Sunday, 14 October 2012

Laksa Johor at Al Ansar Café in Taman Permas Jaya, Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Laksa Johor is one of Johor's signature dishes but it is not easily found in stalls or restaurants as it is mostly served at home, and even then only during special occasions like festivals and celebrations. Good Laksa Johor is even harder to find outside the home and only a handful of stalls sell good ones.

Fortunately, I have good friends who helped me out in my quest for Laksa Johor. My friend Francis Kee brought me to his favourite breakfast place, Al Ansar Café in Permas Jaya to try out their famous Laksa Johor.

The gravy of Laksa Johor was a thick grainy paste blanketing the mound of boiled spaghetti. What's inside the umami gravy was, of course, a trade secret. My taste buds told me that there were ground ikan kembung, salted fish, dried shrimps, belacan, various herbs, spices, coconut and other ingredients that I couldn't make out. Assembling such a complicated combination of ingredients alone was no easy task, let alone preparing and cooking them well. No wonder good Laksa Johor is so hard to find, in stalls or at home. 
Uniquely, Laksa Johor uses spaghetti instead of the usual, familiar yellow or white noodles. According to legend, retold by the famous Chef Wan, Sultan Abu Bakar travelled to Italy in the 1800s, and took a liking to Spaghetti Bolognaise. Returning to Johor, Sultan Abu Bakar directed his chef to modify the recipe with fish based gravy and Laksa Johor was thus created.

The Laska Johor gravy was flavourful and had interesting textures but was not overly spicy hot. I love to add this tangy, extra spicy hot sambal chili which boosted the taste of the spaghetti.

While enjoying my Laksa Johor and chatting with Francis, I heard the rhythmic musical pounding of pestle and mortar. I have not heard this music for a long time :)

I couldn't help but stopped and traced where the beautiful sound was coming from. It led me to Al Ansar Café's busy kitchen. This lady was pounding the mix of chili and spices with mortar and pestle in the old way.

This old tedious way creates a sambal chili that an electric blender simply cannot match.

I am so glad to enjoy this delicious authentic Laksa Johor today, with thanks to Francis :)

Here's a nice video recipe, click here, if you want to try making this at home :)

Restaurant name: Al Ansar Café
Address: Jalan Permas 5/16 (right next to Al Ansar Mosque)
GPS: 1.503983,103.821817
Hours: 6:00am to 3:00pm (closed on Sunday and Public Holidays)

Date visited: 9 Oct 2012


  1. johor laska is absolutely delish! my all time favourite johor laksa joint was at Taman suria in jb , namely my neighbours house lol! unfortunately that was more than 12 years ago. My current neighbours prefer bacon and eggs :)

    1. Yes, I understand that Laksa Johor is complicated, tedious and labour intensive to make. The whole family is often involved and the amounts made are not huge. No wonder so few stall sell it, and the commercial ones seldom compare well with home made ones.

    2. heh i live in taman suria, can u tell me anywhere nearby suria that selling awesome laksa?

  2. What an interesting Laksa dish! I am so used to the version that comes in a bowl full of laksa broth.

  3. Looks good! I'm sure it tasted great too!

  4. I've only tried Laksa Johor once, there is a shop near my house selling it. I was quite surprised when I found spaghetti in there. But it was delish!

  5. Yes Yan, it's quite unique. Good story about how it came about too :)

  6. bumbu asli's laksa johor is not great and they also not customer friendly. I recommend to you the second best laksa you can find after my mums is at plaza larkin at the corner next to the mi rebus stall


I share hoping that everyone will have a good time but your experience may differ from mine. I love to know how you enjoyed yourself or if you didn't.

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