10 Unique Delicacies in East Malaysia That Every Foodie Needs to Try

10 Unique Delicacies in East Malaysia That Every Foodie Needs to Try

Hit the food trail in East Malaysia!

When travelling to Malaysia, the first thing that comes to mind would probably always be Kuala Lumpur, the capital city, or Penang. This is especially true when talking about charming scenery and great food. However, East Malaysia, while often overlooked, is also home to mouthwatering delicacies that will make your tummy growl. 

From popular dishes like Sarawak Laksa to indigenous cuisine like Hivana, read on to find out some of the best unique delicacies in Sabah and Sarawak, some of which even Malaysians from West Malaysia have not tried before!

Also read: 4D3N in Sabah: Things to Do & Eat in The Land Below The Wind

Ready to explore culinary gems throughout the rest of Malaysia, like Johor or Penang? Travel hassle-free with Easybook and enjoy special discounts when you book your bus tickets using the code “GOMALAYSIA” upon checkout! Hurry, offer ends 15 Dec 2022!


1. Sarawak Laksa

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Sarawak Laksa is often regarded as one of the best laksa dishes in Malaysia. It consists of both rice noodles and yellow noodles, beansprouts, prawns, egg, Sarawak laksa paste, and topped with mint leaves, fried shallots and red chillis. The broth is creamy and fragrant, thanks to the addition of coconut milk, while still offering a little bit of spice on the palette.

Kuching, the capital of Sarawak is the best place to satisfy your laksa craving. In fact, the late celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, loved Sarawak Laksa so much that he called it the “breakfast of the gods”! 

2. Sibu Kompia

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As the name suggests, Sibu Kompia is from Sibu, a quaint Sarawakian town mainly populated by Malaysian Chinese of Fuzhou descent. Kompia is also regarded as a “Fuzhou bagel”. It is made with high-protein flour, alkaline water, and sprinkled with sesame seeds on top. There are two types of Sibu Kompia: Kompia masin (savoury) or Kompia manis (sweet).

Kompia is sometimes stuffed with minced meat to add another dimension of flavour to it., Alternatively, you can pair it with sweet jam, or eat it on its own.

3. Kolo Mee

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Kolo Mee is a Sarawak-style noodle dish served with dry egg noodles, fried shallots and onions, minced meat, and spring onions. Usually, it comes with sliced char siu (Chinese-style barbecue pork), a small number of vegetables, and a small bowl of soup. Unlike other Malaysian Chinese dry noodle dishes that are usually darker due to the use of dark soy sauce, Kolo Mee is usually served in a fragrant, transparent sauce or red sauce.

Also read: Sarawak: The Do-It-All Destination for 5 Types of Travellers

4. Ayam Pansuh

Ayam Pansuh or Manuk Pansuh is a chicken dish exclusively found in Sarawak. This is a unique dish made by cooking chicken mixed with garlic, ginger, lemongrass, shallots, Kantan flower, and chillis in a hollow bamboo tube, seasoned with salt, seasoning powder and tapioca leaves. 

After cooking for half an hour, the dish is served along with the leaves. Ayam Pansuh is a typical dish prepared by the Ibans, Bidayuhs and other indigenous people, especially during festivals like the annual Gawai Dayak (Harvest festival).

5. Midin Sarawak

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Similar to Kangkung belacan in Peninsular Malaysia, Midin Sarawak is a dish cooked using a type of wild fern famous in Sarawak called Stenochlaena palustris (Midin). Normally stir-fried with tiny shrimps, chillis, and belacan (shrimp paste), Midin Sarawak is very flavourful and fragrant and is best when eaten with a warm plate of rice. 

6. Pinasakan

Pinasakan is also called Pinasakan Sada, a traditional dish for the Kadasan-Dusun people in Sabah. It’s cooked with puffer fish or Mackerel fish. The essence of Pinasakan is its gravy, asam jawa (tamarind sauce) and asam keping (tamarind slices). This dish has a strong, acidic flavour and is usually eaten with rice, or ambuyat, a sticky, bland, transparent starchy substance made from sago. 

7. Tuaran Mee

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Another Sabahan favourite is Tuaran Mee, originating from Tuaran, a town located on the West coast of Sabah. You never really have been to Sabah if you haven’t had a plate of this. By charring the golden egg noodles, choy sum, egg rolls, and topping with some char siu, you get a perfect, aromatic Tuaran Mee with a hint of smoky flavour. People normally have Tuaran Mee with sambal at the side, and some restaurants add fish cakes or siu yok (roasted pork belly) to add flavour. 

8. Sinalau Bakas

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To get a genuine taste of Sabah’s indigenous culture, don’t miss out on Sinalau Bakas. It is smoked wild boar, an iconic native dish among the Kadazan-Dusun people. You may find Sinalau Bakas being sold at roadside stalls or restaurants, where you can get a glimpse of how it is smoked and grilled. For the ultimate enjoyment, have it with some chilli sauce, ketupat or rice, soup, along with a can of beer. 

Also read: Seven Foods in Sabah and Singapore That Are Similar Yet Different

9. Hinava

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Another well-known traditional native dish among Kadazan-Dusun is Hinava. To make Hivana, mackerel fish or other seafood like squid or shrimp is used, and then mixed well with thinly sliced bitter gourd, ginger, shallots, bird’s eye chilli (Thai chilli), red pepper, salt, and most importantly, lime juice. Hivana can be both an appetizer and a dish served with rice. It is also a common dish served during Kaamatan Festival, weddings, feasts, engagements and other celebrations of the Kadazan-Duzun community.

10. Ngiu Chap

Ngiu Chap, which means mixed beef in Hakka, is a signature beef noodle dish from Sabah. Ngiu Chap has a strong beefy taste, and is generally made with vermicelli rice noodles and aromatic beef broth, then served with beef, beef balls, beef tripes, and radish. Garnished with some cilantro, green onions, and fried shallots, as well as the sweet and sour chilli sauce on the side, this is the best dish to complete your gastronomic journey in Borneo. 

Also read: 24 Photos to Stoke Your Wanderlust for East Malaysia

Ready to explore culinary gems throughout the rest of Malaysia, like Johor or Penang? Travel hassle-free with Easybook and enjoy special discounts when you book your bus tickets using the code “GOMALAYSIA” upon checkout! Hurry, offer ends 15 Dec 2022!


Good food makes travelling great, so there you have it, 10 delicious and unique dishes you can find in East Malaysia. Of course, aside from the list, there are many more local Malaysian dishes that you must try when you’re in this foodie paradise. During your next trip to Sabah and Sarawak, mark the list down so you get to savour them all! 

About Author

Cecelia Chang
Cecelia Chang

Born in a new village in Selangor, Malaysia, Cecelia loves three things in life: Good food, good views, and good deals. She also enjoys exploring new places and experiencing new things on her travels.