“You’ve lost so much weight!” was the first thing my auntie’s friend said when she fetched me from the Kota Kinabalu airport. I quickly reminded her that the last time she saw me was after a 2-week Sabah eat-fest and that in a short time after the completion of Sabah eat-fest 2014 I would return to the plump state in which she once remembered me. Thus began my food journey in Sabah. We revisited some of my favorite places in KK from my last trip in 2009. I slurped down Kon Lau Mian, wan ton soup, and “wo tie”. We migrated to an Indian shop where I reconnected with my true loves, roti canai and teh tarik. As I continued eating my way through Sabah’s best kedai kopis, restaurants, and hawker stands, I noticed that much of the landscape had changed but the food remained, thankfully, the same. An ode to the various ethnic influences, the food consists of diverse flavors which make Sabah any food lover’s dream destination. On a quest for the best this state has to offer I’ve cooked beside a Bajau chef in her restaurant, I’ve trekked into a Kadazan-Dusun village to dine with locals, I’ve scoured night markets, and I’ve begged my friends to take me to their favorite haunts. They say that smell & taste are the strongest memory senses. So it’s natural that Kon Lau Mian topped with perfectly savory char siu holds a special place in my heart. It’s one of the first dishes I tried in Sabah and the mere thought of it takes me back to the shop surrounded by orange plastic chairs and cutlery to match. It reminds me of the uncle cooking behind the counter as eager customers waited under buzzing fans. For me, this dish conjures up a clear image of that special day when I fell in love with Sabah’s many tastes. In Sabah, food speaks for itself. It’s a common language which the locals share and love. It oozes emotion, culture, and history. It is infused with love and passion. And most importantly it brings people together. Sabahans have an incredible respect for each other’s cultures, religions, and customs, and it’s ever so apparent through their embrace of diverse cuisines.
Annie Cheng is a Food and Travel blogger from US and she blogs at : www.thetablelesstravelled.com
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