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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bite-Size Review: Gayang Seafood Restaurant in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

I love restaurants that are recommended by locals. 
Now, I just knew I had to have some seafood when I was recently in Kota Kinabalu so when I asked various residents which were the best restaurants in town, all of them pretty much told me to head for a) Gayang, b) Salut, and c) Welcome - in no particular order.  Since I had limited time, I didn't get to go to all three, but I managed to dine at Welcome and Gayang instead. 

Best dining decisions I ever made during the entire trip. 
The open-air Gayang Seafood Restaurant - bring your appetite and lots of mosquito repellent.
Now, Welcome Seafood Restaurant was fine - it's closer to town (in fact, it's right in KK itself) and takes up almost the entire ground-floor length of a plaza at KK Town Centre.  Has rapid service and excellent local food at extremely reasonable prices.  But if I had to go choose between the two, I'd go back to Gayang, if only for the warehouse, open-air dining atmosphere and of course, their fantastic selection of seafood, freshly caught from the neighbouring waters.  It's a tad far from the city's downtown core - about a 30-minute drive - but it's only about seven minutes from where I was staying at Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort in Dalit Bay.
The seemingly-photoshopped views of the dramatic sunset from the massive dining hall. 
I loved the place the moment I drove up the steep slope to where the restaurant was perched - on a small hill overlooking the mangrove swamps and the rainforest jungle beyond.  There's no air-conditioning, mood lighting or fancy carpeting.  Just one wide open, breezy, pillarless hall with one wall stacked with double rows of tanks brimming with fresh seafood that you have to select; it's also  where you decide and fill your entire dinner order before they even let you sit at a table.  And no, there's no menu to peruse and dawdle over either.  It's like the Seafood Nazi version of dining, but kinder.

Here are some of the highlights of what we had:
Steamed mud crabs (RM35 or USD11 each)
Stir-fried clams with ginger and scallions (RM20 or USD6.40)
Deep-fried batter chicken (RM15 or USD4.80 )

Tuaran mee (noodles) - the local signature dish (RM10 or USD3.20)
Steamed prawns (RM60)

Soy-sauce saucers: a highly effective method in preventing flying insects
from kamikaze-ing into your Heinekens
With the beer and various assorted soft drinks, our bill came to just over RM500 (USD160) for nine amazing courses inhaled by four adults and two children under five years old.  Pretty reasonable, considering the portion sizes and the super freshness of our seafood.  Three things to note though: there are no pork dishes on the menu, advance reservations are highly recommended, and yes, be prepared to ingest some bugs now and then as part of your Gayang dining experience.

Gayang Seafood Restaurant - Kampung Baharu, Jalan Sulaiman, Tuaran, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Telephone +60 16 810 2395

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