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.

1 comment:

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