If you are thinking about travelling to Penang just to satisfy your asam laksa cravings, cancel your plans and save some money! Singapore is finally serving authentic Penang Asam Laksa at D’Laksa in Hougang Mall.
D’Laksa has its origins from our friendly neighbour Johor Bahru, and the long queues at the Malaysian branches are proof of this brand’s popularity.
Since this is D’Laksa’s first store in Singapore, I just wished that there were tables and chairs present for me to fully enjoy the taste of the laksa there and then. Lucky you if you live nearby!
Ranked at number seven on CNN Travel’s ‘World’s 50 Best Foods‘ back in 2011, Penang Laksa is indeed an amazing representative South East Asian meal on its own.
Having tried one of the most popular versions from Air Itam while I was in Penang, I have to say that this Asam Laksa ($3.50) from D’Laksa is quite legit.
Doused with sweet shrimp paste (hae ko) that tasted a lot like concentrated fish sauce, the laksa is generously topped with the usual sliced onions, galangal, lettuce, pineapples and fish in the classic sour asam tamarind broth.
While D’Laksa’s mackerel wasn’t as flaky as I expected it to be, it soaked up the flavourful broth quite well and added a great texture.
Soup wise, it was pretty sweet due to the pineapples and was a mild spice level for an average Singaporean like me. Although it is less fattening than its Curry Laksa counterpart, the asam version retains a robust flavour due to the strong kick of tamarind – making it sweet, sour and spicy all at the same time.
What’s so authentic about D’Laksa is that it uses the special kind of springy noodle (Lai Fun) made of tapioca starch. Imported from Penang, the noodle has a stickier texture that’s similar to silver needle noodles (bee tai mak).
While many others might choose the readily available thick rice vermicelli, it is less ideal since the noodles tend to break easily and do not retain the flavour well.
Laksa Fishballs (five for $2.50) can be a great addition to the noodles or a great snack by itself. Although reminiscent of the Hong Kong-style curry fishballs, D’Laksa’s version doesn’t quite taste the same.
Giant blobs of fishballs in a sweet and sour asam broth is a good option for those who want to try the flavour sans the carbs. Soaking up the broth like a sponge, these bouncy spheres are soul-satisfying.
Affordable and authentic food in an air-conditioned place is pretty rare and D’Laksa has succeeded in keeping the prices low while maintaining the quality.
D’Laksa is definitely a good bargain for on-the-go meals for those who work or live around the hood. Here’s to hoping that it gets a proper restaurant space soon!
Expected damage: $3.50 – $6 per person