Wake up by midnight, start cooking by 2am, serve up food by 5am. That has been the routine for Madam Aidah and her family for over 20 years at D’Selera Menanti, which serves up well-loved Malay dishes such as nasi ambeng, nasi rawon, mee siam, as well as the very unique laksa Siglap.
An heirloom recipe passed down by the Malay community living in Kampung Siglap, laksa Siglap uses not just coconut milk for its broth, but rather a blend of coconut flesh and coconut milk, fully utilising the coconut—a multi-purpose fruit. A blend of lemongrass, garlic, kerisik (toasted coconut shavings), turmeric, and a fish-based stock (made from ikan parang or wolf herring, or ikan kembong) complete the broth.
The noodles used in laksa Siglap are uncommon. They resemble silver needle noodles (mee tai bak), but are not as short, and lack the tapered ends. These slightly chewy noodles are made from a combination of rice flour and tapioca starch.
While laksa Siglap noodles used to be handshaped in the past, today, D’Selera Menanti has to rely on noodles from a supplier in order to continue making everything else in their shop from scratch, such as shaping begedels and frying their own rempah. But it wasn’t always about standing in front of a wok for Madam Aidah, who spent 11 years in an unsatisfying corporate job. She decided to use her savings to start something that would bring joy to herself and other people, and her love for cooking steered her towards starting D’Selera Menanti. When asked if she would change anything given a chance to redo her life, Madam Aidah asserts confidently “No. I give my 100 per cent for everything, even if what I give can’t always please everyone.” However, the long queues that snake daily from D’Selera Menanti seem to prove otherwise.