In Sydney, most laksa chefs have family history in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Penang. The style familiar to most Sydneysiders is the laksa typical to KL and Singapore, the curry laksa. While we might not have the incredible regional variance that you’d find in Malaysia and Singapore, we do have the advantage of fresher, better quality ingredients. Finding the best laksa in Sydney is mostly about who uses their ingredients well. The places we’ve included here make their own laksa paste, stock and sambal, and they use only fresh and high quality toppings.
Temasek is the ancient Javanese name for Singapore, where Temasek’s owner Jeremy Cho and his family comes from. Cho says laksa in Singapore has changed over the past 10 years – the reduction in the number of of hawker stalls has casued a reduction in quality. He’s confident the Temasek recipe is faithful to the laksas that were common on the streets decades ago. It’s a big call but it’s believable – if we had to pick our favourite laksa in Sydney, it would be Temasek’s. It’s thick, herbal, spicy, chewy like a mortar-and-pestle made Thai curry, and incredibly flavoursome.
71 George Street, Parramatta
(02) 9633 9926
Daily 11.30am–2:30pm, 5.30am–9pm
Jing Tan learnt to cook from his father, the head chef of Malaysia Airlines back in the day. He makes both a curry laksa and the Penang-style assam laksa, a sour coconut-less variant made with a fish stock and traditionally served with thick noodles and fresh herbs. While not pungently fishy as other assam laksas, the Malacca Straits version is still brightly sour and well spiced. The curry style, on the other hand, is thick and littered with curry leaves from Tan’s garden, and has a rough texture from freshly ground laksa paste.
5/66 Mountain Street, Ultimo
(02) 8021 7069
Mon to Sat 11am–10pm
Malay Chinese Takeaway
Most popular laksa stores are pretty hectic come lunchtime but few compare to the frenzy at Malay Chinese Takeaway. Every day a horde of local business workers and laksa junkies pile in to feed their addictions. They come from a thinner, salty stock with a slightly granular texture from the addition of dry curry powder. The 66-year-old chef, who’s been using the same recipe since the store opened in 1987, likes his laksa with chunks of Rendang-like beef curry. For an assam laksa, check the website, it only appears once in a while.
1/50-58 Hunter Street, Sydney
(02) 9231 6788
Mon to Fri 10.30am–6.45pm
Albee Thu learned how to make laksa in the most demanding environment possible, in a Kuala Lumpur hawker stall. She made both the KL and Penang styles from scratch, which is how she still does it to this day. Like Malay Chinese Takeaway, Albee’s uses a curry powder in addition to a paste. Albee prepares her own, including hand-roasting and grinding all the spices. Despite her dedication to perfecting the assam and curry style, her hometown is actually Sarawak, Borneo. The local laksa there, available at Albee’s on weekends, is based on sambal belacan (a shrimp-heavy chili paste), tamarind and zesty spice mix.
470 Anzac Parade, Kingsford
(02) 9662 8788
282 Beamish St, Campsie
(02) 9718 8302
Mon to Sat 5am–10pm
The Tos have been in the laksa business since 1984. They’ve shifted restaurants and recipes several times but now they’ve settled in the Elizabeth Street food court, Foodbase. The recipe they’re using now is a herbal and spicy recipe from a family friend in Singapore. One unique difference is the extensive use of laksa leaves (Vietnamese mint), a common addition in Southern Malaysia and Singapore that hasn’t been adopted here. The resulting stock is thinner, herbal and spicy.
5/201 Elizabeth Street, Sydney
(02) 9264 9001
Mon to Fri 11am–3pm
Jimmy is owner Alvin Wong’s dad. His recipes are from Ipoh, a city almost exactly halfway between Penang and KL where both curry laksa and assam laksa are common. Jimmy’s assam laksa comes with cucumber, egg, sliced onion, pineapple and shredded mackerel all beautifully arranged like an artful bibimbap. Underneath you’ll see a blend of spices that’s strongly fishy but offset by the citrusy sourness from Jimmy’s assam paste. Less immediate and raw is Jimmy’s curry laksa, which is initially lighter than other laksa but carries a decent chilli hit that sizzles the back of your throat. As is common in Ipoh, the curry laksa comes with a mix of both hokkien and vermicelli noodles.
The Galeries, 500 George Street, Sydney
(02) 9267 2288
Thu to Fri 9am–9pm
Sat to Sun 9am–3pm
Opening in 1982, Lee’s is one of the oldest laksa stores in Sydney.
PwC Foodcourt, 201 Sussex Street, Sydney
(02) 8065 5953
Mon– Fri 10am–3pm
Shop 4, 438-448 Anzac Parade, Kingsford
(02) 9662 8880
The Laksa at Fat Noodle is rich but intricate, what you’d expect from a recipe written by Luke Nguyen.
Level 1, 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont
Fri –Sat 11.30am–5am