Kawan kawan, I was sad to learn that my favourite hotel, The Shangri-La in Paris is removing their Laksa from their all day dining menu. So I went with my neighbour and eating companion to lunch there yesterday to have my last morsel of curry Laksa. The soup was as I remembered it on the first day I had this Laksa – bisque-y and tasting of the shrimp stock that is used to flavour the soup. It had a hint of lemon grass, enough to flavour but not overpower. The soup base is very important in any Laksa, making the Laksa what it is. The GM of Shang (he kindly came over to say hi) told me that there are different varieties of the Laksa. The southerners in Malaysia cook it differently from Northerners. Hence, the Singapore Laksa being a tad more coconut base is really not the same from the Penang Assam Laksa, it being on the sourish side, etc etc. The Shang version is a mélange of the Assam and Singapore versions, in my opinion. Hence, the lemon grass added a hint of ‘sour’ to it and the little bit of coconut added the ‘lemak’ – the Malay word for creamy coconutty. The Shagri-La, that little piece of Asia in this chic European city, will be adding other dishes to their all day dining and I can’t wait to try their Ikan Assam Curry.
A last word on Laksa – as a child growing up in Singapore, I remember eating Laksa at the hawker centres garnished with a type of finely chopped herb known as Vietnamese coriander (local Singaporeans simply call it Laksa leaf) and a spoonful of blood cockles – see hum. The cockles are blood red and still raw when spooned into the Laksa soup slowly cooking in the heat of the soup whilst you ingest your dish. The see hum adds an altogether new dimension to this Nyonya dish making it all the more sedap.
I’ve been told that the best Laksa in Singapore can be found in the East Coast and is simply known to the locals as Katong Laksa. Here’s what one blogger had to say about this famous Singaporean dish: