There are various types of laksa in Singapore – from the tamarind-tang of Penang Laksa to the curry-like Sarawak Laksa. But none is more famous than the home-grown Katong Laksa.
Katong Laksa is inspired by the Peranakans (Straits Chinese) who live in the Katong area. It has a spicy soup stock the colour of a flaming sunset, flavoured with coconut milk and dried shrimp, and topped with ingredients like cockles, prawns and fishcake.
Its defining characteristic is the noodles: thick vermicelli cut into shorter pieces that can be easily slurped up with a spoon. At some stalls, you only get a spoon to eat the laksa – no chopsticks needed.
The taste is so sought-after that Katong Laksa has travelled beyond the east to reach every corner in Singapore, due to franchising and enterprising laksa stalls copying the flavours.
Over the years, many are confused about its authenticity as every stall in Katong claims to be the original.
There is the more well-known 'janggut' version, named after the hawker who sprouts a few hairs from a mole below his chin, hence his nickname, 'janggut' – which means beard in Malay. This stall, helmed by his family, now operates from Queensway Shopping Centre.
There are also less hair-profile stalls along the Katong stretch, all selling the same tasting dish that has come to define the Singapore laksa. The difference is that normal laksa requires chopsticks to scoop up the uncut noodles.