Monday, March 26, 2007

Katong Laksa

The one Singapore hawker dish which is synonymous with Katong is laksa. It is not immediately obvious why. After all, we do not associate chicken rice, or mee goreng, or any other dish with any part of Singapore. What is the big deal about Katong laksa? What is so different? The obvious thing is that the noodles are all cut small enough so they can be spooned up rather than eaten with chopsticks. So the gravy is less likely to splash on your clothes. Great for being customer oriented. But other than that, it is still the same lemak gravy over rice noodles, with the same daun kesom sprinkled on top and chilli on the side.

But some years back there was an article by Violet Oon in the Straits Times, on the four laksa shops in Katong. This spurred what is now known as the "laksa wars" in Katong. One shop, 328 Laksa, was rated number one and has since expanded with "Katong laksa" outlets across the island. One is just near the church and so we occasionally go there after mass (this photo was taken there). The laksa is indeed quite nice with a thick gravy and fairly large prawns. The worst rated store had to close down. Such is the power of the food critic. The 3rd store - well, I think it is still surviving.

Number two, however, is the true, original Katong laksa. It is from a shop called "Marine Parade Laksa", and run by the Ng family. And in my view, it has the richest gravy, with the subtlest of flavours. It is prepared without cockles, which is apparently the true nonya laksa way. The lack of cockles is certainly no loss to me - I always end up spooning up the last drop of the gravy. Not the healthiest thing to do, but then I rationalise that I don't eat it that often.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Discovering Katong from the Desktop

I spent some 2 hours last Sunday afternoon walking around and taking photos of the Katong area with a friend. I will, over the next few entries, talk a little more about the places we saw and share a few photos.

To my pleasant surprise, when I did a quick Google search for "Katong" today, I found that has made a visit to Katong as well! I have put it under my links section (see right hand side). So read it - it covers in just two entries all the best sites of Katong. If only I had known of its existence before starting off on my own journey....

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Tay Buan Guan

When I was a child, Tay Buan Guan was the one and only supermarket in Katong and it was here my family went to do our supermarket shopping (in addition to going to the old Siglap wet market). The selection of items was good, and the ready access to the ample carparking nearby was also very convenient.

Tay Buan Guan (also called TBG) was situated just behind the row of shophouses on East Coast Road which continues into Joo Chiat Road; it could be reached through three of the shophouses. One of these shophouses was a confectionary. My mother used to order my birthday cake there, plus other pastries to serve at the family party. The other two shophouses had different uses - can't remember exactly what but I do recall that for some years one was used as a thoroughfare into the main East Coast Road. Near the entrance to this particular building was a games arcade. The first games arcade I'd ever been to. I remember driving around the circuit and shooting some sea monster, under the supervision of my father.

Unfortunately for Tay Buan Guan, new players came onto the Katong supermarket scene - Cold Storage off Amber Road (in the old Seaview Hotel compound - it has now shifted to Katong Mall), Emporium departmental store and supermarket in Katong Shopping Centre (now closed down), and finally, the building of Parkway Parade which was and still remains the dominant player on the retail scene in Marine Parade. My family did continue going, off-and-on, to Tay Buan Guan over the years, particularly when my sister was very young. But we were often the only ones going down the aisles. Finally Tay Buan Guan closed its doors. Today, a condominium development is on the old supermarket site.

As for the shophouses? Well, these too were sold off, I believe. One is now Rumah Bebe, a retail shop selling Peranakan beaded shoes, kebayas, porcelain and other knick-knacks. The faded Tay Buan Guan sign can still be found on the pillar outside the shop, though partially hidden by a trishaw.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...