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Top 5 Curry Laksa Dishes in Melbourne

Home > Melbourne > Food and Wine | Restaurants | Lists
Published March 6th 2012
Top 5 Curry Laksa Dishes in Melbourne

My partner and I, love the Asian flavours, particularly Malaysian and Vietnamese. Out of all the dishes she likes from these two culinary delights, the dish at the top of her list would probably have to be the laska, pronounced like 'lucks a' (fortune) I'm told. Good luck sir.

She just loves a Laksa. She'd probably have them a lot more, although she doesn't like to have to walk behind me when we leave. I don't like everyone to know what we had for dinner. Her meal is always advertised all down the front of her.

We both cook at home, so I always like to get her opinion on the food we have when we are out, and often we try to recreate our favourite dishes ourselves. neither of us are keen on seafood, so these views are based on the curry laksa. I like a laksa myself, but I prefer other hawker dishes, so I usually have one of those, or perhaps a Malaysian curry. Out of all the curries from around the world this is my favourite.

Good luck Sir!

I think I may have eaten at the first hawker style restaurant in Melbourne, it was in Russell Street in the city. Ipoh's was the name, and they served hokien noodles, teo joo bee hoon (I hope I've spelt that correctly), a kind of vermicelli dish like Singapore noodles, mee goreng and a host of other dishes.

The hawker style food, originated in Malaysia I believe, and means they more or less cook it on the side of the road, or at least in a market place outdoors on some sort of methylated spirit fuelled burner. If you wanted to sell food from a van in Melbourne, you get a hawkers license, so I guess that is a similar thing, hawking that is. Why don't we do it in the road (to coin a Beatles song) here I wonder?

I was in Singapore a while back, and went to some of these hawker food areas, and they are like a little market, only it's mostly food they sell, with all the lovely smells of the orient. You can order all sorts of Hawker dishes. They also have juice stalls, where they make you any sort of juice with all sorts of exotic fruits. It makes my mouth water just thinking of it.

Well, with out further ado, coming in at number one is a dead heat, she can't separate them, both consistently good;

Blue Chillies Restaurant

Can someone please put the larder away?

My Mum, used to go uuuummmm, when something she ate was lovely, it kind of made you feel good. My partner does the same, this is a good guide as to how much she is enjoying something. It's a bit embarrassing at Blue Chillies, it's like that scene out of 'When Harry met Sally', in which Meg Ryan is having what everyone else wished they'd ordered. Anyway, my partner is always ummmming and ahhing while she eats her laksa, and I have to keep my hands up like a gangster, as everyone is looking.

I can see with my own eyes what a mother of all laksas, this one is. It's rich in colour, and full of all the surprises that can pop up in a laksa. Before long, it's all around my plate, on the table cloth and on the outside of my glasses, and I'm not even eating it. Pro Hart's got nothing on this dish.

So whoosh, number one with a rocket, but hang on what about the dead heat, oh yes. Wait for it;
182 Brunswick Street Fitzroy VIC 3065
(03) 9417 0071
Opening Hours Daily
Lunch: 12pm - 2.30pm
Monday to Thursday: 6pm - 10.30pm
Friday and Saturday: 6pm - 11pm
Sunday: 6pm - 10pm
Fully Licensed, NO BYO

Chinta Ria

Which Chinta is that in Acland St?

You may or may not be interested to know, that I went to the original Chinta Ria in Prahran (which is still there I think), 30 years ago. Chinta Ria was fantastic back then, it was one of the few, if not the only Malaysian restaurant in Melbourne. They made a beautiful Malaysian curry, and they were the first I reckon, to introduce roti bread to Melbourne. They may not even have had laksa in those days, it may have been a little scary for the Aussie pallet, mine included.

These Malaysian restaurants I've noticed all have something in common (most of the classy ones any way) that is, they have a lovely array of wooden shelving the wood stained in wonderful hues. With dark and stormy tones surrounding us on the walls. They'd fit right into the pages of any interior decorating magazine. What do they fill the shelves with? The larder? It's strange, it's almost as if they had to clean out the larder and temporarily left it all out on these shelves? One thing though, you can get a few clues as to what ingredients they use, if you are trying to recreate their food yourself.

I thought I told you to put that back in the larder?

I'm waffling on, I should get back to the food, it's what we're all here for after all. What about the laksa? It's a photo finish as you know, the taste, the texture, the whole melting pot, has the magic. My partner, when pressed, as to what exactly is better about these two, her words were, "creamy," "spicy," "big tofu bits" (her favourite) and "just the right hint of mint."

The ambience here is a bit like a cafeteria, which suits me, but everyone is shouting louder to be heard, so be prepared for that. I read somewhere once, that this is a place when you are eating on the run to go somewhere else, rather than this as the destination. Keep that in mind, it's good advice.

You want to try one of these, and can't decide, which to try first? I should mention that not only are the laksas line ball, in my opinion, all the food is top notch in both of these establishments. It is really hard to separate them (number 2, which is really number 3, is in the same boat in my mind too). Which one should you visit first then? If I was you, I'd let your final destination decide, like if you are going to see a pub band in Brunswick after eating, then Blue Chillies should be your choice. If St Kilda is where you are going, I'd see which Chinta you can get into as all three of these restaurants, are invariably packed (with good reason).

We never, ever book though, we always take pot luck. Mind you, we do tend to go early, around 6 or 7pm. This is before the rush. My eating out is like a Navy Seal Sortie (that's not quick fried either). I like to get in, order, eat and get out, my partner hates it. I'm impatient, if we haven't had our order taken before we hit our seats, I start looking around expectantly and champing at the bit. This is just to give you an idea about the service, no restaurant would make this diatribe if it wasn't fairly good.
94 Acland Street St Kilda VIC 3182
(03) 9525 4664
Open Daily Lunch 12 noon til 2.30pm (Closed Saturday)
Dinner 6pm til late (7 days)
Closed on Christmas Day, Good Friday Lunch, Melbourne Cup Lunch and New Year's Day Lunch.

Chinta Blues

No you're not experiencing dj vu. There is some funny business going on here. When I first found my old favourite in Acland Street, I looked for number 6, I couldn't find it anywhere. Wandering along what I thought was the start of the street, I stumbled onto number 94, which is Chinta Ria. I was confused but thought it was just part of getting old, all googly mapped out.

I know Acland Street very well, so imagine my surprise when I found there's a secret bit, that they've tried to hide behind McDonald's. We discovered it by accident, on a completely unrelated trip, and this is when we discovered the Fitzroy Street end of Acland Street. This is a lovely little spot, but you could spend a lifetime trying to get a carpark.

But if you look at their unfinished site (Chinta Blues) you might wonder what the Price of Wales is, tuppence ha'penny I should think with the recession the way it is over there. What they mean is, there is a car park behind the pub. They've also mentioned some trams 112, 96, 16 and 79, so the parking may hold you up.

I told you it was messy!
Image Credit: Kcdtsg (Wikimedia Commons)

Mind you, I was in the city recently, I hadn't been on a tram for years. I ended up walking further than I wanted to travel on the tram, just trying to find somewhere to get a ticket, and I couldn't get one, so I walked instead. I also got arrested by the transport police for not having a ticket. I'm not even on a tram I cried, loitering with intent they called it. Evidently there's no one on the trams, so they have to throw a wider net?

If you are thinking of going by tram instead of by car, it's probably worth parking at the MCG, and walking to St Kilda, that will be quicker than trying to get a ticket for the tram. It would probably be quicker to book the Tram Car Restaurant, which virtually goes right past Chinta Blues.

Sorry, reading my review is worse than trying to get a tram ticket. Even though Chinta Blues has taken a while to discover, this is a taste sensation too. I'm starting to think the stained wood shelving complete with the larder, is a good guide to where the best Malaysian food is made. This might be a close second on the laksa trail, but the food in my opinion, is on par with the top two.

Again, the laksa is rich and full of the flavours you've come to know and love about this dish.
6 Acland Street St Kilda VIC 3182
(03) 9534 9233

Chef Lagenda Malaysian Kitchen

Well, you might wonder, how do you not have the most acclaimed laksa in you're top five? It beats me? Laksa King is right next door to this place. This is smaller, but it has a lot of character and it's cosy. It hums, though, and every time I've been, the queue is leaning against the wall waiting for take away.

Very cosy

Based on the fact, laksa is one of the hardest dishes to bugger up, these last two choices have a special mention. The Chef Lagenda puts in (this is what she tells me) a roast eggplant, which she says is out of this world, icing on the cake with a cherry on top. This is under $10, so an absolute bargain to boot. Special mention from me, their beef rendang is the best I've ever had. As you can see I'm no novice when it comes to a curry. This portion I got, I don't know if this is this size they always serve. But, it was enough to fill a whole building site worth of greedy builders. Alternatively, a wrestling contest for a couple of not so hungry sumo wrestling vegetarians.
16 Pin Oak Cres. Flemington, 3031
(03) 9376 2668

Little Malaysia

Last, and least. I know this is getting boring, but guess what, I went to this restaurant the first day it opened, they should put a plaque with my name on it on the wall. This would have been in the eighties, I was working just around the corner for an Advertising Agency, no I wasn't the copy writer, I was the tea lady.

This was good then and it's good now. Look I know I'm doing a laksa thing here, but I've got to tell you they make a stuffed bread, called roti murthabak, there are a few ways of spelling it but this gives you the idea. I've got to say, theirs is not within a bulls roar of the best I've had (which was at a place just down over the road from the Green Cloth in Richmond, if that's still there even. Sadly the restaurant that sold this delicacy went, I don't know where :{(> I've got a mo and a goaty.).

Their roti murthabak is still good though, it's spicy meat and onion, wrapped and cooked in a roti bread, try it. You can get it as part of a curry for dipping in, or on it's own, so be careful, whichever one you want, you invariably get the wrong one. I know I use a lot of commas, but Winston Churchill wrote a whole book with all commas and only one full stop. Never in the field of restaurant reviews, so many commas, so little value.

Seafood laksa?
Image Credit: Meutia Chaerani / Indradi Soemardjan (Wikimedia Commons)

Oh I almost forgot, this laksa is pretty good, but there is one thing about this one that is different (which maybe was a mistake). Clams. As I said, she, the cat's mother and I, as a rule don't like seafood. This is one of the exceptions to the rule, she loves the clams in this laksa. Although they don't always put them in, so maybe it was a mistake, the chef got confused halfway through making the curry laksa? He may have thought he was making a seafood one?

Again this place is bargain basement eating, and all the food is good.

So there you have it, we were slow, we took our sweet time. We got there in the end. This is how all the best food is prepared. Now, apart from hearing your opinion on a stand out laksa, could you please refer to this article, over and over again. Share it with your friends, as I hate to beg, but I only get a measly cent when you read this and you get a truck load worth of fine eating. Doesn't seem fair, does it?

I could have short changed you (hard for a cent mind) and just told you about one of these places and asked you to do the rest, but no, I've given you my favourite haunts, now I'll have to queue up longer when you all go there. I wanted to keep these a secret. Too late.
26 Liverpool Street
, Melbourne VIC 3000 

(03) 9662 1678
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Why? A great Laksa.
When: When ever you feel like one
Cost: Reasonable, cheap even.
Your Comment
Also check out the "Laksa Bar" @ 108 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne.
by rdtal (score: 0|2) 3000 days ago
I highly recommend you try the Laksa at Monk and Me, it's in Camberwell. By far the best I have had in Melbourne.
by bret. (score: 0|2) 2627 days ago
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