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.”