1/16 Liverpool Street, Melbourne (map)
Since its opening in May, Allan (Ah Mu) Woo’s new venture Laksa Me has been extensively reviewed by Melbourne food bloggers (here, here and here... and here again!). On an evening out with a group of friends, we decided we’d finally go see what all the fuss was about, having already had a few drinks at Golden Monkey and having attended the opening night party for Detroit artist Glen Barr’s exhibition at Outre Gallery (Mr Barr, despite a touch of jetlag, turned out to be lovely and charming, in contrast to his often (deliciously) dark and twisted images).
Unfortunately we’d forgotten to book and when we arrived at the top of the hill, all tables at Laksa Me were occupied for the foreseeable future. The Laksa Me boys were very accommodating though, promising to call us on L’s mobile once a table became free. We waited for about ten minutes across the laneway in the excellent newish bar New Gold Mountain, next door to Double Happiness (note to self – must spend a languid evening reclining on cushions and drinking delicious concoctions at NGM very soon).
Once we were seated back at Laksa Me, we decided to try a whole lot of their entrees (“they’re Asian tapas”, the waiter informed me brightly) before getting laksa.
Pictured above is one of the Vegetarian Triangles and a Thai Fish Cake. We all had a triangle (they were superb - according to the menu they contained wok tossed shredded daikon, crunchy yam bean and Asian chives, folded in Chinese white pastry, pan fried and served with caramelised dark sweet soy sauce - tasty but not at all heavy). M reported back to us that the fish cake was also delicious.
Pictured above are, from left to right, a Vegetarian Triangle, Pandan Chicken and a Succulent Thai Grilled Sausage. The chicken was wrapped with a pandan leaf (bai toey in Thailand) and deep fried, allowing the delicate flavour of the leaf to permeate the leaf. Yummy. And as for the sausage, the ever-informative menu told us it was of "Northern Thai origin with a hint of Spanish twists. Savoury jasmine rice and minced pork wrapped in cornhusk, grilled to perfection and served with diced cucumber and crushed peanuts in a tangy Chinese salted plum sauce." I think the sausage was my favourite of the tapas, but they were all brilliant.
When it came time for the mains, the other four girls were unable to resist the lure of My Mum’s Laksa, which uses fresh pho noodles instead of the usual vermicelli. It turned out to be a wise choice – rich and creamy, with big juicy prawns and fresh chicken.
Although I’d been intending to have laksa too, I’d decided in the interests of diversity to try something different. Sucker for names that I am, I saw that one of the noodle dishes was called Popular Dry Chicken Curry Noodles and chose them, interested to see what made them so “popular”. Our friendly waiter’s caution that they were spicy only encouraged me further. I liked this dish but it wasn’t as good as the “tapas” had been. As for the presentation of the dish with the sauce in a neat pile on the centre of plain noodles... well, I suppose it was more visually interesting than having it all mixed together, but it certainly did make the noodles drier rather than sloppier. However this is a minor point: it was an enjoyable and very reasonably priced meal (the laksa and the noodles were only $10 each!), and I look forward to returning there again soon.
Oh, and like other bloggers, we found the restaurant too cold: turn the heating up fellas and next time K will take off her winter coat while eating!