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Laksa is one of the most celebrated dishes in Singapore and Malaysia, and like many popular meals it comes in transformative regional variants. From hot and sour to fresh and creamy, this is one mouthwatering bowl of noodles you’ll need to taste in all its forms.
The Penang asam laksa (asam means sour in Malay) has a sour and spicy fish broth. Mackeral is mostly used as the broth base. Lemongrass, galangal, and chilli are added to create a defining flavour. It is served with thick rice noodles and fresh condiments such as sliced cucumbers, onions, mint, pineapples, strong and sweet prawn paste, and ginger flower. It is one of the most popular dishes to try on the Malaysian island Penang.
Johor Laksa uses spaghetti instead of rice noodles and egg noodles. The condiments are quite similar to the Penang asam laksa. It is served in thick sauce (cooked with coconut milk, fish, dried prawns, fresh herbs and spices) with spicy sambal chilli on the side. Squeeze a bit of lime, mix together, and dig in. It is almost a fusion of Italian pasta and Japanese udon.
The curry laksa is also known as curry mee. It is either served in rice noodles, egg noodles or a mix of both in coconut-based curry broth. Tofu, chicken, shrimp, and bean sprouts are added on top of the dish. Some restaurants serve the dish with fresh cockles. This dish can be eaten almost in every state of Malaysia, and hawker centre in Singapore.
Famous celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain named Sarawak laksa as ‘Breakfast of the Gods’. The Sarawak laksa broth is made with sambal belacan chilli, coconut milk, sour tamarind, garlic, galangal, and lemongrass. It is served with rice vermicelli noodles and topped with sliced egg omelette, chicken strips, peeled boiled prawns, and chopped coriander leaves. Some restaurants add tofu and bean sprouts to the dish. In Sarawak, enjoy this savoury dish at Poh Lam’s Laksa at Chong Choon Café and Choon Hui Café.
Laksam can be found in Kedah and Terengganu. It is served with thicker bite-sized noodles. The mild, tasty and creamy broth is made with mackerel, coconut milk, tamarind, lemongrass, small onions, and slices of dried asam. You will get the side of raw vegetables, herbs and sambal chilli. These are served separately so you can add as much as you want into the bowl. A popular breakfast option.
Nyonya laksa has a rich coconut-based broth, cooked with chicken bones and prawn shells. This dish from Melaka is known as laksa lemak (fatty laksa). You will have the sweet and spicy taste in every bite and slurp of this mouthwatering dish. It represents one of Peranakan’s recipes and traditions with influences of Malay and Chinese culture.