Tuesday, November 24, 2009

SK Corner

One of the most popular and convenient food places around Changkat Bukit Bintang is SK Corner. Situated on Tengkat Tong Shin just past the 7-Eleven, SK Corner is a large,open-sided place that offers typical mamak style food (Muslim Indian) 24 hours.
The menu is pretty vast and even includes a few western favourites for homesick European backpackers.

The food is nothing fancy and certainly nothing to shout about but it is fairly good value for money.Basic noodle and rice dishes together with various Indian Breads such as Chapati,Thosi and Roti Cani are the main-stay,with a Tandoori Oven offering Nan Breads and Tandoori Chicken.
Prices start from as little as RM1.50 for a Roti Cani (great for a greasy-breakfast) and climb to RM15 for a lamb chop and chips with most dishes around the RM4-5 mark.
It's a good place for a late-night supper.
During the day a lot of the stalls are not open...the Tandoori oven for example only fires-up around 5pm.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Convenience Stores

A rather strange topic to want to write about but I've recently noticed just how many of the damn things there are within a 2km radius of Bukit Bintang.
Perhaps I should plot them on the Google map link and you'll see exactly what I mean.....
Changkat Bukit Bintang has 3,Jalan Alor has 4, Tengkat Tong Shin 3....loads of 'em!
It seems that every empty shop-lot I stumble across these days is turned into a Convenience Store,there are 3 or 4 local chains plus loads of independents and they often open next door to each other.
They all sell the same things,mainly stuff that has no expiry date or best before date.Soft Drinks and Potato Chips seem to be the most popular lines judging by how much space they are allocated in-store.
They never seem to be busy,the rents are certainly not cheap...I just wonder how they all manage to make a profit.
The big 7-Eleven on the corner of Changkat Bukit Bintang and Tengkat Tong Shin (Opposite the Radius Hotel) used to be a great 24hr food stop a few years back and is now a great big convenience store,although they frequently run out of Marlboro Lights,turning it into an inconvenience store!
Customer Service in heavily-touristed areas is OK but sometimes you have to wonder if they are not running some sort of "care in the community" programme and employing poor unfortunates who couldn't get work anywhere else.
I guess the only thing worse than the proliferation of Convenient Convenience Stores is the abundance of Foot Massage places that are also experiencing a boom around Bukit Bintang.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gypsy Bar,Changkat Bukit Bintang

Gypsy Bar on Changkat Bukit Bintang is probably my favourite bar along the street right now.
It's been open for about 18 months and has built-up quite a name/reputation for itself.
The main reason I like it is for having good-value beer at RM10 for a mug of Tiger.
But I also like the good atmosphere.
On a street with a few too many bland up-market eateries, Gypsy Bar is a non-pretentious,non-posy "proper bar".
Few people go there specifically to eat but the food is reasonable if you get the munchies and need to soak-up the alcohol. For some reason French Fries seem to go well with a few beers!
Each night is different but usually starts-off fairly quite and relaxed with the early-bird,after office-hours crowd and then gradually fills with the after-dinner crowd , then the party people begin arriving from about 10.30pm onwards.
The quality of the Tiger can vary a bit....from "drinkable" to "has been sitting in a jug under the bar and is nice and warm" so if it doesn't taste fresh and cold-send it back!
Friday and Saturday nights can get really busy with the crowd spilling-out onto the pavement.
The crowd comprises of locals and expats and a few girls out looking for guys,which naturally then attracts guys out looking for girls.
There is an upstairs section offering a less rowdy scene,but most people prefer the downstairs bar.
The mix of the crowd can vary considerably form one night to the next.
Sometimes,it's predominantly local,other nights it gets really inundated with expats,some nights the working girls are a bit too visible and other nights they seem to fade into the background.
Apart form the value-for-money Tiger,Gypsy bar also offers reasonably priced Paulaner Beer http://paulanerkl.com/ at RM 26 for a big bottle and the cocktails include the ever-popular and fairly lethal Long Island Ice Tea.
The staff are by and large a friendly bunch and the service ranges from good to dreadful depending upon how busy the bar gets.It's not uncommon for the service to almost collapse around midnight as the staff get so overwhelmed. On nights like this it pays to keep track of how much your bill is as overcharging can happen,more out of confusion rather than any malice. On busy nights the queue for the toilets can take a while,so plan ahead.
Musically,the in-house DJ plays a good selection of sounds but can crank it up far too loud (ie distorted) some nights-or maybe I'm just getting old! Sunday night music is a bit different with R&B and hip-hop,whilst on Wednesday they have begun to experiment with live music,usually a duo with a backing track that seems a bit pointless.
All-in-all,Gypsy Bar is one of the best bars in Kuala Lumpur. It's a shame they don't have Carlsberg Draught though!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Engka Portobello Restaurant and Bar,Changkat Bukit Bintang

Not only is the food a bit of a mouthful,so is the name!
I've been aware of this pace for a quite a while but never had the reason to enter.
It's a nicely done casual mid-priced restaurant that offers something a little different on the street.
Engka Portobello is a great place for a fried breakfast (non halal) So if you've got a craving for a Full English Breakfast,it's yours for RM16-which represents great value as other places on Changkat Bukit Bintang offer similar for nearly RM30.
Weekends they serve brunch from 10am until 3 pm and have a menu of about 30 tempting dishes,ranging from RM11 to RM22.
The evening menu still represents good value for money and ranges from Tapas,Western and International.
Mushrooms and Sausages feature quite heavily on the menu.

Service is pleasant and prompt,the decor relaxed and casual.

STOP PRESS. Now closed for refurbishment expected to re-open December 2009!

Pinchos Tapas Bar,Changkat Bukit Bintang

Pinchos has been open for about 12 months now and is fast becoming a popular hangout.
When I used to walk past a while back,it always seemed a bit empty and devoid of atmosphere,especially during the week.Weekends were a little busier but still not that great.
over time and word-of-mouth recommendations,Pinchos is now pretty much packed every night and has built-up a crowd of regulars, mainly expats with a few locals arriving later. So get there early if you want a table.Sitting outside is a bit more comfortable than being inside.
Happy hours are priced at RM11 for a mug,which isn't too bad but after 9pm rises to RM14.
As with lots of places on Changkat Bukit Bintang,the beer quality can sometimes be open to question.
The tapas (non halal) is pretty damn good though-no,on second thoughts it's excellent! and averages about RM16-RM25 per plate,which seems a bit on the steep side,but you get good quality and tasty snacks...leaving you hungry for more and perhaps with a bigger bill than you first anticipated!

The decor is plain,simple and comfortable, the service is very good and the staff are polite,friendly and knowledgeable.
It can get quite warm inside and surprisingly noisy with a slight,annoying echo as everyone raises their voices to be heard over everyone else. The Latin music can also become a bit tedious but what else do you expect from a Tapas Bar?

Definitely a welcome addition to the local scene.