Assam laksa is a unique dish commonly found in South-East Asia, specifically Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. The most common type of Assam laksa is the Penang laksa from Malaysia. Although this dish is labelled as ‘laksa‘, it’s different from the usual curry soup base.
Assam laksa has a combination of both Chinese and Malay elements. It’s made with ikan kembung (mackerel) and assam (tamarind) for a slight hint of sourness in the broth. Other key ingredients include shredded fish, sliced cucumber, onions, pineapple, mint and har cheong (a type of prawn/shrimp paste).
However, not everyone is accustomed to the tart flavour, so it’s rare to find Assam laksa in Singapore. If you want to try this dish, take a look at this list of eight places to go for Assam laksa.
One of the most authentic Penang Assam laksa chain stores from Malaysia, D’Laksa at Tampines has made its way to Singapore. Originating from Johor Bahru, this stall has long queues at all its branches in Singapore and Malaysia.
Upon picking up my Assam Laksa (S$4), the tart aroma of the laksa broth made my mouth water. This dish came with a generous amount of lettuce, pineapples, and fish, packing the dish with a good blend of sweet, sour and spicy flavours. The tamarind sauce added tangy notes, while their special prawn paste added some sweetness and umami flavour to the dish.
D’Laksa also serves the Asam Laksa Special (S$5), which includes three fish balls with their traditional Assam laksa broth.
2. Penang Signature Assam Laksa (槟城叻沙)
There is simply nothing more authentic and satisfying than hawker food. Penang Signature Assam Laksa 槟城叻沙 at Bukit Timah Market & Food Centre has kept to its traditional recipes and ingredients ever since they started.
Penang Signature serves up a traditional bowl of Penang Laksa (S$3.50) that’s as good as the ones in Penang. The dish came with thick rice vermicelli, which absorbed the rich flavours of the Assam broth. Each spoonful was a sweet, sour and spicy experience.
Penang Signature added the right amount of tamarind into the broth, cutting through the fishy taste of the mackerel.
Penang Signature Assam Laksa 槟城叻沙: 51 Upper Bukit Timah Road #02-28, Bukit Timah Market & Food Centre, Singapore 588172 | Opening Hours: 2pm – 9.30pm (Mon – Sun)
3. Penang Seafood Restaurant (槟城海鲜美食)
Penang Seafood Restaurant 槟城海鲜美食 located at Aljunied is a zi char eatery which serves a variety of both Singapore and Penang cuisine.
One of their most popular dishes is the Penang Assam Laksa (S$4.80++). Unlike other traditional Penang laksa dishes, this version lacked the usual garnishes such as mint leaves and ginger slices. The lack of colour made it look less appetising.
Despite the lack of colour, the dish contains a generous portion of fish meat and noodles. The broth had a rich and tangy aroma which makes diners hail this restaurant as one of the most authentic Assam laksa in Singapore.
Penang Seafood Restaurant 槟城海鲜美食: 32 Aljunied Road, Singapore 389817 | Tel: +65 6746 2003 | Opening Hours: 11am – 12midnight (Mon – Sun) | Facebook
4. Simei Penang Laksa Specialty (四美特味槟城叻沙)
Simei Penang Laksa Specialty 四美特味槟城叻沙 at Yuhua Market & Food Centre in Jurong is one of the top places recommended on Google, so I was really excited to try out their Penang Laksa (S$3).
Maybe my expectations were too high, because I was really disappointed with their Assam Laksa. It lacked the usual sweet, sour and spicy flavours, and I could only taste the tangy tamarind after a few bites. The broth which came with the dish was also diluted.
Despite the long queues, most of the patrons prefer to enjoy their Fried Kway Teow (S$3) as the wholegrain noodles make it a healthier option compared to the laksa.
Simei Penang Laksa: 347 Jurong East Ave 1, #01 – 199, Yuhua Market & Food Centre, Singapore 600347 | Opening Hours: 10am – 2pm & 5pm – 8pm (Mon), 10am – 2pm & 5pm – 8 pm (Wed – Fri), 10am – 6pm (Sat & Sun), Closed on Tue
5. Island Penang Kitchen (南洋槟城茶餐厅)
Island Penang Kitchen 南洋槟城茶餐厅 at Clementi can be considered a neighbourhood gem. Loyal customers claim that this place serves the best traditional Asian cuisine. The neighbourhood diner specialises in authentic Penang dishes such as Assam Laksa (S$5), so you can get your fix here.
Soft and plump laksa noodles swam in the Assam broth, which was packed with sour flavour from the tamarind. However, it wasn’t as sweet and tasted quite fishy. The Assam Laksa also came with some shredded mackerel, which was tough and made me wonder if it was overcooked.
Island Penang Kitchen 南洋槟城茶餐厅: 721 Clementi West Street 2, #01-126, Singapore 120721 | Tel: +65 6873 0163 | Opening Hours: 11am – 2.30pm & 5pm – 9.30pm (Mon – Fri), 11am – 9.30pm (Sat & Sun) | Facebook
6. Simply Fresh (鲜味)
Located at the centre of the bustling Bedok Interchange, Simply Fresh (鲜味) is a small stall which is popular for their fish noodle soup.
I was surprised when I found out that this store sold Penang Assam Laksa (S$4). I was a tad sceptical about how their laksa would taste like as it was completely different from their usual menu.
Diners can choose between handmade flour noodles or traditional Singaporean-style rice vermicelli. This dish was a bit disappointing, as it didn’t taste like the traditional ones.
I chose the Singaporean-style rice vermicelli, which unfortunately did not go well with the dish, because it had a softer texture.
The Assam broth held the right amount of sourness, however, the soup itself was watery and less fragrant. On the bright side, they were very generous with their fish.
Simply Fresh (鲜味): 208 New Upper Changi Road, #01-04, Singapore 460209 | Tel: +65 6225 5632 | Opening Hours: 9am – 10pm (Daily)
7. Lou Yau (老友) Taste Of Malaysia
Bedok seems to be a good place to get Assam Laksa and if you are not a fan of the heat, you can enjoy your Assam laksa in an air-conditioned space. Lou Yau (老友) Taste Of Malaysia is known for dishes from Ipoh, Malaysia.
They serve Penang Assam Laksa (S$7.50) which was sweet and rich in flavour. Lou Yau is very accommodating to all diners, since they may have different preferences. If you’d like richer and more flavourful noodles, you can request for more prawn paste.
In addition to Assam laksa, they also serve the traditional Penang Prawn Noodles (S$7.50).
8. Penang Culture
Penang food lovers would be accustomed to the restaurant Penang Culture, as it was the first restaurant to bring their hawker street food to Singapore.
One of their most popular dishes is the Penang Assam Laksa (S$7.95). This was cooked with traditional laksa noodles specially imported from Penang.
Rather than just putting the garnishes at the end, Penang Culture boiled all their ingredients together. This means that the soup is infused with every element. For a twist on the dish, try their Assam Laksa with Salmon (S$11.95) instead of the usual mackerel.
My top choices from the list are definitely D’Laksa and Penang Signature to satisfy my cravings. What’s your go-to stall for Assam laksa?