Places to Eat
Locals and visitors have many choices of places to eat. At the last count (April 2015), there were 24 eating places (restaurants and food stalls) in Kuala Penyu town. These offer either local, Malay or Chinese food. There are also roadside and seaside stalls that offer light refreshment.
Palakat Beach Sea Food Restaurant (about 10 mins from Kuala Penyu town) however offers a la carte dinners, mostly getting fresh catches from local fishermen. Also popular for sea food is the Professional Restaurant in town which offers breakfast and lunch only.
Anjung Sitompok is a popular place to eat as it has a scenic view of the Sitompok River. It is a river confluence (originating from the large Sitompok lake) where fresh water meets sea water. The Anjung are two separate buildings, where one side offers Muslim food and the other offers non-Muslim food.
Kuala Penyu being a sleepy town, most eating places (and other shops) close by 7pm unless patrons are already seated.
People in Kuala Penyu enjoy eating natually growing vegetables like the ‘titidong’, a woody plant that can grow into a large tree if not controlled. The leaves of this plant are picked when they are still young and crispy. When fried with dried fish with coconut milk, it becomes a wholesome and delicious vegetable dish.
Other favourite vegetables are the heart of the banana tree plant. This is actually the end part of the bunch of the banana fruit that will not longer produce bananas. In the same way, the tender core of a young banana plant can be cooked and eaten. The tender shoots of winter melons or pumpkins are favourites too, as they are absolutely delicious when cooked with dried prawns or dried fish with coconut milk. Ask any villager and they will agree that curried clams go very well with bamboo, coconut or oil palm shoots.
Raw fish meat (from the larger fleshier variety, eg mackarel) are real favourites of the Kadazan Dusun community and no less the favourite of the Dusun Tatana. The Penampang Kadazan Dusuns call it 'hinava', while the Dusun Tatana call it 'dinawar'. Whatever name it goes by, the process is still the same – salt, ginger, red onions (shallots), chilli and lots of lime juice. Optional ingredients include the seed of the bambangan fruit (a large fruit of the mango variety) which had been previously grated and dried, or slices of bitter gourd to counteract the sour taste of the lime juice.
When in season, the bambangan fruit is pickled and kept in a jar for later use. This is eaten as an accompaniment to any meal or may be added to simmering fish for a delicious sourish taste.