482 Springvale Rd
Forest Hill, VIC 3131

Penang Laksa House and I got off on the wrong foot. Why? Because it sits on the grave of one of my favourite places for yum cha and Cantonese dinners – The Treasure. Still, it’s there, so I may as well make the most of it and give it a go. The feedback may be lukewarm but stranger things have happened.

(1) Exterior

(2) Interior

Though the outside is more or less the same, I could barely recognise the interior. The menu however is a bit too familiar for comfort. Despite there being classic Malaysian hawker dishes available, there is also a disconcerting amount of Cantonese dishes, and worse still, westernised Asian. It doesn’t come cheap either; at $26 for a prawn omelette, it’s overkill even in this economy.

Prawn Har Mee ($11.8)

Penang Har Mee ($11.8)

Though I don’t have it often, Penang Har Mee ($11.8) is one of my favourite things to eat. Spicy and aromatic, I often liken it to bun bo hue. Though it was a bit pricey, the bowl of noodles served up by Penang Laksa House was satisfyingly large, and certainly looked the business.

Prawn Har Mee ($11.8)

Penang Har Mee ($11.8)

And thus, it was twice the shame when it fell short of expectations. Whilst all the right ingredients were there in generous amounts, I couldn’t believe something so fiery-looking could be so bland and generic. The soup had none of the aromatic briny tang of a good bowl of prawn noodles. It wasn’t bad eatin’, but it was a disappointment for sure.

Crispy Roast Pork Rice ($13.5)

Crispy Roast Pork Rice ($13.5)

Though I had wanted to try another traditional hawker dish, there wasn’t very much in the way of non-noodles, so we settled for a plate of Crispy Roast Pork Rice ($13.5).

Crispy Roast Pork Rice ($13.5)

Crispy Roast Pork Rice ($13.5)

Faring a bit better than the noodles, this pork was decently tender (but occasionally burnt) and the skin reasonably crunchy (but occasionally chewy). The accompanying rice, soaked in gingery pork broth, was a definite plus. At $13.5 however, it’s hard to find reasons to come back for this when any restaurant in Box Hill does better pork for much less moolah.

Needless to say, I was extremely disappointed with Penang Laksa House. Not only was the food borderline bad, the service wasn’t helped by the waitress who took away Chris’ chopsticks and replaced it with a fork, which we found awfully presumptuous. Despite harbouring a grudge, I was desperate to like Penang Laksa House even partially as much as I loved The Treasure, but unfortunately it was not to be. Not when the most interesting part of our meal was when the power went out smack-bang in the middle of it due to one of Melbourne’s signature summer storms.

Rating: 11/20 – yeah no.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.

Penang Laksa House on Urbanspoon

Asian  Chinese  Forest Hill  Just A Bit Special ($15-$30)  Malaysian  Victoria 

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