Thanis Lim

All Rounder Chef and Food Journalist

Sandakan Food Guide: Where to get the best Sandakan Food? What are the must eat in Sandakan?

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I have heard so much good things about the food town of Sandakan – also known as Little Hong Kong – where the combination of Cantonese Cuisine and Fresh Seafood creates a host of delicious gems ready to be discovered by any foodie traveler like me! For this guide, I took a one hour flight from Kota Kinabalu with fellow influencers to taste the best Sandakan has to offer. This food guide will showcase the best tried and tested food you can eat in Sandakan – and it’s going to be a delicious journey! Make sure you have already eaten before you read this as this will be an epic food journey! Here’s the Sandakan Food Guide where you can find the best Sandakan Food that you must eat when visiting Sandakan!


Getting around Sandakan

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No don’t worry – you don’t have to travel around by boat in Sandakan. You can just easily call GRAB car using your phone app in Sandakan – such convenience! The places we eat are not going to be too far apart so it won’t be very expensive especially if you travel in groups to share transport costs! Interestingly, a lot of the restaurants in Sandakan open very early for breakfast – almost as early as 6am! So you can start your food hunt very early!


Where to stay?

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We chose NAK Hotel in Sandakan as our foodie HQ as two of the best places to eat are actually within this hotel – and they offer a cosy heritage style accommodation to suit our needs. If you are after something more luxurious – there’s Four Points Sheraton here with their popular infinity pool. 


This food guide was done in collaboration with Food Porn Sabah – Your Ultimate Guide to Eating in Sabah! Click for a video presentation of the BEST OF SANDAKAN FOOD!


Mei Mei Restaurant – The Soup Ladies of Sandakan

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My friend Gibson is a regular here for breakfast – they are called the soup ladies of Sandakan for a reason – you get to choose from a variety of soups – cooked with seafood or pork spare parts – and choose your noodles with the soup.


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One of the ladies here cooking – they have different soup bases ranging from goji, salted vegetables, hua tiao, kah heong, tom yum ~~ my friend usually orders the hua tiao seafood soup here but I decided to try something different ~~


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Pork spareparts Tom Yum Soup  ~~~ omg omg omg ~~ this is the first time I’ve seen this combination to be honest ~~ and its really good ~~


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Slurpalicious bee hoon tom yum zhu chap soup ~~ this will be your first and best evaa~~~


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The combinations of soups and seafood is endless ~~~ I could probably stay here for a week and won’t be shy of options ~~ you can even special order kolomee (dry noodles tossed in sauce) on the side ~~ *DROOLS*


Mei Mei Restaurant

Opens 6:30am till 3pm or stocks last (better to come earlier to avoid disappointment as my friend mentioned they sometimes finish as soon as lunch time)

Lorong Bandar Indah 1, Bandar Indah, 90000 Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia (block opposite Equator Cafe – use Grab and plot this cafe then walk to Mei Mei)


Restoran Hung Fatt – Hong Kong Roasted Meats

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Since Sandakan is known as Little Hong Kong – you are bound to see Cantonese style roasted meats – this is my friend’s favourite roasted meat restaurant in Sandakan – as you can see – their char siew is pretty caramelized , and their roasted pork has crispy crackling ~~ they also have yong tofu on the side – to be enjoyed with thin HK style noodles kolomee ~ mmm ~~ I quite like their charsiew to be honest. If you are from KL or Brunei, you probably can skip this as the quality will be comparable to what you can get in your home town.


Restoran Hung Fatt

Bandar Pasaraya, 90000 Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia

Just opposite Kim Fung Market – so you can GRAB to the market for breakfast then eat here


Kedai Makan Kong Teck – Great freshly made fish noodles and seafood cakes ~~

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I personally love fish noodles but it is pretty hard to get good ones ~~ fortunately Sandakan’s Kong Teck restaurant serves one of the best fish noodles I’ve tasted! Besides that they also make their own fish cakes, prawn cakes, fuchuk (bean skin with seafood), fish balls, fish spring rolls (chun gian) and other seafood tidbits ~~ enjoy with the soup base of your choice ~~ I personally like their curry base ~~*slurps*


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At first glance – I thought these were fish fillets ~~ but as I look closely – it’s actually their freshly made fish noodles ~~ you know it’s going to be epic when you see this ~


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GLORIOUS FISH NOODLES!!! SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEHHHH!!!! Double thumbs up for me!


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Try out as many of their home made fish/seafood tidbits as you can with clear soup ~~ mm ~~~ their hakka style kolomee and lau su fen is also something you should check out!


Kedai Makan Kong Teck

Jalan Pak Tak, Mile 7 90000 Sandakan, Sabah

Opens 6:30am – 11:00am daily (except Mondays)


Sim Sim 84 – Best Century Egg Dumplings and Springy Noodles with Fried Pork

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Walking into Sim Sim 84 feel like walking into someone’s house – and to be fair – the owners actually live here! It was interesting to see them making the dumplings fresh on the spot – and you can literally watch them cook in the kitchen ~~ did I mention the view is good here too? You get a view from Sim Sim Water Village as you enjoy the delicious specialties they offer!


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Their Tang Kong Mien with Fried Pork is a must try here ~~ it basically means springy noodles (QQ texture) with their signature fried pork ~~ which is delicious indeed!


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What caught my attention – however was their century egg dumplings ~~ which is seriously good eats!


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As I savoured every bite ~~ you can enjoy the umami flavours of the century egg combining with the plump meat filling of the dumpling – I can definitely taste the fish and the prawn but there was another meat in there – when I asked the boss who tells me it’s chicken! Their secret recipe no doubt!


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Queennera enjoying the Water Village view ~ while slurping up the delicious noodles ~ mmmm ~~ SEDAP LA!


Sim Sim 84 Restaurant

Sim Sim Floating Village

Take a Grab here and look for house number 84!

Opens 6:30 am till 1pm (till stocks last)


Sim Sim Seafood Restaurant 90 – Seafood Restaurant with a view

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Well there are quite a few seafood restaurants in Sandakan Sim Sim Floating Village ~~ the locals mostly recommend dining at Sim Sim 90 for seafood lunch.


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It’s no surprise that the chef here has won awards before for his seafood dishes ~~


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One key feature of Sim Sim 90 is their signature salted fish dish – which is highly recommended by Linn, who claims it as the last meal she wants before she leaves the mortal realm ~~ mmm ~


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Signature fried salted fish might seem like a small portion but this piece will be enough to enjoy with rice! I normally dislike salted fish but this is one I can actually enjoy!


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Squid and prawns are their specialties too ~~ so be sure to ask them to recommend you their best dishes ~~ really good stuff here – so fresh and cooked so well!


Sim Sim Seafood Restaurant 90

House number 90

Sim Sim Floating Village

Opens 8am – 2pm, 6pm – 10pm


Ikan Bakar Sederhana – Grilled Seafood Malay Style!

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Located at one of the markets in Bandar Utama, this Ikan Bakar place is very popular with local Malays and comes highly recommended. You can have squid, fish and chicken of your choice, grilled and served with their home made sambal ~~ mmmm ~~~


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There’s also plenty of Malay side dishes you can order to complement your grilled seafood ~ mmm ~~~ enjoy with a nice cool glass of Bandung (rose syrup and milk) and steamed rice!


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Did I mention there’s a nearby stall selling banana fritters with shaved cheese? Pretty good too ~~ but I wish they put more cheese! HAHAHA


Ikan Bakar Sederhana

Bandar Utama (Lrg Utama)
90000 Sandakan

Opens afternoons till night


Kedai Makan Ngee Lee – Coconut Pudding and Cantonese Roast Meats

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While this restaurant is famous for the roast meats, I personally come here for their epic coconut pudding ~~ I can’t really explain it – but their coconut jelly is something you can’t really get elsewhere. The texture and taste is unique – one bite and you will know what I mean!


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While some coconut puddings/jelly I’ve tried tend to have slightly more bite – I love how smooth the texture is here ~~ kinda like to fu fa ~ but with coconut flavour ~~ soooo delicious!! I can easily eat two of this on my own!!! This is one of the must try dessert in Sandakan! Highly recommended!


Ngee Lee Coffee Shop

Block A, 5-G, Bandar Nam Tung, Sabah, 90000 Sandakan

Opens 10am – 2:30pm, 5:30pm – 8:30pm


Kedai Roti Gold Crown – Chinese pastries

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Kedai Roti Gold Crown is packed with people catching up while enjoying their assorted array of pastries ~~ according to Gibson, people in Sandakan have been eating their pastries for decades and he recommends their red bean pastry and their ham sui kok ~~


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Photo opportunity with the gentle lady owner of this eatery ~~


Kedai Roti Gold Crown

Jalan Leila, Pusat Bandar Sandakan, 90000 Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia

It’s opposite bandar Nam Tung

Opens 8am – 5pm


Urban Cafe – Cakes and Coffee

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If you are in dire need of espresso style coffee ~ fret not ~ and pop over to Urban Cafe that serves decent coffee and fruit based cakes that are not only pretty but quite delicious. I personally love their avocado slice which happens to be in season ~~ but their main popular one is their mango slice ~ which is pretty good too! I wish they would open earlier though as they actually open from 12pm onwards ~~ so if you are screaming for coffee early in the morning you are out of luck!


Urban Cafe

151, 5, Lorong Avenue, 90000 Sandakan, Sabah

Opens 12pm – 11pm on most days


Fisherman’s Association – The seafood supper club of Sandakan

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The legendary seafood place in Sandakan – which you need to prebook and have a minimum of 6 people if possible. There doesn’t seem to be a menu and the dishes are fixed – you merely have to option to add soup and pork spare parts or not. The chef, who happens to be a founding member of the Fisherman’s Association of Sandakan, will take your orders on the phone and will serve you as you arrive. I have to say the dishes served here are top notch quality and a must try!


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The dark soy sauce tiger prawns are to die for!




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The God of Seafood in Sandakan himself showing us how big the tiger prawns were ~~ soooooo big and juicy!


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The pork spare parts dish is one of the best spare part dishes I’ve had in my life. An eye opener!


Fisherman’s Association

Call +60128646186 to prebook your spot – make sure to book early in advance as slots are hard to get!

It’s better to have at least 6 people minimum before making your booking!


7-Heaven Dessert Parlor – Frozen Yoghurt Ice Cream

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Dessert parlours are a welcoming sight in the hot Sandakan weather  ~~ and they are famous for their yoghurt ice cream – which will be good in helping to digest all the food we’ve been eating! They have quite a selection of ice creams and frozen yoghurt desserts to choose from – so you can either come during tea time or even supper to chill here ~~ lovely ambience as well


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Frozen Yoghurt supper for us!


7-Heaven Dessert Parlor

Lorong Bandar Indah 8, Bandar Indah, 90000 Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia

Opens 12pm – 10:30pm


Kim Fung Market – Laksa for Supper!

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Sandakan people are truly blessed to have a 24 hour open air market called the Kim Fung market – where there are so many stalls working at different time shifts that there will always be a place open for you to eat! This Laksa supper place is highly recommended by Gibson and it actually opens from 11pm onwards! We arrived at 12am to see so many people slurping bowls of laksa here. The laksa here has quite a lot of ingredients – fish cakes, wontons, fried pork and egg noodles all swimming in a lovely laksa broth. This would be Sandakan’s answer to ramen in Japan, where throngs of Japanese enjoy ramen late at night ~~ delicious!


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Look out for this stall late at night and you will be rewarded with a delicious hot bowl of laksa goodness!


Kim Fung Market Laksa Stall

Batu 4, 92, Jalan Pasaraya, Bandar Pasaraya, 90000 Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia

Opens from 11pm till 3am (or until it runs out)


Sandakan Central Market – 1940 Fried Pork Kway Teow

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Sandakan Central Market is within walking distance from the Nak Hotel, and we came here early in the morning to have the famous Sandakan style fried pork rice noodles ~~ this particular stall has a history since 1940 apparently


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They have both soup or dry versions so you gotta try both!


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I felt the fried pork doesn’t really feel like fried – more like roasted charsiew with crispy caramelized bits – we agreed that we enjoyed the soup version here! There’s also another stall famous for fried pork rice noodles which we will introduce as well next ~~


1940s Fried Pork Kway Teow

3rd Floor, Pasar Umum Sandakan

Opens 5am till 11am (or till stocks last)


Kedai Kopi Fui Chiew – Fried Pork Kway Teow and delicious Chicken Feet!

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Fui Chiew Restaurant is also famous for their fried pork kway teow and Sandakan locals have been debating which is the best for decades – I guess everyone will have their own subjective taste – we actually taste both back to back – and find that both are actually comparable – though we prefer the dry version here – and the wet version at the 1940s. Here’s a picture of the owner introducing the dishes to two very happy foodies ~


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The dry version in Fui Chiew is our favourite ~~ seriously good crispy pork which goes well with the char kueh and saucy rice noodles!


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Me, Darren and Vance ~~ enjoying the food ~~


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The other star here is their delicious chicken feet ~~ which earns a lot of praise from our group!


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We also got to try a new dish of the day ~ their home made assam laksa which has a sweet tang to it ~~ oooh yesss~~


Kedai Kopi Fui Chiew

Jalan Leila, Pusat Bandar Sandakan, 90000 Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia

Opens 7am – 4pm


Kg Pukat Fisherman Village ( 漁船街) – Superb seafood loaded noodles ~~

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漁船街 which means fisherman’s boat street is sometimes referred as Kg Pukar Fisherman’s Village – where you will find a lovely restaurant in this water village – serving the freshest seafood – cooked the way you like with noodles of your choice. I mean – would you take a look at those plump juicy oysters – sitting amongst the fresh squid and prawns on my wa tan noodles? (I wanted wa tan hor but the hor fun sold out already as I came too late!)


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Seriously the seafood soup – enjoyed with kolomee ~~ omg ~~ the naturally sweetness of the seafood adds so much glorious flavour to the soup ~~ ahhh ~~


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Stir fried noodles with luxurious seafood ~~ you can only find this in Sandakan’s 漁船街 ~~ soooo goood!


Sandakan 漁船街

Fisherman Village near Kg Pukat

6:30 till 2pm


Kedai Yap Syn Kee

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They say when in Sandakan, you must have a glass of refreshing home made grass jelly from Miss Yap, with a long history of feeding students who walk from their school to her stall for their favourite treat! Opens from 12pm onwards but sometimes sold out as fast as 2pm. But don't worry if you missed it as there's other cafes who order her fresh grass jelly to serve in their place too!


Kedai Yap Syn Kee

Jalan Cecily, 90000, Sandakan.

Opens 12pm but usually sold out within the hour – if the gate is closed – just knock on the gate and try your luck! LOL


Tau Fu Fah at Kim Fung Market

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At around 2pm – its a good time to pop over to Kim Fung Market for some afternoon tea or snacks and one of the famous stall is the tau fu fah stall that sells both silky smooth tau fu fah and also peanut pancakes which are like kuih melaya or apam balik ~~ there’s the famous fried char kuih stall here but we didn’t get to try as they were on holiday – but do try to find them if you are here during tea time at Kim Fung Market


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Happy to grab a bowl of delicious tau fu fah ~~ hu hu hu ~~


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Pretty delicious peanut pancake ~~


Tau Fu Fa Stall at Kim Fung Market

Best to come between 12pm – 3pm


Coto Makassar Haji Alimuddin bin Indala – famous thick style soto

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Many of my readers actually say I must try Coto Makassar when in Sandakan – so I asked my local friend to introduce me their favourite spot. Step forward Encik Haji Alimuddin bin Indala who is famous here.


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As you can see – the broth is a bit like a stew – I dare say even ramen like! You can choose from beef or chicken parts – I chose the campur which is a mix of everything to try ~~ there are bits of ketupat (glutinous rice cakes) in the soup for you to enjoy as well!


Coto Makassar Haji Alimuddin bin Indala

Stall is located inside Kedai Kopi Hup Seng (just 2-3 minutes walk from the Nak Hotel)


Good Taste Restaurant – The famous seafood bah kut teh place ~ 

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When we arrived at Good Taste and saw it packed with people ~ we know this is a gem. Since Sandakan is famous for fresh seafood – it is inevitable you will find seafood into popular Chinese dishes such as bah kut teh ~~ the Bah Kut Teh here is not the really herby taste type – more towards the peppery taste so whether you love it depends on which type of soup base you like!


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You will see that there’s a range of dishes to choose from – pork ribs, fresh fish slices, pork belly, pork balls, fish and prawn cakes but my favourite has to be the Li Hing Prawns (or yellow wine prawns)


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I must say I love that the prawns are already peeled so that they are easy to eat and the KICK from the yellow wine is SPOT ON Siokkk!!


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Queennera and me digging in! Woo hoo!!


Good Taste Bah Kut Teh

Lorong Bandar Nam Tung 2, Pusat Bandar Sandakan, 90000 Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia

Opens 8AM–2PM, 6–9PM


San Da Gen Kopitiam – Nostalgic Hipster Cafe with great fusion food and desserts

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I’m usually skeptical of food in cafes as they tend to be pretty looking but lacking in the taste department but San Da Gen serves pretty good dishes that are not only pleasantly plated but tastes good!


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This has got to be the most ATAS nasi lemak I’ve tried. The slipper lobsters are delicious as I pry the succulent meat using my hands ~~ hey you gotta enjoy nasi lemak with your hands *cough*


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Gorgeous Tom Yum Udang Galah (river prawns) indeed ~~ *swoons*


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Queennera seems to be hinting that she doesn’t want to share and wants the whole bowl of tom yum for herself~~ HAHAHA


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The desserts here are legit as well ~~ I am a very big big big fan of their avocado cream puff ~ omg ~~ what a revealation ~~~ love at first bite ~


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Jin ho chiak ~~~ delicious ~~ sedap ~~ enak ~~~ Ho ho mei ahhhh ~~~~ you can imagine ~~ I tapao one for my wife and she loved it too ~~~


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If you noticed – I haven’t been posting much about the famous UFO tarts or Cow Dung tarts in this post as I felt the tarts in San Da Gen is the best and the only one I would recommend after tasting from a few stores. The custard has the best texture and taste in my opinion ~~~


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Keep calm and tapao all the UFO Tarts!!


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Of course – how can you say no to salted yolk lava croissants? *DROOOLS*


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Seriously though – I love the ambience and the music being played using really old records is priceless!


San Da Gen Kopitiam

Next to the Nak Hotel lobby,

Lebuh Dua, Pusat Bandar Sandakan, 90000 Sandakan, Sabah

Opens 8am – 5pm


Ba Lin Roof Garden Bistro and Bar – amazing sea view and food at the rooftop!

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Ba Lin is actually located on the rooftop of The Nak Hotel – simply just take the lift to the 7th floor – then walk up the stairs – you will then see their restaurant but that is not all ~~ keep walking out and walk up another spiral staircase to their rooftop ~ where you get a very lovely rooftop chillax ambience ~~


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This place is seriously perfect for some cocktails and beer ~~ with your mates ~~~ cheers ~~~~


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Obligatory Beer with nice view shot for IG Stories ~~ follow me @thanislim ~~ eseh


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Not to mention – they do have an amazing sunset view of the coast of Sandakan ~~ ahhh ~~ so dreamy ~~~


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They have a good range of fusion dishes ranging from pastas to pizzas, salads to lamb chops or chicken chops ~~ you name it ~~


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Beautiful pastry wrapping the lamb shank stew inside ~~ with a good hint of rosemary ~~


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Squid ink pizza dough with smoked salmon pizza ~~ mmmm ~~


Balin Roof Garden Bistro & Bar

7th Floor, Nak Hotel, Jalan Pelabuhan Lama, 90000 Sandakan, Sabah

Opens 9am – 12am


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After reading about all the good food in Sandakan – you will want to bring back souvenirs right? I’ve seen lots of people buying the salted fish or prawn/fish crackers as souvenirs here – so you can probably bring back some. I hope my guide is useful in helping you find the best eats in Sandakan – and can you believe we ate everything here in less than two nights stay? We’ll be sure to come back again to try more Sandakan favorites!


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Be sure to read my other food guides in my travel guides section

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