In case you have not heard this yet, the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur (KL) is not only loaded with top notch hotels and cultural attractions, but it is also a superb culinary destination. Because the city is exposed to diverse Asian cultural influences like Chinese, Indian and Malay; it should not come as a surprise that such influences are strongly reflected in the food served here. With every bite and whiff of a Malaysian dish, your tongue is in for a roller coaster ride rich with history and culture. For Chasing Places, this is one of the best Asia cities to indulge your appetite.
You don’t have to look far and wide to validate this statement once in KL. It will soon be quite clear to you that Malaysians absolutely love to eat out. They eat while watching sports (usually football), eat when socializing and eat after a night out at the bars. Even as late as 12 midnight, you will find a number of locals hanging around restaurants, hawker stalls and Indian-influenced eateries called mamak.
So, if you find yourself in Kuala Lumpur, don’t miss out on the chance to immerse into its strong culinary culture. But an important question is where do you go? Many would agree that Jalan Alor is the spot to be. The Bahasa word “Jalan” is translated as street in English. Jalan Alor accordingly goes by another official name now. But for locals, seasoned tourists and travel guides will forever call this food street by its old name.
What Makes it Great?
Jalan Alor is a one way street at the heart of the Bukit Bintang District in the Kuala Lumpur City Center. Although the eateries in this less-than-a-kilometer food street are open during the day, Jalan Alor becomes truly alive when the sun sets. Each side of the street is lined up with numerous open-concept makeshift restaurants. By open-concept and makeshift, we mean that each eating establishment is equipped with a small enclosed kitchen but their chairs and tables are set up along the road. There are no walls or physical barriers that divide each restaurant. You only know that you’re dealing with a different kitchen because the colors of the tables and table cloths are different from each other. Locals consider this set-up a “hawker” place.
Now there may be a lot of eating complexes and hawker streets all over Kuala Lumpur, but Jalan Alor has risen to an iconic status because of its central location as well as its festive and dynamic atmosphere. Here, you will find a hodgepodge of tourists, expats and locals eating, drinking and socializing any day of the week.
Jalan Alor is also right next to another hangout spot called Changkat (Bukit Bintang), which draws the local and international crowd with its selection of pubs, bars, clubs and western restaurants. After having one too many drinks, it’s almost a tradition for Changkat revelers to head down to Jalan Alor to cure their hunger pangs. Thus, the most famous food street in Kuala Lumpur only becomes more vibrant as the night progresses.