Guest Post. Mmmm.. the sweet smell of food that is so far away from me. haha. Jonathan is back with another guest post today. This time it's about some food in Singapore.
When I arrived in Singapore, I was in a particularly hungry mood. Unfortunately, I had been trying to eat my stress away; and while it had not accomplished its primary goal of dissipating my stress, the eating had achieved two things:
1) Help me justify a new wardrobe;
2) Qualified me for a new boxing weight class.
The flight over did very little to curb my appetite. While the food on the plane was surprisingly plentiful, there was very little satisfaction involved. And so it was in the background of this voracious hunger that I set out for lunch.
It was in the Makan Sutra that I first heard of the Sungei Road Laksa. The Makan Sutra, or Sutra as I call it, is like a Zagat guide to Singapore street food. The highest rating for an item in the Sutra is six chopsticks giving it a "Die Die Must Try" rating. I particularly like this description for food because it seems so amazingly high-spirited. Upon coming across a six-chopstick delicacy within the book, I often feel compelled to rush out and find this food quickly, lest I meet some untimely end.
Sungei Road is a small street between Serangoon Road and Jalan Besar and runs along the Rochor Canal. The taxi dropped me off at the opening to Thieves’ Market. The ominously named market is a street lined with peddlers selling a full range of goods from mobile phones with the ever-popular used toilet bowl parts. Past the market are apartments with some auto repair and plumbing store fronts. Finally at Block 27 is a small food center and home of Sungei Road Laksa.
Looking around the kopitiam, it seemed Sungei Road Laksa was the only stall with a line in front. The line was thankfully moving thanks to the proficient work of the two proprietors. An older man stood over a kettle warmed over charcoal flame filling bowls with broth as a younger woman finished the noodles with toppings.
Laksa comes in two forms: curry and assam. Sungei Road Laksa is a form of curry made with a rich fish and dried-shrimp stock, coconut milk and spices like chilli, galangal, garlic, belanchan, and shallots. Apparently, the Wong brothers had inherited the recipe for the broth from a friend over 50 years ago and been making this amazing laksa since. The laksa unlike others I’ve had in the past had a deep savory fish stock that was able to hold its own against the coconut milk.
The laksa was topped with fat and succulent cockles. These small clams really help top off the rice noodles, but they have been a bit controversial because of the risk of contamination. But who’s afraid of hepatitis A? Isn’t that what immunizations are for?
Even if the moderately sized bowl wasn’t quite enough, for $2 (Singaporean), I could get two bowls for cheaper than the price of a Big Mac. But I did want a little something after the laksa. In the center of the kopitiam was a stand for popiah. Popiah are like hokkien-style fresh spring rolls filled with turnip, eggs, peanuts, and wrapped in a thin wheat crepe. The popiah was warm, smooth and spicy.
I walked away from Sungei Road with a full and happy belly and ready for my next meal. As I strolled through Thieves’ Market for the second time with a bit more leisure, I thought maybe I had eaten just a little of that stress away.
(I invite you to follow me on Twitter so you can get more updates.)