Why you should care

From culturally-inspired designs to modern transformations, these eateries in East Malaysia deserve a spot on your “must-visit” list!

With the Kaamatan and Gawai festivals approaching, now’s the perfect time to explore Sabah and Sarawak. Whether you plan to immerse yourself in the culture or soak in the festive vibe, your trip wouldn’t be complete without visiting some beautifully designed cafes and restaurants. 

Many eateries in East Malaysia showcase the creativity and innovation of local interior design firms. From chic cafes to elegant restaurants, each venue offers more than just delicious food—they provide a visual feast for the eyes. 


1. Oitom, designed by Wowspace

Celebrating Bornean flavours, Oitom is a fine-dining restaurant that’s abundant in local culture and brought to life by Wowspace. Renowned for crafting thoughtful spaces filled with personality, the firm incorporates Bornean architectural elements, cultural details and Bornean-Nordic aesthetics into the space of Oitom. 

2. 12 Dining, designed by IW Atelier Sdn Bhd 

Keeping the 60-year-old facade intact, the designers of IW Atelier Sdn Bhd breathed new life into the Chinese restaurant, 12 Dining. With minor repairs on the exteriors, and keeping some original fixtures in the interiors, the space is transformed into a modern setting with decorative partitions, industrial-style lights and a warm colour scheme. 

3. Lumière Coffee Space, designed by Imagination Works

Drawing inspiration from the greenery outside, Imagination Works infuses a camping theme into Lumière Coffee Space in Kota Kinabalu. Here, cement floors and counters take centre stage as raw materials are prioritised to draw attention to the outdoor scenes. The space is then softened with indoor plants, along with a lush tree being the focal point of the cafe.


1. Nyonya Kitchen by Sonia, designed by Sean Interior Design and Home Textiles Sdn. Bhd.

Nyonya Kitchen by Sonia lets you fully indulge in Peranakan heritage. Sean Interior Design and Home Textiles Sdn. Bhd. incorporates an array of elements and materials that reflect the culture from patterned motif tiles to classic green metal grilles, Peranakan tableware and more. To top it off, vintage family photos and a sentimental mural further immerse you in the nostalgic charm of traditional Peranakan life.

2. Bon Bon Patisserie designed by 3NITY TEAM WORK

Recently refurbished, Bon Bon Patisserie adopts a minimalist Scandinavian style at the expert hands of 3NITY TEAM WORK. Using natural materials like wood, hemp, rattan and leather, the cafe boasts a warm and inviting atmosphere, perfect for unwinding with some coffee and pastries. 

3. PRIMAL STEAKHOUSE, designed by WOO Atelier Sdn Bhd 

Featuring a blend of contemporary and retro elements, Primal Steakhouse is a cosy yet stylish establishment designed by WOO Atelier Sdn Bhd. Using materials such as velvet and rattan, the space is adorned with pops of colour from bold deep blue to wine red. As black and white diagonal tiles add a vintage charm, warm lighting elevates the space giving it a touch of elegance.

Thoughtfully crafted by local interior designers in the region, these establishments don’t just serve up delicious food—they’re also a treat for the eyes! So, while exploring the rich culture East Malaysia has to offer during the Kaamatan and Gawai festivals, be sure to make your way to these ‘must-visit’ spots for an unforgettable visual experience. 

Looking for design firms located in East Malaysia? Browse our extensive database of professionals here. 

Why you should care

From culturally-inspired designs to modern transformations, these eateries in East Malaysia deserve a spot on your “must-visit” list!

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