Influenced by my pregnancy cravings, my recent food trips have been a journey of exploration with spices. It started with Selera Sumang Nasi Padang, followed by Swaadhist and then my latest adventure, to Everest Kitchen. After learning that the fiery little one in my belly is a spice lover, a close friend of mine introduced me to Lemaq.
“You better keep this place to yourself,” she warned me, “I don’t want to be queuing half an hour for my gado-gado,” she added.
Located at Kaki Bukit 511 Market and Food Centre, Lemaq grew from a home-based business serving close friends and family, to a hawker dishing up plates of Malay and Indonesian delights to the residents of Bedok. With the belief in providing a ‘taste to remember’, the eatery aims to make use of their dishes as a catalyst for interaction; a vehicle for people to appreciate and value relationships, tradition and culture.
What I tried
Not wanting to miss out on the early morning action, I arrived at Lemaq by 10am only to find a queue already formed in front of the stall. While contemplating on the dishes to indulge in, I witnessed most of the makciks and pakciks walking off with plates of laksa and gado-gado in hand. “In times of indecision, just follow suit,” I told myself.
My meal started off with my virgin experience of Roti Kirai (S$3), a trio of popular Malay net crepes served with a side of chicken curry. Also known to many as roti jala, these crepes are specially prepared using a cup with nozzles and batter hand-swirled onto a pan to create its beautiful lacy effect.
The addition of ground turmeric contributes to the orange-yellowish hue of the crepes which were just lightly salted when eaten alone. Tender and surprisingly fluffy, I found the Roti Kirai to be a great vessel to deliver the robustness of the curry all thanks to the little holes in between the batter. Unlike a roti prata, it was able to soak up more of the curry, making every bite extra delectable and flavoursome.
Mention the word ‘laksa’ and the first thing that will come to our minds are bowls of rice vermicelli drowned in creamy, spicy coconut broth. Lemaq’s Laksa (S$3.50), in this case, is an entirely different interpretation.
A traditional variation of Laksa with its culinary roots in Kampung Siglap—a coastal village where fishermen ply their trade and where coconut plantations thrive—laksa siglap is a dish overshadowed by its commercial siblings and is slowly dancing into history.
Whilst a regular bowl of laksa boosts the richness of coconut milk and sweetness from the use of seafood in the broth, Lemaq’s Laksa gravy is of a thicker, rougher texture with stronger hints of nutty nuances from the addition of pounded ikan parang, toasted shredded coconut, and lemongrass.
Gravy aside, another element that sets this plate of Laksa apart is its noodles. Hand-folded and prepared using a mixture of tapioca starch and rice flour, the laksa cap (thick laksa noodles) had a chewy texture of bee tai mak and the thickness of Japanese udon. Although I still prefer a bowl of slurpable Katong laksa, Lemaq’s rendition was indeed an interesting take on this popular hawker dish that deserves a try at least once in your lifetime.
On to the Gado-Gado (S$3), a hearty mix of lontong, blanched vegetables, steamed potatoes, tempeh and fried tofu smothered in a peanut sauce with a tinge of spice. Crowning the dish was a handful of crispy keropok—little edible scoops, perfect for shovelling the decadent sauce into my mouth.
As much as I relish in the lusciousness of the gravy, I would have enjoyed it more if the spice level was taken up a notch or two. Overall, it was still a tad too sweet for my liking and an added punch of heat would have probably given the dish a 10/10 rating.
To mark the end of my meal, I virtuously stuck to a cup of Kuih Jongkong (S$1.50). Traditionally wrapped and steamed in banana leaves resembling an ingot (that’s how its name came about), Lemaq’s Kuih Jongkong dons a modernised take served in a cup.
Making up the three distinct layers were coconut milk, pandan pudding and gula melaka. Here, the coconut milk was injected with a touch of saltiness which elevated the aromatic flavours of the pandan and sweetness of the brown sugar. Best eaten directly out from the fridge, be sure to get a bit of everything onto your spoon to savour the complexity of this humble-looking dessert.
My trip to Lemaq proved to be another culinary lesson where I leave feeling satiated both mentally and physically. To many, this might be the kind of article you deem as ‘just another food review’ but I sincerely hope that you take away more food knowledge than meets the eye.
For me, I’m glad to have ventured to Lemaq as the eatery not only showcased the beauty of a dying dish—the laksa siglap—but also taught me more about food as a universal language that binds the community.
Ms Zuby, if you are reading this, thank you so much for all the insights you have given me on the dishes you sell at Lemaq. They were indeed dishes with ‘a taste to remember’ and I can’t wait to be back.
Expected Damage: S$3 – S$6 per pax
Our Rating: 4 / 5
511 Bedok North Street 3, #01-11, Singapore 460511
511 Bedok North Street 3, #01-11, Singapore 460511