KA­TONG LAKSA

SALT Magazine - - Feature - The Orig­i­nal Ka­tong Laksa - Janggut Laksa (Queensway Shop­ping Cen­tre, 1 Queensway #01-59)

Who serves the best Ka­tong laksa in Sin­ga­pore? A di­vi­sive ques­tion be­tween laksa afi­ciona­dos, the an­swer is largely split be­tween two stalls: one of them be­ing Janggut Laksa (es­tab­lished since 1950s and also known as Ma­rine Pa­rade Laksa); the other is 328 Ka­tong Laksa.

The for­mer’s claim to fame comes from its as­ser­tion of be­ing the orig­i­nal sell­ers of Ka­tong laksa—a coinage re­fer­ring to Janggut Laksa’s first stall along East Coast Road, where they sold a unique style of laksa fea­tur­ing cut-up strands of noo­dles short enough to eat with only a spoon. But that isn’t all. In­deed, ar­dent fans of Janggut laksa will cite the un­be­liev­ably creamy—yet light—broth as the rea­son for their re­cur­rent re­turns, and their in­abil­ity to leave a sin­gle drop of soup be­hind in their bowls. Creamy co­conut milk is bal­anced with a prawn-based stock that uses an ap­par­ent amount of prawns and dried shrimp. The sam­bal here is sweet and only slightly spicy, never over­whelm­ing the fra­grant broth.

To­day, Janggut Laksa has four out­lets (Queensway, Roxy Square, Up­per Paya Le­bar Road, and Food

Repub­lic Wisma Atria). But con­sis­tency is a chal­lenge faced ev­ery day, with the fluc­tu­at­ing qual­ity of sup­pli­ers’ prod­ucts. Choos­ing freshly-squeezed co­conut milk over car­toned ones, for in­stance, means that the con­sis­tency of the milk changes ev­ery day, which in turn re­quires the laksa recipe to be al­tered slightly each day; yet the taste has to re­main the same as al­ways.

“Even though things are tough, this is a fam­ily busi­ness, so we al­ways have each other’s sup­port”, says Ng Sway Hong, whose late fa­ther Ng Juat Swee (who passed away in 1986) and un­cle Ng Chwee Seng founded the busi­ness. To­day, Ng runs Janggut Laksa with her daugh­ter and close friend, and has no plans of stop­ping de­spite her age. “I don’t think I can ever re­tire. I’ll just find my way back to the store to help out in some way.”

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