Last Updated: September 5, 2017
Whampoa is filled with a myriad of amazing hawker food at its two food centres. I was having breakfast at the “morning market” at Block 91, also known as Whampoa Makan Place, and chanced upon 廣東小食 (Guang Dong Xiao Shi) that sells all sorts of comfort Chinese breakfast food.
The humble stall serves steamed chee cheong fun (rice rolls), fried bee hoon and porridge, which seemed like the go-to dishes that every customer was ordering. But I was craving for Laksa ($4) that day and boy, I was so glad to have ordered it.
Now, if you’ve been frowning upon small bowls of laksa that set you back by $3 for just a couple of ingredients, you’ll be glad to know that you’ll be treated to a much more generous serving here; at least the dish is served in regular-sized bowls.
For just $4, the bowl of laksa was filled with a rich, fiery-looking broth, and was laden with a heap of cockles, tau pok, beancurd skin, bean sprouts, baby abalone, and a prawn.
I was certainly not expecting premium ingredients as the signboard gave no clues at all.
Abalone in laksa is not something you see every day, and even though there was only one piece, I was more than happy with this little surprise. A pleasant addition, the baby abalone remained chewy and sweet on its own as it was the final ingredient added to the steaming bowl.
When asked why the shop owners added in prawn and baby abalone, the second generation hawker plainly answered that it was just their way to appease customers and to justify the price of $4 for a bowl of an everyday hawker food.
Sadly, the prawn was mushy, indicating that it probably wasn’t fresh. This is something they might want to rectify as it was the case on both occasions that I visited.
I enjoyed the cockles more, which were fleshy and briny, and added a contrasting taste to the dish. I did not count the number of cockles given, but it was almost a spoonful, with more laced in the broth.
Another thing that 廣東小食 (Guang Dong Xiao Shi) does differently is in serving the dish with fried bean curd skin.
For many years, the owners have replaced fish cakes with fried bean curd skin to give the laksa a better mouthfeel through the slight crunch that this ingredient provides. After soaking in the broth, it added a greater depth to the taste too.
I feel that tau pok is an inherent ingredient in laksa, and without it, you won’t be able to enjoy the fun of biting into the pieces that act as a sponge, bursting with soup when soaked long enough.
I found four pieces in my bowl. Unlike elsewhere, the pieces were cut into long strips and I couldn’t help stuffing my face with them.
The broth is made fresh daily and left on the fire throughout the shop’s opening hours to allow for a deeper taste. I visited when it was nearing lunchtime and the soup was rich and thick.
Spicy on its own, you may want to do away with the chilli if you have a lower tolerance for spicy food. Though it had a strong hei bi taste, I liked that there were no grainy bits of the dried shrimps in the soup.
I left the morning market with my tongue numb from the spicy laksa, but with no regrets. While I may still enjoy Katong Laksa more, I now know that I don’t have to travel too far when I can enjoy a fairly good bowl in my neighbourhood.
Fun fact: The owners of 廣東小食 (Guang Dong Xiao Shi) have been offering premium ingredients in the bowls of laksa since taking over their father’s business somewhat 10 years ago, way before the new generation (younger) hawkers decided to turn things up by having lobster and other fancy ingredients in dishes.
I guess you could say we might have just found the real trendsetters.
Expected damage: $4 per bowl