26 August 2018

Kuala Lumpur - Stopovers in Sentral and Bukit Bintang

Two stopovers, three nights in Kuala Lumpur. One of our favourite ways to start and end a trip.

We're big fans of the day flight to and from Sydney, hours to read and watch movies without trying to sleep and feel like a zombie the next day. While an overnight flight sure has its pros in terms of time or hotel costs saved, we find we like the balance of pleasure over the pain. So we've started getting the AirAsia day flights to Kuala Lumpur and back, they're one of the few airlines that has a day flight back from Asia, budget flights or otherwise. (We'd love to know of any other good ones, Singapore, Bangkok?)

We also like to land around about cocktail hour, enough time to dump our baggage and head off for a pre dinner drink, a walk around the neighbourhood and a feed. It gets our journey off right for us. We decide to stay around Sentral for our first stopover, its an easy train ride from the airport in an almost empty train. While it's not as cheap as the bus, it's sure faster and easily beats the taxi driver lotto we used to have from KLIA2. 

After a confusing walk around the block to find the KL Sentral Hotel (tip: everything in Sentral seems to have the name Sentral in it. Choose a hotel with a different name to help ensuing confusion) we walk out to a neighbourhood filled with Indian restos and a small English style pub with pints of Kronenbourg Blanc and Connors stout. Happy. The Supper Club has been around since 1975, more a pubby bar than a club.

After a pint or two we walk around the corner for dinner at Jaya Restoran. There are numerous choices of nasi kandar type placesin the area, from pure vegetarian to all-you-can-meat. This one was a combo of restaurants in one shop where you order food from one stall, drinks from another and pay at a one counter.

Dinner vital statistics: A plate of rice, lightly stir fried cabbage, sliced okra and tomato gravy mutton. Poppodums and two donut like fluffy vadai. Mee goreng for fat, starch and flavour.

We skipped the hotel breakfast for a morning walk and feed on the streets. We picked Sami's Corner, right near the ally that led from our hotel up to KL Sentral Station.

For us, there's not much more happiness to be found in Malaysia than fresh roti and curry for breakfast. Well, maybe kaya, soft eggs and and toast. The curry sauces were more like thin gravy, one made just with curry and spice powders and a few soft pieces of green chilli, the other even thinner with a few chunks of onion and cubes of potato. Neither were super spicy, just a deep and warm curry flavour. The roti were good, although the one underneath got steamed and flattened from being stacked.

While we waited for our roti, the other breakfast favourite (yes, they are many) is the nasi lemak packets that sit on the table ready to eat. This one had egg in a rich dark red chilli sauce hiding inside. A teh tarik helps settle everything together.

Morning food stalls underneath the monorail pillars. These women make a batch of home made goodness, sell out and move on. Worth seeking out.

We spent the morning wandering around Bickfields in all it's current low rise glory. 

The one that got away - a vegetarian food centre we would have loved a crack at if we had more time.

Welcome to Brickfields. Have a sleepy day!

Just holding out. The last little kampung style house on the block.

For our return to KL after Sumatra, we ended up in Bukit Bintang. The view from the first floor bar of the KL Journal Hotel, nicely right inside the main area. For a couple of nights of eating fun this was a grand central spot.

From the balcony we spied activity on the street below, steaming pots and a movement of eaters.

This fellow had set up in front of the convenience store. The steaming pot contents were revealed.

Haleem! The king of curries. Two bowls were ladled out, a spoonful of curry sauce, herbs and cucumbers on top. This was a blissful bowl a few metres away from our room and we were happy.

There were other mysteries to be solved.

A chat, made with puffed rice, boiled egg and curry spices. Crunchy goodness.

We set out the next day to walk down to Imbi Market. It turned out the site is now a large building works, with apartments due soon. Towering above the old area is a new building, spookily topped in mist. A helpful guy on the site didn't know where it had relocated to, but we later found out it was not that far away at Pudu.

In light of lots of the pending redevelopment we decided to stroll around the old area while it's still there.

Classic interior at the Mei Sin Kopitiam.

Order from your favourite stall, drinks guy will come around and get your order, wait for delivery.

We got our pan mee fix here instead, with a soupy pork liver noodle and thickly brewed sock coffee.

For breakfast dessert we tried a super sweet three layered milk iced tea that gave us the sugar yips the whole rest of the morning. That thick layer at the bottom is pure gula melaka.

Mei Sin Kopitiam is on Jalan Melati just off Jalan Imbi .

There's friendly folk hanging around the durian stands.

Kuala Lumpur ever changing. This is the site of the old Pudu Prison, built in the late 1890's. We loved the murals that once ran down the side, now long gone.

Back up around Jalan Alor, we are greeted by the official welcoming party.

We ended up walking and walking around KL looking for a food place mentioned on a food guide map and got lost and grumpy and hungry. Most of the time we don't follow guides but just like to walk and find whatever we find. This morning only further justified this style of exploration for us. Wynns Corner to the rescue.

Tables set out under a big airy awning, early afternoon punters eating, weary walkers resting.

The all-you-can-meat bain-marie of love. 

We are feeling a bit more vegetable loving and share a huge plate or beans, bitter melon, richly dark braised eggplant, stewed greens, egg, pappadums with yellow rice and iced teas. Sanity is restored.

Six bucks.

Our last meal in KL. The Lot 10 Hutong is a greatest Malaysian food hits foodcourt, bringing together all the most famous small eateries into one place.

Good food court vibes.

This is looking good but many of the stalls are finishing up for the night. This isn't a late night kind of place, we went about 9.00pm.

Hock Kee is open. 

Hock Chew Claypot Red Vinasse Chicken turns out a little less than expected in the flavour department. A little sad, we like to go out with a last meal winner.

Will we strike gold at Kin Kin?

Chilli Pan Mee from Kin Kin kicks the pants out of the trip with a last meal winner. Drop that whole dish of roasted chilli in there and stir, stir, stir. Happiness restored!

We get up super early the next morning for the 9.00am flight back to Sydney. We don't mind the early start, the trains are running to the airport and all is going well until Alison loses her glasses in the cab to KL Sentral. There are tears. We are saved at the airport with a random act of kindness. While attempting to buy some over-the-counter reading glasses, and not having any ringgit left at a cash only store, a friendly stranger offered to pay for them.

We love Kuala Lumpur and thank you kind Malaysian gent, you saved our flight home!


  1. Great post! Love KL. We also stumbled on Sami's Corner and it became our favourite breakfast venue in Brickfields - can't beat RM6 for breakfast for two! And the roti was very good. ABC Bistro around the corner was also very good. We had the best chapattis at Singh's, other highlights in this area for us were Vishal Banana Leaf, Brickfields Pisang Goreng and Peter's Pork Noodles in the kopitiam at the pisang goreng corner.

    Can I recommend to reader to get out of the Bukit Bintang / Jalan Alor / Imbi area, which is tired, touristy, overdeveloped and overpriced! Have a walk around Pudu south of Times Square (where the new Imbi market is located, amongst other places), also SS2 night market on Monday nights, PJ Old Town (including the taman selera), Seapark and Taman Paramount, and Kampung Baru. And the back lanes and streets around Chinatown (but not the main drag), and Brickfields of course.

    The LRT is an excellent way to get around if you are based at KL Sentral.

  2. Nice tips, thanks as always Stan!


Thanks for your comment joy - please keep your musings happy - if you want to complain about a restaurant please do it on a restaurant review site (or your own blog) - we're all about celebrating cultural diversity and the great eats that come along with it :-)

Our ethics: We pay for all our own meals and travel (though sometimes Mum shouts us).