12 Pin Oak Crescent
Flemington VIC 3031
+61 3 9372 6383
EVERYONE knows that Laksa King is where you go to get the best laksa IN MELBOURNE. There’s no questions asked, just make a trek to the other side of Melbourne, and into a dingy arcade and if you’re lucky enough to be there early, a rickety table and equally rickety chairs will greet you. If you rock up smack bang during the dinner peak, well, take your number and wait in line – but the wait is never long because they do things really quick here. That was the Laksa King that Melbourne knew for several years.
Fast forward to 2010, however, and Laksa King has a brand, new home just around the corner of its old one. Its smooth, sleek wooden furnishings and bar means that it’s automatically a much nicer venue than the old Laksa King.
It is also bigger. That, however, does not mean that there is more room in the restaurant. No, it was still packed to the rafters when we were there a few weeks ago for a weekday dinner. And although they initially accepted bookings, they ended up ditching it for whatever reason and so, once again, you had to rock up and hope for the best… or take your spot in the queue. Luckily, the turnover here remains high so the Dinner Crew (plus sundries, Adam and
Garden Hayden) didn’t have to wait long.
My iced lychee drink, which was essentially those canned lychees and accompanying sickeningly sweet syrup diluted with water.
The six of us shared an entree of roti chicken rolls, conveniently divided up into six equal pieces ($11.90). They looked like a cross between a chicken wrap that you get from sandwich outlets and a souvlaki so I initially eyed them with suspicion. To my surprise, they were really tasty and full of fresh flavours, with a nice layer of slightly spicy peanut sauce covering the filling. Yummy.
Focus fail! Seating plan! (we were right next to the window … and in the path of the sun setting which meant sun effking glare) This is Shirley’s chicken roti channai ($10.50). For some reason, I was expecting a big dish so imagine how perplexed I was when I saw that she got served something that was smaller than the entree above. Despite the roti channai being diminutive in size, however, it was not so in taste and the ability to fill you up. Who knew that something so small could be so filling? And yes, I managed to have a bit and I can see why she and members of her boyfriend’s family love this dish – it’s rich, it’s got just the right amount of spice to keep both spice-and-chilli lovers and spice-and-chilli scaredy cats happy.
Dave’s seafood laksa ($12.20), the dish that I normally order when I’m at Laksa King. It still looked as good as I remembered it.
I decided to be different and went for the combination laksa ($9.20), which had fishcakes, tofu, shrimp and chicken. Okay, so not much different from a seafood laksa but whatever – IT’S ALL IN THE CHICKEN, OKAY?! Although I enjoyed my laksa, I did feel that something was missing. The broth was lovely and all but it did lack the intense richness and complexity of flavours that the laksa from the old joint had. Not saying that this laksa broth was bad – it wasn’t – but I certainly didn’t think it was good enough to slurp until every drop was drained from the bowl (which was the case with the old Laksa King – yes, I did that even when my stomach was about to burst and my jeans button threatening to pop from its hole because it was sooo good). I also thought that they skimped on the ingredients a bit but that’s a minor point because, as you can see, there was still enough items for me not to accuse them of being tight.
Everyone else had different types of laksa but I’m not going to bore you with the details and more laksa photos (they all looked the same anyway). The first-timers really liked their laksa while Adam, the only other other non-first-timer, said that his king prawn laksa ($12.20) was “yeah, pretty good but the old one’s better.” So yes, while the new Laksa King may have upped its game in size and decor, it hasn’t done the same with its laksa. That said, their laksa is still, by far, the best you’ll get in Melbourne.