Foodie Checklist: 14 Must-Try Sandakan Snacks

The small city of Sandakan, located in the eastern state of Sabah, has always been synonymous with its lush greenery and biodiversity (orangutans, Bornean sun bear, Proboscis monkey, pygmy elephants and more) — hence the title ‘Nature City’. 

SEE ALSO: Escape into Nature: 4D3N in Sandakan

But, did you know that its other name is ‘Little Hong Kong’? 

Historically, the name came about due to a strong presence of ethnic Chinese migration from Hong Kong (mainly Cantonese and Hakka), but locals might just joke about how Sandakan was named that because it is a melting pot of such delicious cuisines and food offerings! 

Granted, not many people know that Sandakan actually has a lot to offer when it comes to mouth-watering treats except for the locals and visiting tourists with food-based tour packages, but if ever you get bored of the whole getting-close-to-nature thing, consider Sandakan your next stop for a completely satisfying foodie trip.

Here’s what you can try when you’re in the city:

1. UFO Tarts

Arguably the most famous dessert/snack in Sandakan. Initially known as the ‘cow dung’ tart for its shape, the UFO tart is a vanilla-flavoured pastry base topped with sweet creamy custard. 

2. Seafood Bah Kut Teh


The city was formerly known as one of the most famous ports in the region. Today it is a haven for seafood lovers with fresh bounty from the ocean. Combine that with the much-loved bah kut teh recipe and you have the best of both worlds.

3. Roti Kahwin

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Early morning for the delicious roti kacang is truly worth wait! 😸

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People say, “It’s just bread!” until they try this magnificent concoction of bread, butter, kaya and peanuts! We bet you won’t say anything negative about this snack.

4. Ikan Bakar

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As simple as it sounds, be sure to stop by here at least once and get a load of the freshest grilled fish doused with a very generous topping of Pasar Ikan Bakar Sim-Sim’s special sauce, with rice. Absolutely sinful.

5. Nasi Kuning

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#afternoondelight #latelunch #sadap #nasikuningsandakan

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We’ll admit that this isn’t more about taste, but more about aesthetic. Sandakan people love their yellow rice (because of the added turmeric), which is paired wonderfully with sambal and fried ikan bilis.

6. Fried Pork Noodles (kon lou mein)

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Crispy fried pork and juicy bbq pork serve with Sandakan Springy noodle at kedai Kopi KS, Taman Cantek. One of the better Sandakan Noodle in KK.

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You haven’t had the best kon lou mein until you’ve tried the Sandakan one. Trust us, it’s the best!

7. Giant Prawn Crispy Noodles


As the name suggests, what better way to complement crispy noodles and eggy sauce than with fresh, giant prawns?!

8. Bird’s Nest Soup

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Sarang Burung Walet / Bird Nest Soup #homemade #sarangburungwalet #birdnest #sarangwalet #birdnestsoup #walet #birdnestdrink #birdnests #yenwo #meykitchen #pic_at_home #desserts 28/10/18

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It’s not just some type of exotic soup. Bird’s nest is believed to have high nutritional and medicinal value.

9. Wild Boar Rice (sinalau bakas)


This must-try indigenous Dusun dish is a must-try for non-halal eaters. It’s exotic, smoked and totally worth the trip over.

10. Fish Paste Noodle

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Sandakan’s Authentic Fish Mee Curry Super Tasty and Fast Service…The Mee is Actually Fish Paste..Worth it #sandakan #fishmeecurry #kongteck

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The combination of soup and seafood is total bliss, especially here in Sandakan. If you’re in the mood for brothy mixes, be sure to get the fish paste noodles.

11. Sandakan Prawn Crackers

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Sandakan prawn cracker is the best 😁😋. Perfect for the coming Chinese New Year. For the best place for prawn cracker in Sandakan, get it at Tanah Merah water village area.

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You’ll find people coming from far and wide just to bring back Sandakan prawn crackers in bulk! Head on over to the water villages and follow the crowd, and you’re all set for Chinese New Year (or snack time).

12. Salted Fish


Another local favourite is the salted fish (huge in size and fresh off the boat). Add to…practically anything: rice, soup, or eat it on its own!

13. Kuih Terang Bulan


Although people might say this is similar to apam balik in West Malaysia, the kuih terang bulan found in Sabah is much heftier in size, and filled with peanuts and sugar.

14. Char Koi


We end this list on a sweet note, with a special offering only found in Sandakan’s Mile 4 Market, where a certain stall sells deep-fried char koi smothered in butter and kaya. Absolutely yummy and addictive!

SEE ALSO: From Sabah to Sarawak: 8 Exciting East Malaysian Cities to Visit

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Written by Kathlyn Ursula D'Souza

Professionally a journalist, personally a lover of all things fried chicken, Gogorn (her big black German Shepherd) and ice cream.

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