One of the best local specialties, hinava, is a mouthwatering delicacy of raw fish marinated in lime juice, ginger, shallots, herbs, and chilies -- I highly recommend trying it at food stalls in any of the markets.
Kota Kinabalu is known for its fresh seafood, and there are a lot of places to choose from, but the locals and expatriates all agree that Port View Seafood Restaurant, Lot 18, Ground Floor, Anjung Samudera, Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, along the waterfront (tel. 088/252-813; daily noon-11:30pm; MC, V), is best. It's a very typical Chinese seafood joint, not much for ambience, with walls of aquariums and a very long menu. Dishes are prepared primarily in Chinese and Malay styles, are moderately priced (sold by weight), and are always succulent, but do double-check the weight and price of the seafood dishes before you place your order.
Hands down, the city's most romantic dining spot is @tmosphere, on the 18th floor of Menara Tun Mustapha (tel. 088/425-100; www.atmosphererestaurant.com; Tues-Sun 11am-11pm; MC, V), about 20 minutes south of the city center -- take a taxi there for about RM40. The menu is contemporary Pacific Rim cuisine, a mix of local and Western, with seafood dishes highlighted. Expect to pay about RM50 or so per person. Plan to arrive in time for a sunset cocktail.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.