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.

 
Laksa Bar on Urbanspoon

Advertisements

Laksa King

Name: Laksa King
Location: 6-12 Pin Oak Crescent
Cost: $10-15 main
Cost rating: 4/5
Taste rating: 9/10
Overall rating: 9/10

Laksa King is hyped to be the best laksa place in Melbourne, so my lunch buddy and I checked it out one grey Melbourne day. We arrived a bit after 3pm, hoping that the quiet lull that restaurants go through at 3pm would provide the space to take photographs least intrusively. It was spendidly quiet. So quiet it was actually closed. Laksa King has a break from 3pm to 5pm, remember that one kids.
(No, we didn’t spend 2 hours staring mournfully through the glass window/wall. Maybe 15 minutes before deciding whether to wait or go somewhere else.)
When it was finally opened, the staff were very friendly. I asked if I could take photos around the place, from the tables, to wall fixtures and food and they were very happy to let me do so, and even jokingly asked to have a their better half photographed.

Photos of mundane/ Chairs waiting for occupants/ Soon there'll be patrons

Artsy warehouse lights/ Light globes dangle from ceiling/ Quite mesmerising

SEAFOOD LAKSA
Taste: 9.5/10
Would I order it again? Yes

An iceberg laksa/ Most of the stuff underneath/ Happier ending

It has pieces of squid, fishcake slices, prawns, eggplant, scallops and two green-lipped mussels. See pictures for all the description you need. I’m impressed with the seafood selection. Seafood laksa was had by my lunch buddy, a notorious prawn fiend but refuses to eat mussels. So I get to eat the mussels. The mussel was tender, sweet and umami. Huzzah for getting mussels right!
My only qualm is that the eggplant texture wasn’t quite right, it was … ‘squeaky’ and a bit watery. Same for the fish okra laksa.

FISH OKRA LAKSA
Taste: 8.5/10
Would I order it again? Yes.

Creamy fish laksa/ To prevent overpowering/ Mild broth for fish

It has eggplant, battered and fried pieces of rockling (a sweet delicate white-fleshed) fish, and pieces of okra. It doesn’t sound like a lot compared to the seafood laksa but there is a LOT of fish in this laksa. Not the 3-4 sizable pieces of fish you’d expect in a noodle soup, but rather a number over 6 because I lost count after finding yet another piece of fish. The surprises just keep on coming. I do wish they were as generous with the okra as they were with fish.
I was going to place ‘No’ as a answer to ‘Would I order it again?’ but decided against it because it might misled you to think this wasn’t a tasty laksa. It’s a delicious meal packed with glorious fish goujons, the soup is creamy without being too rich, okra is crunchy and slimy in a way okra should be….. but what’s wrong with it?
It has no Hokkien noodles.
“But fish okra laksa isn’t meant to have Hokkien noodles!”
I hear you loud and clear. I now know fish okra laksa isn’t meant to have Hokkien noodles. But I love Hokkien noodles (those thick round yellow noodles in packets usually found in the refridgerated section). Out of the entire menu, all of which sounded appealing to me, I chose the only one without Hokkien noodles. (First world problems. Take that.)

AIS KACANG
Taste: 10/10
Would I order it again? Yes.

Tower of shaved ice/ Over base of sweet goodies/ Peanuts essential


Melts into syrup/ Medley of colourful things/Fish out sweet goodies

After polishing off a bowl of laksa, the staff came over and asked if we liked their laksa (we did, very much so), and kindly indulged me by answering my questions about Hokkien noodles and fish okra laksa. (No Hokkien noodles in fish laksa. Only rice vermicelli noodles. Got it.) While we’re still drinking tea and digesting, another waitstaff comes by and asks if we’d like our ais kacang to be sweet. My lunch buddy is familiar with ais kacang (and being a sweet tooth), replies ‘Yes!’. Contrasted with myself who had little idea what an Ice Kachang was (and thought sweetening was optional), replied ‘No?’.

“Ais kacang must be sweet. Cannot have not sweet lah,” the man chuckles and disappears, shortly returning with a giant bowl of ais kacang.
….. Why did he even ask if it wasn’t an option to begin with? I am baffled, bewildered and bemused at this strange man.

In any case, ais kacang contains shaved ice, crushed roasted peanuts, pink syrup (from the jelly?), cubes of raspberry jelly, bits of grass jelly, cendol (green jelly noodles), palm seed, sweetened whole red beans, canned longan fruits and a thin palm sugar syrup. It was actually very tasty, and we got through the entire bowl with no trouble.

Laksa King on Urbanspoon

Instameal: Samyang Japanese Seafood Udon

Name: Samyang Japanese Seafood flavour udon
Cost: $1.20
Contents: Wad of udon noodles, 2 sachets: 1 soup base, 1 dried vegetables.
Spiciness: 0/10
Taste: Noodles 5/10, Broth: 4/10
Would I buy it again? No.

It looks promising/ Simple, no gimmicks packet/ Clearly labelled too

Samyang red and green/ I like their colour coding/ Sucks if colour blind

Not much to say here/ Drying decreases moisture/ Inhibits decay

You can't see salts yet/ Maybe if you leave it out/ Salt crystals will form

This udon is thinner and less oily than the previous ‘udon’ type instant noodles, more like a cross between ramen, thick pastry rice noodle and pasta.
My qualm with this instant noodle is how salty it is. Ack! Mouthful of salt. Then a nasty metallic salty tang with seafood-esque flavours. There are better seafood flavours than this, as well as better udon.
This is my least favourite seafood udon.

Instameal: Nongshim Seafood Udon (mild)

Name: Nongshim Seafood Udon
Cost: $1
Contents: udon noodle wad, 2 sachets (soup base, vegetables) and a piece of dried kelp
Spiciness: 0/10
Taste: Broth 7/10, noodles 5/10 (shortfall of instant udon)
Would I buy it again? Yes.

Picture says udon/ Luckily, that's what you get/ But it is oily

An extra item!/ Hark! A piece of dried seaweed./ Kelp for umami

For the longest time, I thought this would be the best instant udon noodle I’d find for under $2. But I was wrong. Please read the Paldo Udon post for more details.  Click here for Paldo Udon.

Don't eat the seaweed/ Only for photo purpose/ Eat it, if you waaant

This udon has thicker than the Paldo udon, but it also comes with the oiliness that comes with instant noodle. To keep such a thick noodle edible for a long time, you need more oil. Air-dried udon just doesn’t work, or so I don’t think it does. It’s a hearty meal that feels more substantial than ramen. Maybe that’s just my expectation with udons.
The piece of dried kelp helps with the broth, giving it depth of flavour as well as a thicker broth. The vegetables include the usual medley of spring onion and carrots, but also fried onion/mini ricecake? pieces. I don’t know what they are, but they are chewy and gluggy in texture. I don’t like them, so I just pick those out.