Located on the west coast of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu is a seaside town famed for its beautiful islands. It would be blasphemy, then, to come here and not tuck into its delicious seafood. One of the best places to get some is at the Sinsuran Night Market. Featuring dozens of stalls, each displaying gigantic lobsters, huge shrimps, colourful fishes of all shapes and sizes, giant oysters and juicy clams, this is Mecca for all seafood loving-pilgrims.
There are actually two sections – one where they serve cooked items, and another where you get to choose fresh seafood and have them cooked to order in a variety of styles.
Don’t expect air conditioning here – the place, like its name, is a ‘market’ through and through, so expect to dine in heat, noise and smell under tarps. Since it rained before our visit, the asphalt was covered in puddles of muddy water.
Cooked seafood laid out on the grill. I’ve never seen such gigantic tiger prawns – definitely not something you see often in KL! The smell and smoke opens the drool floodgates… :D
Cooked on the spot in woks or steamers over huge fires, giving your seafood definite ‘wok hei’.
Squid, blood cockles, clams on trays. Visitors can pick the ones they want into smaller baskets and hand them to the staff, who will then prepare it in a variety of different styles: goreng tepung (flour battered and fried), sweet and sour, chilli, soy-sauce, assam, ginger, etc.
Flower crabs. These are halal. Muslims can’t eat mud crabs because they can survive both on land and in the sea, and it is forbidden for Muslims to eat anything that is a ‘haiwan dua alam’, or creatures that can live in two different environments.
There was even a blue parrot fish! Yes, I guess they can be eaten, but I’ve never tasted one..
Our table ordered seaweed. They’re not like the dried ones I see at the Japanese grocer – these have small round vestibules filled with liquid, attached to a stem. They are also called sea grapes (no points for guessing why!). The locals here eat it with a side of belacan (fermented shrimp paste) for a spicy kick. The ‘grapes’ popped in my mouth, leaving a salty, slimy texture in the mouth. Not my favourite, but it wasn’t unpleasant.
Must try – Avocado juice! It’s not really a ‘juice’, seeing as how avocado has very little water content, but the drink is ice-blended so it has a creamy consistency. It was sweet, refreshing and tasted like honeydew mixed with vanilla ice-cream.
Giant shrimps, cooked in a sweet and sour sauce. They were humongous but fresh and juicy, with loads of creamy roe in the head.
My favourite dish of the night was the deceptively simple but delicious fried squid. The batter was savoury and crunchy, coating the springy squid perfectly. I could eat an entire plate all by myself.
So if you’re looking for affordable seafood, head to Sinsuran! Make sure you bargain with the staff to get the best prices. :)
SINSURAN NIGHT MARKET