3 Delicious Gluten-Free Food from East Malaysia

Do you like exploring food around the world? For me it is one of the things I love the most. But with celiac disease it's definitely not easy.

If you suffer from some food intolerances you may often feel scared of tasting new food during your travel, or even when eating out in general. Isn't it ofter the case?

How do you deal with your intolerances?

Usually there are 3 types of reactions:

  1. I'll never eat outside!

  2. I will only eat outside if I cannot help it

  3. I will prepare myself to eat outside whenever I can

After my celiac disease diagnosis I started very much in Option 1. I felt like there were no options available and I was punishing myself. But not anymore!

I am too curious about new food and flavours so I am push myself to find new solutions to be prepared.


  • looking for official Gluten-free friendly restaurants

  • reading other people's blogs and recommendations

  • getting info and recommendations from local people, wherever I go

  • speaking with the owners of the places that I feel inspired by

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In East Malaysia I did a combination of them. I visited for a week and I was determined to try the local seafood that everyone was raving about, and I didn't want to just stick to the touristic food chains.

I read Google Maps info, internet reviews and in a couple of places I spoke with the owners to understand what ingredients and cooking methods they use.


I truly wanted to visit Kota Kinabalu because I had heard that Sabah offers gorgeous nature, beautiful islands and a more relaxed lifestyle than Kuala Lumpur. And loads of seafood and tropical fruits!

Here are some of the new foods I had that are worth trying.


BAK KUT TEH @ Yu Kee in Jalan Gaya

Bak Kut Teh was one of my discoveries this year. It is a pork soup dish from Chinese origin, popularly served in Malaysia and Singapore. The broth is light but with a hearty aroma and flavour. It has a very unique taste, as it's slowly boiled for hours with several local herbs such as Dong Quai, Cinnamon, Star Anise. Next to herbs and pork meat there can be other ingredients too, like dried Shiitake mushrooms, tofu puffs, and heaps of garlic.

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Bak Kut Teh is traditionally served with soy sauce seasoning and yau char kwai (a Chinese deep-fried savoury pastry) but it can be safely served gluten-free because the soup is cooked separately in big pots, and the other ingredients are optional and usually added at the end, when served at the table.

The place I chose to go to it's called Yu Kee in Jalan Gaya.

The place was very popular, full with people all the time, but despite the hectic work I managed to speak with the son of the owner about Bak Kut Teh and his restaurant.

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If you go, you can try different types of meat:

  • pork ribs (the best)

  • pork belly

  • meat balls

  • pig tail

GLUTEN-FREE TIP: I asked for no soy seasoning and I left the pastry to my husband (it's safe because the pastry is not made in the shop).

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GRILLED FISH @ Filipino Market

On the Kota Kinabalu beach front there's a few markets one after the other, everyday, for most of the day. It starts in the morning with the fresh fish market, then you can visit the big fresh produce market (fruits, bread, meat or even clothes) .

Finally move to the Filipino market for some delicious grilled fish and meat. It's open from the afternoon until late at night.

It's not the usual asian street food market, because most of the stalls simply grill the fresh fish or local daily catch from the day.

The first stall was open to cook with no added sauce and I had an amazing experience. The variety of seafood is incredible! Not just different types of fish, but also squid, crab, even lobster and stingray. Yes stingray, it was my first time tasting it and I liked it because the meat is very firm and overall is has a delicate taste.

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CHICKEN WINGS @ Filipino Market

Night markets are not only about seafood! I found this stall in Kota Kinabalu that was only doing grilled chicken wings and 2 types of skewers: chicken chunks and chicken hearts. Asked for no sauce on top, but it was still worth it!

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Order your food with fresh coconut water. You can buy the full coconut or get a glass with coconut water from one of the beachfront stands. If you pick the second, don't forget to ask WITHOUT SUGAR!

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