5 things you should taste before you leave Kinabalu

I received another email from our good friend, Cikgu Ismail yesterday. This time he shared with me his experiences with some local fruits and jungle resources after reading the red colored durian post few weeks back. In conclusion, there are 5 things that you should taste before you leave Kinabalu (according to Cikgu Ismail):

1. Buah Tarap (tarap fruit), Artocarpus odoratissimus (the Moraceae family)

Tarap fruit

Tarap is a tall tropical tree which is native to Southeastern Asia. It has large lobed leaves, and edible fruits which can weight up to a few pounds. The fruit of tarap(also known as marang) is edible, oblong, about 12 in (20 cm) long, and can weight a few pounds. Its skin is covered with soft spines, and has an appearance which is close to that of the durian or the jackfruit. Its pulp is generally eaten fresh, and has a good aroma. Its seeds can also be eaten when roasted. It is reported that young fruits are sometimes eaten as vegetables.

You can get this fruit almost anywhere in Sabah. It is usually sold at stalls beside the main road, from Kota Kinabalu to Kundasang. If you do not able to get it while on your way to Mount Kinabalu, go to Kundasang town and get one before you leave.

2. Buah Bambangan, (Mangifera panjang)

Bambangan fruit

Bambangan, or some say Membangan (Mangifera panjang) is found extensively in Borneo island as scattered trees in the backyards. The huge majestic columnar tree prefers well drained alluvial soils, but will also thrive on upland soils. The huge trunk supports a dense canopy of dark green leaves. Bambangan is seasonal, producing fruits mainly in the month of August. At flowering in March, the entire crown is covered with brilliant red inflorescence.The tough outer skin of the fruit can be removed easily. After making longitudinal cuts the thick skin can be peeled from the peduncle to the apex. The bright orange delightful mango fragrance is highly esteemed by Sabahan. Pleasantly sweet and juicy, the flesh is fibrous. Some cultivars have less fiber with smooth juicy flesh.

Local Sabahan make bambangan as their local delicacy, and usually eaten with rice. I never touched bambangan dish, although my wife really like to eat it. This fruit is also abundant in Sabah.

3. Tapai Beras (fermented rice), NOT rice wine

Tapai Beras

The rice will be mixed with yeast and wrapped with a giant elephant ear leaves, Alocasia macrorrhiza, (some says it is similar like a yam plant), which then will be kept in cool and dry place for the fermentation to take place. The process will take couple of days, until the rice will be soft and fermented, but not to the stage where it produces alcohol.

Tapai Beras

It has sweet taste and very nice odour (from the fermentation process), and can be eaten anytime. Not like its other derivatives (rice wine or they called it montoku here in Sabah), this fermented rice will not cause you to get drunk. Some stalls / coffee shop add this into their ABC (air batu campur). Cikgu Ismail got this fermented rice on his way back from Mount Kinabalu at the small town, Tamparuli.

4. Jungle Cocktail

Jungle cocktail

Cikgu Ismail said, this drink should not be missed by any climbers who completed their Mount Kinabalu climb. Claimed to be one of his favourite ‘exotic Sabah drink’, you can only get this at Restoran Bayu Kinabalu, a local restaurant which is situated just opposite Kinabalu Park Headquarters at Kota Kinabalu-Ranau main road. You can easily spot the restaurant when you arrive at Kinabalu Park HQ. Open daily, they also serve other meals, mostly local.

I did not manage to ask on what were the ingredient inside the drink, but looking at the photo, I could see some banana there! And that glass cost him RM5…

5. Young coconut juice and ‘meat’

Coconut ‘meat’/jelly

The meat in a young coconut is softer and more like gelatin than a mature coconut (so much so, that it is sometimes known as coconut jelly). For that reason it is sometimes called a tender coconut.

Coconut, (Cocos nucifera) is grown throughout the tropical world, for decoration as well as for its many culinary and non-culinary uses; virtually every part of the coconut palm has some human use. The cavity of coconut filled with water which contains sugar, fibre, proteins, anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals. Coconut water provides an isotonic electrolyte balance, and is a highly nutritious food source. A very suitable drink for you to take after a strenuous Mount Kinabalu climb.

You can also get this delicious coconut juice and jelly by the roadside anywhere between Kota Kinabalu and Kundasang. Cikgu Ismail suggested you to taste ‘burned young coconut’, which available in Jalan Sulaman – KKIP (Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park), outskirt of north Kota Kinabalu.

Articles by Ismail MYAR
Photos by Ismail MYAR & Ganesh C

11 thoughts on “5 things you should taste before you leave Kinabalu

  1. Aren’t we all proud to be part of Sabah?
    The Tarap tree was right behind the place my father is staying now which is in the estate where he is working. When season comes, we have so much until the ground is full of it! But I love em. I can eat two whole fruits all by myself.

    Now that ‘Jungle Juice’ is really intersting. Will make a point to try that when I’m near Restoran Bayu Kinabalu next time…

    Good one Dr!

  2. To Leong,

    The picture that you post in your webpage are not the same as drizad have here.. the taste is very different. The picture that we have here is the rice will taste like the rice wine but the one that on you have on your webpage is a big rice ball (where you can usually see it on harvest festivals in May). Usually the local people use the leaves(what ever types of leaves that can be used eg. the tarap leaves also can be use) as a “container” or more like what we call tapau (in traditional way).

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