15 February 2014
On a trip to the Tip of Borneo (Simpang Mengayau) in Sabah, we were privileged to meet Chef Jainnes Apin. Fellow travellers at our lodge recommended the restaurant to us not knowing the name of the restaurant or the chef, but said the cuisine was excellent and worth the short walk up the hill.
The restaurant is called Merrimas and is part of the Merrimas Villas complex at Simpang Mengayau (Tip of Borneo). The menu is varied and delicious and, in fact, we returned a few nights in a row to sample a few more scrumptious dishes from their menu. The pan-fried fish (red snapper) and a variety of the ‘set dishes’ were top quality Rungus cuisine and reasonably priced compared to the few other restaurants along the Tip of Borneo. The quality and presentation of the food was head-and-shoulders above any other restaurant in this area. Since we enjoyed our meals, we asked to meet the chef and that is when we were introduced to the talented and humble celebrity chef, Jainnes Apin.
He introduced himself as Chef Apin, “but you can call me Jainnes.” He is a charming man with a passion for preserving and perfecting the Rungus cuisine in particular; it’s evident that his cultural Rungus heritage was of utmost importance to him. It was lovely to be able to enjoy his cooking on the Tip of Borneo, get a taste of the Rungus cuisine and culture, and to hear some of his interesting stories. One of his family members was sitting at a table doing some of the intricate beadwork for which the Rungus of Borneo are so famous.
Chef Apin, keep up the great work!