Spicy and slurpy, with a jumble of elements in a dish that’s creamy, hot, crunchy and comforting – we love Laksa. There are many version of this Chinese-Malay classic, and it’s the curry laksa we know best in Melbourne, with galangal, garlic, lemongrass and chillies tempered with the sultry bass note of smooth coconut milk.
Here are five of our favourite places to get some heart-warming Laksa:
Located on Barkly Street in Footscray, this Malaysian-Chinese diner was called Yummies for many years. Renamed Roti Road, it has become a sanctuary for good roti – crisp outside and fluffy in the middle – and a laksa that keeps the hungry heading west. Generous and steaming with the crunch of green beans and the high pitch of Thai basil, it’s brought together by a consistent broth and silky noodles. Get it with shut-the-front-door spice or milder for the mild among us.
189–193 Barkly Street, Footscray
(03) 9078 8878
It fires on all cylinders most days of the week with its ample meals layered with heat and spice. Laksa King offers nine curry laksas and one Assam laksa, each laden with the good stuff. The Combination laksa has seafood and poultry, the Beef Laksa is rich with seared meat, but we like the mess of the Fish-head Laksa, with its chilli and coconut and the added acid of lime. Despite its busy pace, Laksa King’s product is consistent.
6–12 Pin-Oak Crescent, Flemington
(03) 9372 6383
Second and third generations flock here for reliable, inexpensive Chinese-Malay dishes. The Laksa has its own loyal subjects, devoted to its redolent curry aromatics and bound to the meaty textures of beef or chicken. The slurp of the coconut broth and slip of the noodles add to the delicious mess.
549 Burwood Road, Hawthorn
(03) 9819 2092
Not far from the Queen Vic Market, Coconut House is all about authentic curry laksas, although it does a great Hainanese Chicken, too. A stream of steaming bowls flows from the kitchen through the bright, buzzy room. They are filled with all the flavours that have made this one of the more popular laksa dens in town. Sweet and savoury, creamy and textured, with chicken or beef, vegetables or fish.
449 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne
(03) 9329 6401
Chai – Eat Like Malaysian
Hovering on the edge of Melbourne University, Chai – Eat Like Malaysian, is a little hidden, but that’s nothing a Melburnian can’t handle. The pared-back room serves a selection of “street favourites” – tofu bakar, the porky lobak roll among others – but the laksa is a perennial favourite. Classic curry laksas – seafood, tofu and vegetarian are on the menu. And a duck-and-wonton laksa finished in a clear broth.
127 Pelham Street, Carlton
(03) 9347 7448