Contrary to popular misconceptions, travelling is not just about the destination. Travelling is also about taking parts of the travelled into the traveler; it is about satisfying the gourmandizing spirit. While in Tambunan, why don’t you try their traditional food? They have plenty of simple yet delicious dishes which are mainly pickled or preserved. Bon appétit!


Lihing (rice wine)

Lihing is a type of Malaysian rice wine that you should try. It is made from ‘pulut’, glutinous rice mixed with sugar, natural yeast called ‘sasad’. Lihing also referred as hiing (in certain Dusun language). Tapai proper is actually wine made from the tuber of the cassava plant, the preferred party drink of the Murut. To add to the confusion, the Iban of Sarawak calls their rice wine tuak, which must not be confused with Sabahan talak, which is rice-alcohol (and arak in Malay just means 'alcohol').
Rice wine accompanies all Kadazandusun celebrations and rites, and at a Murut party there will be rows upon rows of jars with fermented cassava tapai. It is an integral part of the lives of Sabah's ethnic groups, and depending on where you are there are various ways of enjoying this drink: from bamboo or, more contemporary, plastic cups, or through a bamboo straw.




A staple of Kadazandusun cuisine, linopot refers to rice that is steamed in a leaf, usually the Doringin or leaf from the tarap tree, which are big enough to wrap around the rice. Traditionally, the hill rice is mixed with boiled yams or sweet potato so it takes on a purplish or brown hue from the root vegetables. Nowadays, people usually use white rice. The mixture is then compacted well into a roundish shape. Linopot is very popular during the old days because villagers can easily bring their rice along to work at farm and jungle. However, it is not easy to find linopot nowadays but you can see them during festive celebrations such as wedding or Harvest Festival or a food gathering of Kadazandusun people.




Losun is one of the traditional dishes in Tambunan. Losun have less of a pungent taste than normal spring onions and is widely available in the interior jungles of Borneo. What makes this dish so special is how it is fried with bunga kantan or torch ginger buds, garlic chives, white chillies, garlic and white pepper, and sometimes anchovies. Not obtrusive on the palate, and a staple for those who have had it throughout their childhood, it’s an under-rated quintessential Kadazandusun dish. It is often had with linopot of wild rice, and hinava for a combination of all the best flavours. Losun can be found ready-to-eat at most of Kadazan coffee shops, and Tambunan weekly market.



Pinasakan is a popular dish among the Kadazandusun in Tambunan. The dish features the basung fish, a type of fish that usually found in rivers. To make Pinasakan, the basung fish is cleaned and cooked in a pot over very low heat, with just asam keeping, turmeric, ginger,lemongrass and salt. It’s braised until much of the liquid has evaporated. The fish takes on a slightly sour taste but a good pinasakan should have a balance of saltiness as well. A dish born out of necessity, pinasakan was a way to preserve food so it can last several days; it can be kept for up to two weeks. It is served with white rice and sambal on the side.


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2021-03-01 04:18

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