Changkat: Where to eat the best tapas, pizza, and street food in KL’s most popular bar strip

Instagram via Ciccio

There are fewer places more teeming with tourist traffic than the famed Kuala Lumpur strip of bars and bodies known as Changkat Bukit Bintang, or just “Changkat.” It’s our humble answer to Bangkok’s famed Khaosan Road, but like – you know – without all of the stuff.

A few years ago, the Changkat strip was where you could find most of KL’s nightlife lovers, hopping between Twenty-One, Daikanyama (RIP) and Frangipani (also, RIP) on a Friday.

Today, despite the never-ending throngs of humans you’ve never seen before keeping it perpetually busy, it’s not quite what it used to be to the locals. Except Pisco. Pisco is incredible and great, and if you haven’t been, go now and make some new friends. Also, ceviche is just a great dish to eat, anytime.

However, dear readers, bear with me, there’s still one very good reason to go to Changkat, and it’s not the cougars stalking your man at Havana waiting for Mambo Number 5 to drop — it’s the food. For real.

There are great restaurants in and around Changkat that keep us coming back, so without further ado – here is Coconuts KL’s run-down of our personal favorites. Note: Most of these eateries listed here are non-halal.

Pinchos

There is no place better in Kuala Lumpur if you want to eat like you’re actually in a taberna somewhere in Seville. The food is straightforward, without much in the way of frills, but high on flavor and so generous with portions you can’t help but leave full. Did we mention the stellar wine list? How about the prosecco that pairs so absolutely perfectly with the chorizo? Pro tip from an editor who has eaten there more times than the owner himself: Always order the mixed cheese and meat platter. It comes with an incredible variety of cheeses, sheets of prosciutto, rounds of chorizo, olives, pan con tomate (delicious tomato and garlic on toasted bread), and uh, more bread. It’s great value. Start with that and go wild on the menu. Also, the staff are absolutely lovely. Call ahead for reservations, or you may have to wait for awhile at the bar. Not a bad thing.

Instagram via @angelfayth
Instagram via Pinchos

18 Changkat Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Phone: 03-2145 8482
(non-halal)

Ciccio

Here’s another old favorite, across the street from Pinchos, and the best pizza you’ll rustle on that side of town. It has great ambience, and works well for a date, or as a place to bring your entire family. Considering it is smack-in-the-middle of one of KL’s busiest strips, it has a surprisingly chill atmosphere. Their meats platter is also delightful, if you’re into that sort of thing. We are.

Instagram via Ciccio
Instagram via @eugenex91

15 Changkat Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang,
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Phone: 03-2141 8605
(non-halal)

Pisco

Oh, goodness. Where to begin with an institution like Pisco? When they opened in 2013, they set the pace for the renaissance of Kuala Lumpur’s nightlife. The restaurant and bar downstairs would feed you ceviche, while you drank their namesake pisco sours. Upstairs was dark, mysterious, and thumping with house, techno or disco, depending on the day of the week. The two floors are now married together in a single, perfect ground floor of great food, music and conviviality. The menu is a nod to Peru, with a touch of Iberia. Try all of the ceviche, and the uh… meat platters (we gotta get out of our comfort zone, but it’s hard when it’s so delicious). Keep your eyes peeled for the incredible DJ nights they host, where you can sweat out all of those calories you just ate.

Instagram via Pisco KL
Instagram via @entertainermy

29 Jalan Mesui, Bukit Bintang
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Phone: 03-2142 2900
(non-halal)

Magnificent Fish and Chips

Fancy watching Newcastle blow their lead against Chelsea over the most delectable, crispy fish and thrice-cooked chips? Of course, you do. Who can resist Geordie schadenfreude over battered goods?

On the most serious note, Magnificent has the bloody best fish and chips in this city. There are four fish varieties to choose from, depending on how sweet and firm you like your fish, a side of mushy peas, and those incredible thrice-cooked chips on the side. Most importantly, they may serve thoroughly English fare, but they know a good thing when they eat it: On the table is a bottle of Lingham’s cili sos ready for your chips. Their oysters are also top-notch. Don’t be shy, share a platter.

Instagram via @cswongs
Instagram via @markjyates

28 Changkat Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Phone: 03-2142 7021
(non-halal)

El Cerdo

Love pork, and all things porcine? Then the aptly named El Cerdo (pig, in Spanish) is just where you need to go. Crispy pork knuckle? Yes. Sausage? Of course. Iberico spare ribs? Si.

If you’re ready and willing to go for the whole hog, so to speak, you can literally have one, by ordering the roast suckling pig.

Prepare yourself for some serious meat-sweats after. Leave telling yourself you can’t possibly eat anymore pig this month, but find yourself there again next week.

Instagram via @steveyee3355
Instagram via @elcerdokl

43 & 45 Bukit Bintang Street & Changkat Bukit Bintang, Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Phone: 03-2145 0511
(non-halal)

Bijan

Sweet, Bijan. Tastefully decorated, with the kindest staff, and the only choice if you want to go for a more upmarket Malay restaurant. They have an outdoor patio, and the ambience is so delightfully romantic that we’ve witnessed a proposal. She said, yes. YES, TO THE SOTONG SAMBAL HIJAU (green sambal squid)!

People will often tell you that local food is best enjoyed from a plastic chair, but Bijan proves this wrong time and time again. Order all of the kerabu (salads), the aforementioned squid, and the rendang.

Instagram via @sunshinekelly2988
Instagram via @bijankl

3-5 Seri Bukit Ceylon, 8 Lorong Ceylon Off Jalan Raja Chulan, Bukit Ceylon 50250 Kuala Lumpur
Phone: 03-2031 3575
(halal)

WAW

Not exactly Changkat, but just down the road, and to the right. There is no bigger street food institution than Wong Ah Wah, or just W.A.W. The tale goes that the uncle started his business with a stall selling chicken wings, and that slowly grew into an empire based on wings, buttered prawns and every noodle incarnation your greasy mind can conjure up. There are a million things to order, and every visit should have a few new dishes to try out.

Never stray from the salted egg squid — it is the foundation for every order (unless you’re allergic). Otherwise, go wild. Crab (black pepper, to DIE FOR), wings (duh), brinjal belacan (eggplant with fermented shrimp paste), sundry greens with garlic: it’s all good. This was where Anthony Bourdain came to try our country’s finest fried goods, so it’s legit. Also, it’s open until 5:00am, which can come in handy after a few hours of drinking.

Instagram via @misstammyn
Instagram via @sgfoodonfoot

No 1 & 5 & 7  Jalan Alor, Bukit Bintang
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Phone: 03-2144 2463
(non-halal)

Meng Kee

Meng Kee is next door to WAW, and gives it a run for its money. On the plus side, their wings come grilled OR dipped in a delectable shrimp paste and fried to within an inch of its life. PLEASE, try those. Also, they serve a superior stingray. Sorry, WAW – but Meng Kee wins this round.

Instagram via @hobimakanenak
Instagram via @joann_foodology

39 Jalan Alor, Bukit Bintang,
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Phone: 012-213 3082
(non-halal)

Bottega Mediterranea

Oh, you knew that Bottega had to be on this list because we’re willing to give up our deepest food-related secrets here at Coconuts KL. Bottega is where you go when you need to buy porcini mushrooms, and impossible-to-find farro, but you also want to have the best gosh-darn deli sandwich that this city has to offer.

They have limited-space monthly mingles, where the wine flows faster than the Po and with enough swathes of salami to cover you from head to toe (but don’t do that). Go. Eat. Make some friends.

Instagram via @bottegamy
Instagram via @bottegamy

1 Jalan Ceylon, Bukit Bintang
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Phone: 03-2070 4222
(non-halal)

Sangkaya

And finally! Not a restaurant, but no meal on or near Changkat is complete without a final stop at Sangkaya, the number one purveyor of delicious, dairy-free, coconut (ha!) ice cream. You can get it in a hulled-out coconut shell, with a few strips of coconut flesh for good measure. There are toppings, but we like just a few shavings of shredded, toasted coconut and scant almond bits with ours. You’ll find it two-thirds of the way down Jalan Alor, on the left side.

Instagram via @yijieloh
Instagram via @sangkayamy

 

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