• Melissa Kartini

West Malaysians Try East Malaysian Delicacies

Updated: Jan 28, 2019

Despite being from the same country, there can sometimes be a bit of a disconnection between West and East Malaysians. One of them being food!

In an effort to close the distance between the two, and of course, to show some love to our East Malaysian cousins, we got West Malaysians to try a couple of East Malaysian delicacies. Here is a write-up for a more in-depth look into the dishes we had served to our friends.


Looks like a coconut, doesn't it? Then it would surprise you to know that bambangan is a cousin to the mangoes that we know and love. Bambangan is actually a type of seasonal exotic wild mango (phew, that's a lot of adjectives!) that the local indigenous people enjoy. What makes it special is the number of ways it can be eaten. For instance, it can be eaten unripe, ripe, pickled, and even with its grated seeds on it which significantly changes the taste of the fruit. Bambangan can only be found in Borneo.

Jeruk Tuhau, Jeruk Bambangan & Umai Obor-obor

From left: Jeruk tuhau, jeruk bambangan, umai obor-obor

  • Jeruk Tuhau: This pickled dish is a type of traditional food from the Kadazan-Dusun, and it is incredibly famous in Sabah. The taste is on the sour-spicy side, and the smell is also strong and fragrant. It is normally eaten as a side dish with rice, and it therefore isn't eaten on its own (unless of course, you're super into jeruk tuhau, then by all means!).

  • Jeruk Bambangan: Yet another famous dish in Sabah, this pickled dish is also on the fragrant side. Like its smell, the taste it holds is strong. Jeruk bambangan is normally eaten as a side dish with rice.

  • Umai Obor-obor: Not many people are aware of this, but jellyfish can be safely eaten, and it is done so in Sabah and especially Sarawak. One of the most popular ways it is eaten is by making it a part of a salad. This jellyfish salad is from Sarawak.

Seaweed jelly

This might be something West Malaysians are a bit more familiar with. The seaweed that this jelly is made from is called Eucheuma Seaweed. This food item is particularly popular among the local women because it is made of 100% collagen. Believing that it offers a lot of beauty benefits, many women consume this to maintain their looks. When turned into a jelly, locals usually enjoy adding the jelly cubes into their drink, effectively turning them into refreshing beverages.

Sago worms

Sago worms are easily known as the most bizarre food from Borneo. That said, don't make the mistake of thinking that Sabahans and Sarawakians eat this on a daily basis! For Sabahans, at least, the vast majority have never laid eyes on it, much less tried this dish.

Known as Butod locally, sago worms may not look particularly appetizing (especially when they're alive and wriggling), they're incredibly nutritious. These fat, creamy-coloured worms are rich in protein, and are usually sold for RM2 each. Although one might squirm or even scream at the thought of consuming these, sago worms are actually very clean because they only feed on and live inside the sago pith.

These can be eaten alive or cooked. Raw sago worms tend to taste like creamy chicken and to some people, coconut. That said, you'd have to let the juicy innards sit on your tongue for a while before you can fully "taste" it.

Want to try East Malaysian food? Then you can check out the Borneo Market at Sri Kembangan! It is open from 7am-11am every Saturday. Be sure to get there early, though! There is always a rush for tarap and bambangan whenever they're in season. Happy eating!

For those who are interested in purchasing sago worms, you can go ahead and contact Ling at +60105238895 via Whatsapp

Written by Crunch's Melissa Kartini

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