There are various types of laksa (spicy coconut milk-based noodle soup) in Singapore–from the tamarind-tang of Penang laksa to the curry-like Sarawak laksa. But none is more famous than our home-grown Katong laksa.

Katong laksa is inspired by the Peranakans* 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 imitating the flavours.

*The term is an Indonesian/Malay word that means “local born”, which generally refers to people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage.

Turf wars

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—aptly named Janggut Laksa—is now helmed by his family, and operates from Queensway Shopping Centre.

There are also other reputable stalls along the Katong stretch, each 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.