Tuesday, 24 June 2014
Sungei Road Laksa Singapore 结霜桥叻沙
Singapore Sungei Road laksa 结霜桥叻沙.
It's a strangers' reunion with my favourite childhood curry laksa stall after 40 years.
When I was a boy in the early 1970s, I often wandered from Toa Payoh where I lived to "window shop" at Sungei Road's Thieves Market.
There used to be a joke back then that went, "If you lose something valuable like your shoes or bicycle, just go to Sungei Road to buy it back".
In those days, there weren't today's high tech gadgets to provide us kids relief from our boring school books. We burn off excess youthful energies by wandering the neighbourhood which extended to anywhere within a couple of hours' walk.
I remember very well the aroma and flavours of the laksa, but less the uncle at the stall.
My tongue and nose have better memory than my eyes.
I said hello to the Uncle Wong and mentioned to him that I had been a fan since my childhood. Not surprisingly, uncle too could not recognise this strange stranger :D
A strangers' reunion, literary.
In fact, uncle found my slightly clumsy, awkward approach and over exuberant photography slightly annoying....
Maybe, more than slightly.... :P
My memory tells me that Sungei Road laksa was in a shack made with raw wood planks, rusty wire mesh and flappy blue-and-white patterned plastic canvas, all barely held together with nails, wire and raffia strings. Today, it's another corner stall in a typically nondescript Singapore kopitiam (coffee shop).
This must be the only place in Singapore where the curry laksa broth is still kept hot by a gently caressing charcoal flame.
I suggested to Ian, my partner in crime today, to just have one bowl of laksa and we share in the tasting as this was our third food stop today with a fourth one on the itinerary.
Ian in his wisdom, ignored me.
I am so glad that Ian brought back two bowls, as after the first mouthful, I actually thought of having two bowls to myself, had there not been the need to save some stomach space for our fourth stop.
The SGD2 bowl of curry laksa consisted of thick rice noodles, slices of fish cake, a sprinkling of finely chopped laksa leaves (daun kesum) and a generous handful of fresh good sized cockles (seeham) in a thick full bodied piping hot spicy broth.
Sungei Road laksa is eaten with a plastic soup spoon (sans chopsticks).
Sungei Road laksa resembles JB's Cathay laksa, Yew Swee and Water Works. The flavours come from ground Indian spices and laksa leaves (daun kesum), and everything is well held together by sparing amounts of coconut milk and a round bodied savoury crustacean broth.
But, it was not overly lemak and the broth's savoury crustacean base was discernible.
The curry laksa was a fine balance of mildy spicy, slightly sweet and layered savoury flavours.
I much prefer this old style laksa than modern curry laksa made with convenient pre-mixes thrown into lots of thick coconut milk diluted with some "empty" water, and brought to boil.
Oh, one more thing, Sungei Road laksa differs from the their JB cousins by having soft tiny lumpy whitish coagulates in the broth but I have no idea what they were.
Sungei Road laksa is an authentic icon of Singapore food heritage, I strongly recommend.
To me, this is still the best laksa in Singapore.
Restaurant name: Sungei Road Laksa 结霜桥叻沙
Address: 27 Jalan Berseh, #01-100. (Corner stall at Top 33 Kopitiam)
Hours: 9:00am to 5:30pm (Closed on 1st and 3rd Weds)
Date visited: 23 Jun 2014
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