Laksa King Kitchen, 328 Racecourse Road, Flemington.
A regular sight that bemuses us when where seeking a feed in Flemington is people queuing up for a table at Laksa King.
On the footpath outside on Pin Oak Crescent.
Sometimes in chilly mid-winter.
And sometimes, even, in the rain.
Such is the allure of the Laksa King name.
Sure, the food is good.
But the place’s popularity lends it a somewhat rushed, impersonal vibe – and we’re not alone in thinking that.
Good luck to them, but the CTS ethos usually leads us to going where the crowds aren’t.
And where the food is as good, if not better.
In Flemington and for Malaysian, that invariably means M Yong Tufu – a place we dearly love.
But we are happy and keen to check out the new Laksa King family establishment – Laksa King Kitchen on Racecourse Road.
This is actually the second Laksa King Kitchen – there is another at Westfield Southland Shopping Centre.
The new Laksa King Kitchen in Flemington boasts a chic-but-small dining area, though there is more seating upstairs.
The staff are keen, happy and all a-bustle.
The menu (see below) is a solid gathering of Malaysian staples divided into small/big bites, noodles, rice dishes, laksas and vegetarian.
There is a nifty twist – laksas are offered in two sizes.
This makes good sense, as regular laksas are always a big meal.
Not that we can envisage a day when we would order the smaller size!
Selections can be ascertained using the printed menu or on the laptop at each table, but the actual ordering is done via the latter.
Bennie and I share a starter and have a bigger dish each.
Lobak ($8.60) is less gung-ho on flavour and crinkly beancurd skin than we would like, but it’s a fine beginning that delivers us three porky chunks each.
In a fine break with boring CTS practice, it is Bennie who orders a laksa – in this case, the bigger version of the angus beef outing ($13.50).
It’s a big an handsome bowl-full.
But he is so-so about the laksa as a whole – perhaps a higher spice level may have won him over?
He does give, however, an enthusiastic 10/10 for the many tender beef chunks.
And I get to try one of the eggplant pieces – it is wonderfully luscious and memorable.
But still … for us, when it comes to laksa hereabouts, M Yong Tofu will remain our go-to.
That leaves me ordering the Hainan chicken rice $13.50).
The photos of the dish didn’t really inspire and that unease increases when I realise my rice meal will be eaten without the usual bowl of chicken soup on the side.
But all is forgiven from the first mouthful of perfectly ginger-perfumed rice and onwards.
This is a triumph and one of the best of this personal favourite I’ve had for a long time.
There’s a lot of chook – it’s double layered in the photo above – and it’s tender and expertly boned.
The ginger mash, chilli sauce and soy accompaniments are excellent and in generous quantities.
And the wilted bean sprout/veg offering is likewise top notch.
My mouth is doing a high-stepping boogie as we depart.