Hunting for barbecued lokan and coconut in Tuaran, Sabah

If you are visiting Kota Kinabalu, make your way to its neighbouring small town of Tuaran.

Located just 35 kilometers from Sabah state capital, the small town is home to many good food including the famous Tuaran mee.

The Hakka Chinese community of Tuaran created the noodle from egg yolk and flour. It is then fried with vegetables and garnished with Chinese roasted pork.

However do not limit your gastronomic journey with this noodle, there are plenty other foods to try in Tuaran.

At Sulaman Road right near heavy traffic along Kota Kinabalu-Tuaran highway, the must-try foods there are barbecued lokan, grilled coconut and coconut pudding.

To get there, you can go by taxi or Grab car. If you are driving on your own, search for ‘lokan bakar Jalan Sulaman’ on your Google Maps or Waze.

The stalls along Sulaman Road.
Hunting for barbecued lokan
Lokan bakar

Lokan, or the scientific name Polymesoda expansa, is a type of marsh clam usually found near the tropical coastline and riverbank.

More than five years ago, there are perhaps only few stalls selling barbecued lokan along Sulaman Road.

Now, there are more than 20 wooden stalls lining up both sides of the road. Since almost every stall is selling the same barbecued lokan at about the same price, there are only two things that might set some stalls apart from each other; cleanliness and the sambal.

Choose a stall that practices better hygiene and with no flies flying around.

Plus, you can always ask the stall owners what kind of sambal they serve. Some stalls offer up to six different kinds of sambal.

In the end, the best kind of condiment which goes perfectly with barbecued lokan is the simple sauce made from chilli and lime.

The sour and slight spiciness of this kind of sauce could cleanse that seafood after-taste on your palate.

The lokan are usually marinated with ginger and a bit of turmeric powder.
The wondrous coconut
Kelapa bakar or barbecued coconut

A visit to any of these stalls at Sulaman Road is incomplete without having a coconut.

If you are a traditionalist, order the good old young coconut to quench your thirst. Or you can always give kelapa bakar or barbecued coconut a try.

The taste might be a shocker for those who are not familiar with it. It taste as if kerisik (grated and toasted coconut flesh) was turned into juice.

To end your gastronomic adventure at Sulaman Road, Tuaran, have some coconut pudding for dessert.

Although this dessert can be found in most restaurants in Kota Kinabalu, somehow the clear, sweet taste of the pudding goes well with the barbecued lokan.

Coconut pudding.

Patricia Hului

Patricia Hului is a Kayan who wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight.

She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science.

She is currently obsessed with silent vlogs during this Covid-19 pandemic.

Due to her obsession, she started her Youtube channel of slient vlogs.

Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at or Twitter at @patriciahului.

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