Laksa, known to locals, as one of the most popular dishes in Malaysia, most probably after Nasi Lemak and Kuey Teow. Fans of noodle or not – the overwhelming temptations to try another bowl of Laksa is hardly resistible after the first try. A famous dish not just in Malaysia, Laksa has created waves around Southeast Asia since the beginning of its existence, resulting variations of Laksa dish in every Southeast Asia’s nations.
A well-celebrated Laksa consists of rice noodles in thick gravy made from either coconut milk and curry paste or tamarind fruit and fish. The choice of gravy depends entirely on local’s preference. Adding to its unique gravy, some lemongrass, shallots, garlic, chilli paste, fish or shrimp and other flavours give extra fillings to the dish. This, however, are the original seasonings or adds on to Laksa dish. Nowadays, some people like to modify by adding meat or replacing the typical rice noodles with spaghetti noddle. All, now, depends on one’s taste.
Certainly, the title may raise some eyebrows but it is a common fact that some people are still confuse on the difference between the two. Known far and wide as the primary variations of Laksa; both do have different styles in preparations. As Curry Laksa is prepared using coconut milk and curry paste, Asam Laksa, on the other hand, uses tamarind fruit and fish as the most indicative features of its kind.
Either way, Curry Laksa and Asam Laksa do evolve greatly as time goes by. As mentioned before, almost every nations in Southeast Asia and even in Malaysia itself, Laksa has encountered various modifications to suit the local tastes.
For example, in Malaysia alone, there are at least more than 5 types of Laksa. From the Southern Peninsular to Sabah and Sarawak, Laksa has made a wide diversification despite the locations. Take Penang as an example, the Island of Pearls is famous for its Assam Laksa or Penang Laksa. It is made sour by tamarind and uses shredded fish as a base rather than shrimp paste. Aside from it, a speciality from the lands of Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah, Laksam is a variation from the Curry Laksa. Laksam is made using thick white rice flour noodle with rich white gravy of coconut milk and boiled fish.
Prepared and served in every possible ways, Laksa has made so much wild waves that anyone would love to try any Laksa variations that catch their senses. Therefore, top Laksa dishes also come in comparison and create a fan base on their own. As a result, a Top 7 Most Sought-After Laksa In Malaysia list is created.
Let’s go through the list.
Penang Laksa or Asam Laksa is famous dish from Penang. Whenever you come to Penang for a visit or a holiday tour, you must try this awesome dish before leaving. Simply ask for a “laksa” and you will be presented with a bowl of a well-defined, local Asam Laksa. Made with mackerel soup and tamarind fruit, the mixture gives sense to a sourly flavour. Uses thick rice noodle as its main feature, Asam Laksa does include lemongrass, galangal and chilli to give its unique flavour an extra boost.
Not to worry of its availability in Klang Valley, you can still get your hands on this delicious dish here as many restaurants serve Penang Laksa as a part of their menus.
Using coconut milk and curry paste as the main ingredients for the soup, Curry Laksa includes bean curd puffs, fish sticks, shrimp, hard-boiled egg and cockles as parts of its other distinctive ingredients. Some vendors do love to put in chicken or meat as additional ingredients, though. Apart from the usual ingredients, most people love to eat Curry Laksa with a spoonful of Sambal Chilli Paste to give extra spiciness to the meal.
Easy to prepare and using simple ingredients makes Curry Laksa a delightful choice for a meal in restaurants and at home, too.
Another variant of Curry Laksa, Laksam is originated from the Northern Eastern of Peninsular Malaysia. Famous in Kelantan, Terangganu and Kedah, Laksam is a special type of Curry Laksa that uses no form of Curry Paste in making it. Serves in white, rich gravy of boiled fish and coconut milk and uses a thick white rice noodle, Laksam is a speciality that reigns supreme in its simplest form.
Often presented along with Keropok Lekor and Sambal Chilli Paste, Laksam has a sweet, rich flavour that gives you an instant twist from its original ancestors. Those of you who are not a fan of spicy noodles may find Laksam, a delightful Laksa dish that makes you eager for more.
A lot of local restaurants now are serving Laksam and since then, has become famous all over the country.
Johor Laksa takes after Penang Laksa by using the same kind of fish but varies greatly in everything else. Containing coconut milk, kerisik, dried prawns, lemongrass, galangal and spices to match Curry Laksa, this special kind of Laksa gives a whole other meaning to its existence.
Johor Laksa is prepared along with onions, beansprouts, mint leaves, Vietnamese coriander, cucumber and pickled white radish of Sambal Belacan, to compliment the dish. Squeeze some lime juice before eating to give some sourly flavour and then you are good to go.
However, the unique twist of Johor Laksa does not only comes from its mixture of gravy, but the use of noodle involves. It uses spaghetti instead of a normal rice noodles or vermicelli. Giving the meal some Italian touché makes Johor Laksa a favourite amongst little children.
Nyonya Melaka Laksa or famously known as Laksa Lemak, is a form of Laksa with a rich coconut-based gravy. Another variant of Curry Laksa, Nyonya Melaka Laksa adds lots of coconut milk to give a unique richness to the meal. Influenced heavily by Thai Laksa, the Laksa dish includes some fresh prawns, onions, mango slices, chicken strips, and chilli as additional ingredients.
Originated from Sarawak, Laksa Sarawak it uses coconut milk as basic ingredient and is considered quite similar to Curry Laksa, except it doesn’t contain curry at all. It includes Sambal Belacan, tamarind fruit, garlic, galangal, and lemongrass to form its rich base and topped with chicken strips, omelette strips, prawns, fresh coriander, onions, mango strips and sometimes, a squeeze of lime as a special add-on. Furthermore, thin rice vermicelli is used as its main noodle.
The Laksa dish is a famous export from Sarawak and is highly recommended by locals to foreigners and visitors.
Tom Yam is a well-known soup dish from Thailand, in which it has created a very strong fan base here in Malaysia. As the preparation is as simple as the name itself, Tom Yam evolves greatly since its existence and now lots of vendors are implementing the art of Tom Yam into their dishes. One of them is the famous Tom Yam Laksa.
Using the same process in preparing a Tom Yam soup, the Laksa dish only takes in a bit of alteration by including thin vermicelli noodle into the dish. However, since Tom Yam soup has flexible ingredients, Tom Yam Laksa is quite linear on its choice of noodle, too. You may replace thin vermicelli with spaghetti and other types of noodles; all is favoured to your liking.
There you have it, people. Top 7 most sought-after Laksa in Malaysia. I believe there are more Laksa dishes out there are as good as the ones listed and are waiting to be discovered.
As we come to the end, I would like to pay respects to Laksa Shack, Chomey@the Curve and Ah Cheng Laksa for their wonderful assistance throughout the research. Hopefully with the establishment of the list, you, Laksa fans, will drop some reviews and perhaps, introduce other Laksa for people out there to try on.
Let’s wrap the list and go have Laksa NOW!