The Peranakans are ethnic Chinese who settled in the British Straits Settlement. Laksa is a popular Peranakan dish that can be found in Singapore and Malaysia. However, as most recipes go, several variations of laksa can be found in different parts of the region.
Laksa lemak, also known as nyonya laksa, is made with a rich and creamy coconut milk "curry-like" gravy. A variant unique to Singapore, laksa lemak can be found in hawker centres and food courts everywhere. However, the most famous laksa lemak stalls are found in Katong, a neighbourhood on the eastern side of the island. Here, Katong laksa is served with the noodles cut up, so that the whole dish can be slurped up with a soup spoon, without the need for chopsticks.
Assam laksa, a lighter version of the dish, is served with a tangy fish-based broth. Lately, the rich flavours of laksa have even been interpreted in laksa pasta. Although it isn’t quite the real deal, it’s still delicious nonetheless.
The Katong Laksa War
Katong is an area that’s traditionally associated with the Peranakan community. It’s where you’ll find the most popular laksa stalls along East Coast Road—the battleground of the legendary ‘Katong Laksa War’.
Will the original Katong laksa please stand up? Over the years, the infamous ‘Katong Laksa War’ has been well documented in the press. The feuding stall owners all claim to have the original and the best version of this much-loved dish, and up till today, the source of the authentic Katong laksa remains unresolved.
If you want a taste of the action, head to the three competing Katong laksa shops at the corner of East Coast Road and Ceylon Road: 49 Katong Laksa at 49 East Coast Road, 328 Katong Laksa at 51 East Coast Road and Marine Parade Laksa at 50 East Coast Road. Don’t know which one to try? Perhaps the fact that 328 Katong Laksa has been ranked number 1 of 550 things to do in Singapore by Lonely Planet Travellers will influence your decision.
Top 8 Laksa Stalls in Singapore (The New Paper, Nov 2011)
Laksa stalls were recommended by readers in a contest held by CityGas and Shin Min News. These are the results:
1. 48 Roxy Laksa at East Coast Lagoon Food Village
2. Terry Katong Laksa at Bukit Timah Market and Food Centre
3. Depot Road Zhen Shan Mei Claypot Laksa at Alexandra Village
4. Lucy’s Penang Delights at Block 117 Aljunied Avenue 2
5. Sungei Road Laksa at Block 27 Jalan Berseh, Jin Shui Kopitiam
6. 328 Katong Laksa at 51 East Coast Road
7. Katong Laksa at 1 Telok Kurau Road