It sounds simple, but a good way to judge a laksa is to, well, look at it. Is it a burnt-orange Jackson-Pollock-in-a-bowl, smattered with chilli and more toppings than a Super Supreme? If not, think again. A good laksa always looks a little messy (curry laksa, that is; there are plenty of variations of the Malaysian favourite, but for the purposes of this list, let's stick with its most popular incarnation). Below you'll find some of the best and messiest curry laksas on offer in Melbourne.
Regulars at Coconut House may be a little upset to see this one topping our list, but only because they want it all for themselves. Considering, however, that Coconut House opened a second space only a few doors down when the original became too busy, regulars can relax – or at least hope that Coconut House will do the same again when the second room starts to fill up. No doubt about it, these authentic curry laksas are the coconut cream of the crop.
449 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne
(03) 9329 6401
If you're already questioning Laksa King's absence from this list, there's one very tasty reason why: Chef Lagenda. Situated right next door to Flemington's long-reigning laksa institution, Chef Lagenda is like Laksa King's nerdy little sister whose parents never noticed her good grades and musical finesse. However, locals are increasingly wising up to Chef Lagenda's consistently flavoursome home-style laksas – so you best get in quick while you can still get a table.
16 Pin Oak Crescent, Flemington
(03) 9376 2668
If Chef Lagenda is Laksa King's little sister in Flemington’s family tree, then Vy Vy is the distant cousin it only sees at weddings. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. An endearingly no-frills venue, Vy Vy probably serves up the most utilitarian curry laksa of the lot. With just the basic toppings and super friendly waiters, who kindly ask how hot you'd like your laksa, this one's particularly good for timid laksa virgins and the chilli-shy among us.
318 Racecourse Road, Flemington
(03) 9372 1426
If you're sick of the standard curry laksa, or fancy yourself a bit of a laksa connoisseur, Laksa Bar will surely have something on the menu to surprise you. Perhaps most impressive offering here is the house curry laksa with soft shell crab, all the usual toppings, plus some tomato and a fried egg to boot. With a rich, complex broth and a good amount of spice, this one's a sure inner-city winner.
Shop 1, 108 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
(03) 9663 1941
Canton Fast Food at Queen Victoria Markets
Snobs needn't bother with this laksa – it comes in a plastic bowl with plastic cutlery and 'eating in' means sitting in a busy food court. But don't be fooled by this contender’s humble setting. Not for the faint-hearted, the $9 curry laksa at the Queen Victoria Markets food court comes with 'the lot'. That is: fish cakes, fish balls (there's a difference), chicken, pork, eggplant, tofu, beans and enough chilli to make you look like you just left a funeral. Bring it.
Queen Victoria Markets food court, 513 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne
Starting at $14, the laksas at Blue Chillies could be described in a word as 'upmarket'. Made to a fairly traditional recipe however, the laksas at this Brunswick Street mainstay are wholesome, reliable and full of flavour. So come for the laksa, stay for the great service and ambience and linger over the whitebait and sweet potato fritters and glass of wine you ordered on the side. Delish.
182 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
(03) 9417 0071