


D’Place Kinabalu

2nd floor, Plaza Shell, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Monday to Sunday | 11AM to 10.30AM

It really doesn’t get more authentic than D’Place Kinabalu. With an ambition to make Sabahan food accessible to all, this restaurant is known for its traditional Kadazan-Dusun cuisine. Kadazan and Dusun are two ethnic groups who are indigenous to the state of Sabah, so if you’re looking for a local dining experience, this is it.

Ordering the Ambuyat Set is a good start. Ambuyat is a starchy dish made from the interior trunk of the sago palm. It is a local delicacy and is usually eaten by rolling it with a special chopstick-like utensil known as cantas and dipping it in various sauces. 

It comes with a selection of tasty condiments and dishes which complement the ambuyat, including pickled vegetables, sambal, chopped wild ginger, curried fish, raw fish “cooked” in lime juice and deep fried fish. If you like bold flavours, then the Ambuyat Set is perfect for you as the dishes are predominantly spicy and sour.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, however, you might want to try butod, also known as the sago worm. This Bornean delicacy is the fat larva of the Red Palm Beetle and it’s not for the faint hearted. Traditionally eaten alive, it is said to be very nutritious and rich in protein. The indigenous people of Borneo have been eating them forever and locals believe they prevent asthma and help lower cholesterol. When it comes to taste, sago worms are described as creamy and slightly sweet, somewhat like coconut milk.

To make this delicacy more palatable to tourists, it can be served fried, on a pizza or even dipped in soy sauce with lime and chilli. However you choose to eat it, you’re not going to forget you did it.

Twinsky Seafood Restaurant

No. 16, Block D, Sedco Complex, Kampung Air, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Monday to Sunday | 11.00am to 12.00am

It’s never too late for fresh seafood. Also known as the Suang Tain Seafood Restaurant, this humble eatery is nestled in the corner of a food court among many other restaurants, so it may be a little hard to find at first. It eventually stands out with the large variety of fresh seafood it has available. Displayed in tanks right beside the restaurant, diners can choose which fish, prawn, crab or shellfish they want. All dishes come in sizable portions and at reasonable prices.

If you want to try something other than the usual crab or fish head curry, the Salt and Pepper Mantis Shrimp is highly recommended. Simply seasoned, the natural sweet and juicy flavours of the shrimp really come through. 

The Mantis Shrimp may be small but it’s sea dweller that packs a punch tough enough to break an enemy’s shell. Fishermen know it as  the “Thumb Splitter”, due to the many injuries it has incurred on the unwary.

TaukehFish Recipe

Jalan Kepayan, Kampung Ganang, 88200 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Monday to Sunday | 8.30am to 2.00pm

TaukehFish Recipe delivers a breakfast like no other. Their signature Big Bowl Hao Liao consists of the catch of the day, rice vermicelli, with a flavourful fish and tomato broth, all served in a huge 16-inch bowl. The seafood is as fresh as fish can be, being caught, scaled, filleted, cooked and served on the same day. The flavours of the broth are clean and comforting, with no MSG or salt added. Although the serving is large, you may decide to slurp up the whole bowl all by yourself.

If you’re up for this wholesome and nourishing meal, call ahead to check availability as the seafood is seasonal and the space is limited. It’s worth the effort though.


Sabah Indoor Climbing Centre

24 Jalan Burung Puin, Taman Yakim Jaya, 88450 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Tuesday to Friday | 4PM to 9PM

Saturday to Sunday | 12PM to 9PM

We know it’s hard to tear yourself away from all the delicious food Kota Kinabalu has to offer, but it might be good to squeeze in some exercise. Near the city centre, the Sabah Indoor Climbing Centre is the perfect place to get a workout. The center caters to all levels of climbing ability and it’s a haven for rock climbing enthusiasts. It’s a great place to hang out (pun intended) and get that heart pumping.

Suria Indoor Soccer Centre

Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal, Jalan Haji Saman, Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Monday to Sunday | Open to 12am

If you prefer team sports, head down to Suria Indoor Soccer Center for a short kickabout. The center houses several AstroTurf futsal courts which are perfect for 5-a-side matches. Surprisingly, the place is crowded and popular even in the later hours, so plan your games and book the court ahead of time. Work up a sweat with a couple of games of futsal and you can continue on your food journey guilt-free.

With a unique assortment of local delights and fresh seafood to satisfy your appetite and a variety of scenic nature trails and sports centers to keep you in shape, Kota Kinabalu strikes a balance between fun, food and adventure.

Discover food-spirational recipes with our new explore feed!
Check it out


Overall Rating

    Show more reviews

    By clicking "Accept", you agree to our use of cookies and similar technologies.

    Read Cookie Policy