16 Pin Oak Crescent
Flemington VIC 3031
+61 3 9376 2668
I’m sure that anyone who has been to the NEW Laksa King would noticed its edgy new neighbour, Chef Lagenda. If rumours are to be believed, Chef Lagenda (wtf name) was established by some of the old crew who left the OLD Laksa King to open up a new eatery to rival Laksa King. A War Of the Roses-like story and the promise of a bowl of laksa that could rival, if not better, Laksa King’s seafood curry laksa? Well, that was enough for me to hop out of bed on a deary Tuesday afternoon on my day off and get in the car with my parents to Flemington.
Literally opposite Newmarket Station, Chef Lagenda has divided Melbourne’s laksa enthusiasts. Some people swear that their laksa is much better than Laksa King’s while other say that it’s just a convenient second best when the queues at Laksa King are just too long. Well, there was only one way to find out…
The space wasn’t as big as Laksa King’s – we were cramped into a small dining room with “crappy plastic chairs” (mum’s words not mine, but I kinda had to agree…). I’m not sure why they didn’t want to invest money in their seats, considering that the rest of the space would have been teetering on the ‘nice and modern’ column as far as laksa eateries go.
They did, however, seem to spend a lot of money on ensuring that everything – napkins, plates, cups – was stamped with their logo.
Chef Lagenda doesn’t actually specialise in laksa. In fact, they consider themselves a ‘Malaysian Kitchen’ so laksas form only a fraction of what they offer. From fried noodles to rice dishes, you’ll also encounter soup dishes and Malaysian chilli crabs, which is something that I will order the next time I’m here.
My dad ordered the curry fish head laksa ($11.20). Here, he was given the option of having an actual fish head in his laksa or fish fillets and he chose the latter. I initially thought it was odd for them to name the dish ‘curry fish head laksa’ and give customers the option to choose between having fish head OR fish fillets but I think that perhaps they flavour the laksa broth with fish head. They were generous with the ingredients too – chopped fish fillets, fried tofu and green beans for a bit of crunch and colour. I guess the only gripe that I have with this laksa is that the fish fillets weren’t battered like the ones next door.
I ordered the seafood curry laksa ($11.90), my usual dish at Laksa King. Like my dad’s laksa above, I was impressed with how generous they were with the ingredients. It was jam-packed with fresh prawns, fish fillets, fried tofu, squid and scallop (yes, scallop!). A fried eggplant and fresh herbs completed the package. And oh, there were noodles in there too. Lots of noodles. It was delicious. Okay so it didn’t have the same depth as the laksa at the OLD Laska King but then again, neither did the NEW Laksa King’s laksa (okay, I gotta stop making comparisons with the old Laksa King…). I’d say that the broth at Chef Lagenda was tastier and richer so if you like your laksa rich and full of coconut cream-y goodness, then head to Chef Lagenda. If you, like my parents, prefer the not-as-creamy and not-as-rich laksa broth, then Laksa King is your answer. Yep, my parents didn’t like Chef Lagenda’s broth. Poooey to them though.
My mum thought that her nyonya fried noodles were much better than the laksa ($10.20). I likened it to the Singapore fried noodles but with a little more curry and a little more heat. It was deliciously full of flavour without being too overbearing nor greasy and the serving size was generous. Mum loved, I did too – even more than my laksa.
Of course, we couldn’t leave without sharing a bowl of ice kachang to share ($5.50). What we all found odd about Chef Lagenda’s version was that the red syrup that is normally sickly sweet had a tinge of sour raspberry-like flavour in it which was nice but somewhat out of place on an ice kachang mountain. It was also small for what we paid for too. Definitely not the best we’ve ever had.
Okay so in short, both my parents thought that the laksa here was too rich and too tasty and therefore, no good (yeah, wtf?!). I, on the other hand, thought that the laksa was pretty damn good. If you want laksa that’s not too rich, go to Laksa King. If you want laksa that’s rich (and if you don’t mind crappy chairs), go to Chef Lagenda. If you don’t want laksa at all, then eff off. All things laksa aside though, I’d definitely come back to try some of their non-laksa dishes and if their nyonya fried noodles is anything to go by, their other dishes ought to be worth trying.