PappaRich Macquarie Centre – Good laksa in North Ryde

Today’s laksa is from PappaRich Macquarie Centre. For those who haven’t been to a PappaRich yet, they are a chain with locations in Chatswood, Broadway, Parramatta, Bankstown and in the ACT + Melbourne too. You can usually spot them by their weird choice of decor and the long-ass line out the door. They do pretty good Malaysian food but I’m still confused about why exactly they are so popular – and this goes for several of their stores not just Macquarie…

Maybe it is good marketing? The deep fried chicken skin? Or because they are oddly clean and spacious for an Asian restaurant!?

PappaRich Macquarie Centre - Chicken Laksa
PappaRich Macquarie Centre – Chicken Laksa

The PappaRich Curry Laksa comes out in a big bowl that is wider than normal, but not more shallow which makes it a bit difficult to finish without getting soup everywhere. They serve their chicken laksa with fishcake (good) but there are a few non-traditional additions:

 

  • Deep-fried eggplant chunks (bad). OK so the eggplant is actually nice but pretty gigantic chunks and quite plain tasting – so it takes away from the laksa. The photo below probably doesn’t reflect the size well as the bowl is so wide – but they gave me about 1/3 of a large eggplant
  • Deep-fried beancurd skin (good). I liked this and they still had a couple of tofu puffs of course
  • They also only serve it with hokkien noodles which I didn’t remember from my last visit
PappaRich Macquarie Centre - Big, Wide Bowl of Curry Chicken Laksa
PappaRich Macquarie Centre – Big, Wide Bowl of Curry Chicken Laksa

It has a bit of an orange glow but overall is on the mild – medium side when it comes to chilli. The sambal (of which I added a bunch) seems to be made on site, but is also not that spicy.

The soup is in the middle when it comes to consistency – not overly thin like some, but not creamy or as rich as others. The flavour is good, but definitely on the low side. In fact, that is the biggest problem with PappaRich’s laksa. It needs more flavour.

The grit and spice is just not there.

The fact that their soup is a bit lacking in flavour is not helped by the addition of eggplant, using only hokkien noodles or the fact their tofu puffs had not been cooked for long enough in the soup.

So it definitely isn’t bad, but it has a way to go. Since it is a pretty large chain I am sure they aren’t planning on changing their recipe any time soon. I do like it better than Sambal at the moment, so for anyone who works or lives around there, check out PappaRich and let me know what you think!

 

Current Ranking: Find out where PappaRich sits in the rankings here

Last Eaten: March 2016

Price for Chicken Laksa: $13.80

Laksa varieties: Curry Laksa – Chicken, Vegetable, Prawn + Assam Laksa

Chilli: Mild

Find PappaRich Macquarie Centre:

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):

Malacca Straits on Broadway – Better off with the Chicken Rice

Malacca Straits on Broadway is definitely a good Malaysian restaurant to check out, but not necessarily for the laksa – unless things have changed. Last time I was in I had a great time, but the laksa was too thick and creamy and lacking chilli.

Malacca Straits Chicken Laksa
The Malacca Straits Chicken Laksa – a bit too creamy and only vermicelli noodles

Their homemade Sambal was pretty impressive and I love a place that you can BYO crab for chilli crab – but if this is only about laksa then I have to say this isn’t up there with the best…

So overall, a good Malaysian restaurant, but not a place to go out of your way if you are planning to eat the laksa – probably better going to PappaRich or Happy Chef if you are nearby.

Current Ranking: See the FULL LIST to see where Malacca Straits is ranked right now!

Last Eaten: August 2011

Price: $10

Laksa Varieties: Chicken / Prawn / Veggies / Seafood

Chilli: Mild

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