Written by @joehairie (Photos by curiostraveller.com team members)
“Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul.”-Dorothy Day
It’s one of the 3 signature award-winning restaurants in Sutera Harbour Resort that have been awarded Malaysia Best Restaurant 2016 by Malaysia Tatler. Welcome to Spice Island @ Sutera Harbour Marina & Country Club, a restaurant that focuses on elevated, fusion traditional Malay and Indian cuisines. We both are on the same page with Malaysia Tatler, this particular restaurant is indeed one of the Best Restaurant in Malaysia. The products and services exceeded our expectation, both went beyond our imagination, delivering the best to its clientele. We went here for dinner and never we expected that we will be consuming some amazing food. Is this the best Malay & Indian restaurant in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah?
About Spice Island
“Sitting down and sharing a meal together combines two of my favorite loves: eating great food and talking about great food.”-Homaru Cantu
Spice Island which is located on level 3 of Sutera Harbour Marina & Country Club, one of the Resort’s signature and award-winning restaurants, offers a unique fusion of traditional Malay and Indian dishes. The restaurant has hosted royalties and dignitaries, designed to replicate ethnic Malay houses and lavishly decorated with traditional artifacts. Open only for dinners, it is advisable to make an advanced reservation as the restaurant is popular among Club members, their guests and hotel guests. It’s important for us to repeatedly mention that though this restaurant is located in a private club. it is open to the public.
Opening Hours: 6.30 pm – 11.00 pm daily
Cuisine: Asian (Malay & Indian)
“The outside architecture and interiors need to speak the same message, so the curb appeal, signage color and layouts of outdoor and indoor seating, and flow needs to be cohesive.”-Carter Elkin-Paris
Upon reaching the main entrance of Spice Island, we were amazed with the exterior of the restaurant. There are many Malay and Indian characteristics being displayed through the spectacular decorations. There are 2 Trishaws (Rickshaw/pedicab/trisikad) or Beca on both side of the main entrance. Beca was an important type of transportation mostly for the common in Malay society long time ago.
There is also 2 Rebana or Tambourine(s) being displayed next to each Beca. Rebana is a Malay tambourine that is used in Islamic devotional music in Southeast Asia, particularly in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore. The sound of Rebana often accompanies Islamic ritual such as the zikir. The name Rebana came from the Arabic word Robbana meaning “our Lord”.
Then there are 2 big vases on the right and left hand side of the main entrance. Centuries ago, Vases are important for both Malay and Indian community as it’s used to store water and food. Though less significant nowadays as vases are mostly regarded as decorations, it still ably to remind us how the item played an important role for the Malays and Indians. Seeing all these important elements as decorations outside Spice Island restaurant made us sensed that we’re about to see and eat food of Malay and India origins.
“Ambiance can affect everything from perceptions on responsiveness and reliability, how much and how fast customers eat, how much they spend, how long they stay in the restaurant, if they decide to return and more.”-Carter Elkin-Paris
We’re on the same page with Carter Elkin-Paris. Ambiance plays an important role in customers decision. Amazing ambiance will make customers stay longer thus consuming more food and beverages. The ambiance and overall environment in Spice Island is definitely awesome. Again, Malay and Indian characteristics/elements are seen here and there. Orange is the main color in this restaurant followed by some earth colors. There are some Malay Traditional pattern carved on woods as seen in the image above. Bicycle was an important type of transportation for both Malay and Indians.
A replica of Malay Traditional Oil Lamp is on display on the ceiling. Though it is just a replica and not being the real one, it is an important indication of the type of food being served at Spice Island. Traditional Music Instruments of the Malays are on display too such as the Gong and Kulintangan.
There is large cabinet displaying mini replica of olden days bicycles. We’re almost tempted to open the door of the cabinet and ‘play’ with the replicas. One thing that we like doing here was going around the common area of Spice Island as we did get to see many interesting things, mostly of Malay and Indian elements.
In the middle of the Spice Island reception hall is one large table full of flowers and in the center is a big vase containing large size of cinnamon sticks. Here Indian elements starts to show off as the big vase, flowers and colorful lighting are pretty dominant. It’s like attending one big Indian wedding reception where one get to see colorful flowers and glowing lights.
There are two types of dining hall. Guests may opt for the Duduk Makan Bersila or normal dining table. The Duduk Makan Bersila concept requires guests to sit on the floor. There are have 4 large dining tables that fits for 6 diners. There are plenty round tables for those opting to dine the usual way with each table fits for 4-6 diners. Lighting at Spice Island are colorful and in interesting oval shapes. Such feature made us had the Bollywood feel.
Overall, the Malay and Indian elements that we’ve seen in Spice Island pretty much described the concept of this restaurant. Without anyone telling us, we came to the conclusion that this restaurant must be serving cuisines of Malay and Indian influences, it is just that we’re not sure how good the food will be in terms of taste and presentation.
When we opted to have our dinner at the Duduk Makan Bersila area, Chelsea and Ahmad came to our table and gave us the menu. Chelsea is one great Service Assistant as she took time to explain each of the choice in the menu. Ahmad later came to assured us that we will be taken care of by the team! It’s great to know that such attention is given to us. Ahmad and Chelsea recommended some great choices and we fully believe in their recommendations. Ahmad also informed us that the food at Spice Island are prepared by Chef Jaliah, Chef Hasmawi and Mohd Fikri. The overall quality of food at this particular restaurant is being supervised by Chef Zulkifli.
Ahmad and Chelsea helped us to choose the best of the best from the menu. Those choices were:
- Rendang Daging Minang
- Ayam Goreng Ketuk
- Murkh Makhani
- Nasi Ulam Pantai Timur
- Kacang Buncis Sambal Badjak
- Biryani Bertutup
“Eat good food, be kind. tell the truth”
“Good food is the foundation of good happiness.”-Auguste Escoffier
Our food came to the table one by one and Chelsea took the initiative to arrange all of it, nicely on the middle of table. Looking at her doing that already made us fall in love with the colorful food. Such great presentation! Each dish was presented beautifully and the aroma coming out from the dishes were truly inviting. We did not order any beverages and were happy enough with iced water. There’s much good food to eat and we can’t afford to have more liquids, after all we needed that space for the great cuisines.!
Murgh Makhani-Free range Chicken cooked with Tomatoes, Cashew Nuts and Creamy Fenugreek Sauce (Price: RM33.00 nett). Of all 6 dishes, this dish is still definitely our favorite as it had all that sweet, sour, spicy and creamy taste. The Chicken meat were tender and best eaten with the Nasi Ulam Pantai Timur. Up to this moment, we are still craving for this dish!
Rendang Daging Minang-Northern Malaysian Authentic Dried Tenderloin Beef Stew cooked with Lemon Grass , Turmeric Leaves, Lime Leaves, Galangal and Homemade Dried Shredded Coconut. (Price: RM38.00 nett). This is another great dish and we do recommend future diners coming to Spice Island to order at least one serving of this dish. The beef meat were tender and tasted amazingly delicious. It reminds both of us the Rendang that we had in Padang, Indonesia.
Ayam Goreng Ketuk-Crispy-Fried Whole Chicken Thigh sprinkled with Herb Floss and Chili Dip. (Price: RM20.00 nett). Truly a great dish as well. Chicken was tender and crispy on the outside. The flavor can be tasted right to the bone which means marinating was done perfectly before the frying.
Nasi Ulam Pantai Timur– East Malaysian authentic Rice Salad tossed with local Wild Herbs, Yard Long Beans, Green Cabbage, Roasted Grated Coconut and Pamelo. (Price: RM15.00). A dish of Terengganu and Kelantan influences and we love all those crunchy items in it. Wild herbs were dominant in the taste and that finely sliced Yard Long Beans gave another distinct texture to the dish. The portion is big and good for sharing for 2-3 people.
Kacang Buncis Sambal Badjak– Sauteed Fine Bean with homemade pounded Chili Paste. (Price: RM 20.00 nett). Great vegetarian choice, not spicy but sweet, sour and crunchy texture as the Bean were fresh and not over cooked.
Nasi Biryani Bertutup– Spice Island Signature Biryani cooked in Clay Pot with Lamb, Boneless Chicken and Prawn covered with Naan and topped with Cheese. (Price: RM50.00 nett)
Nasi Briyani Bertutup will need one to cut open the edible cover which is obviously made of Naan. Inside are all the fillings, Lamb, Boneless Chicken and Prawn. Such a great dish! Thank you Chelsea for helping us to cut open the big portion of this dish. Good for sharing between 2-3 people.
“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”-Luciano Pavarotti
We’d like to acknowledge the entire team at Spice Island for being so great in executing their duties on the night we came to the restaurant. We believe that the whole team is working hard every evening not only to produce good foods but pleasing customers, making them smile to the ears. The Chefs and their assistants pretty much are alert to customers’ needs. Thank you so much Chef Hasmawi, Chef Jaliah, Chef Zulkifly, Mohd Fikri and the hard working front staffs, Ahmad and Chelsea. We had such great time at Spice Island. Great food, great service! What more can we ask for?
None of the staffs at Spice Island knew who we are when we came in to the restaurant. None of them knew that we are food and travel writers. They welcomed us as they would welcome normal diners. We only revealed our identity at a later stage, when the food were served at the table. That way we were able to tell whether we do agree with Malaysia Tatler decision in nominating this restaurant as among the best in Malaysia. We both are food critics and we will definitely write things about eateries, lining up the good and bad elements. For this review, we found NIL or 0 Flaw. We failed to find any flaw!
Perhaps what Carter Elkin-Paris said is true, the ambiance really is an important factor. For the ambiance, we were glued to this restaurant from 7 pm to 9 pm. 2 hours and that was long enough for two diners. The food were absolutely amazing. We love all 6 dishes and regard Murgh Makhani as the best of all 6. Lovely colors of everything inside, the exterior and interior, combine that with the great service and food, that is already one great restaurant!
With that said, we conclude this write-up by agreeing to Malaysia Tatler’s finding. Spice Island is indeed one of the best Restaurants in Malaysia. We have no doubts in the ability of this restaurant to keep pleasing its future customers. We would like to rate our dining experience at Spice Island as EXCELLENT, undeniably the best Malay and Indian Restaurant in Kota Kinabalu city, perhaps in the whole of Sabah. This restaurant deserves the full scale rating from us, 10 out of 10, validating Malaysia Tatler’s claim.
“People who love to eat are always the best people.”-Julia Child.
Need to experience great culinary adventure at this particular restaurant? Head to:
Level 3, Sutera Harbour Marina & Country Club
Sutera Harbour Resort
88100 Kota Kinabalu
Phone: + 60 88 318 888 /312 222
Fax: + 60 88 317 777
Website: Click HERE
Instagram : @suteraofficial
About Sutera Harbour Marina, Golf & Country Club
At the heart of the extensive Sutera harbour Marina, Golf & Country Club which features a 27-hole award-winning championship golf course designed by Graham Marsh, a 41-bay covered driving range, and a 104-berth marina that can accommodate 13 mega yachts and 91 smaller vessels.
The Club’s 27-hole golf course is built on undulating terrain and divided into 43 distinct courses of varying difficulty. At night, 20 holes are lit, including nine holes of the Garden Course and two finishing holes of the Heritage Course. There is also a bay two-tier covered driving range that overlooks a scenic lake. Use of the golf course is exclusively for the patrons of The Magellan Sutera and the Pacific Sutera as well as club members and their guests.
The Marina’s deep-water marina is well equipped, deep enough for most yachts of up to 180 feet and protected all year round from extreme weather conditions. Established in 1998, this Marina is a hub for yachting and sailing in Southeast Asia. Berthing services are available for short and long-term rental.
About Sutera Harbour Resort
The Resort comprises two five-star hotels – the 500-room Pacific Sutera and the 456-room Magellan Sutera – as well as the Sutera Harbour Marina, Golf & Country Club with its 104-berth marina and an award winning 27-hole championship golf course designed by Graham Marsh. It also has 15 restaurants and bars, two grand ballrooms, 28 meeting rooms and a 100-seat auditorium for meetings, incentive travel, conventions and exhibitions (MICE).
Sutera Harbour Resort is the only destination in Kota Kinabalu that offers a five-star business-class hotel and resort attached to a 27-hole Graham Marsh-designed championship golf course, a state-of-the-art marine and clubhouse. As Borneo’s largest and most extensive convention and banquet facility, the resort is the most sought-after venue for MICE events and is a beautiful mix of luxury, recreation and lifestyle.
The Resort is just 10 minutes by boat from the popular scuba diving destination of Sabah’s Tengku Abdul Rahman Marine National Park. The five islands that make up the Marine Park boast crystal-clear waters, abundant marine life and stunning coral reefs. Expanding into nature and adventure tourism in Sabah, the Resort also operates the North Borneo Railway – a mid-century British steam train that takes visitors on a nostalgic rediscovery of rail travel into the heart of Borneo.