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Tan Kee Cathay Laska (inside Shang Ji Coffee Shop along Jalan Lumba Kuda) near JB CIQ, Johor Bahru 陈记国泰辣沙

Laksa Johor

Tan_Kee_Cathay_Laska _Jalan_Lumba_Kuda

This unassuming, unpretentious looking laksa stall inside Shang Ji Coffee Shop is the 50 year old legend, Tan Kee Cathay Laksa 国泰. Cathay Laksa is named after the popular cinema which used to be here at Jalan Lumba Kuda before it was demolished to make way for the CIQ (immigration and customs) building.

The cinema is long gone but Cathay Laksa is still going strong, with it's growing number of loyal fans.

Tan_Kee_Cathay_Laska _Jalan_Lumba_Kuda

At first glance, the laksa which costs RM5 (in 2012) looks ordinary, but taste wise it ranks with the best in JB.

Tan_Kee_Cathay_Laska _Jalan_Lumba_Kuda

The curry is nicely fragrant with just the right dose of spices and coconut milk - not over weight with lemak (coconut milk) nor chokingly spicy. The yellow noodles, bee hoon, kway teow or bean sprouts were cooked just right to soak in the flavour of the curry.

Tan_Kee_Cathay_Laska _Jalan_Lumba_Kuda

Tan_Kee_Cathay_Laska _Jalan_Lumba_Kuda

The homemade fried fish balls made from fresh ikan parang, are springy and so flavourful. The Tans make the fried fish balls themselves everyday.

Tan_Kee_Cathay_Laska _Jalan_Lumba_Kuda

The cockles which I asked to be well cooked were fresh and clean. The Tans buy live cockles and shell them themselves everyday, so we are assured that they are fresh.

Tan_Kee_Cathay_Laska _Jalan_Lumba_Kuda 
Popular bean curd sheets, the favourite of many people.

Tan_Kee_Cathay_Laska _Jalan_Lumba_Kuda

But, to me, the thing that really sets Cathay 国泰 Laksa apart from others is the fried tofu (bean curd). The tofu was so fresh I could taste and smell the fragrance of the soy beans – something that I did not have much opportunity to experience with tofu, in these days of mass factory production. The texture of this tofu was smooth, yet it was a little gently grainy as it was pitted with tiny "craters". This tofu had many holes in its core just like there were holes in fermented cottage cheese.

Tan_Kee_Cathay_Laska _Jalan_Lumba_Kuda

Look at this picture. The curry penetrated into the holes throughout the tofu. The tofu soaked up the curry like the way a sponge soaked up water. When I bite into the soft and smooth tofu, the curry and tofu juices oozed out just like water being squeezed out of a sponge. The blend of flavourful fresh juicy tofu and curry delighted the taste buds.

In other lasksa stalls, tau pok (deep fried tofu) is used to soak up the curry. Compared to tofu, tau pok is dry like gauze so its texture and the resulting taste sensation is far different. 

They don't put duan kasum (laksa leaves) in the curry laksa here.

Tan_Kee_Cathay_Laska _Jalan_Lumba_Kuda

I will be back for the fresh tofu and curry at Tan Kee Cathay 国泰 Laksa :-D

👉 Long time favourite of JB people by a lovely couple.

Tan Kee Cathay Laksa is part of the story of Johor curry laksa.

Tan_Kee_Cathay_Laska _Jalan_Lumba_Kuda

Tan_Kee_Cathay_Laska _Jalan_Lumba_Kuda

Restaurant name: Tan Kee Cathay Laksa 
Address: 149, Jalan Lumba Kuda, 80300 Johor Bahru (inside Restoran Shang Ji)
GPS: 1.461162, 103.767403
Hours: 8:00am to 3:00pm (Closed on Mon & Weds)

No pork, no lard, no Halal cert

Dates visited: 12 Jan 2012, 12 Sep 2012, 15 Apr 2013, 4 Sep 2013

Written by Tony Boey | Updated on 29 Apr 2023


  1. Hi thanks for the recommendation and I would love to visit this stall. In fact I tried to walk there from the new JB custom but no luck. Is it possible to walk there from the new JB custom?

    1. You can, by following the directions in this post. Do be very careful and use the pedestrian crossing and traffic lights.

  2. Since my parents days they were there, till my time they were old and still strong and steady. If u ask for Chinese laksa, nothing come even close to what they serve. Top notch even till today.

  3. Yee Pei Song said on Johor Kaki Facebook:

    "Absolutely love this! They have a tub of chili paste under the counter when a regular asks for extra spice, which is different from the one on the counter for the average joe. 😂 "


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