"Best" hawker site in KL for tourists?
We are two American couples, fairly adventurous chowhounds, visiting Malaysia in August. As our trip is food-centric, we are booking our lodgings based on being able to walk to food stalls. But we certainly want to be in proximity to public transport and other sites of interest. Am I right to think Jalan Alor food stalls and lodgings in Bukit Bintang is our best bet? If not, where should we stay? And recommendations for clean, safe, budget hotel greatly appreciated.
I'm impressed - you're truly spot on with your choice of Bukit Bintang for KL street food (I thought only KL natives & Singaporean foodies knew that). Jalan Alor is really THE place to go for hawker food stalls in KL! Most of the food stall owners are from Penang (an island one hour's flight north of KL & a veritable food paradise for Malaysian & Singaporean food lovers).
Some unmissables at Jalan Alor:
1. Frog porridge at 36, Jalan Alor (Open 6pm till late). The very tasty rice porridge is flavored with ginger, sesame oil & shallots, with the addition of scrumptious frogs' legs. Their other dish is an explosive kung pao frog's legs - dark, sweet & aromatic with dried chillis.
2. Charn Kee Tasty Corner, Jalan Alor (7.30am to 4.30pm, Closed Mon). Lots of good food stalls but the choicier ones are the Seafood Noodles stall; and the Nyonya Curry Mee ("mee" is the local term for noodles) with spicy gravy, prawns, tofu & fish cakes.
3. Wong Ah Wah (WAW) Restaurant, 1 Jalan Alor (Operates 5.30pm till 4am). Nearly 40 years old, its started off with grilled chicken wings, but now offers ALL sorts of cooked seafood & meat dishes. Don't miss the "Kam Hiong" Crabs - every single table of KL-lites will order this dish. You can order loads of food & still pay less than US$50 (for 4 persons).
4. Restoran Choi Keng, 11 Jalan Alor (Operates 5pm till 5am, closed Wed). Homecooked Chinese food, e.g. braised Hakka pork with black fungus, fish with bitter gourd. Why is it famous - this is where most KL Chinese chefs come to eat after they knock off work at the fancy hotel-restaurants!
5. Curry Mee & Asam Laksa stall, Jalan Alor (Opposite Tourworld Travel) Closed Thurs, Operates 4pm to11pm. Delicious noodle dishes from perhaps Jalan Alor's very first food stall. It's been here since the early 1970s!
I'm not too familiar with the budget hotel scene in KL, but hotel prices there are pretty decent enough for you to get a good 3-star hotel. If that's the case, try Federal Hotel. It's the oldest hotel in Bukit Bintang area but very well-kept, and Mandarin Palace at the Federal Hotel is one of the very first "proper" Chinese restaurants in Malaysia - over 50 years old but still serves authentic KL-style Cantonese cuisine.
Where in Little India are you staying, the best hotel in that area is Park Royal, quite near a whole phalanx of good Indian restaurants there (e.g. Raj of Calcutta, Ghanghotree, etc).