I've been enjoying the laksa at Queensway Shopping Centre since the mid 2000s without knowing it's history. Just knew that it was a good laksa whenever I come here to get sports shoes or get my spectacles done.
This was my large bowl of Janggut Laksa 叻沙 for SGD6.
The SGD6 bowl comes with thick rice vermicelli (bee hoon) cut into short strands, 3 halved prawns, a few cockles, thin strips of fish cake, crunchy bean sprouts in a creamy coconut broth with curry spices. A teaspoonful of finely chopped daun kesum (laksa leaves) and a dollop of sambal chili round up the dish.
As I dug into the bowl of Janggut Laksa, a gentle waft of spice aroma raises from the bowl.
Janggut Laksa was the first to cut the thick bee hoon into short strands so that it is convenient to eat in a soup spoon together with soupy laksa broth. No need for chopsticks. It's a brilliant idea that is widely copied and came to symbolise Singapore Nyonya laksa.
The curry broth is the soul of laksa.
At Janggut Laksa, it is heavy bodied based on creamy coconut milk and flavoured with a blend of many curry spices and chillies. The taste was sweet, slightly savoury from the hae bee (dried shrimps) and just mildly spicy. The coconut was milky smooth while the ground dried shrimps gave the broth a slight grittiness. Janggut Laksa is easy to like, especially for people trying laksa for the first time.
Janggut Laksa is a version of Nyonya laksa also known as Laksa Lemak. Coconut milk plays a key role in laksa lemak in a way similar to the importance of coconut milk in nasi lemak.
One of the few cockles, small but fresh.
I like this sambal chili. Savoury from the hae bee (dried prawns), sweet from the shallots, and spicy from the chillies.
If you find Janggut's laksa broth on the mild side (as some people do), you can add in more of this nice sambal chili to up the level of savoury spiciness.
Janggut (Malay for "the bearded one") and his brother started Janggut Laksa as a push cart stall in Katong (in Singapore's east) in the 1950s. As Janggut and his brother were the first to hawk Nyonya laksa in the streets of Katong, they were also known as the "Original Katong Laksa".
Janggut has passed on and his brother is now in his 90s.
Ms Ng, Janggut's brother's daughter (i.e. Janggut's niece), now runs the Janggut Laksa stall in Queensway Shopping Centre.
Janggut Laksa is at the ground level of Queensway Shopping Centre, where locals go to get their sport shoes, spectacles and contact lens.
The laksa stall is located in a triangular shaped atrium ringed with long tables and plastic stools on 3 sides. Seating is limited but the stall is very clean and comfortable.
Janggut Laksa has another outlet at Roxy Square in Katong run by another member of the Janggut family.
For the definitive history of Katong Laksa, check out Russel Wong's blog.
Restaurant name: Janggut Laksa
Address: Queensway Shopping Centre #01-59 Singapore 149053
GPS: 1.287494, 103.803848
Hours: 10:00am to 9:00pm
Tel: 9669 6010 / 9622 1045
No pork, no lard, no Halal cert
Date visited: 27 Apr 2015
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