To see the writeup between the 2 laksa stalls in Queensway Shopping Centre, please go to http://thehungrybunnie.blogspot.com
There are 2 stalls selling laksa at Queensway Shopping Centre. Both claim to be related to the famous Katong ones, so we tried both to compare.
The Laksa ($3.50 for small) here was disappointingly lackluster. It was insipid, and the milk had obviously curdled. I needed a lot of sambal to get through it.
The Curry Chicken ($5) was a lot more palatable. Robust and creamy, this had a lovely homecooked taste.
So if you really want to eat here, get the curry chicken instead of the laksa.
Out of curiosity, I asked my Malay friends what a’ janggut’ was, and they told me that it was supposed to be a beard! Yet, Janggut Laksa is named after the man who first created the dish and he was spotted with hair growing out of his mole on his chin! He started peddling his laksa along East Coast Road on a pushcart on weekends at the time when East Coast Road was still next to the sea. In 1963, his brother and him finally settled down in 49 East Coast Road and started Marine Parade Laksa. He was the master from whom the other Katong Laksa came from.
Marine Parade Laksa will always hold a special place in my heart as I was first introduced to laksa by my then girlfriend (now wife). Unfortunately, Marine Parade Laksa closed in 1978 due to an increase in rent and the stall was taken over by the current owner of 328 Laksa. They went into a two-year hiatus before re-emerging in Far East Square. But by then, they had lost momentum. Today, Marine Parade Laksa has rebranded itself as Janggut Laksa and rightly states that they are the original Katong Laksa, which paradoxically has its main stall located at Queensway Shopping Centre. They have a branch at the ground level food court in Roxy Square and another one in Bedok, but these have never recaptured the magic of the original stall.
It seems like such a waste that Janggut should be serving their legendary recipe in a kiosk at Queensway Shopping Centre that could easily be passed off as just another laksa stall. But when I closed my eyes and imagine that I was seated at the original coffee shop, that first spoonful of the laksa gravy actually triggered memories of the familiar symphony of flavours which have been stored in the deep recesses of my subconscious. It was an Anton Ego (the food critic in Ratatouille) moment.
Mdm Ng explained to me that there were several factors preventing them from reaching the gold standard like in the good old days. Firstly, they can't use a charcoal fire anymore to cook the gravy and secondly, rising food costs and the value-for-money seeking diner mean that they have to cut down on the amount of ingredients like dried shrimps and Ti Poh (solefish). Still, they are trying hard to create a bowl of laksa worthy of old Janggut and despite all the challenges, are able to produce one which crosses the “oomph” threshold. Imagine what they can do if I gave them a budget of $5 a bowl?
The thing that first attracted me to this stall was the gravy – it had that punch even though it was not spicy. Despite being a shadow of what they used to be, I daresay that this is one of the best bowls of laksa being served anywhere in Singapore today.
There are Two stores claiming to be the Original Katong Laksa. The first store that locates near the entrance states only Katong Laska. Please go further in and you will find the 328 Katong Laksa where I feel the taste will probably be better! Must try the Real 328 store and DO NOT BE DECEIVED by this store which I have encountered.