Bo Laksa King's Bubbles and Bits

Since last year or so, we have heard lots about Bo Laksa King, ever since Chowtimes reviewed their first location on Joyce Street. Chowtimes raved about the food and many bloggers followed with great praise and many reviews. A visit to Bo Laska had been on my list for quite a while, especially since we learned that the chef and owner is from Burma, which is where my family is originally from.

We were in the neighbourhood of their second (and now only) location on Hastings Street, and decided to finally pop in. I must say, the exterior did nothing for the place, with the broken 'Open' neon sign and many pictures of bubble tea. In fact, without knowledge of Bo Laksa, I would hardly know that real food was actually served there.

The interior is simple and utilitarian, with black plastic tables and chairs and dark teal walls. When we arrived for an early lunch, we were the only customers there and this felt a little awkward.

We were pleased to see a number of Burmese dishes on the menu, but we decided to go the non-Burmese route, to save comparisons with my mother's cooking. We ordered the chicken satay, which arrived in a rather impressive arrangement, with 3 skewers arranged tee-pee style on the plate with sides of rice and peanut sauce. The chicken itself was pretty good, with a nice grilled taste. However, the peanut sauce was a little on the sweet side, without the balance of spicy and savory. As an appetizer, we were very impressed by the size of the dish.

Here is their famous laksa ($7.50). This came in a huge bowl filled with tofu puffs, shrimp, fishball, chicken, beansprouts, and a whole boiled egg. You had a choice of yellow egg noodles or the rice vermicelli, and I got the vermicelli. The noodles were well cooked, not too soft, and the soup had a nice coconut creaminess. However, I felt that it was lacking a little in spice; the soup was very mild. I also though that the soup could have used a bit more salt, because it tasted a little bland.

Shane ordered the Mee Goreng, a Malaysian fried noodle dish. I heard that the owner's wife was Malaysian, so we had great expectations of this. Unfortunately, this was the weirdest Mee Goreng I'd ever tasted. The noodles had a sauce all over it, and it was extremely sweet. I'm not sure what happened, but it was really bad.

So our first experience with Bo Laksa was a rather mixed one; I must confess that I left the restaurant a little let down. Perhaps my expectations were too high? Nevertheless, we are willing to return, if only to try the Burmese dishes, which will be the ultimate test.

(Bo Laksa King's) Bubbles and Bits on Urbanspoon


  1. I will blame/fingerpoint the reason why Bo Laksa King (now Bubbles and Bits) is so hyped: Chowtimes. Some of us doubt they have a good palate, yet because they are "popular", their readers follow them blindly rather than trust their instincts (think Lemmings). Of course, it does not help when the restaurant given them freebies. I mean, would you say anything negative if it was free?

    Another minor reason why they were popular with people was their old location: because it had an odd setting, people sort of went ballistic with it. Something similar to what happens with street food in Vancouver: overpriced but people don't care because it is a fad...

    Anyway, in the end, you trusted your palate and you formed an independent opinion about it. That's what matters.

  2. Well, the thing I've come to realize is that influential bloggers aside (and I do enjoy the Urbanspoon top ten), reviews are awfully personal. It's just one person's opinion, that's all.

    As for Bo Laksa, it's a great underdog restaurant; I really wanted to like it, but it wasn't to be for that particular visit.