Smiling Boat Riverside Café

Experience The Local 'Sungai' Cuisine

The Kinabatangan River is the lifeblood of the community, the local culture, and the region. Local people have been plying the river for trade or produce for millennia, and as their ethnic “Orang Sungai” name suggests, they are tied closely to the river. Not surprising then, traditional local cuisine is also tied to the Kinabatangan and the jungle hinterland beyond river’s banks.


experience overview

Traditional hill rice is our staple. Alongside wholesome freshwater fish and giant river prawns, jungle vegetables are various and plentiful. These nutritious staples are steamed, stewed, pickled, or wrapped with a variety of local traditional spices to make some of the region’s most unique gourmet secrets. With spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and a variety of wild gingers like turmeric growing wild in the neighbouring jungles, it should not be a surprise that these organic traditions, tonics, and tastes were traded with the outside world as high value currency before cash came around.

Our café is designed in honour of our cultural heritage and close ties to the river and our promise is to revive, protect and share our traditional foods and flavours. We guarantee wholesome homecooked foods, full of taste and the rich goodness from the river and its riverside. Join us at the Smiling Boat Riverside Café to explore the local culinary secrets of the Kinabatangan.

The Smiling Boat Riverside Café is located on the banks of the Kinabatangan River, at the KOPEL centre under the Kinabatangan River Bridge. Catering for early sunrise wildlife river cruises, we are open from 6am to 10pm – Tuesday through Sunday. The Café hosts regular lively evening culture performances with traditional music by local artists to help create a relaxed and happy mood at the Smiling Boat Riverside Café. Group dinners and events are welcome and can be arranged - and advanced booking is essential. Enjoy a local traditional fare or our fusion selections at the Smiling Boat River Side Cafe.

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