Food from Sabah Malaysia: Lemon Chicken

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ February 3rd, 2011. Updated on June 30th, 2012. Published in: Travel blog » Food around the world » Sabahan food.
Lemon Chicken from Sabah, Malaysia

Lemon Chicken from Sabah

Lemon Chicken from Sabah Malaysia

It’s sweet without being too sweet. Filling without leaving you overstuffed. Best of all it’s tasty, fresh, crunchy and very enjoyable. Lemon Chicken from Sabahan Borneo in Malaysia is delicious.

Taking a look at the everyday food I find in Sabah

Lemon Chicken was my first meal in Sabah, Malaysia. Lemon “everything” is available in every street cafe it would seem.

I was nearly expecting to eat something more “Malaysian” until I remembered that Malaysia is a mix of Chinese, Indian, Malay and a whole lot more. For the tourist Sabahan food leans on on the Chinese / Malay side of culinary delight.

Chinese influence on the food in Sabah

With this comes a diversity of food. I realize now that writing down about food from Malaysia will also include food from China, India and so on. But, each one is as easy and typical to get in Malaysia as anything else.

But as it’s Chinese New Year … it seems one cannot escape it’s influence.

Lemon chicken is everywhere in Sabah

Lemon chicken is no different. Deep fried pieces of chicken infused with lemon grass, placed on a bed of lettuce with chives sprinkled on top along with a dashing of soy sauce. Rice comes with it in a separate bowl.

It’s not fancy 5 star cuisine. It’s local restaurant food. But it tastes good, is very cheap and available everywhere!

This is an additional post and one of a series highlighting Sabahan food

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18 Great responses to Food from Sabah Malaysia: Lemon Chicken

  1. i wouldnt have associated lemon chicken to sabah but more of a staple item that you will find in hawker stalls anywhere in malaysia.

    • I’ve not written about the rest of Malaysia so I don’t know what’s out there. I can only tell, from a travelers perspective, what I am seeing on the ground from traveling here. I’d welcome your knowledge on any future food posts! :)

  2. Stuart says:

    Malaysia sounds a bit like Oz, a mix of everything from people to food! Looks good though.

  3. Liv says:

    I wouldn’t consider lemon chicken as traditional Malaysian. Current hawker staple, yes, it appeared on the scene oh, maybe 10 years ago or so ago.

    I’m not very familiar with Sabahan local dishes (spent most of my childhood in the neighbouring state), but there should be local coffee shops selling garlic infused Hainanese chicken rice, the local version of laksa, bbq/roast pork served with rice, nasi campur, (you get a dish of rice and you pick from a selection of dishes from the bain marie), nasi lemak, noodle soups ..

    Okay, this is making me hungry.

    • Welcome! Interesting to learn it only appeared 10 years ago. I have no idea. I’ve various bits of Nasi Lemak, and soups lined up. Does this Garlic infused Hainanese chicken rice have a local name? I can ask for it and feature it, but no one I’ve asked understands what I’m talking about :) Nothing new, but it would be nice to feature it as a Sabahan traditional food!

      • Liv says:

        Okay, I feel like a bit of fraud now. :/ I know of food in one Malaysian state, not of Sabah, and of that – mostly of street food.

        In my home state, Hainanese Chicken Rice is just known as chicken rice, brought over from Hainanese immigrants from Southern China. It’s a common Malaysian/Singaporean hawker dish. It’s delicately steamed chicken on a bed of sliced cucumber, doused with soy sauce, served with fragrant steamed rice (usually yellow tinged and lightly smelling of garlic), a bowl of soup, and a garlic, ginger, chilli dip.

        See if you can find midin or paku pakis – they’re jungle ferns usually stir-fried with belacan (shrimp paste), garlic and chilli. It’s home-style food but you’d only probably find it in local restaurants at dinner, or in bain maries at lunch.

        Or Malay style Petai (stink beans) – not my favourite dish in the world, but it’s a favourite with Malays.

        Breakfast – in the old style Chinese coffee shops (fans awhirling, old men gossiping, Chinese sign out front) – see if they’ll make you roti bakar. It’s toast, spread with coconut & egg jam.

        There are specific flavours, you’ll find – Malay (strong, pungent, not at all delicate, robust, spicy), Chinese-Malay fusion, Indian, then the local indigenous tribes’, of which I’m unfamiliar.

        Most Malaysians will talk food, rave sometimes. They’d likely point you to a favourite local stall.

        • I don’t think you’re a fraud! I just think you know a lot more about Malaysian food than me! :)

          I’m certainly going to keep an eye out for Hainanese Chicken Rice. Already spotted those little coffee stores, complete with old men.

          Strange thing about Malaysians raving about food I’ve discovered. Many, many people are online writing and talking about the food. But, I’ve yet to really encounter this on the ground. At least in Sabah, from the places I’ve been. Maybe it will change, I hope so. But generally the people serving the food are quiet, respectful of compliments. But rarely do they divulge anything more.

          But yes, I will continue to post what I’ve finding as I travel around. It’s not gourmet class nor anything near that. More, just what I really am eating on the ground as I travel. And, I’ll certainly keep a look out for your suggestions (already made a note). Hopefully if I make any blunders you’ll correct me! :)

  4. ok. i need to make this soon! it looks Delicious! yay your tummy!

  5. El buen Samaratin says:

    Looks good. BUT, was there thyme in the dish? There must be thyme in any lemon chicken, any country. End of story………At least that is what they drilled into my head while attending culinary school in Lyon.

  6. Marnie Alvez says:

    Interesting… I’ve stayed in Malaysia for more than half a year but I’ve never tried Lemon Chicken. Wait till you get to Penang! Where people are always eating! Round the clock! Why? The food is great! The best I’ve tasted so far.

    • That’s interesting Marnie! I’m getting mixed reports from the 3 areas of Malaysia on the food! Should be interesting times ahead. I see lemon chicken everywhere in the locals places around Sabah. Good to hear you have found Penang!! Save some for me!

  7. Ted Nelson says:

    I work at an Asian restaurant here in Chicago that serves lemon chicken. It looks exactly like ours. Glad to know that our dish is somewhat authentic.

    • Apparently it only appeared 10 years ago in Sabah. I’m kinda guessing it’s heavily “Chinese” influenced. But Malaysian’s are proud food lovers so will adopt any thing as their own. And, probably make it a bit better too. Good to know there’s something appearing over here, that’s also appearing on the plates in Chicago! Let me know if you spot anything else!

  8. Ciki says:

    so.. you’re trading in steak, for lemonous chicken is that what you’re saying? huh, huh? IS IT ? :P