I am not a food blogger but due to my travel habit, I got the chance to eat at many different restaurants and cafes. And this experience makes me share my view about food and eateries. And Sandakan food is the most delicious if you choose the right eatery.
Whenever we visit some place for travel purposes, we research the exotic attractions of that place. But very few of us search for food and eateries. And that’s why we often end up with a bad experience with food and eateries.
So as a traveller and a travel blogger, I highly recommend you do your proper research on food and eateries before you head on to a new place.
Sandakan is a beautiful city in the state of Sabah and it’s also the second largest city in this state. Due to its lush greenery, Sandakan is called “Nature City”.
Because a large scale of Chinese ethnic has migrated to this city from Hong Kong, the city is most popularly known by the name “Little Hong Kong“.
It’s also the food heaven of Sabah and as it is located on the east coast of Sabah, you’ll get plenty of seafood restaurants here.
Now let’s explore the top 16 must-try restaurants in Sandakan to get the authentic taste of food.
1. English Tea House & Restaurant (Halal)
What if you get a British atmosphere and an English tea set when you’re in Malaysia? Sounds fanciful right?
English Tea House & Restaurant made it a reality when they established the restaurant in December 2002. It’s a colonial-style restaurant that is inspired by the famous Agnes Keith house in Sandakan.
The Tea house & restaurant is quite famous among locals as well as tourists because of its elegant English-style food, splendid view of English style garden, and great service. Their Manu is full of delicious food items like Comforting British puddings, English Tea Sets, Fresh and tasty salads, Fish & Chips, Malay Tasting Platter, Tasty pies, Pasta dishes, and Jacket Potatoes.
The best part is that it’s a Pork-free restaurant so Muslims can enjoy their food without hesitation.
Must-try: English Tea Sets, Comforting British puddings, Tasty pies, Fish & Chips
Location: 2002, Jalan Istana, 90000 Sandakan
Business hours: Everyday 10:00 am to 06:00 pm
2. Sim Sim Water Village- No.84 (Non-Halal)
Sim Sim Water Village is pretty famous among locals and tourists because of being the food heaven in Sandakan. Though the restaurants are mostly known for seafood items, in the morning you’ll get noodles here which are not available the whole day.
There is a stall called Sim Sim No 84 that sells the famous Century Egg Dumplings filled with meat and prawns and served with Springy Noodles. This dish is available only in the morning and it sold out very early.
So if you want to have the taste of this delicious food item, you have to get there as early as possible. The restaurant also sells fried pork, fish, chicken, and prawns.
Must-try: Century Egg Dumplings and Springy Noodles
Location: 84, Jalan Sim Sim 90000 Sandakan
Business hours: Everyday 06:30 am to 12:00 pm
3. San Da Gen Kopitiam (Halal)
UFO tart is the most popular sweet dish in Sabah which is believed to have originated in Sandakan. Or should I say more specifically, it originated from San Da Gen Kopitiam cafe.
San Da Gen Kopitiam is a classic cafe which also has a modern touch. And the UFO tart is the privilege of this cafe. Basically, it’s a sweet vanilla cake with a dollop of egg custard on top of it. Many people call it “cow dung” tart because of its awkward shape.
This sweet dish is best complimentary with a cup of tea or coffee. Try the best UFO tart at San Da Gen Kopitiam and experience its authentic taste.
Must-try: UFO tarts
Location: Lebuh Dua, Pusat Bandar Sandakan, 90000 Sandakan
Business hours: Everyday 08:30 am to 05:30 pm
4. Harbour Bistro Lodge (Halal)
In Sandakan, you’ll get many riverfront restaurants and Harbour Bistro Lodge is such a restaurant with a mesmerising view. The food is also very delicious here such as chicken rice, shrimp, chicken wings, crab with egg sauce, and so on.
Harbour Bistro Lodge is also one of the few restaurants in Sandakan that gives late-night service. The lovely riverfront setting and late-night beer make it one of the must-try restaurants in Sandakan.
Must-try: chicken rice, shrimp, crab with egg sauce
Location: Harbour Bistro Lodge, 2nd Floor, Lot 88, Block HS-09, Sandakan Harbour Square, 90000 Sandakan
Business hours: Everyday 03:00 pm to 12:00 am
5. 1Malaysia Steamboat (Halal)
Seafood becomes more delicious when it’s enjoyed with a scenic view and comes at an affordable price. Unfortunately, we hardly get such seafood that is affordable, delicious and offers scenic views.
Well, if you come to 1Malaysia Steamboat, then you don’t have to search further. It’s a family-run restaurant that offers guests fresh and the cheapest seafood steamboat in Sandakan.
The restaurant has been serving since 2000 and all the customers come here only for the seafood buffet that is only RM30.00 per person.
Only at 30 ringgit, you can have a huge list of food items including fish, medium to large prawns, crabs, fish paste, Yong Tau Foo, vegetables, beef, chicken, soft drinks, fried chicken wings, soup, ice cream, and the list goes on.
But you have to get there as early as possible because cheap and tasty food doesn’t wait for long. They have a huge demand for this buffet so if you don’t want to miss out hurry up.
Must-try: Seafood buffet
Location: 90000 Sandakan
Business hours: Everyday 05:00 pm to 10:00 pm
6. Restoran Seafood Sim-Sim 88 (Halal)
Restoran Seafood Sim-Sim 88 is well known for fresh seafood items because the restaurant deals directly with the local fishermen to get the freshest seafood to their kitchen. And the restaurant is very popular among locals as well as tourists due to its old-school style seafood dishes which are not available anywhere else.
The restaurant is appropriate for lunch and dinner where you can have dishes like butter prawn, tom yam seafood, baby squid, and many more. Even you can also buy fresh seafood from the local market and have them cooked in this restaurant according to your taste.
Must-try: butter prawn, tom yam seafood, baby squid
Location: H88, Lorong H, Jalan Buli Sim Sim, 90000 Sandakan
Business hours: Everyday 07:00 am to 09:30 pm
7. Nam Chai Seafood Bak Kut Teh (Halal)
Bak Kut Teh means pork bone soup so naturally, it’s a dish that is made with pork and Non-Halal for Muslims. But guess what, Nam Chai Seafood Bak Kut Teh has changed the entire concept of Bak Kut Teh dish and instead of using pork bones they use seafood to make this dish.
Even the restaurant does not use anything Non-Halal to prepare Bak Kut Teh. At the same time, they never compromise with taste. You’ll have the amazing seafood flavour when you try the Seafood Bak Kut Teh.
In Sandakan, it is the only restaurant that has been serving Seafood Bak Kut Teh for 27 years and they never had a lack of customers.
Must-try: Seafood Bak Kut Teh
Location: Lot 1, Ground Floor, Block D Bandar Nam Tung, Jalan Leila, 90000 Sandakan
Business hours: Everyday 09:15 am to 01:45 pm & 05:00 pm to 08:00 pm
8. Kedai Makan Kong Teck (Halal)
Have you ever tasted fish meat noodles? Yes, you read it right, noodles that are made of fish meat. In Kedai Makan Kong Teck restaurant, the dish is known as the Silver Needle Noodles.
The restaurant claims that the noodles are handmade by themselves and that’s why you cannot get this taste anywhere else. Even only Kedai Makan Kong Teck sells freshly made fish noodles in Sandakan.
So before you leave Sandakan, you must try this unique dish at Kedai Makan Kong Teck.
Must-try: fish noodles
Location: 90000 Sandakan
Business hours: Wednesday to Sunday 06:30 am to 12:30 pm (closed on Monday & Tuesday)
9. Restoran Seri Wijaya, Sandakan (Halal)
In Sandakan, it’s hard to find authentic Muslim restaurants or Malay restaurants, not because the place has a minority of Muslims but because it has many different types of Muslims such as the Sundanese, Bajau, and Javanese.
That’s why you need effort to find Malay cuisine that has authentic Malay taste. Thanks to Restoran Seri Wijaya restaurant that promises to give the Javanese mixed Malay food in Sandakan.
The restaurant has many interesting dishes like the Ayam Kremes Rice Set, Grilled Pomfret Fish Set, and so on. All their sets come with fresh vegetables, spicy sambal, and a bowl of soup.
Must-try: Ayam Kremes Rice Set, Grilled Pomfret Fish Set
Location: 24, Jalan Lintas Labuk, 90000 Sandakan
Business hours: Everyday 07:00 am to 12:00 am
10. Ikan Bakar Sederhana Sim-sim (Halal)
Ikan Bakar means grilled fish and seafood. As you know Sim-Sim is the heaven of seafood in Sandakan so the best Ikan Bakar is also available in Sim Sim water village. There is a stall called Ikan Bakar Sederhana Sim-sim which is one of the most popular Ikan Bakar restaurants here.
In this restaurant, you can have grilled crabs, prawns, squid and local sea fish like Ikan Blais, Ikan Kerapu, Ikan Bolu, Ikan Putih, and many more. You need to come early to get the best selection of seafood. With this Ikan Bakar, you can also order complementary dishes and of course, the spicy sambal which increases the taste of Ikan Bakar.
Must-try: Ikan Bakar
Location: 9, Jalan Sim Sim, 90000 Sandakan
Business hours: Everyday 09:30 am to 08:00 pm
11. Ai Xin Vegetarian 爱心素食 ( Sandakan ) (Halal)
We have talked enough about fish and meat, let’s move to Veggies. Many of us are health conscious and only prefer vegetables. That’s why I have included Ai Xin Vegetarian 爱心素食 ( Sandakan ), the best vegetarian restaurant in Sandakan.
The restaurant believes in the “farm to table” concept. So all their dishes are served with fresh vegetables that have come directly from the farm. You’ll get countless delicious vegetarian dishes here including boiled dumplings, oat-encrusted mushrooms, hot sour soup, curry noodles, and many more.
I would personally recommend you should try the deserts they offer like matcha ice cream, lavender camomile tea, coconut puddings, and so on. The environment is very clean and hygienic so you’ll surely love to dine here.
Must-try: oat-encrusted mushrooms, matcha ice cream, lavender camomile tea
Location: Phase 7, Lot 11 & Lot 12 Bandar Indah Jaya, Mile 4, Jalan Utara, Bandar Indah, 90000 Sandakan
Business hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10:30 am to 02:00 pm & 05:30 pm to 09:00 pm (closed on Monday)
12. Balin Roof Garden Bar & Bistro (Non-Halal)
Rooftop restaurants always give scenic views and Balin Roof Garden Bar & Bistro has no exceptions. The decoration of this restaurant is so lovely and delightful that I love to hang out here. Not only that, it’s so beautiful that you can take many Instagram-worthy pictures here.
That was the decoration and environment of Balin Roof Garden Bar & Bistro. Now let’s talk about cuisine. Those of you who love fast-food items like pizza, burgers, and french fries, should definitely come here.
Furthermore, this restaurant also offers Italian cuisine, European cuisine, and a bar. Health-conscious people can also come here without hesitation as the restaurant has vegetarian-friendly dishes as well.
Must-try: pizza, french fries
Location: Nak Hote, Jalan Pelabuhan Lama, Pusat Bandar Sandakan, 90000 Sandakan
Business hours: Everyday 12:00 pm to 12:00 am
13. My Harbour Restaurant (Halal)
My Harbour Restaurant is one of the most famous and cheapest restaurants in Sandakan. If you have budget problems and want to have delicious seafood, no place is better than My Harbour Restaurant.
The restaurant offers yummy food such as spicy fish with Nasi Goreng, fried flat noodles, fresh tuna, and many more delicacies with riverfront views. The texture of these foods is so soft and juicy that you’ll know you have a great value for money for dining here.
Furthermore, My Harbour Restaurant never sells Non-Halal food so Muslim tourists can also dine here.
Must-try: fried flat noodles
Location: Lot 94-96 Block Hs-10 G/F Harbour Square, Jalan Pryer, 90000 Sandakan
Business hours: Everyday 10:00 am to 09:30 pm
14. Kg Pukat Fisherman Village (Non-Halal)
Kg Pukat Fisherman Village was a home that is now converted into a restaurant. So you’ll have a homely atmosphere here. Another speciality of this restaurant is the salty smell of sea fish that you’ll have while you’re eating here.
Not only that, you can bring seafood here to have them cooked as you want. It’s a local favourite restaurant so if you come here you can interact with locals to know about this restaurant and its food items.
Not all the dishes are recommendable in this restaurant, you can try their oysters, dumplings, noodles, and seafood macaroni soup.
Must-try: seafood macaroni soup, oysters
Location: Pusat Bandar Sandakan, 90000 Sandakan
Business hours: Wednesday to Monday 07:00 am to 02:00 pm (closed on Tuesday)
15. Urban Cafe
If you’re a dessert lover and have a craving for sweets, then the last two cafes on this list are for you.
Urban Cafe is the perfect place for meetups, reading, or just relaxing. It’s a beautiful cafe with delicious desserts and Espresso.
Urban Cafe offers a number of fruit-based cakes including avocado slices, mango slices, dragon fruit slices, and many more. You can have amazing afternoon snacks while enjoying a cup of Espresso.
The atmosphere of this cafe is warm and cosy, so one can have a peaceful afternoon there.
Must-try: avocado slices, mango slices, Espresso
Location: 151, 5, Lorong Avenue, 90000 Sandakan
Business hours: Everyday 11:00 am to 06:00 pm
16. 7-Heaven Dessert Parlor
You surely feel a craving for dessert after eating your meal. And the hot weather of Sandakan will force you to have ice cream. That’s why I have included 7-Heaven Dessert Parlor on this list. It may be the last one but surely not the least one.
7-Heaven Dessert Parlor is well known for selling the best yoghurt ice cream. A yoghurt ice cream can be the perfect dessert which will also help you to digest all the food you’ve been eating all day. They have a huge collection of ice cream and yoghurt desserts and all are so alluring.
Must-try: yoghurt ice cream
Location: Lorong Bandar Indah 8, Bandar Indah, 90000 Sandakan
Business hours: Everyday 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Hope you have enjoyed this article and got a better knowledge about Sandakan food and eateries. I always try to give you accurate information so that your travel would be much easier.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask and don’t forget to share your experience with me as well.