Laksa Bar

Name: Laksa Bar
Location: 108 Lt Lonsdale St.
Cost: $11-15 laksa
Cost rating: 3/5
Taste rating: 8/10
Overall rating: 8/10
Would I go again? Yes.

Laksa Bar (LB) opened around a year ago, in response for the need for more laksa in the inner city. It wins in term of location, and you will pay more for its location. (Roughly $2 more) It runs in a similar way to Laksa King, sharing the same 3-5pm break. But more expensive and dare I say it? Inferior? But then Laksa King has set some high standards. Laksa bar is still delicious and I’d come back if I am stuck in the inner city, and want to eat laksa or nasi lemak regardless.

While laksa (in all its regional variations) is LB’s specialty, LB also offers made-to-order rice and noodle dishes.

NASI LEMAK with BEEF RENDANG ($13.90)
Taste: 8/10
Would I order it again? Yes.

Lots of meat and sauce/ It is time to be hungry/ Nasi lemak time

Bowl of chilli paste/ What can I say about this?/Sambal is self-serve

Vinegary-sweet/ A simple vegie pickle/ Oh, the onions burn.

Favourite part of all/ Crispy crunchy salty fish/ Then more nutty crunch

Nasi lemak is something like Malaysia’s national dish. It’s a dome of coconut rice, with a main (in this case, beef rendang. But there are other options for the main at Laksa Bar), cucumber slices, crispy fried anchovies (ikan bilis), roasted peanuts, a fried egg and chilli paste (sambal) on the side. There’s also some sweet vegetable fast-pickles (acar) too.
The beef rendang here is a coconut beef stew, with plenty of sauce. It’s quite a large serve of beef rendang. It doesn’t have the same aromatic herby taste as the rendang at Red Spice Road, or the fat content. It’s lean, tender and focuses on the toasted coconut.
The fried anchovies and roasted peanuts are extremely crisp and crunchy. They’re the reason why I’d order a nasi lemak again at Laksa Bar. Nevermind the main dish.
Sambal is a sweet chilli paste. Not super-spicy. It’s less spicy than the chilli paste in MiGoreng.
The vegetable fast pickle is delicious. It has pineapple in it. It might seem odd to see pineapple used as a vegetable, but it delicious as a pickle.

 

PRAWN CHAR KWAY TEOW ($12.90)
Taste: 6.5/10
Would I order it again? No.

I like char kway teow/ Enough to order it here/ But bad decision

Mediocre. I found 2 crystal prawns. It’s definately edible, but nothing special. No impressive ‘wok hei’ or kitchen specs (super hot flame and heat conduction), or noodle tossing skills. The noodles were all broken up from poor tossing skills, and didn’t obtain a strong umami profile you get with excellent kitchen specs. I wouldn’t order it again at LB because I can find something on par, and costing less.
Then again, why order a noodle dish at a place that specialises in laksa?

 
CHICKEN LAKSA ($11.90)
Taste: ?
Would I order it again? Looks okay to me.

The chicken laksa/ Surprise! It's fried, not boiled!/ Richer than ever

 

SEAFOOD LAKSA ($13.90)
Taste: ?
Would I order it again? I’d like to order it, but thwarted everytime!

Look, a huge mussel/ Mm, tender, not rubbery/ Tick of approval

 

TOMYUM/CURRY LAKSA HYBRID ($13.90)
Taste:?
Would I order it again? It has my attention.

Is that .... pineapple?/ Hybrid laksa looks tasty/ Curiosity

 

BARLEY TEA ($3.90)
Taste: 10/10
Would I order it again? Yes.

Summery beverage/ Ice clinking on glass vessel/ A warm lazy day

Barley tea is a summer drink made from boiling barley in water and adding brown sugar. I don’t see how it can go wrong. Perhaps I will order it again when summer comes around.

 
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Minang Nasi Padang

Name: Minang Nasi Padang
Location: Pelham St/Swanstom St Carlton VIC 3053
Cost: $6.50 lunch/dinner
Cost rating: 5/5
Taste rating: 7/10
Overall rating: 8/10
Would I go again? Yes.

There’s another Minang further down Swanston St in the city block district. Minang Nasi Padang is closer to a university, making it a hot spot for students who live nearby. It’s particularly attractive as it is cheap, offers Indonesian/Malay homecooked-style food, has a balanced selection of meat and vegetables as well as plenty of vegetarian options. It’s a small shop, and feels like a school cafeteria. $6.50 will get you a plate of rice with 3 side dishes, lunch or dinner.

Six-fifty square meal/ Keep it real, nothing fancy/ Feels like school mess hall

It seems fairly authentic Indonesian food, or at least it is different from western-asian food. It’s not a fancy eatery, but it is fairly clean, cheap and tasty so I come back every now and then for a nutritious feed. (Better than cup noodles, or a fried chicken burger, or my workplace cafeteria.)

Don't know what it is?/ Just ask the nice young lady./ Sauce on everything.

The counter is simply bain maries filled with food, with cutlery and a cashier on the side.  There’s usually rice (a choice of plain or fried rice), some fried foods (fried battered fish, and a thick potato cake), vegetables (pumpkin curry, spicy eggplant, beanshoots), vegetarian protein options (chilli egg, stirfried fried tofu with a sauce) and meat options (fried chicken, soy chicken wings, beef rendang, chicken livers). You can also ask the lady to put sauce from either the soy chicken or chilli egg on your rice. They’ll understand your penchant for sauce.

Bah, meat and three vege?/ Two meats and vegie medley./ Take that! A square meal.

Beef Rendang: As far I am aware, beef rendang seems to be done in one of two ways. The wet coconut-heavy way, and the dry toasted coconut and salt way. Laksa Bar does it the wet way, with a thick coconut-rich stew around the chunks of beef. Minang does it the dry saltier way. It tastes pretty good, but you’ll need to eat it with rice. It’s very salty. But it isn’t tough at all, the meat is tender and comes apart with a gentle tug of your fork.

Soy chicken wings: Fried chicken wings, then braised in sweet Indonesian soy sauce. I like this a lot. So much I came back again within the week to have it again for lunch. Chicken wings should be eaten with your hands, there’s no ‘neat’ way of eating them.

Pumpkin, cabbage, eggplant: Just that, pumpkin, cabbage and eggplant. In a tasty stew of sorts. I’m glad they have a delicious vegetable option, because all too often student cafeterias place too much emphasis on meat-options.

Not lacking protein/ Eco-sustainable meal/ Huzzah! Good for you!

Sambal egg: Or chilli egg. It’s not very spicy, sort of sweet with a mild kick. Eggs are an excellent protein source. Ovo-vegetarian too!

Melty-soft eggplant/ Why are you so delicious?/ I like small diners.

Fried fish: A little bit of fried fish. Some days you feel like fried food. The batter is quite thick, but it’s well-drained. The fish inside is delicate, sweet and flakes easily. It won’t win any prizes for the Best Battered Fish, but it’s fresh fish in a small diner. I think that deserves a prize of its own.

Today there's fried rice/ A tomato-based fried rice/ Plus three sides of choice.

Tofu with green capsicum: I liked this. It wasn’t bland at all. There’s also another variation of tofu, in the picture with eggplant, which is sambal tofu (with carrots and beans). That is delicious too.
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