Livin’ la vida laksa: NT crowns top dishes

30th November 2020 | Eativity editors

Yesterday, the Darwin CBD came alive with all things laksa for the finale of the second Darwin International Laksa Festival. This year’s event proved bigger, better and spicier than 2019’s inaugural festival, with Territorian laksa lovers setting new records. Around 5000 laksas and laksa-inspired dishes were purchased during the festival, and more than 1300 votes were cast for the best laksa dish and best laksa-inspired dish.

There were 49 participating venues and eateries in this year’s festival – offering 34 laksa dishes as well as another 34 laksa-inspired offerings, including chicken schnitzels, smoothies, ice cream, empadas, oysters, dumplings and even cocktails.

Laksa ice cream from Cold Rock Ice Creamery.

Chok’s Place once again took out the top spot with the coveted Golden Bowl, after also winning last year’s event. This year’s “Laksa Ninjas” – secret judges who visited registered eateries throughout the festival and shortlisted the best of the best – were assigned the tricky task of narrowing the competition down to a top 10, before a final blind-tasting panel, led by local restaurateur and TV presenter Jimmy Shu, made the final decision.

The month-long festival wrapped up on Sunday afternoon, with thousands flocking to the Chung Wah Society in the Darwin CBD to celebrate the iconic Territory dish – and the many other ingenious creations that were inspired by it.

Berry Springs Tavern’s laksa-inspired schnitzel won the People’s Choice award.

A stand-out for Territorians was the Laksa Chicken Schnitty from the Berry Springs Tavern, which was awarded People’s Choice for Best Inspired by Laksa Dish. Mary’s at the Parap Markets also came out on top for People’s Choice for Best Laksa.

In a brand-new honour for 2020, 10 Territorians were promoted to “Laksa Legends”, for having eaten 20 or more laksas over the course of the month-long festival.

This year’s even saw secret judges visit registered eateries to taste the dishes.

The festival has successfully encouraged Territorians and visitors to eat out and order takeaway from the Top End’s eateries – supporting jobs in what is traditionally the quieter low season period for the hospitality industry.

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner has congratulated Chok’s Place and the other winners and contenders, and says that the festival is not just about laksa, it’s also about jobs.

Thank you for putting on a feast for the senses, and thank you to Territorians for supporting local businesses along the way,” the Chief Minister said in a release. “Every time you buy a laksa, you’re backing local jobs.”