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Olive Bistro

I felt somewhat lucky the moment I’ve entered this particular bistro one weekend with my partner and had actually managed to snag a seat inside the vicinity. This place is notorious for being fully booked on most weekends that some people came prepared for waiting and even willing to wait inside their vehicles for any available spot. Heck, some people even brought their own chairs just to wait outside of the eatery (no joke, you guys can checked the internet for further proof). We decided to just tried our luck one Sunday (as it was raining a bit and was hoping that other patrons would be discouraged to go out – which was proven somewhat correct) and drove to their place at the single shop lot of Taman Tawau (right in front of the newly opened Sin Onn branch of the Tawau Hospital).

I have heard of them since they were still in their previous spot at Fajar Complex but the crowd almost always hinders me from actually stopping by. And since people have given them fairly rave reviews, my expectation was somewhat high for them. But like any other place with that kind of expectation, something bound to make you unsatisfied. In this case, the food falls flat in my humble opinion. We’d ordered their Mayonnaise Fish Rice (which is exactly what they said it is; sliced fish with mayonnaise – and the taste was mediocre) and their Malaysian Delight Pizza (I had high hopes for this one but again, it is just average for me. It’s borderline tasteless without any sauce being added to said dish). But I’ll give credit to where credit is due, since their Brownies was superbly moist, especially when paired with a scope of yummy vanilla ice-cream.

Nevertheless…

Food – 3/5 (everything is hunky-dory but nothing outstanding)
Price – 3/5 (as expected from a well established eatery)
Service – 4/5 (I love the fact that their service was very prompt)
Décor – 4/5 (the graffiti on one of the walls was very creative and mesmeric)
Location – 4/5 (you won’t miss them if you’re driving through Jalan Sin Onn) 

** Current status – Still in operation (as of November 2016)  





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Kantin Hafizah Dewan Masyarakat Tawau

Sometime last year, I have reviewed a kedai kopi near to where I’m currently staying called Kedai Kopi Hafizah 2. So if you are curious to find out more about its predecessor, then you have come to the right place. Even though it might be under a slightly different name, this so-called canteen (they attributed their name to the fact that they are the Tawau Municipal Hall’s resident canteen) has been around for years. It is run by a Chinese looking Muslim family and has now been passed down to the younger generation to manage.

In terms of food however, I was a bit disappointed to discover recently (as I had a meeting to attend nearby with a colleague so we’d decided to stopped by for breakfast) that the quality has declined throughout the years. The Nasi Kuning Ayam that I’ve ordered for instance, was not as good as I’ve remembered it especially with its condiments being lessened (due to economical reasons perhaps?). The chicken does looked good but lacked the necessary spiciness and 'kick' that a dish like that should have. My colleague tasted their Mee Hoon Sup Ayam and even she said that the dish was nothing special and indistinctive. But I do like their Fried Sardine Roll as the kuih was just superb (it’s neither too greasy nor salty) and with a very generous filling. Definitely worth recommending as a light snack to kick start your mornings.

Next we have…

Food – 3/5 (quality has somewhat been downgraded over the years)
Price – 3/5 (can be considered as medium range)
Service – 3/5 (pretty slow as we need to repeat our orders a couple of times for them to bring our food – and it wasn’t even peak hours)
Décor – 4/5 (at least now they have a more comfortable seating than before)
Location – 4/5 (they’re also at the backside of SJK Sin Hwa) 


** Current status – Still in operation (as of November 2016)  





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Thymes Bar & Bistro

This place has eluded me for quite sometime mainly due to its location. It’s actually located along Jalan Sim Hua Seng (right in front of the locally popular Restoran Haji Tamrin) but what sets this eatery apart from the rest was the fact that it was once a bungalow that has been nicely renovated to its current state. I admit that it looks fancy and intimidating from the outside but after a nudge from my partner one day, we'd decided to just forgo any first impression and just go for it. And as we stepped into the place, we were thoroughly surprised to find out that the restaurant was actually more laid back then what we'd initially thought. It has a lovely 2 storey seating area and an al fresco area in front. If you’re planning to go during the weekends, it is advisable to call them beforehand to make a reservation, as they are usually packed with patrons (it was lucky for us that there's a single table for two available when we walked into the place without prior booking).

I was a bit surprised when I was given the menu as it was pretty extensive. The food ranges from your usual Western dishes to some local choices but with fine dining appearances. My partner’s personal choice for example, is your typical Crab Fried Rice but it comes with the actual crab shell and meat (with my partner seemed to be very enthusiastic in using their nutcracker to pry open said meat from its pinchers). And the verdict? My partner reckon that he will probably come back just for the dish, which says a lot about the taste. I took on their Grilled Chicken Chop (which was juicy with a medium sized portion) and we’d also shared an order of Buffalo Chicken Pizza (which I’m giving two thumbs up for its thin & crispy crust as well as the delicious chicken chunks on top).

Up next is their rating…

Food – 4/5 (satisfying indeed)
Price – 3/5 (still within the above average range)
Service – 4/5 (I have heard about their somewhat slow service before but I had a pretty good experience with them – and I was there during a busy Saturday)
Décor – 4/5 (it was very classy and modern, complete with a creative wine display area)
Location – 3/5 (it might be a bit hard to locate them right away but there’s always Waze right?) 

** Current status – Still in operation (as of November 2016)  






Updated on 25/05/2017 - Was very disappointed (and not to mention angry) with our second visit recently. All I can say is that avoid going there during peak days (such as after paydays, during public holidays etc) & do not EVER sit at their al fresco seating area as you will be totally invisible to them. We started ordering at 8.30pm and an hour later we still didn't get our food or drinks (mind you, I'd ordered ICE WATER - thank you very much!). When we check with them, the waitress thought that we'd just arrived and serve us the menu again! As it turns out, our original order was passed around & was 'accidentally' thrown out in the end. As if that wasn't enough, when we complain, they just looked at us as if we're overreacting & try to place the blame on us for supposedly moving tables (which I can assure you does not happen at all). Really, this terrible experience might be an isolated incident (but I highly doubt it since service doesn't seem to be their strongest point even before our unfortunate experience) but I'm just sharing my experience so hopefully you guys will get a better experience than I did. 

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Sugar Island

The internet at work has shown its erratic side lately so I’m posting another review back-to-back before it ‘disappears’ on me again. I have always wanted to drop by this particular eatery but time (and sometimes situation) has not been on my side. But a recent banking business has brought me to the Kubota Square commercial area (they’re smack in the middle of said area) and while waiting for a particular transaction to transpired, I decided that it is finally time to have a look at what they’re offering.

The main thing that brought my initial attention to the place was their so-called mille crepe cake that everyone seems to be raving about. But what ‘everyone’ did not mention was that in order for you to taste them, you need to be fast since they were completely out of those during my visit (sigh). I was obviously disappointed but nevertheless I’m already there so I decided to make use of my time and try out their other food such as the Nasi Lemak Ayam (a very typical Chinese version of said dish, which was just moderate in taste) and some other munchies like their Banana Cake (a bit on the dry side and hard to chew for some reason) and the equally popular Portuguese Egg Tart (now this one I highly recommend, as the tart was really crumbly and the egg filling was soft and simply delish). Oh and yes, they’re now fully air-conditioned (a plus point since I’ve read some prior reviews about their somewhat stuffy place before this) and I just loved the personal touches that the owner had creatively shown throughout the eatery, such as personal family pictures hanging on the walls and some pretty ornaments neatly displayed on a glass shelve.

And now we take a look at…

Food – 3/5 (still a bit disappointed that I can’t sample their mille crepe cake)
Price – 4/5 (pretty average to me)
Service – 4/5 (it’s semi-self service so no worries here)
Décor – 4/5 (I really dig the whole homey vibe – it feels as if you’re welcomed)
Location – 4/5 (it’s good to note that they’re next door to an MBSB office) 

** Current status – Still in operation (as of November 2016)  








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Grand Cafe

If you’ve frequented the Jalan Air Panas area especially the round-a-bout right next to the Tawau Police Headquarters, then you probably noticed a new, single shoplot right in front of its main gate called Prima Jaya Commercial area. And one guess which café occupied the first shop within said area? Yup, none other than this Grand Café. But despite the name, the café itself are more laid-back and sedated and not as ‘grand’ as you might think.

I have been to this particular café twice because you can't just stay away from a place that provides good food right? Me and my partner were roaming around the area the first time around because we were trying to find an eatery that stayed open during a public holiday. Back then we didn’t know what to expect so we just ordered their Kuey Teow Goreng (with no after-wok burnt taste which was nice) and Nasi Goreng Ayam Penyet (the chicken was a bit overcooked and the sambal was on the spicy side according to my partner). We also tried out their Oreo Cheese Cake and I was a bit surprised to find that it was moist and the cheese wasn’t overpowering. It was because I was determined to try out their Chocolate Cake (which became unavailable during our premier visit) that we came back a couple of weeks after that but sadly my quest has been thwart yet again. So instead I consoled myself with yet another cheese cake (this time it’s their Lemon Cheese Cake). I enjoyed the cake very much, what with its good blend of not-too-strong cheesy taste with a tinge of lemony flavour. We also ordered some Tuna Egg Mayo Sandwiches (unexceptional in taste but still fulfilling), Nasi Goreng Sambal (simple yet tasty) and a Sweet and Sour Chicken Rice for my ever hungry companion (he said that it was really tangy and all around palatable).

Other than that we have…

Food – 4/5 (portions were very satisfying)
Price – 4/5 (they’re still within their ‘honeymoon phase’ aka no GST period so do grab this opportunity)
Service – 4/5 (impressively swift both times we were there)
Décor – 4/5 (love the relaxed vibe going around the cafe)
Location – 4/5 (no worries spotting them as they’re visible from the main road) 

** Current status – Still in operation (as of November 2016)  












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Dreamland Coffee House

It’s definitely ‘nostalgia week’ for me and my family since we found ourselves revisiting several makan places that we’d somehow forgotten throughout these years. It usually started of with somebody mentioning ‘did you remember when we used to go to said and said place’ and in no time, we found ourselves there. And one such place is this Chinese owned coffee house. I was a bit taken aback (but in a good way) when we went there recently and I discovered that the owners, kitchen staff and even the ‘lady captain’ were still the same people as it was years ago. Those veterans definitely knew their stuff as the quality of their food is still as I’ve remembered them. Man, the place definitely brings back lots of memories for me. Fun fact – they were once stationed within the Fajar Complex area (this is when I was still a primary school girl) before relocating to their current spot in the Ba Zhong Commercial area (right next door to Wakaf Thai Tom Yam and in front of the fairly new D'Salam Cafe).

Since the place is renowned for their four course dinner sets (one of only a handful that retained that type of dining in Tawau) we’d decided to try out their latest offerings. We were served (in order and in a very patient manner of course) with a starter (a Russian Broth Soup – which was all hot, sourly and spicy, just the way I liked it) before moving on to their appetizer (Fried Fish Fillet with tartar sauce – the sauce was commendable but the fillet was just your common store-bought fillet), their main dish (we picked out their Grilled Chicken Thigh with fries and side vegetables – which was just succulent and juicy but the carrots were a bit bland and soggy) and ended the meal with a dessert (a slice of refreshing papaya and tea of course). 

Moving on then…

Food – 4/5 (the food was as good as I’d remembered them)
Price – 3/5 (I would still consider their pricing as reasonable)
Service – 3/5 (the veterans were still very attentive as usual)
Décor – 4/5 (a comfortable place with an old-school charm to it)
Location – 3/5 (it’s also right next to a big reflexology centre within said area) 

** Current status – Still in operation (as of November 2016)  








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Kedai Kopi Hill Top

This particular eatery might be called Kedai Kopi Hill Top but it’s no where near the actual Hill Top area within Jalan Utara Tawau. The reason for that was due to their relocation after their original coffee shop (and yes, that one was formerly located at the Hill Top commercial area) had been burned down a few years back. Since they’re quite popular amongst Tawaurians (they have been around since I was little, no joke) it is a no brainer for them to reopen their coffee shop, in new and improved surroundings no less at the Unipark commercial area (just next to Taman Univilla). It is also good to note that they’re also in the same row as the in-famous Day Day Soto café.

After that somewhat lengthy intro, let us now move on to the actual food okay? It was only very recently that me and my parents started to frequent the place again especially for breakfast after so many years. And I can assure you that the tastes of their food were somewhat retained throughout those years. My dad had their Nasi Kuning Ikan (he had always been a fan of their sweet and sourly sauce) while my mom ate their Mee Tauhu (my mom said that it tasted like how the Chinese used to make them – which meant thumbs up in my mom’s books). The Nasi Lemak Ayam that I had was tasteful as well. My only complaint though was probably the one-sauce-for-all concept that they seemed to be implementing (as the sauce for the Ayam Masak Merah on my dish tasted very similar to those of dad’s fish). I have also tasted their Roti Canai (unfortunately I forgot to take any pictures of them since I’d tapau them) and it was just okay but the curry was saporous in taste.

All in all I say…

Food – 3/5 (more tweaking here and there would do wonders)
Price – 4/5 (pretty okay in my books)
Service – 4/5 (the owners were on hand to handle things as well)
Décor – 4/5 (much improved from their previous Hill Top days)
Location – 3/5 (just drive along the long road into the Unipark commercial area and you’ll spot them) 

** Current status – Still in operation (as of November 2016)   






Updated on 14/11/2016 - I went to the place again with some colleagues and they'd ordered Nasi Goreng Seafood and Nasi Goreng Nanas, which looked almost identical and unfortunately tasted similar as well



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Backyard Vacay: Walai Tokou Boutique Hotel

This boutique hotel has been secretly gaining my attention, due to its somewhat secluded placement, even though they are still within walking distance to the nearest town area (and that area being the Fajar Complex Tawau – they’re actually located at Jalan Masjid, right next to the Basel Church). And yes, I do know that the Walai Tokou accommodations are also available in other parts of Sabah and are known for their traditional Borneo designs. Taking advantage of the very recent public holidays (and the fact that it’s been a while since I’ve taken a break again from work – sigh) I decided to just go for it and do a walk-in.

Parking will not be a problem here since they have a vast place for it; some might say the space is as big as the hotel itself. And since they’d also built a brick wall (for privacy I believed) and a security post in front of said vicinity, rest assured that your car will be in good hands. Checking in was uneventful, with the lobby area being very quiet. There were actually minimal décor on the lobby area but the Borneo inspired designs became visible once you’ve entered the hallways leading towards the rooms, which fascinated me. I was thankfully assigned to a room that was facing the front side of the hotel and was on the first floor. And those are major pluses considering that the hotel does not have any elevators (yup, strictly stairs guys). I was also quite surprised to find that the room that I got was in a decent size and pretty cosy looking. It’s clean and there’s really something about wooden based floor that feels homey and mellow to me. Bedding was also amicable and I just loved pillows that were considerably hard. All in all it’s definitely a comfy, adequate budget accommodation. Two things that the management might need to take note and improve on are their water heater (which I think is broken since you’ll get this semi-scaling hot water should you turned them on so I was forced to switched them off the entire time, hence bathing in cold water instead) and that ‘intricate’ China originated flat TV. And I’m not actually being sarcastic here. Both the remote control as well as the TV buttons were all entirely in Chinese language (yup, not user friendly I’m afraid).  

Oh and I do apologize for the lack of pictures especially of the earlier mentioned lobby area, as well the traditionally decorated hallways. I did plan on taking some pictures when I checked out but totally forgot to do so towards the end. Shame on me!

For ratings I’m giving them…

Type – Superior King
Room – 3/5 (it would be a very good idea for them to fix the water heater a.s.a.p)
Price – 4/5 (you get what you’d paid for)
Service – 3/5 (a smile or two wouldn’t hurt right?)
Décor – 4/5 (very native Borneo inspired which was charming to look at)
Facilities – 3/5 (there have been ‘rumours’ going on about the spa adjourning to the hotel but as far as I can tell you, nothing has been verified and I do feel comfortable & secure during my stay)
Location – 3/5 (it’s also just a few steps away from the De Choice Hotel)  





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