You already know that I love KL primarily because I’m a serious foodie. Not even hawkers scare me off from a cultural meal experience. I recently stayed in Bukit Bintang at the Beltif Hotel, which turned out to be in the exact perfect spot for a hungry traveler like me.
My top favorite places in Bukit Bintang are as follows, listed according to experience quality–1 being the highest.
- Marosh–The Arabic food here is worth the pricetag. You’ve got plenty of comfy couches to lounge on, whether indoors or outside on a pleasant day. The food is stupendous and the staff are happy to make knowledgable recommendations. I was advised to pair fattoush with the hummus and lamb dish. By the way, it was my first time trying fattoush, and I found the famous fried-bread salad refreshing and healthy, yet deliciously naughty. Pita bread was provided on the side to my delight. I also gave Arabic white coffee a try. This tiny beverage tasted like cardomom tea and the dates it is paired with are meant to be eaten afterward. This splurge of a meal came to 59.5 MYR.
- Kathmandu Cafe–Although this place is ranked second-place in terms of experience, I was not a fan of it myself. Why the contradiction? Well, the place is very high-class in a Westernized way. Complete with a full bar and quality tables and chairs. But, it was too dark and…Westernized, honestly…for my taste. The restaurant felt culturally dry. I had searched it out for a more Nepalese experience, but I guess I’ll have to go to Nepal for that. While I don’t rate the atmosphere of the Kathmandu Cafe very high, I DID adore the food! I had done my research beforehand and knew I wanted thukpa soup and momo dumplings. But which dish should be meat-based and which should be vegetable-based? I didn’t want a repetitive meal, so I asked my waitress which momo was better. She indicated the chicken momo was the most popular, so I ordered that, along with the vegetable version of thukpa. As it turns out, the soup was AMAZING. Spicy in a warming way–not overwhelmingly at all. The spices and sourness, along with the strong taste of coriander, were perfectly balanced. I am officially in love with thukpa. Including some water, the total bill came to 23 MYR.
- Al Azhar–This Egyptian restaurant offers my favorite meal on this list. I was just walking down the street from my hotel, in search of good food. I was hoping that I would have to wander too far, since I was exhausted from my early-morning flight. Sure enough, I was stopped by a charming Egyptian guy sitting next to a hookah; he talked me into giving the food a try. Since I had never tried Egyptian food before but enjoy rice and lamb, he didn’t hesitate to point out mandy rice to me. In fact, he strongly recommended it. He explained that their restaurant does not use premixed curry to flavor the mandy rice–unlike other places in KL–they use the real spices as traditionally made. As it turns out, I DID order the mandy rice with lamb, and I just about died of joy. The lamb was moist and tender, cooked to perfection–probably the most perfectly-cooked lamb I have ever eaten. And the mandy rice was out of this world. I can’t even describe the taste to you. You’ll have to try it yourself, especially if you’re the type of person who enjoys fragrant varieties of rice dishes, including saffron and curried rice. My meal came to 26.25 MYR including water.
- Sri Paandi–I’ve hit this place more than once. Frankly, because all the locals eat here. Which shows how good, authentic, and cheap the Indian food here is. While the menu lacks English almost as much as the servers do, it IS possible to order (and receive) what you want. Connect to their WiFi to look up menu items on your phone, and point to what you want on the menu. This place is so awesome budget-wise; I paid for a small cup of spicy masala coffee and a full set of potato roti thosai for only 5.95 MYR! For a little more money, they also have a great mutton curry banana leaf dish which is best eaten by hand.
- Restoran Ali Food Corner–I probably wouldn’t have tried this place if it weren’t so near Beltif Hotel. One night, I passed by and noticed something that I hadn’t during lunchtime: the man of my dreams. Well, close enough. He was baking naan and cooking tandoori. The following night, I gave the place a try and of course ordered tandoori chicken and plain naan. I have since decided that I have never had such delicious tandoori for so cheap. So, if you’re aiming to save a few ringgit and are content to sit in the open air for a true Malaysia hawker-feel of an experience, I highly recommend this spot. Tandoori and naan, plus a coconut, costs only 16.7 MYR altogether.