Johor Kaki Travels for Food

Singapore based personal blog of true stories by johorkaki@gmail about best food, people & places around the world

Friday, 20 July 2018

Vintage Singapore Laksa. Lik Ming Toa Payoh Laksa 立名大巴窑叻沙

I have long been a little crazy about laksa. In the 1970s, I used to go from school to school in Singapore looking for laksa. Every school tuck shop has a laksa stall. I never came across a bad laksa in Old Singapore. The best was in Serangoon Garden Secondary School. Lots of spices, laksa leaves, and marvellous sambal chili. So, I was quite excited when Uncle Martin told me about his favourite old school Lik Ming Toa Payoh Laksa 立名大巴窑叻沙.

Mr Tan's father started Lik Ming Laksa as a push cart stall operating around Block 48 Toa Payoh in the 1960s. Mr Tan had been working at his dad's stall since he was 10 years old. My family moved into Block 65 Toa Payoh in 1967. Both Blocks 48 and 65 have been demolished.

Lik Ming Laksa moved into the market and hawker centre in the 1970s. Ms Chew partners with hubby Mr Tan to run Lik Ming Laksa. They are at the stall by 3:00am in the wee hours of the morning to prepare the stock with fresh coconut milk and spices. They are ready to serve by 6:00am.

I have tasted Lik Ming Toa Payoh Laksa twice. Truth be told, it was not the type of laksa I was familiar with from the 1970s. That one was lighter and spicier. Lik Ming have their own style of laksa.

The stock was heavy on coconut milk. There were lots of hae bee (dried shrimps) in the stock, so it felt slightly grainy. Together with buah keras (candlenut), ground chili and spices etc, the stock tasted savoury spicy with underlying sweetness from the coconut milk. The flavours were complex, robust but well balanced.

Mr Tan sieves out and discards the residual hae bee (dried shrimps) after they surrendered all their crustacean savouriness to the stock.

The halved prawn, tau pok, fish cake slices, bean sprouts and blood cockles all add to the traditional dish.

Daun kesum or laksa leaves. For many people, have or don't have is the defining line between good and bad curry laksa. Lik Ming Toa Payoh Laksa have plenty 😄 Fresh some more 👍

Ms Chew said a lot of their time and effort went into making their sambal chili (known as hae bee hiam in Hokkien language). Like their stock, there's lots of hae bee in the sambal chili, so it has a robust crustacean savouriness together with a spicy kick in the aftertaste.

👉 Through half a century, Lik Ming Toa Payoh Laksa have built up a loyal following for their brand of robustly savoury spicy sweet curry laksa. If your taste buds favour strong flavours leaning on "prawny" savouriness, Lik Ming's laksa is for you.

This place, Blk 93 Market and Food Centre, holds a lot of memories for me. I passed this place literally more than 1,000 times.

I lived in Toa Payoh for much of my teens. I passed by this spot almost every day walking from Blk 65 Lorong 5 to First Payoh Secondary School (both demolished).

Blk 95 and Blk 96 just next to the market and food centre - there used to be a grass patch between the blocks. I spent many afternoons at the homes of my childhood friends Lionel Conceição (Blk 96) with whom I lost contact and Chu Shin (Blk 95) who had passed on.

Boys played soccer in the open space between the two blocks of flats. In 1970s Singapore, every open patch of ground was a soccer pitch. Everywhere you looked, you will see groups of bare footed boys chasing after a plastic ball under the hot sun - we had a passionate soccer culture then, even though we couldn't afford soccer balls or boots.

Most of us struggled to memorise the periodic table but many of us knew every team in the English First Division and could recite the names of every player in the top teams of the time - Manchester Utd, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Stoke City, Spurs, Wolves, Sheffield Weds, Sunderland, etc and also Celtic and Rangers of the Scottish League.

Every boy had his proud answer to the question: "What position do you play?"

Restaurant nameLik Ming Toa Payoh Laksa 立名大巴窑叻沙
Address: Stall #01-48, Blk 93, Lor 4, Toa Payoh, Singapore
GPS1°20'18.9"N 103°50'58.8"E | 1.338589, 103.849653
Hours: 6:00am - 2:00pm (Thurs off)

Non Halal

Date visited: 20 Jul 2018

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  1. something for me!
    I like the seafood laksa like u showed above

  2. Jill Chua said on her FB:

    "They finally checked this out with Mun SG. They dashed there right after church and managed to get the last three bowls with extra tau pok and laksa leaves.

    Gorgeously ‘shrimpy’ broth with the classic dried hae be hiam that was exactly how her childhood laksa tasted from the pushcart laksa lady who passed by her shophouse home at exactly three o’clock in the afternoon. Her brother and her ate this as a pre-dinner snack.

    Her eyes glisten with nostalgia, at the first slurp of the unctuous beautiful coconuty broth, as she recalls that wonderful taste in the yesteryears.

    The owners are genial and accommodating to a fault."


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