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Pisang Cheese in Tawau at Indo Cafe

Tawau Pisang Cheese

First things first, what is Pisang Cheese? While most local Malaysians may have heard of this or tried this before, the foreigner is probably clueless to this term.

Well, Malaysia is pretty well known for its Goreng Pisang or Banana Fritters throughout the country, but here in Sabah, a different type of Goreng Pisang is served as a common snack.

Pisang Cheese is actually Fried Banana Fritters that are sprinkled with shredded cheese and brown sugar on the top and then served fresh.

Pisang Cheese in Tawau 

My first try for the Pisang Cheese in Tawau was a few years ago and at Semporna town on the east coast of Sabah. A very good friend there recommended this snack to me.

Hearing the description put me off but when the Pisang Cheese came, it was and amazing out-of-this-world experience in my mouth.

 I kid you not, the combination of sweet and cheesy worked out well for this dish. Never had I tried Goreng Pisang in this form and soon, another plate was ordered. 

Since then, it has been my mission to locate the so-called best Goreng Pisang Cheese or Fried Banana Fritters with Cheese in Sabah.

And according to many locals, the best pisang cheese is said to be found in Tawau city, which is on the east coast of Sabah. And so my mission began. 

Pisang Cheese at Tawau Kopitiam Sabah
Pisang Cheese at Tawau Kopitiam

In April 2014, I made my way to Tawau on route to Mabul Island for some scuba diving. And without any hesitation, I asked Pat, my dive companion, and local Sabahan to take me to the place that served this interesting dish.

He, on the other hand, recommended me to a place called Tawau Kopitiam. So, we went there and placed the crucial order. 

As the waiter brought out the dish and served it to our table, my eyes grew big in excitement. No hesitation - it went into my mouth without even offering the rest of my friends.

Wow, such an amazing taste I mumbled while eating the Pisang Cheese. Then after the first one, I could have sworn that the one I had in Semporna was a little better than this.

So I asked Pat, "Are you sure this is the best in Tawau?" He calmly replied that he did not know if it was, but this was his regular joint he had it every time he visited Tawau.

Pisang Cheese Recipe
How it's done - cheese is grated over the fried banana fritters

Pisang Cheese Sabah
The cheese is added after sprinkling the pounded Gula Melaka

The following morning when I was walking around town on my own, I decided to ask some really local Tawau people about where is the best place to have the snack and to cut a long story short - out of 5 people I asked, 4 told me about a place called Indo Cafe. 

And then, my mission was reactivated again. Just before we left Tawau, we searched high and low for this place and mind you, it was not easy finding it.

I asked many locals, and they just gave simple landmarks like "it's over the, behind that hotel" or "go straight, turn left, then right, then straight and you will see it".

For some reason, all the directions given were wrong which left us on a wild goose chase. 

Indo Cafe in Tawau, Sabah
Indo Cafe in Tawau, Sabah

After asking about 10 people and a good 30 minutes of looking for Indo Cafe in Tawau, we found it. Eureka! It was a small little cafe in a dead-end area. Blink your eyes and you would miss it.

There were about 6 small tables crammed into the shop lot. Looking at the menu, I knew I hit the jackpot as there were multiple types of Pisang Goreng available here.

So this was the so-called famous mother-of-all Pisang Cheese in Sabah, and I had a feeling that was going to be real good.

Indo Cafe Sabah
The special menu on the wall of Indo Cafe

Pisang Peppek Sabah

Now, one of the things I have heard about was other variations of Pisang Goreng and that one of them was a very special dish called Pisang Peppek, which is actually a flattened Goreng Pisang served with a spicy sambal sauce.

Ok, the sound of it just got weirder and weirder but to my surprise, Indo Cafe was serving it, and I did not waste any time and just ordered it. 

Pisang Peppek or known locally as 'Sanggar Peppek' or 'Pisang Penyet' is actually a Bugis dish and it means 'snacks that are fried'.

So it's all good in the translation department here and for Malaysians, don't let your mind run like mine did. Not only did it run far, but we all also had a good laugh about it. 

Back to the story - So, anything with the word 'Pisang' was ordered. The dishes came one by one - Pisang Cheese, Pisang Peppek and Pisang Coklet Kacang (Chocolate Sauce, Nuts and Banana). This was it, a feast ready to be savoured and decided. 

The Conclusion

1. Pisang Cheese

After the hype, searching and testing, I would say that Indo Cafe does have the best Pisang Goreng Cheese in Tawau, according to my taste buds.

You can even have them add extra cheese on your dish for a fee too. However, in my own personal opinion, I think the one at Semporna tastes much better than here in Indo Cafe.

Why? Because of the flour batter that they use to fry the bananas. The one is Semporna seems to be fluffier and crispy.

And the bananas that they use are the half-ripe ones compared to Indo Cafe who used a different type. 

2. Pisang Coklat Kacang

The Pisang Coklat was actually quite nice, and the best of all three dishes we tried. The sweetness of the chocolate combined with the nuts was excellent.

Following through with the sweetness of the banana, it complimented the whole dish. In fact, everyone in the group loved this versus the other types of pisang. 

3. Pisang Peppek

I've really never tried this anywhere before but this one really got to me. The pisang is hammered and fried and not much taste in it but the special sauce makes up for everything else.

It is a kind of Belachan and Sambal mixture, or a shrimp paste and spicy sambal combination. To me, the special sauce was absolutely outstanding! I ended up buying two bottles of sauce from them. 

Pisang Chocolate Kacang
Pisang Coklet Kacang - Chocolate and grounded peanuts over the Goreng Pisang

Pisang Popet Tawau
Pisang Peppek - Hammered banana fritters served with a nice savoury and spicy sambal sauce

Menu for Indo Cafe Tawau
Indo Cafe Menu

How To Go To Indo Cafe In Tawau?

For those heading to Tawau in Sabah, you can find Indo Cafe in the main town area. However, if you are planning to walk there, it may be a little tricky.

Best to ask locals and ask a few to be sure. There are two branches where this one reviewed is the original one and the other is located in another area of Tawau.

I would recommend that you use Waze or Google Maps to locate Indo Cafe, and if you are taking a taxi or Grab, most likely they would know where it is located at.

However, if they do not know, tell them that it is the Indo Cafe at Jalan Bantu, somewhere near Maxim's Seafood Restaurant.

Original Indo Cafe Map in Tawau

Indo Cafe (Original)
TB 4604, Ground Floor,
Banungan Win Onn,
Jalan Bantu, Tawau 
91000 Sabah
Hours: 8am - 7pm
Tel: 014 671 3994

Indo Cafe II
TB16024, Unijaya Commercial Center,
Jalan Sungai Tanjong, KM 5
91000 Tawau, Sabah


This is 100% local and not on any tourist guide book or map I have come across. I rarely do food reviews but when I travel, I make it a point to go all out for the most local foods around.

For those who want to explore other food here, the cafe also serves many other local dishes including rice, noodles and even juices.

There is no pork served here so Muslims are welcome to dine here. The cafe is also operated by Indonesian Chinese who have been living here for many years.

For anyone travelling to this part of Sabah for business or leisure, you can also check my other article on things to do in Tawau, and when you are free, just head over here to try the famous Pisang Cheese at Indo Cafe.

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