Alex Lee Kitchen – “Spice Alley” (CBD / Haymarket)

So I had no idea who Alex Lee is, but was impressed that he snagged a pretty long and cool spot in the schmick “Spice Alley” right behind the Clare hotel. For those who haven’t visited yet, it is a cool semi-outdoor food court thing in what was previously a very dingy alley. It is decked-out with some very random seating and offers a Singaporean (Alex Lee Kitchen), Malaysian (Old Jim Kee), Thai, Japanese and a weird fusion-desert restaurant to choose from.

A little bit like a hawker stall row, but one where the hawker stall operators were millionaires who had access to pricey real estate and actually cared about trendy design and health & safety standards…

That said, it was busy, loud and a stressful ordeal to get a table to eat at – so maybe it is kinda authentic!

Alex Lee Kitchen - Spice Alley
The Laksa & Satay station at Alex Lee Kitchen

Turns out, Alex used to cook at Temasek and Ginger & Spice, which would explain why his laksa was pretty damn good. It seems like the only option is to get it in a takeaway bowl and vermicelli only. Last time I was in Singapore they didn’t have any vermicelli in the traditional Katong laksa, but hey, this tasted great anyway so I’ll give them a pass. It’s otherwise just like a regular Malaysian curry laksa.

Alex Lee Kitchen - Katong Laksa
Alex Lee Kitchen – Katong Laksa

So – how does it taste? Very solid. It is thin-ish, but a good broth with a kick of chilli and a healthy red glow. I would have to call it medium, not hot as I didn’t cough or choke even once while eating. I did break into a healthy laksa sweat though, so I was a pretty satisfied customer.

Alex Lee Chicken Laksa up-close
Alex Lee Kitchen’s Katong Chicken Laksa up-close

Will definitely go back to visit again – it isn’t quite in my top 5, but it definitely could be a contender in the future.

Alex Lee Kitchen does also have a pretty impressive sounding roti menu, so I might have to go back sooner rather than later.

Current Ranking: See the FULL LIST to see where Alex Lee Kitchen is ranked right now!

Last Eaten: February 2016

Price for Chicken Laksa: $11

Laksa varieties: Katong Laksa (Chicken)

Chilli: Medium

Find Alex Lee Kitchen (Spice Alley):

David’s Kitchen (Martin Place) – A pretty average laksa

David’s Kitchen is a small chain of Asian takeaway restaurants with a few different outlets in Sydney city. The one I went to is right near Martin Place, underground in a small corridor food court underneath the Colonial centre.

David's Kitchen Laksa
David’s Kitchen Laksa – takeaway serving

As a part-Malaysian, I usually avoid eating at any place that sells a variety of different Asian cuisines… How good the laksa could be when they also sell peking duck and green curry!? It is pretty much rule #2 in the Asian handbook of eating Asian food (only after rule #1 – ‘don’t eat at an empty restaurant’…)

But I’d heard from a few people that it was worth checking out and it was close-by in the CBD.

I opt to go for tofu only, which they serve with some bok choy – which is OK but it waters down a laksa and doesn’t really belong there… Also, when I ordered, the lady did not seem to be familiar with the concept of having mixed noodles and was not very open to adding hokkien noodles, in fact she basically insisted I have vermicelli only.

Fair enough – let’s roll with it.

David's Kitchen Chicken Laksa - vermicelli noodles only
Vermicelli noodles only

The flavour that was actually there isn’t bad – so I don’t want you to avoid this place. But when it comes to ways to spot a great bowl without tasting it, the amount of grit and crud in there often indicates whether it is made on premise or built off a bought paste. I also like to see some evidence of chilli – it’s one of the main flavours of laksa after all, and none of the best places are shy about it.

David's Kitchen Laksa - searching for the chilli
David’s Kitchen Laksa – searching for the chilli

You can probably tell from the pictures and the lack of bright red chilli oil that this laksa is definitely on the mild side. The broth is thin and milky – with some coconut milk flavour but definitely not as rich as it should be and you can tell the broth doesn’t have the depth of a really good laksa.

Overall, not bad but it is only about 5 minutes from Malay-Chinese Takeaway so probably better to go for a walk and wait in line.

Current Ranking: See the FULL LIST to see where David’s Kitchen is ranked right now!

Last Eaten: February 2016

Price for Chicken Laksa: $9.50

Laksa varieties: Chicken / Curried Beef / BBQ Pork / Prawn / King Prawn / Beancurd / Seafood / Combination / Wonton

Chilli: Very mild

Find David’s Kitchen (Colonial Centre):

Temasek – One of the Priciest but Best Laksas in Sydney

Temasek has been on my list of laksa to try for a long time and had been recommended by friends, family and laksa fans. I don’t get to Parramatta much and the last time I tried to go there it was closed for the Christmas / New Year break so I’ve been meaning to get there for years.

It’s in the centre of Parramatta down a little alley off George St and over the years has become popular enough to take over additional seating space in the shop opposite.

Temasek in Parramatta

The laksa is one of the priciest bowls in Sydney – with a chicken laksa setting you back around $18… I’m guessing this is largely due to the huge amount of chicken that is expertly-poached and at least double the volume of your average serve.

Temasek Chicken Laksa
Temasek – generous on the chicken

Unfortunately for us, they had run out of Sambal today – on the plus side, we decided this was a good sign that they would only be happy serving their own homemade sambal and weren’t going to substitute anything from the asian grocery down the road…

The soup is one of the grittiest I’ve had for a long time – rich and complex in flavour and it is definitely on the thick side. Looking at the bowl after finishing is a great indicator for a made-from-scratch laksa paste where they care more about quality and using fresh ground ingredients than concentrates or dried versions.

Temasek Laksa bowl after it is done
Temasek – true grit

As for the soup – it is rich with coconut (not cows milk like some places we suspect) and probably on the edge between soup and curry – any thicker and I would be thinking they need to balance it out, but it is just on the right side.

So how does Temasek stack up after all of this? It has to be one of the priciest laksa options around – virtually double the price of some alternatives but I’d recommend you go there if you haven’t yet! They definitely need to plan better with their sambal supply and I think should make their base laksa spicier, but it is an awesome example of a curry laksa in Sydney – especially if you like your laksa broth on the thick side. I’ll be going back again for sure and wish they had an outlet in the CBD.

Here is one last pic for good measure.

Temasek Chicken Laksa up close
Temasek Chicken Laksa up close –

Current Ranking: 4th

Last Eaten: February 2016

Price for Chicken Laksa: $17.80

Laksa varieties: Chicken / Prawn / Seafood / Vegetables / Chicken & Prawn

Chilli: Mild

Find Temasek:

Ipoh Town – OK Laksa in Sydney City

Ipoh Town is hidden away off Grosvenor place behind George St, in a tiny, hard-to-find food court. It is apparently run by the same people who run Ipoh on York St and Jimmy’s Recipe. They have now opened up several shops so you can find them in Chatswood, Barangaroo and Grosvenor Place.

So after going back for a second visit in February, I have actually moved Ipoh Town down the list by a couple of places to sit around 10th at the time of writing this. The soup definitely tastes like they might use milk largely in place of coconut milk and it really came across on the mild side. Possibly an off day?

If you like your laksa thin and milky or have a friend / young child who isn’t into spicy food – this could be a good starting point.

Ipoh Town's Chicken Laksa in Feb 2016
Ipoh Town’s Chicken Laksa in Feb 2016

It definitely isn’t a bad laksa at all and they do some good Malaysian drinks on the side too like Lemon Iced Tea / Malaysian Iced Coffee and Limau Ice.

Ipoh Town Chicken Laksa

Ipoh Town Chicken Laksa

There are definitely similarities to what I remember from Ipoh on York and a big plus that you get both noodles, a bunch of tofu and as much sambal as you want.

Ipoh Town Chicken Laksa April 2015

So not amazing but dependable and will do if you are in the area near the Rocks.

Current Ranking: See the FULL LIST to see where Ipoh Town is ranked right now!

Last Eaten: February 2016

Price for Chicken Laksa: $11

Laksa varieties: Chicken / Tofu / Beef / Fish / Wonton / Prawn / Seafood / Combination

Chilli: Mild. Very Mild.

Find Ipoh Town: 

Check out the full list of the best laksas in Sydney!