Masarap Restaurant, Filipino Food in Sandakan Sabah

It has been a long time since I did a food review and during my recent trip to Sandakan, Sabah Borneo, in October 2010, I explored the area around my hotel and found this amazing place called Masarap Restaurant serving authentic Filipino Food.

Located at the 4th Mile from Sandakan Town, this cozy little place was hidden from the main roads and had a signboard which required you to wear sunglasses to look at. As I walked in at about 2pm that hot afternoon, the establishment was quiet and the staff looked like they were about to go back.

Masarap Restaurant - *Update: They are no longer in business. Closed.  

I politely asked if they were still serving lunch and without hesitation, the supervisor (I Think) said they were going to close from 3pm to 6pm for the afternoon break and I could still order if I wanted to.

Masarap Restaurant Sandakan Sabah

Filipino food has always interested me but there seems to be a lack of these kind of restaurants around the city of Kuala Lumpur or Petaling Jaya where I usually frequent. Therefore I was all out to try this place as the menu looked really good here. The selections were totally different from the usual menus I always come across so this looked very promising indeed.

Ginisang Pinakbit, a Filipino vegetable dish

To start, I honestly had no clue. It was a late lunch after a heavy breakfast and there were only the two of us so we didn't know how or where to start. I called the supervisor over to get her recommendations and without hesitation, she pointed to the Kaldereta Baboy.

My next obvious question was if it was spicy and she casually  said that they could control the spiciness. Great I said and what was next. She continued with a number of other dishes but told us that we would need to be really hungry.

Giving it a pass, we opted for something safe like vegetables and she recommended the Ginisang Pinakbit which was a shrimp paste based mix vegetable dish. And to follow, two plates of white rice.

 Kalderata Baboy, a Filipino pork dish

Because we were the only customers there, the dishes came out pretty fast. I estimated that it probably took them ten minutes or less to send out the first dish which was the Kalderata Baboy. It looked really good and spicy, but a test of the sauce confirmed that it was mild spicy.

The pork was really tender and flavorful as the sauce was perfectly induced into the pieces. which was a pork curry Filipino style. They use Pork Belly and a tomato bean based sauce which is cooked with carrots, potato, capsicum and onions. Shortly, the mixed vegetables came and both dishes looked just nice for two people.

The Ginisang Pinakbit had a very unique flavor as the shrimp paste or sauce (belachan) used in this dish was somewhat different from the usual taste we get in Peninsular Malaysia. (Yes foodies, so much different!) as it was non pungent and had the perfect balance in it as it went well with the mixed vegetables such as eggplants, long beans, okra, bitter gourd and pumpkin.

You could actually taste the multiple flavours used in creating this dish. This was a major thumbs up from me as I never expected the dishes to taste so good. 

Local Filipino Dessert

And to finish out afternoon lunch here, we tried the local Filipino dessert which was a Tiramisu styled caked with a biscuit layering of cream. Called Crema de Fruita, it was a combination of fresh mango, cream and biscuit and  it was their top selling dessert here. Portioning was generous though we should have ordered two instead as it was amazingly delicious.

A simple menu greeting the customer

One thing I would like to highlight here is that the restaurant specializes in everything pork. From stew, boiled, deep fried, curried right till satay and judging from the dishes we ordered, it should taste really good.

On a side note, I met some friends at the airport on my way back to Kuala Lumpur, and they informed me that they just had dinner at the restaurant before coming to the Sandakan Airport. Asking them how it was, they raved highly of the many various pork dishes they ordered and it was all good things said.

Apparently, there is a live band that performs around 8pm in the restaurant so this place doubles as a restaurant/bar.

So, I guess my next trip to Sandakan, I will be making a re-visit to this restaurant. If you are on holiday or on a business trip to Sandakan, please make it a point to try out this local hidden gem called Masarap Filipino Restaurant at Mile 4, as they seem to be serving the best Filipino Food in Sandakan.

Masarap Filipino Restaurant Menu
Prices: Slightly above local average but still very affordable (not your hotel prices)
Halal: NOT Halal
Alcohol: Yes, served
Service: Excellent
Cleanliness: Spotless
Extras: Live Band during/after dinner
Opens: 10am-3pm, 6pm-Late


Masarap Restaurant Address:

Block 33, Lot 4A,
Bandar Indah Mile 4,
Jalan Utara 90000
Sandakan
Sabah
Telephone:  014 352 8778

Landmark: Located just behind The Mark's Lodge - a boutique hotel here in Sandakan.

Update 2015: The Masarap Restaurant is closed and no longer open for business in Sandakan.

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