Ok ... this is not a story of authenticity, its a story of a homespun idea, an intrepid businesswoman from Johore, of jealously guarded recipes, and food cooked with love and enthusiasm.
Laksa Bar is the latest addition to the hipster enclave of Little Lonsdale Street, between Russell and Exhibition. And a welcome addition it is too. I have been watching this space for some time now in the lead up to its recent official opening. The laminated posters spoke of different types of Laksas from Nonya, to Assam through to Sarawak.
And when it finally opened, the smell of Malaysia permeated my daily sojourn into work, feeding both appetite and anticipation. And now finally, I have tasted Alina's lovingly fashioned noodles, and my life experience has been suitably enriched.
We tried the House Style Laksa, with chicken as our protein of choice. We asked for it to be spicy, as advised by the menu. You help yourself to cutlery and plates of sambal (hello! Big tick!!). And you're provided with a disposable Bib.
The Laksa arrives absolutely brimming with ingredients, with a mixture of egg noodles and thin vermicelli. So its not your plain pared back Hawker style Laksa, its Alina's homecooked version, how she likes to eat it, and so how she likes to serve it.
The chicken is roasted and then cut into pieces, the fish cake is amazingly fresh, the eggplant is cooked to perfection, the green beans wonderfully crunchy, the tofu ... well from a packet, the sauce is super creamy (a mixture of coconut milk and cow's milk) and the added spicy samble to die for! My first mouthful of the sauce, with its subtle laksa leaf herb hit, was the hello that it had me at (did this work? Whatevs!).
Lets overlook the fact that perhaps this is not quite as authentic as some would prefer it to be (where's the laksa noodles I hear you cry, "way too many ingredients" someone yells out from the back, "whats with the fried egg, crackers and limpid wedge of tomato" someone else sneers), but its still a formidably unctuous dish, creamy, salty, and most importantly, just downright delicious.
The owner must have taken a shine to us for some reason and she sat down at our table and we talked about food and her philosophy. Each day she plans a special Laksa (Mondays is Assam Laksa - with real Spanish Mackerel she assures us), and is working her way towards Johore Laksa, which actually uses spaghetti rather than the conventional chinese noodle. She also intends to start making Satay, the real way, over charcoal. She even offered to whip us a batch of Chwee Kueh if we rang ahead!! We love you Alina ... and we can't wait to come back and try your Nasi Lemak, and that intriguing Nasi Lemak Pattaya that's served within an omelette crust ... much like some versions of Pad Thai.
We could very well become regulars ... even if its just takeaway.
PS - its licensed and you can pay by card