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Sabah Spoon

Okay, so let me get something straight. I am not in any way a K-Pop fan. No offense to K-Poppers but I think I'm not really in their age-group target (hey, I'm not that old though). I admit that I'm a closeted fan of a few catchy K-Pop tunes but that's about it. So when I first discover this place (way before it becomes as popular as it is now) I was a bit apprehensive when I saw that half of the menu are of Korean food. But my personal motto for food have always been 'if it's eatable, lets have it!'. And you know what? I'm surprised that I found myself loving Korean food! I've heard so much about the infamous Kimchi and yes, it is an acquired taste but my taste buds are practically dancing when I had it. But unfortunately during my latest visit, I did not ordered one so no pictures on it. Sorry people, maybe next time! My parents and I (yes, that lady walking past in the first picture is my wonderful mom's backside) however decided to ordered a few local dishes such as Nasi Ikan Bakar, Nasi Goreng Thai, Nasi Goreng Kampung, Mix Vegetables (yup, mom never forgets that) and last but not least, a bit of a Korean flare with Gimbap (Korean's answer to their Japanese rival's sushi). Like I've said, half of their menu is Korean so don't be too surprise to see the local menu dishes. And I must say that even though I might not have other Korean dishes to compared it with, as far as my taste buds are concern, their dishes tastes lovely and yummy. But I'm more partial toward their Korean dishes though rather that their local dishes. It's pretty good, but I've had better. One question though - do they served wasabi with Gimbap in Korea? Cause that's what they're doing here, and frankly I'm down with it.

Well, did you notice that little shop at the side of the restaurant called Lisa Toast & Bubble Smoothies (in my picture below)? That's also owned by their next door neighbor, if you decided on some lite munchies of course. And also a BIG shout out to the Korean husband & wife owners of the restaurant (what do you expect, this is a semi Korean restaurant, so at least it's authentic) especially the wife as she's really friendly and warm and greeted every customers with a smile. And her Malay is superb as well. Must be because of the years living in Sabah. The restaurant is on the Lower Ground floor of Eastern Plaza Tawau, right in front of the main food court. It's also very near to the escalator and the main LG door so it's very accessible.

So....

Food - 3/5 (my favorite Korean dishes in town but just fair in terms of local cuisines)
Price - 4/5 (pretty reasonable for such a great place - still gushing about it)
Service - 4/5 (they also have that buzzer thingy on their tables so it makes everything much easier)
Decor - 4/5 (you know what, it's a pretty good looking place)
Location - 4/5 (can't possibly missed it unless if you're blind)

** Current status - Still in operation (as of October 2013)










(Updated on 17/11/2017 - They had added a few more Korean dishes into their menu recently and I got the chance to try out their Kimchi Chicken Duruchigi Rice and it tasted okay despite being a bit too sweet for my liking)





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Roof Garden Lounge

As I was in my 'backyard vacay' mood in L.A Hotel (see previous post), I've decided that I got to check out their rooftop lounge since I've heard so much about it. And since my last experience going to such places solo (not a pleasant one I'm afraid), I've manage to roped in a pal of mine to come along. So off we go to the hotel's top floor (sorry, can't remember which floor exactly) and as we stepped outside of the elevator.... darkness! The only thing that we can see is the neon sign that says 'Roof Garden Lounge' and nothing else. I'm obviously baffled (and beginning to feel like an idiot for asking a friend to witness my stupidity) for like 10 seconds flat when this smiley waiter came to my (err, okay.. our) rescue and led us to the actual rooftop lounge. Note to hotel management -  I do understand that you're going for the half pub feel (it is called a lounge) but please put a brighter light at the 'arrival area' as not to scare away patrons (or maybe it's just me). So they actually divided their lounge area into 2 sections. There's the lounging (and possibly buffet area - as I did spotted some buffet like things nearby) area when you first entered the floor (which was very impressively decorated with bird cages.. yes people, bird cages) and then there's the rooftop area on top of the latter. But do mind your steps when going to the rooftop area as it is quite steep.

Now here's where I turned from my 'what-is-this-place' to 'I-loved-this-place' mode in just seconds. The view at this rooftop is just splendid. Sure, we might not have those sky-scrappers to drooled over but at night, Tawau is pretty darn beautiful with the right view point. Although it's a bit windy when we were there, but it's worth it for the view alone. But what about the food? I mean, I am writing about the food here before I go off with my lengthy babblings. So I've ordered their Mee Goreng Mamak (menu items are mostly Western food with some local dishes) and my friend ordered Mee Tuaran and our verdict? Err, average I guess. I'm actually very looking forward to taste their food but while it's not bad (it's quite tasty actually) it's not that mind-blowing delicious. We also sampled their Boxing Chicken and the sauce is pretty tangy and well-seasoned. But again, nothing out-of-this-world. There's also the Grilled Chicken Sausages & Grilled Roasted Chicken (again with the tangy sauce), their version of Chicken Nasi Lemak and the very simple-looking Roof Garden's Nasi Goreng which tastes meh!

I don't know about you guys but this is the first time I've seen a bouncer (yes, that big guy who has this walkie on hand and is giving you that evil eyes) in such place. So I was half expecting a brawl in the wee hours of the night but I'm happy to report that everyone was pretty chilled out to suddenly have the urged to dance on top of tables. The waiters are also very friendly and attentive.

P/S: I do apologize beforehand for the very dimmed pictures below (which pretty much says that I needed a new phone) as the place is that dark.

But anyways...

Food - 2/5 (maybe my personal expectations are high due to the place.. sorry!)
Price - 2/5 (early warning folks - it's quite on the expensive side)
Service - 4/5 (I have nothing but respect for the staff here)
Decor - 4/5 (one thing comes to mind - bird cages!)
Location - 4/5 (seriously, I'm giving extra marks here for the rooftop view alone. Oh and also you can't possibly missed this place as it is one of the tallest hotels in Tawau)

** Current status - Still in operation (as of October 2013)











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Backyard Vacay: L.A Hotel

So here we are again with my 'seasonal' backyard vacation. This time around I'm staying at L.A Hotel (which stands for Lai Alliance Hotel, not that other famous city in the US) which is situated Jalan St. Patrick (aka right next to the St. Patrick's Church in town). It's actually tucked away from view by a line of shops but then again, you can still see the top part of the hotel from afar so no problems in finding it.

I've always had my eyes on this particular hotel cause believe it or not, this is one of the few hotels that had eluded me ever since I began my quest for my very own backyard vacay several years back. It's mainly because that it is relatively new in town and (also I think because of that) it's pretty hard to booked a room with them since it's almost always full on the weekends. But with my ever persistence (and I'm damn proud of it), I've finally manage to reserve a Standard Room with them this past weekend.

So here's the lowdown. I've manage to booked myself their cheapest (cause honestly I think it's a tad expensive for a 3 star hotel) room available which is the Standard Room and I must say that I'm pretty satisfied with the money I've spent. Obviously since it's only been opened in the recent years, the room is still in its mint condition. It might be a little small in terms of size (but hey, it is a Standard right?) but it has a modern and at the same time a cozy feel about it that I like. And another plus for the room? They at least had a decent view, even for a Standard Room (cause normally when you booked Standards, it pretty much means no windows). The amenities are also well-equipped (thank God their hair-dryer works) and the tiles in the showers are the non-slippery type. All in all I'd say that I enjoyed myself during my weekend break there. I've also visited their rooftop lounge (more on that in my next entry) which I've heard is the place to hang out these days (and for a good reason too). They also had a spa somewhere in the building and another bistro & bar just in front of the hotel. The staff is pretty okay (kudos to the rooftop lounge ones) but there's always that certain receptionist who for some reason looked down on you during check-ins (mine's actually happen during check-out) just cause I'm obviously not the out-of-town patrons. Sigh.

And if you don't have your own vehicle and is not too keen on walking around, then I think you should find another hotel. Fajar Complex is actually not that far from the hotel but you really need to work out some sweat in doing so. But if you're main goal is having a relaxing time (a bit) outside of the main attractions, then this hotel is the one for you. There's a pretty good source of food and mini mart available on the single row shops right next to the hotel that you can fill up you bellies with and purchase your basic daily needs.

So for my personal tastes, I would say...

Type - Standard Room
Room - 4/5 (loved the fact that they had a proper view)
Price - 3/5 (average actually but can be consider pricey for budget-hunting patrons)
Service - 3/5 (again quite okay but with a minor problem with said receptionist)
Decor - 4/5 (loving everything, most probably because it's still new)
Facilities - 4/5 (quite good - see above review to read about their facilities)
Location - 3/5 (if you want a quieter place then this is for you!)











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Eaaat Cafe

Honestly I'm not too sure whether to call in a cafe or a full-fledged restaurant, cause it looks like a hybrid of both. But what really matters is the food right? So what do they served at this cafe-restaurant with a simple yet unique name you asked? Well, I can pretty much sums up everything on the menu as a giant melting pot of fusion food.They have almost everything from the usual local cuisines (like Nasi Goreng and such), Korean dishes, western food, pretty looking snacks (like toasts, fried bananas) and a wide range of local favourite drinks. Since I've already had my lunch just hours before I went to the cafe, I opted for a Yankee Dog (yup, that's the actually name although I don't think it's got anything to do with its western counterpart). I have to say that I'm not a fan of pickles but the ones inside the hotdog was pretty awesome. My dear partner had a Fried Rice with Thai Chicken (or the other way around - I forgot) and he said that the chicken is really tangy. We also shared a Chocolate Banana Toast and since I'm a Nutella addict (yes, I practically can 'smell' a Nutella from miles away), I have to say that the combination was just  superb! It doesn't hurt also that the place has a nice, relaxed atmosphere and that food collage on the wall? Looks pretty and 'yummy' from any angle.

Oh, I've just realised that I went straight to the food without telling you where exactly is the place huh? My bad folks! I'm usually over excited when it comes to food that I loved. Hehehehe.. It's actually located at the Unijaya Commercial space. I'm pretty sure that even locals might have a hard time locating the place unless if you lived at the surrounding areas or somebody told you about it. The Unijaya commercial building is relatively new in Tawau and it's located at Jalan Sin Onn. To narrow it down further, it's quite near to the Tawau Police HQ (the one at Jalan Air Panas, not the one in town). There aren't that many shops there so you'll eventually find it even if you missed it the first time around.

Food - 4/5 (Pretty awesome first impression)
Price - 3/5 (The usual mid-range prices for cafe type foods)
Service - 4/5 (The waiters are pretty swift on their feet)
Decor - 4/5 (The food collage on the wall was really striking - absolutely loved it)
Location - 3/5 (Don't worry, you'll still be able to locate it if you keep your eyes open for it)

** Current status - Has been closed (as of June 2015)






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Indo Taste 2 Fajar

Yeah yeah I know... You'll probably say 'here we go again' just by reading the title above. And in some parts of it, you're probably right. This is yet another one of those 'indo cafes' that I've mention (several times) in my previous posts. But for me, this is the grand-daddy of all those 'indo cafes' in Tawau. Sure, it might not be the first one there is (we'll get to that in my future post) but to me, this one is it man!

The one that you see below is actually their new branch (just recently opened at Fajar Complex, in the same row of shops as State Pets and Maxis office) but their original one is at Perdana Jaya, near to Giant Hypermarket. But what's so good about this place anyway? Well, for one their flavours for their Indonesian food (obviously) are fantastic. I have a friend from work who swears that she's not going to bring her family to any other place other than this one. No joke! So that's got to say something about the food right? If you look below, you'll see my dad's choice, the classic Nasi Ayam Penyet which taste as good as it looks. Then there's my mom's usual favourite Mix Vegetables Rice and Sweet & Sour Fish Rice (which she's really happy with) and then there's my Nasi Racik Sate Bakar and Nasi something Ayam Pandan (newly added to their long list of 'hard-to-pronounce-and-you'll-probably-end-up-asking-what-the-heck-it-is-from-the-waiters' meals, with the latter I can't even remember!). Really, this is as authentic as it can get for Indonesian food. I've also tried their Nasi Uduk Daging Rendang and Nasi Ayam Rica-Rica (I know, I'm amused just by typing the names of the food) and the tastes were superb. Although depending on the day, sometimes the food can be a bit spicier (according to my mom but I personally think it's fine) or salty (and this is coming from someone who craves salty stuff) but hey, I'm willing to looked past the 'minor details' (that potentially can give me a heart attack) because most of the time it's quite satisfying.

The overall decor looked and feel really cosy which I really appreciate since their counterpart at Perdana Jaya is more towards the usual cafe, no air-conditioner look. Although the waitresses looked as if they would loved to do nothing else other than sitting around, they at least made sure that they already have your orders and delivered the food when it's finally prepared.

So overall...

Food - 4/5 (I was thinking of giving a perfect score but then again, there were those 'unfortunate' days that I've mentioned above)
Price - 4/5 (I think it's a fair price - they also have several lunch sets at reasonable prices)
Service - 3/5 (actually okay but it does seemed like the waitresses would love to just lounge around)
Decor - 4/5 (no complaints here)
Location - 3/5 (well, it depends on when you're actually going there since the place is always parking-packed during the day and the exact opposite at night)

** Current status - Has been closed (as of September 2016)








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Depot Makan 3 Sekawan

Okay, so up next is this restaurant tucked away at the single row shop right next to St Patrick's Anglican Church, Jalan Dunlop (or more precisely, right in front of the newly build LA Hotel, Tawau). If you say that the name sounds familiar and you thought that you saw one in Sabindo town, well.. you're absolutely right! So far they have two branches and if things goes as they are now, I'm pretty sure that they'll be a third one soon.

Overall the food is mainly a combination of local Malay and Indonesia food (but more towards the Indonesian side of course - since the decor & even the waiters are almost all Javanese as well). And you know what they say about Javanese food (well, at least this humble lady says so)... it's delicious to the core! The sambal (to my Nasi Goreng Ayam Penyet order) is one of the spiciest I've encountered so if you one of those that easily goes all red at the slight mention of the hot & spicy (that has got nothing to do with Colonel Sanders) variety, then stay as far away as possible. I mean, I'm a self-proclaimed spice lover and even I needed to have my handy cold water with me (which doesn't really help you during those situations - learnt my lesson there folks!). I've tried their Meehoon Sup Ayam before and it's very good as well. They also have a buffet style 'lauk' where you can pick the food of your choice from the trays provided (hence the very simple looking Nasi Kuning Ayam below - my partner is the king of simplicity). On a personal note, I also would like to give a shout-out to their Cucur Jagung which was one of my favourite as well.

Decor wise, it's a simple looking place with a few Javanese decor on the wall and quite a spacious place to sit and eat (there's the front side overlooking LA Hotel, and there's the back side where you'll be looking at the main Jalan Dunlop road). Service here is pretty good, although the kitchen might need a little more help since it does requires some time for your food to arrive.

So here we go people...    

Food - 4/5 (the sambal is by far the most kick-ass sambal there is - I practically 'cried' of 'joy')
Price - 4/5 (fair price for the quality of the food)
Service - 3/5 (I do not blame the waiters though - it's probably the kitchen's problem)
Decor - 3/5 (at least they are trying)
Location - 4/5 (it's actually not that hard to find the place - just look for LA Hotel)

** Current status - Still in operation (as of October 2013)











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Sakura Zen

I kid you not when I said that the first time my sister mention the name of the place to me, I thought she was taking me to a spa. But alas, it was a different kind of spa, where you instead filled your belly with Japanese food. And lets be honest, this is definitely Tawau's answer to Sushi King (yup, the franchise has not landed itself here.. yet!).

So I've only became a Japanese food fan quite recently (maybe sometime around 2010, where my partner tricked me into eating a sushi - and I fell in love with it instantly). And before the Sakura Zen came about, there's only 1 other Japanese food parlour here in Tawau (the Edo Ichi at Fajar Complex, which I've also learnt that it happens to be a branch of the former). The pretty looking establishment is situated at (yet again) Kubota Square, Tawau where it's directly above the Old Town White Coffee franchise. The decor is a lovely sakura (of course) inspired place and dare I say eludes 'tranquility' (me and my so-called sophisticated words). There has been several Japanese restaurants mushrooming in Tawau in the recent years but if I'm not mistaken, this is the only one that has a sushi conveyor belt ala Sushi King. But don't worry cause they'd also provide Japanese meal boxes and other delicious looking set meals. Me and my sister however opted for the sushis instead (partly because I can't get my eyes off of the colourful looking sushis on the conveyor belt - I know, I'm such a kid) as the prices was also very similar to those in Sushi King (see pic below). Taste wise, it's pretty good and you can taste the freshness as well (since they made their sushis on-the-counter daily). So again, all in all it's basically Sushi King's close cousin in Tawau. There's also a private room should you want to entertained family and friends privately.

But do take note of the opening hours though, since they're only opened at 11.00am - 2.30pm before closing to prepare for the next slot which is around 6.00pm - 10.00pm daily. And a little tip, do not come to the place if it's already 2.00pm, since they'll stop making new batches of sushis during that time. So you pretty much get the 'leftovers' of the conveyor belt if you come in around that time (and boy, the waiters are also very eager for you to finished up so they can closed for the afternoon).

So my rating are as follows...

Food - 4/5 (so far so good for the sushis though)
Price - 3/5 (reasonable since it's pretty standard pricing for sushis, not sure about the set menus though)
Service - 3/5 (the waiters are really friendly and all but I'm pretty sure they pronouned the greeting 'Arigatou Gozaimashita' wrongly though - I did took Japanese language during college years and got yelled at Mrs Tanaka 90% of the time, har har har)
Decor - 4/5 (I dare say that it looks prettier than a standard Sushi King)
Location - 3/5 (the location is notorious for the lack of parking - they just don't have enough especially on the weekends)

** Current status - Still in operation (as of October 2013)







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