KOTA KINABALU: Much of Kota Kinabalu (KK) faces the South China Sea which is a rich source of seafood. And the best place to get this fresh seafood cooked and served as a delicious but inexpensive meal is at Welcome Seafood Restaurant.
This restaurant is considered by locals and tourists alike to be among the best seafood restaurants here. It has three branches, each located within KK itself. FMT Lifestyle had the opportunity to visit the branch located at Asia City.
It is quite hard to miss, given the sheer number of shop-lots the restaurant occupies, as well as the seafood-themed lamp posts lined up outside.
On weekends, expect to wait in a long line before you are seated. FMT Lifestyle dropped by the restaurant on a weekday afternoon and the lunch crowd was thankfully manageable, so perhaps plan your visit accordingly.
As with most traditional Chinese seafood restaurants, the aquariums contain live fish, so just pick a fish which best suits your palate and wallet and off it goes to meet destiny in the kitchen.
And how does the food taste? Without further ado, here are some recommendations of the tastiest items on the menu.
First to arrive at the table was the curiously-named Sambal Sabah Vegetable. For outsiders, this vegetable may seem foreign but it is a favourite for Sabahans here.
Also called “sayur manis” (sweet leaf), it is a leafy vegetable that can cause lung issues if eaten raw!
Thankfully, this dish is safely and completely stir-fried, together with spicy sambal which blends well with the veggie’s inherently mild sweetness.
Next up was the Deep-Fried Squid, or what some may call calamari rings. These made for the most perfect appetisers with how addictive they were.
Fried with just the right amount of batter, the salty and crunchy outer layer complemented the springy flesh just beneath the surface.
If you would like something equally indulgent, the Dry Butter Prawn would be a great pick.
Coated with a wonderful abundance of buttery floss, these prawns are juicy and fresh, as though just plucked out of the water.
Looking for something which may just sear your taste buds? Try the spicy Szechuan Soup, a fiery treat which will have you gulping down an icy drink real quick.
Similar in texture to shark fin soup, the Szechuan Soup contains bits of chopped chilli floating among the crunchy seafood bits.
Feeling adventurous? Give the Steamed Sea Snails a try then! To enjoy the flesh of these molluscs, use a toothpick to dig them out of their shells.
The flesh of the sea snail can roughly be described as a mixture of sweet, salty and bitter, and first-timers are recommended to dip the flesh in thousand island sauce first.
Among the restaurant’s most unique dishes is the Special Sauce Steamed Fish. The fish of choice was sea bass. While the fish was fresh and its meat tasty, the spicy-sweet sauce it was drenched with was the star of the dish and an absolute joy to savour.
Last but certainly not least was the Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab. As its name clearly states, the “soft shells” are completely edible – so no cracking or hitting was necessary at the table.
There is certainly some joy to be had in enjoying a treat that normally takes so much effort to savour, and it helps that the crab itself is to die for.
Hence, whether you are a local to KK or a visitor, a trip to Welcome Seafood Restaurant is always a… welcomed idea for any foodie worth their salt.
Welcome Seafood Restaurant (Asia City)
Kompleks Jalan Asia City Phase 2A
88300 Kota Kinabalu
Business hours: 12pm-11pm daily