Chef Lagenda, Shop 9/10, 835A Ballarat Rd, Deer Park. Phone: 8358 5389
Why on earth order a vegetarian laksa?
Well, I can think of a couple of really good reasons, actually.
For one thing, to get more than just the single piece of eggplant that customarily accompanies laksa soup/noodles of the chicken or seafood varieties.
For another, sometimes – and just like most carnivores of various kinds I know – I just feel like vegetables.
My Chef Lagenda vegetarian laksa ($8.90) scores highly in both regards.
My TWO pieces of eggplant are magnificent – larger than is usually the case, slippery, tender, tasty and with a luscious smokiness.
The laksa broth is very creamy and of only mild spiciness, but has fine depth of house-made flavour.
There’s vegetable galore – bok choy, broccoli, bean sprouts, along with plenty of chewy leather-skinned cubes of tofu sopping with gravy juices.
This Chef Lagenda is, of course, a sister restaurant for the establishment of the same name in Flemington, the one that often seems as famous for its symbiotic and/or competitive relationship with its neighbour, Laksa King, as it is for its food.
The Deer Park joint’s menu is mostly the same as the one in Flemo, but there seems to be a whole lot more room here – perhaps because it’s a single room, as opposed to the Crooked House dynamics in Flemington.
When I visit for lunch it’s only the second day of operation.
The manager, Francis, tells me that while this lunchtime is slow, on opening night they were 70 per cent full without any advertising at all.
Meanwhile, whatever tricks I’d played on my mind – if not my digestive system – by ordering a non-meat dish are soon brought undone.
For by this time, unsurprisingly, Francis and her enthusiastic staff have twigged that I am writer, reviewer, blogger or some other sort of busybody.
So I am presented with a complementary sampler plate of the house-made roast meats.
Now, I may be able to summon a sufficiently straight to face to claim that had I been asked if I wanted this freebie, I would’ve replied in the negative.
But when the goodies are already right in front of me?
No way, Jose!
And I’m ever so glad.
Roast duck, roast pork, crackling pork – all really good, smoky, salty, tender. Better, in fact, than most places that specialise in such meaty goodies.
I gobble it all up yet am unable to finish my huge serve of laksa.
And FWIW, I doubt very much that anything I am served is in any way different from what is served to any other customer.
I see no reason that Chef Lagenda shouldn’t be riotously successful.
For starters, as far as I’m aware it’s the only Malaysian restaurant for 10km in any direction – maybe even 20km.
For another, and based on what I have for lunch, the place comes with the already well-established Chef Lagenda reputation for consistency and quality.
Locals are no doubt wildly happy about this opening.
As for the rest of us, it’s worth the trip.
For the time being, and very much so when compared to Flemington, the car parking is a breeze.
Before hunkering down for lunch, I’d strolled the entire Deer Park strip and was gratified by the potential riches I had noted – including a couple of classy kebab joints, one with a killer-looking lamb shank soup and chilli dip; an interesting and cheap Viet/Chinese off the main strip; and a fine-looking deli.
What can I say, but a wonderful addition to the Deer Park scene.
Nasi Lemak Special with chicken curry, lobak, and vegetarian curry puffs.
Francis and her staff provided terrific service, although note it’s cash only and byo only – my only disappointment was a $4 corkage charge which I hate when an establishment isn’t licensed but maybe that’s just me!
I also managed to confirm that the original establishment was a small Malaysian restaurant in little Bourke street in the late 80’s/early 90’s which was the predecessor to Chinta Ria and played sweet jazz whilst surrounded by life size cartoon figures of jazz artists on the walls – a regular haunt of ours prior to late nights at the Metro – oh the memories! Can’t for the life of me remember the name of the place so any assistance with that would be appreciated.
By 6:30 on a thurs night there were already 25 covers – I think they’ll do just fine!
Cyclone, happy for you with your new local! I think I remember the Little Bourke St joint to which you are referring, but – no – can’t recall the name either!
Thank you – so very happy! I asked why Deer Park and the reply was comparing the suburb to Doncaster or Boxhill with hundreds if good restaurants and us with nothing. Hopefully the start of things to come. Might need a separate Brimbank blog in a few years time!
Although like you my work situation has quickly swung 360 degrees so the days of restaurant meals may soon be over for a while – swings and roundabouts hopefully…
We were at the Flemington restaurant last week, the beef rendang was AWESOME. Would definitely go back there again soon!
We have been to this restaurant about 6 times since it opened and have been very impressed on all levels with the food. Beef rendand, Char Keow Teow, Currys, Roti, Nonya seafood, all wonderful, and great price performance.
Make sure you book as it is getting diifcult to walk in and get a seat as word of this place has spread quickly.
That’s good to hear!
Malaysian seems to be the flavour of the month at the moment. I miss the Old Town Kopitiam Mamak at QV as Pappa Rich is a different sort of place. Not many places make their own roti in the kitchen or have a roti menu.
Went there last night after driving past very day (and every time I go by- IT IS PACKED!) since has been open. Great atmosphere – reminiscent of busy Asian nightlife. And it did not disappoint… Our 20 something party guests’ taste buds were titillated with all the different flavours in our meals… No one left hungry, but some did take extra home for later… Love the roti with spicy satay sauce and highly recommend the sambang kangkong!! Delish… I have not stopped talking abt the great food and have recommended to all I have seen or talked to today. Book in advance to avoid long waiting periods but if you want to wait – it’s totally worth it! Overall delicious servings of food and value for money. How can you go wrong?
I live locally. This place is always packed. I’ve been there 3 times and I love it!
Finally an awesome Malaysian restaurant in our area!! Bookings are essential as it is always so packed! I’ve been here numerous times since it opened and love, love, love the sambal kangkong!! I think it was even this spicy dish that set off my labour LOL!!
Man, that’s some endorsement! I guess …