Allen Woo, the jovial owner of Laksa Me has been in Melbourne for 22 years and hails from Ipoh. We traded food stories (he also teaches Asian cuisine at the William Angliss Institute) and settled down for some of his delicious grub.
Malaysian with a funky twist
16, Liverpool Street,
Tel: +613 9639 9885
Mon - Fri: Lunch 12pm-3pm, Dinner 6pm-10.30pm Sat - Sun: Dinner 5pm-10pm
Food that doesn't skimp on taste or spices
Visiting Malaysians might not want to spend $10 on a bowl of laksa
AUS$40 - AUS$50
How can we not enter a restaurant named Laksa Me? At the tail end of our FAM trip to Melbourne for the Food and Wine Festival one might think that we've had enough of food. Wrong. Afterall, there is an underlying Asian theme to the festivities this year so ending it with a Malaysian restaurant seemed fitting. The restaurant itself is simply decorated with enticing scents wafting from the kitchen area.
First up, oysters. One is done as a shot in a basil and sesame concoction that gives you a bracing kick at the back of the throat. The other is served in a mother of pearl shell with chillies and ginger- hot and leaves a pungent aftertaste on your tongue. What a meal opener.
Next up is his famous pandan chicken. It's succulent, with just enough oil to lubricate its passage down your throat. Pops beautifully in your mouth. This is followed closely by grilled calamari, sliced thinly to resemble fat laksa noodles. The strands are then tossed with jellyfish, cucumbers and dressing. An undeniably bright dish with lots of textures and flavours.
We loved the nasi lemak. Served as an appetizer it's really spiffy-looking. Three mouthfuls of coconut rice on a cucumber pedestal with a condiment on top of each. One was crowned with toasted peanuts, another bore sambal ikan bilis and the last, nested a boiled quail's egg. What a funky way to serve it! But most importantly it's delicious and does not skimp on the spiciness.
More good things followed. A red duck curry, more fragrant than spicy- a hybrid of Thai and Northern Malaysian served with hot rice. An Asian Green Sambal that reminded me of a four vegetable belacan stir-fry. It's full of green beans, baby corn and fat petai. This will satisfy anyone from home who just wants a good kick-ass sambal. Barramundi came next wrapped in leaves done ikan bakar style. “This is our most popular dish during Heat Beads,” said Allen proudly. Heat Beads Hawker Market was a hawker-style event held in Victoria Market during the festival.
By this time we were stuffed and still yet to try the laksa. Allen brought out steaming bowls of laksa lemak and I almost cried from my inability to eat more than a spoonful. Again it is a well-balanced dish, fragrant and not too rich. His signature laksa though is My Mum’s Laksa which is hor fun (you can take a boy out of Ipoh but never Ipoh out of a boy) doused in a broth made from a family recipe with shredded meats and prawns.
It’s time to sit back and enjoy that full-bellied feeling. Allen’s dream is to make laksa an Australian national dish and certainly after his honest and tasty food, the night seemed full of possibilities...