SANDAKAN: Sandakan Food Festival 2017

Greetings from Sandakan! 🙂

The inaugural Sandakan Food Festival 2017 is on-going from 30th Aug – 2nd Sept 2017, every evening from 5pm onwards at Bandar Kim Fung, at the open carpark next to Yu Yuan school.
The Sandakan Food Festival themed ‘Oceans, Land and Forests, will offer a culinary selection that is uniquely Sandakan and Sabahan plus other ethnic styles of cooking.

Visitors to this free-entry event can look forward to delectable noms from over 50 stalls, all reasonably priced and many cooked upon order. While you can grab and go, there is a dining area for those who prefer to sit back and enjoy their meal right here.

Coming from a state rich in culinary delights, this Penang girl was excited and absolutely thrilled to be here in the flesh. Imagine – all the Sabahan and Sandakan delicious eats in ONE venue!

It turned out that I wasn’t the only one with similar conclusion, for at 6 pm the location was packed with hungry visitors and most stalls were enjoying brisk business!
It was evident that both the locals and tourists found the event to be an intriguing affair and had made it a point to check it out!

Anyhow, out of the few dishes/food we managed to sample, the cakes by Grace Voong were the most impressive. I know, I know, I’m supposed to be bowled over with the traditional and local staples, but truly, the Avocado Cake, the Milk Yam Pie and the Rainbow Crepe Cake were amazing!


At the same booth, Sammy Yong’s nasi lemak was quick to sold out. I didn’t managed to try this so grab one, try it and let me know if you like it? 🙂

PS: I would recommend the kombucha for a refreshing, gut-friendly drink!

Along with the cakes, here are some other food that I sampled from the other stalls, just to give you an idea of what to look out for when you’re here.

White Rabbit ice cream bun by San De Gan Kopitiam

A twist to a nostalgic snack into a refreshing treat – genius! 😀

San De Gan Kopitiam stall also offers BBQ seafood – prawns, crayfish, etc.

The famous Mei Ngar fried chicken

Said to be the best chicken in Sandakan!

Fruity Bird Nest

Cultivated locally and hand-harvested, hand washed with no bleaching agents used. I sampled the hot bird nest soup and loved it.


Sandakan Styles Hotel (ibis) – Nasi and Rendang

Rendang and rice from Treats, the restaurant/cafe for Sandakan Styles and where I enjoyed my daily breakfast since I’m a guest at Sandakan Styles Hotel for 5 days.
Here’s a peek into my room – I loved it as it is cheery, functional and comfortable!

Kinabalu Pork Burger

This stall has the longest queue every night and the queue stubbornly snaked on throughout the night until all burgers are sold out.
Honestly the burgers were excellent – moist albeit too peppery patty, with soft buns and a savoury sauce.

PS: They did send us a burger, but 3 hours after we ordered and the lighting was so bad by then (it had gone dark) so my image of the burger wasn’t nice enough to share here. But you can watch the video I shared on and drool over the patties on the grill! 

Summer Joy Bubble Tea

The best bubble tea in Sandakan, bar none.
All ingredients (minus the fresh milk) are imported from Taiwan and with the founders strict on quality control,
I don’t think we have a mixture of three different flavors of bubble pearls such as Golden Boba, Jade White Boba and Black Boba in one drink!


All fairs are merrier when there are FREE food and beverage samples handed out! 🙂

Mee Udang and Tom Yam sup – Borneo Cove Hotel

The Tom Yam soup was delicious. However, the Mee Udang soup lacked depth of flavour.

Sang Har Mee – Kenalan Steamboat Sdn Bhd

When in Sandakan, eat Sang Har Mee! Or rather, indulge in the freshest seafood available. This stall also sells salted egg yolk squid (delicious – it was gone before I managed to snap a picture), rojak kangkung cuttlefish and fish head curry noodles (lovely creamy soup!).

Nasi Kerabu, curry puff, steamed tapioca – Little Nanyang

The traditional budu sauce was substituted with a dried chilli paste but overall the dish was still delicious, especially the rich, tasty chicken curry. I would recommend this for those who are a fan of Nasi Kerabu (as I am!).

PS: The curry puffs were yummy too – generous filling of potatoes, chicken cubes plus a wedge of hard boiled egg. The sweet tapioca snack with coconut cream was a traditional snack that is simple but satisfying. It isn’t commonly available in KL either and I would buy it whenever I see it as I love the sweetness of the tapioca with the rich, salty coconut cream.

Pisang Goreng Cheese, Thai Tea, Thai Green Tea

I don’t remember the name of this stall but I was told that they sell it in Indah Club. The fried bananas were thick, sweet, topped with shaved gula melaka (genius!) and sprinkled with the shaved cheese.

Soft serve and food – Crowd 99

Crowd 99 is a cafe in the IJM area and they are renowned for their soft serves and princely portioned mains.

Hotel Sandakan – thick, delicious sandwiches and nasi pandan

We didn’t managed to try the sandwiches but the nasi lemak pandan and fragrant fried chicken was tasty. I also know that my fellow media members are hosted at the Sandakan Hotel so thank you!


Beef Kebabs

Perfect grab-and-go food – juicy beef kebabs.

Red Durian Tempoyak (not available at the stalls)

I had the opportunity to Sabah Red Durian (aka “Sukang”) for the first time!

It’s main attraction is its bright-coloured flesh; attractively red /orange when ripe.
I managed to savour both the fresh and cooked version. The fresh pulp was delicately sourish sweet, not as pungent as the common durians and certainly not as tasty. The cooked version had dried prawns added (I chewed on one) and while I haven’t been able to secure the recipe (yet), I believe there were chillies added too.

The cooked version was served with rice and chicken as pictured, and I think it was meant to mimic sambal.


My advice?
Come early and come hungry! 😀

Here is the program for the next few days:

A shoutout to the people that make it happen

The Sandakan Food Festival is organised by Sandakan Tourism Association (STAN) and backed by Sandakan Good Food Club. It is a community driven, non-profit effort to promote the town of Sandakan.
This effort is supported by Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Sabah Tourism Board, Sandakan Municipal Council and district community leaders.

“It is a community-driven effort to promote the town of Sandakan and encourage local communities to rediscover their food heritage,” Anton, Sandakan Food Festival coordinator said.

** Many thanks to Anton Ngui, Sandakan Food Festival Coordinator and Johnny Lim, President of The Sandakan Tourism Association (STAN) for having me in Sandakan, the second biggest city in Sabah that embodies Sabah’s rich and diverse biodiversity in all its glory!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Ginger

    Nasi lemak is really good with authentic flavors especially the sambal which is what i craved for a very long time but i wish it could be a little more spicy. Definitely worth the money

  2. Sean EDKL

    what a happening festival! i’ve not been to sandakan, so this is a nice glimpse there for me 😀

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