When it comes to quintessential Singapore hawker food, laksa comes on top of the list – rice noodles in a spicy, coconut milk soup with beancurd, prawns, cockles and more. Here’s where to find the best
On a cold, rainy day, there are few things we like better than a hot, spicy, soupy bowl of noodles to perk us up. And the remedy that comes to mind for most spice fiends – and one that’s practically a Singaporean national dish – is of course, laksa. This dish of rice noodles in coconut milk-infused broth, often mixed with tau pok (fried beancurd), prawns, fishcakes and cockles, isn’t hard to find at all in most hawker centres and food courts. But to make your laksa-hunting a lil’ easier, we’ve lined up only the best bowls of laksa in this list. Fair warning: you’re going to want to make sure you’re not wearing white!
328 Katong Laksa
This venerable institution made headlines after defeating celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay, in a laksa showdown, but that’s really not surprising to its throngs of ardent followers. Laksa dilettantes should make this stall their introduction to this local favourite. In our opinion, the best thing about the laksa here is the perfectly balanced gravy – not overwhelmingly creamy, but with lots of umami oomph. The thick strands of rice noodles are firm, springy and not soggy either, and are conveniently cut so you can slurp ’em up with a spoon.
328 Katong Laksa, 53 East Coast Road, Singapore 428771, Open daily 10am-10pm.
Beast & Butterflies
While it’s the hawker legends that usually come to mind when laksa is mentioned, this resto has entered the fray with its own slightly upmarket version of the dish. Enter Beast & Butterflies’ Mee Tai Mak Laksa – a hefty hot stone bowl filled with a satisfying spicy, savoury broth. But this isn’t your average laksa; the dish is chock-full of seafood like fresh, plump cherry stone clams, prawns and fishcake. And instead of the usual soggy tau pok, the dish is topped with crispy, brittle fried beancurd. This dish is fantastic value at just $16.
Beast & Butterflies, 90 Robertson Quay, Level 1, Singapore 238259. p. 6206 1888.
Like 328 Katong Laksa, Janggut Laksa’s claim to fame is its heritage as the “original Katong laksa”. We’re not going to go into a history lesson about the long Laksa War of old, but what we know for sure is Janggut’s laksa is certainly an exemplar of this popular dish with its intensely flavoured, yet not-too-spicy gravy.
Janggut Laksa, 1 Queensway, #1-59, Queensway Shopping Centre, Singapore 149053. Open daily 11am-9pm.
Alexandra Village Claypot Laksa
If it’s thick, creamy laksa soup that does it for you, make this unique laksa stall your first stop. As its name would suggest, the laksa here is cooked and served in thick claypots to concentrate flavours and keep your laksa nice and warm. The thick, spicy soup base is the star here – you’ll struggle to find a more substantial and creamy variant. Need more convincing? The stall even made its way onto Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list this year!
Alexandra Village Claypot Laksa, Bukit Merah Lane 1, Alexandra Village Food Centre. Open Mon-Sat 9am-3.30pm, closed on Sun.
Sungei Road Laksa
This humble stall is another famous institution that’s easy to miss if you’re not savvy with local food haunts. Located in an unassuming coffee shop on Jalan Berseh, this stall serves up your classic laksa that, while small, makes up for it with ample servings of plump, fresh cockles. Its $3 price tag is the cherry on top.
Sungei Road Laksa, 27 Jalan Berseh, #01-100, Jin Shui Kopitiam, Singapore 200027.
Roxy Laksa & Prawn Noodles
So you’ve cycled the length of East Coast Park and want to sit down to a nice hearty meal with your mates? Make a beeline to the perpetually bustling East Coast Lagoon Food Village and join the snaking queue at Roxy Laksa for a hot spicy bowl of its legendary laksa. While the stall rather unconventionally omits cockles, it compensates with generous servings of fresh prawns, fish cakes and beansprouts. If you’re not a fan of the heavier laksa broths, this one is sure to hit all the right notes.
Roxy Laksa & Prawn Noodles, 1000 East Coast Park, Singapore 440000. Open weekdays 10.30am-9pm, weekends 8.30am-9pm.
Chong Wen Ge Café
We can’t possibly miss out this gem just down the street from our office. This quaint Peranakan cafe is right next to the Thian Hock Keng Temple. Step through its bright blue doorway and you’ll be greeted with a rustic cafe that pays homage to coffee shops of old. And when you’re done admiring the Peranakan tiles, sit down to a traditional Nyonya laksa that isn’t too heavy; this one comes packed with ingredients like prawns, fishcake, hard boiled egg and soft, fluffy tau pok.
Chong Wen Ge Cafe, 168 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068619. p. 8688 3028. Open daily 10am-7pm.
The Penang-style variant swaps the thick, creamy curry for a lighter broth flavoured with tamarind, flaked fish, lemongrass and even pineapple. And Penang Kitchen is one place where you can find it – its rendition of the dish offers a pungent, spicy broth heavy on belachan, and ample toppings of basil round up the dish with some fresh flavours. No need to cross The Causeway for this one!
Penang Kitchen, 5 Coronation Road, #01-05 Coronation Arcade, Singapore 437066. p. 6466 6193. Open daily 10.30am-9.30pm.
National Kitchen by Violet Oon
It is unorthodox to serve laksa without its signature broth, but we have no qualms whatsoever when it’s in the good hands of celebrated Peranakan chef, Violet Oon. In this dry laksa, fresh rice noodles are instead tossed in Oon’s flavoursome laksa gravy, ensuring they stay firm and springy. Expect brilliance in every bite.
National Kitchen by Violet Oon, 1 Saint Andrew’s Road, #02–01 National Gallery, Singapore 178957. p. 9781 3144. Open daily 12pm-3pm, 6pm-11pm.
San Laksa Steamboat Restaurant
Now for something a little different. Some of us love laksa soup so much that we just want to dip everything in it. At San Laksa Steamboat Restaurant, you can cook ingredients like pork belly, beef striploin, fish paste, cockles and more in a boiling, free-flowing laksa soup base that will leave you addicted. Slurp to your heart’s content!
San Laksa Steamboat Restaurant, 404 Telok Blangah Road, Singapore 098840. p. 6275 7096. Open daily 11am-2.30pm, 4.30pm-11pm.
Read more about Singapore’s local cuisine at www.YourSingapore.com.