Sabah a seafood paradise

IT’S hard not to profit from the seafood business in Sabah. The abundance, variety and quality have earned the industry a “blue-ribbon” reputation.

Fshmonger Jamil Abdul Rahm showing a fish sold at the market.

The state capital, for instance, boasts more than 10 seafood restaurants that enjoy their fair share of exposure in television shows, travel advisories, magazines, blogs and by word of mouth.

Google the likes of Portview, Ocean, Welcome, Sri Mutiara, Suang Tain, Dowish, Golden, Gayang, Salut, Windbell and Kampung Nelayan; the results will definitely point to Sabah seafood restaurants.

But success, according to the operators, comes with a lot of work, diligence and innovative ideas.

Keeping their supplies fresh and alive in tanks, introducing new recipes and adding value to their products have kept the competition going.

The manager of Welcome Seafood Restaurant, known only as Lee, says the customers comprise local and foreign tourists.

“Compared with where they come from, our prices here are cheaper and we get our supply straight from our tanks. To the locals here, it may seem expensive, but not to outsiders.

“We also go to great lengths to maintain the quality of our supply,” he says, revealing that live seafood is kept for up to three days.

Patrons pay between RM30 and RM200 per meal, depending on the order.

Premium products, such as prawns, range from RM30 per kg to RM30 per piece, or lobsters from between RM120 and RM480 per kg.

Fish cost between RM80 and RM200 per kg. There are also other exotic seafood, such as molluscs, coconut crabs, slipper lobsters, mantis prawns, abalone and scallops.

Seafood supplier Billy Tan says the bigger restaurants could easily earn up to RM50,000 per day or more on exceptional days.

“But bear in mind the cost of running their operations are quite high, too.”

There are 130 members under the Sabah Restaurants Fellowship Association, an umbrella body that looks after the welfare of eateries and seafood restaurant operators.

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