Happy Chef – Hunter Connection (Wynyard)

So I hadn’t been to the Happy Chef (Hunter Connection / Wynyard shop) for a while and thought I would stop in for a quick lunch. Feeling like something a bit different I had the veggie laksa, which usually waters down the soup a bit – so I won’t really deduct points for that when rating it.

The Veg Laksa at Happy Chef in Wynyard
The Veg Laksa at Happy Chef in Wynyard

The soup looks OK, but definitely a bit thin and lacking in real chilli oil and texture. No hokkien noodles either.

They do have some sambal available to help yourself but it is more like a jarred sambal that is low on the flavour – more like a Chinese chilli and oil than a real Malaysian sambal with more shrimp and other flavours going on…

The main flavours in the soup are OK, nothing too wrong with the Happy Chef laksa, but it also doesn’t have as much coconut milk flavour, depth or grit going. It could be improved with a better broth / base stock and definitely more laksa paste and sambal in the mix.

Happy Chef Wynyard - Laksa
Happy Chef Wynyard – Laksa

Overall? It is OK if you are in the area for a laksa, but I wouldn’t make a special trip to go there with some better choices nearby…

 

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

Last Eaten: August 2016

Price for Chicken Laksa: $11

Laksa varieties: Chicken / Prawn / “Spicy Beef” / Fresh Beef / Veggie and Tofu / King Prawn / Seafood / Wonton / Fish Ball & Fish Cake / Combination

Chilli: Mild

Find Happy Chef (Hunter Connection) / Wynyard:

Lee’s Malaysian – Not the Best Laksa Near Wynyard

It had been almost 5 years since I had laksa at Lee’s Malaysian, despite going past it all the time in Sydney CBD. For those who haven’t been – it is right on the corner of George St and Hunter St right near Wynyard Station.

Lee's Malaysian Chicken Laksa
Lee’s Malaysian Chicken Laksa

If you read my old review, the basic story was that Lee’s made a good laksa, but definitely not great

So the big question was – have they gotten better since 2011?!

Lee's Malaysian Chicken Laksa close-up
The bowl of laksa I ate at Lee’s back in 2011…

Unfortunately for me (and my mate that I dragged past Chinese-Malay)…

 

I think the laksa has actually gotten a little bit worse.

I do love the fact that Lee’s have a dedicated laksa station and you can help yourself to fried shallots, coriander and sambal… But the base of the soup is just lacking.

There is no grit and the only colour and texture comes from the two spoons of sambal I added myself. If you go there you will see the soup looks a little bit sad and anaemic.

The taste is milky and didn’t seem to have much proper coconut milk richness or chilli flavour or shrimp.

C’mon!

Lee's Malaysian Chicken Laksa - mixed
Lee’s Malaysian Laksa – lacks the depth of a good laksa

So it isn’t a terrible laksa, but given how many awesome laksa options you have so close by there isn’t much reason to go to Lee’s.

If you are in the AREA and see Lee’s, I’d have to recommend going to Malay-Chinese Takeaway or CBD Noodles instead.

 

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

Last Eaten: March 2016

Price for Chicken Laksa: $9

Laksa varieties: Chicken / Prawn / Curry Beef / Veggie and Tofu / King Prawn / Seafood

Chilli: Mild

Find Lee’s Malaysian:

Ito’s Malaysian – Could it be the Best Laksa in Sydney?!

Ito’s Malaysian is actually run by the To’s – the laksa legends who were behind the original To’s in North Sydney. After retiring for a while, they came back and I’m pretty damn happy about it!

Ito's Chicken Laksa - the best laksa in Sydney
Ito’s Chicken Laksa – could it be the best laksa in Sydney?

The shop is located near Hyde Park in a small food court below the Starbucks. There are a couple of other restaurants down under street level, but with Ito’s there I haven’t really noticed who or what!

 

Ito's Malaysian Chicken Laksa
Ito’s Malaysian Chicken Laksa

The laksa here is spicy (could use a bit more chilli) and packed with flavour. Proper flavour and I think more ‘fresh’ herb flavour than Malay Chinese. The soup is on the thin side, but has some real grit to it… My only complaint is that the servings are a bit smaller than average!

Ito's Malaysian Laksa Bowl
Ito’s Malaysian Laksa – empty bowl after a job well done

Right now, I think this is one of the best laksas in Sydney.

If you haven’t tried their laksa yet, go there. Now.

Current Ranking: 2nd

Last Eaten: March 2016

Price for a Chicken Laksa: $10.50

Laksa Varieties: Chicken / Prawn / Seafood / Curry Beef / Tofu

Chilli: Medium

Find Ito’s Malaysian:

Malay-Chinese Takeaway – The Best Laksa in Sydney

OK so Malay-Chinese Takeaway on Hunter St is no secret to Sydney Laksa eaters. It is the defending champ and has been called “the best Laksa in Sydney” (or at the very least, one of the best) for years. The recipe hasn’t changed and either have the long lines if you go at lunch time during the week!

Mid week either early (before 12pm) or late (after 1:30 pm) tend to be a little bit better.

The Best Laksa in Sydney - Malay Chinese Takeaway
The Best Laksa in Sydney – Malay Chinese Takeaway

So what makes the malay-chinese takeaway laksa so good?!

 

The broth is super tasty and spicy – definitely makes you break a sweat and awkwardly choke on chilli flakes a few times each bowl. I like to judge a laksa by how ‘gritty’ it is – and the Malay Chinese Takeaway laksa is right up there…

It’s simple.

When there is grit – you know the soup is going to be tasty.

 

If you have had a laksa that tastes like plain coconut milk and chilli – you’ll know what I’m talking about! I bet the bowl is clean afterwards.

Malay-Chinese Takeaway is also one of the most consistent restaurants I have been to. It’s probably coming close to 20 years and the laksa is still basically exactly the same is always.

They never have off-days and have a reliable and stable team, so if one person was off sick, the laksa can still go on without them. That is pretty damn impressive…

Would it be better if it came standard with hokkien noodles in the mix? I think so – but it is still awesome and the one to beat.

If you haven’t been to Malay-Chinese Takeaway for their laksa – get down there and let me know what you think!

Malay-Chinese Takeaway - still making one of the best laksas in Sydney!
Malay-Chinese Takeaway – still making one of the best laksas in Sydney!

Current Ranking: 1st

Last Eaten: March 2016

Price for Chicken Laksa: $9.70

Laksa varieties: Chicken / Skinless Chicken / Drumstick Chicken / Prawn / King Prawn / Beancurd / Seafood / Chicken and Prawn

Chilli: Hot

Find Malay-Chinese Takeaway:

See the full list of all the currently ranked laksa in Sydney.

If you agree with me or don’t – let me know in the comments below!

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):

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!

CBD Noodles – One of the Best Laksas in Sydney

CBD Noodles in Wintergarden has been one of the best Sydney Laksas for a while, but seems to get overlooked buy a lot of other people. I started going there originally as it was the closest place to Malay-Chinese Takeaway (whenever the lines were too long), but have since grown to love it. They make the broth spicy and include both noodles if you ask them.

I always thought it deserved more recognition, but seeing as there is a pretty big line there every time I go, maybe people are just keeping it a secret to themselves.

CBD Noodles Chicken Laksa - Jan 2016
CBD Noodles Chicken Laksa – Jan 2016
CBD Noodles - one of the best laksa in Sydney
Definitely one of the best laksas in Sydney

The line can get pretty long at lunch time, but since it is in the Wintergarden foodcourt it is usually easier to get a seat. They also have half of their staff serving laksa customers and half of them working on dry noodles and food – so the line does move quite quickly…

For anyone in a rush to get back or eat at the office, their takeaway containers and servings are much better than the ironically named Malay-Chinese Takeaway which uses terrible, small plastic tubs (one of their few flaws).

One of the best laksas in Sydney

So for anyone who hasn’t been to CBD Noodles for a laksa, give it a try! They make it hot and it is close to anyone around Circular Quay or near Australia Square. There are a bunch of other pretty good food choices in Wintergarden now, but hey, why eat anything besides laksa?!

 

Current Ranking: 3rd

Price for a Chicken Laksa: $10.50

Last Eaten: January 2016

Chilli: Medium-Hot

Find CBD Noodles:

Jimmy’s Recipe

Jimmy’s Recipe has been called Sydney’s best laksa before. Quite possibly by Jimmy himself… but I’m sure others have said it too – it is pretty damn good.

If you like the style of laksa of both Laksa King & Malay-Chinese Takeaway, you will probably like Jimmy’s – I used to think it was somewhat in between the two…

Jimmy's Recipe chicken laksa - one of the top 5 laksas in Sydney

The soup is spicy, covered in a layer of chilli oil, the service is fast and they are consistent. I’d be very happy eating it every day, but it doesn’t quite beat Malay-Chinese Takeaway, Ito’s or CBD Noodles

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

Last Eaten: March 2015

Price for Chicken Laksa: $9.50

Laksa varieties: Chicken / Prawn / Fish / Beef / Vegetable / Seafood / Combination

Chilli: Medium

Find Jimmy’s Recipe:

The Thai Connection – Get the Pad Thai Instead…

My last visit to the Thai Connection in the Westpac Place foodcourt was back in 2011. Since then, I haven’t been back for the laksa – so happy to hear feedback if anyone has been recently…

The Thai Connection - Chicken Laksa

Back when I last tried it, the laksa at Thai Connection was pretty below average. The soup wasn’t tasty, basically coconut milk and chilli without the rest of the flavours!

To be fair, I wasn’t expecting it to be good but feel like I should try as many places around Sydney which is going to include some of the bad and the ugly too.

The Thai Connection - Chicken Laksa
Definitely not the best laksa in Sydney…

Current Ranking: See the FULL LIST to see where Thai Connection is ranked right now!

Last Eaten: October 2011

Malaysian Laksa House – QVB – One to Miss? [UPDATE – now closed]

 

2016 Update: Have heard that Malaysian Laksa House is now closed.

OK so this is an old review and maybe things have changed. To be honest I am not that motivated to go back and try the laksa here unless someone tells me I really need to.

Malaysian Laksa House Chicken Laksa
Malaysian Laksa House Chicken Laksa

Last time I tried it, it was lacking in flavour – it looked like a laksa but was missing the punch…

Malaysian Laksa House Chicken Laksa 2011
Not the best laksa around the CBD…

Current Ranking: See the FULL LIST to see where Malaysian Laksa House is ranked right now!

Last Eaten: October 2011

Find Malaysian Laksa House:

BaBa Laksa House – A Laksa to Skip

It has been 4 years since I had laksa at BaBa Laksa House and it could be another 4 years before I go there again.

I am not sure why they named themselves BaBa Laksa House without perfecting their laksa at least a little more. The real estate is pretty good – they are located underneath the Grace Hotel in Sydney CBD. And the laksa did look good.

Chicken Laksa from Baba Laksa House

… But this is the laksa I remember as one of the best presented I have seen (the photo doesn’t do it justice), but was one of the worst when it came to the actual flavour.

The soup was thin, mild and tasteless and for some reason it had cabbage and capsicum garnish.

C’mon guys, cabbage?!

Wtf.

Happy to go back and try it again, if someone pays me.

Current Ranking: See the FULL LIST to see where BaBa Laksa House is ranked right now!

Last Eaten: September 2011

Price: $12

Laksa Varieties:  Chicken / Veggie and Beancurd / Combination

Chilli: Don’t remember

Find BaBa Laksa House: