16 Pin Oak Crescent, Flemington. Phone: 9376 2668
New Chef Lagenda review here.
The Flemington foodie strip of Racecourse Rd/Pin Oak Cres has been a rare destination for us in the past year, where once it was quite the regular.
Maybe it’s to do with the demise of the wonderful Big Chopstix. What was once a cracking Chinese/Malaysian joint has been replaced by a mostly Sino place of much less distinction.
Or maybe it’s to do with the lingering memory of another Chinese place that replaced prawn dumplings still hard frozen in the centre with … more prawn dumplings still hard frozen in the centre.
In any case, it’s a bunch of fun to be taking my time taking in the sights and menus on this Thursday lunch time. It’s a day off, it’s pay day, the sun is shining and I’m in the mood.
It’s been a while since we visited the new-look, new premises Laksa King, but this time around I settle on its next door neighbour, Chef Lagenda.
It’s dead on noon, or thereabouts, but there’s several tables already taken – all by folks of the Asian persuasion. Which fact I take as a Good Sign.
The place is done out using recycled wood and brick, and looks very fine.
The crockery is even embossed with the restaurant’s logo.
It’s kind of pokey, though. There’s steps, stairs and inclines that no doubt are a stress factor for new waiting staff.
I’d entered with laksa on my mind, but surprise myself by ordering the Roti Canai Special.
I know I shouldn’t, but order a serve of achar as well.
My plates are of a type that means they’re both on my table within five minutes.
The achar ($4.90) is less tangy and pickled than those I remember from earlier years and other places. Still, it’s a nice jumble of cabbage, cauliflower, onion, cucumber and carrot with a bit of chilli kick and sesame seeds. In a nice touch, it’s served on top of a bed of cucumber spaghetti, which gives the whole dish a really nice crunchy, healthy feel.
Like many of its kind, the curry and roti combo looks a means serving for $10.20. But I know from frequent practice that looks can be deceiving.
So it is in this case.
I know not if the bread is housemade or not, but it’s still good. It’s unoily, and stays moist and pliable until the last shred.
The bowl of beef rendang has four large pieces of wonderfully tender meat. But as aficionados of this dish know, it’s not the meat that counts – it’s the gravy, and delicious use thereof for mopping up with the roti.
On that basis, I’m on a winner here. The gravy is rich, mildly spicy and beautifully integrated. By that I mean that it may be really oily but doesn’t appear to be so. It’s delicious, especially once the meat starts falling apart and mixing in.
It’s a super good meal, so much so that I am unsurprised that the quantity of roti precisely matches that needed to wipe out the last of the curry with a final mouthful of bread.
Still, I’m just a tad regretful that I hadn’t ordered one of the dishes I see whizzing about me as the place fills up. The Hainanese chicken rice ($8.50) looks especially toothsome – something to look forward to. Everyone loves it, but really great versions are not that easy to find in Melbourne.
For me, and based on a single visit, Chef Lagenda has the edge on Laksa King.
Read more about Chef Lagenda, the source of its rotis and other speculation/opinions at Urbanspoon here.