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Saturday, August 04, 2007

My first time at 328 Katong Laksa

328 Katong Laksa
I've heard a lot about the infamous "Katong laksa" for the longest time, but never had the opportunity to try it out for myself. Not until today, when I undertook an hour-long trip to 51 East Coast Road, home of 328 Katong Laksa. (Yes, there are a few other Katong laksa outlets, but I chose this one because of a class project.)

Though there was a huge sign and lots of seating places, 328 Katong Laksa consisted of just one stall in the coffeeshop. Which surprised me, because I expected something bigger. There was no menu, so I couldn't tell what else was sold besides laksa. Which meant that I'd just have to play it by ear. I wonder how other new customers know what to buy (besides the obvious laksa).

I contemplated sitting outside, but the weather was too hot, so I went to the air-conditioned area. A waiter saw me and ushered me to a table. He took my order of a bowl of laksa and a cup of iced tea. I didn't know what else to order since it was my first time there. But looking around, I saw that some patrons had ordered otak as well. I also saw a menu stuck on a wall listing some porridge dishes.

Photos with celebrities
Also plastered around the walls were photos and photos of the owner posing with celebrities. Local celebrities, foreign celebrities (mostly Hong Kong and Taiwan stars), they were all pictured there with the beaming owner. I was quite amused by this. It's like celebrity endorsement, but in a cheesy kind of way. I see such photos at other food outlets, but never this many! It was as if the owner needed to overstate her point.

My bowl of laksa
My bowl of laksa soon arrived... and it was less than what I had expected. Or maybe it was because of the size of the bowl. I paid up ($3), then dug in with just the spoon. Yup, the noodles are cut short so that they can be eaten with just the spoon. No chopsticks or fork needed. Apparently, that's the characteristic of "Katong laksa".

Close-up of my bowl of laksa
The gravy tasted mild, which made it very tasty actually. Maybe it was the strong coconut taste, I don't know, I'm lousy at identifying ingredients. It also wasn't too spicy, which was good for me since I don't tolerate chilli very well. More importantly, it didn't have little bits of foodstuffs floating around, suggesting that the pot of gravy hadn't been simmering over the fire for too long (which would've caused food to break down into little bits). I actually quite liked the gravy, and readily swallowed it with the noodles, fish cake and prawns. (No harm (cockles) for me.)

Incidentally, I forgot to stir up the shredded daun kesum (laksa leaves, or Vietnamese coriander) till I was halfway through! D'oh!

Business seemed quite brisk, even at 3pm, and the waiters were kept busy all of the time. That speaks well for the stall. I suppose I'll have to sample the offerings from the other Katong laksa stalls to make a fair comparison. For now, I can safely say that I know what Katong laksa tastes like, and why it's become so popular in Singapore.



monica said...

i was in the same place one week later and was the same experience for me, included that i am not a very tolerant chili person...
this is really weird....

Yuhui said...

Hey monica,

Hehe, interesting coincidence...

Anonymous said...

hi kelvin here. my girlfriend works in katong shopping centre. And during after ive fetched her to work i would head down to 328 laksa. im a hardcore lover of only 328 laksa. No other laksa comes close to that. Ask anyone there... about me they would surely noe who i am. Every saturday i would consume a bowl of laksa . And as days went past. we (328) got closer

Yuhui said...

Hi Kelvin, that's pretty cool! Such a loyal customer, I'm sure they appreciate it.

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