The problem with a place like this is that you want to eat absolutely everything. It’s a feast for the eyes – with skewers of meat, lobster, frog, prawns, manta ray and much more, fighting for your attention. Top that with fresh coconut ice cream, lychees and sugar cane for the squeezing, and it’s impossible to know where to start or where to finish. You’re forced to say no to vendors presenting you with delicious offers, in the hopes that something better and tastier lies just one stall over.
The place is bustling with locals, men, women, youth, and families reconnecting over dinner and tourists catching up with their new found friends. Bright red lanterns strung high above the streets, add a carnival atmosphere. Restaurants are crowded one on top of the other, with tables spilling over to the sidewalks and onto the street beyond. Smoke from the never-ending parade of grills smell ever so inviting, your ears attuned to the ambulant singers, and your eyes are constantly scanning in search of the perfect first dish.
It’s sensory overload, and a pleasant one at that. This is what makes Asia, Asia, and one of the reasons, this continent is so hard to leave.
Yes we’ve done our research and yes everyone raves about the “must have Wong Ah Wah chicken wings,” and I must admit they do look tasty. But do we really want to start with chicken, when there’s black pepper crab on the menu, super fresh lobster and jumbo sized prawn. I think not. So, lobster it is, and while we’re at it, how about a frog? Throw in a few veggies as well just so we can feel better about ourselves. So there it is. Round one, finger-licking and appe-teasing, getting us ready for round 2 and 3 and 4.
2,3 and 4? But we’re already so stuffed, belly full yet eyes still hungry. Is it really necessary to spend more money on seafood, especially since we’re off to the Maldives on the morrow, a land presenting us with the graces of the sea (and not much else)? Well it is our last night in KL after all, and if we don’t make the most of it, we’ll probably regret it. Thank you reason for always steering me in the right direction, so round two it is, and thank god for that.
Unfortunately, the limited space capacity of the belly means that you have to be very selective of what you decide to put in it. There has to be room for all the must haves AND for what could be extremely delicious. The chicken wings are a must have, and a penchant for crustaceans always beckons us helplessly towards the grilled tiger prawns. Sautéed Chinese broccoli and a nice beer to wash it all down, and the deal is sealed.
The chicken was good, but the prawns were to die for. So much so, that the only regret of a wonderful night was to have taken the waiter’s suggestion and opted for the small two person portion, when I could have eaten much, much more. Well, that and the fried squid I spied on the next table over. I wouldn’t have minded a plate of those too.
Drawbacks to the place?? Surprisingly not so many. The vendors are friendly enough and not really pushy. In fact, they don’t even care to up-sell you when you’re eager for more. The prices are very reasonable and the atmosphere joyous. No touts and no scams. At least none that we experienced.
Should you ever make it to this corner of the world, do give it a try. It’s a nice burst of flavour in a somewhat quiet city.
Where We Ate
There are so many food stalls on Jalan Alor, that choosing where to eat can be overwhelming. We followed the tried and true strategy of wandering around until we found the places that we thought were most populated by locals, before deciding where to eat. We also spent a good amount of time, peering shamelessly at other people’s plates until something looked good. 🙂
And though we wanted to eat far more, unfortunately, the limited capacity of our stomachs would not allow it. This is where we ended up.
Wong Ah Wah: Famous for chicken wings that are basted and grilled, until crispy and perfect, WAW, takes up a full 5 lots on Jalan Alor Food Street. Of course, we gave them a try, and while delicious, we didn’t really understand all the hype. Their butter prawns on the other hand? Simply to die for.
Fat Brother Satay: Serves “lok-lok,” which is basically skewers of meat, fish, veggies, eggs and whatever else you can imagine, dipped into boiling liquid. There’s a mind-boggling choice of skewers at Fat Brother Satay, and we indulged in some green veggies, okra, a lobster tail, and of course, the aforementioned frog. Or at least I did. And it was delicious.
How to Get There
Jalan Alor is located 1 street behind the busy shopping and entertainment district of Bukit Bintang. Take a taxi, or public transit to Bukit Bintang Monorail station.
Have you visited any mouth-watering food markets around the world? Eaten anything adventurous? What were your favourite experiences?