There’s More to the World’s Favourite Assam Laksa

Assam laksa. Source: rasamalaysia.com

Recently, our beloved comfort food Penang Assam Laksa was ranked 7 th on World’s Best 50 Foods by CNN Travel. As that should come to no surprise given what an explosion of taste a bowl of assam laksa can offer, I feel called to give the same appreciation to the various laksa(s) we Malaysians enjoy.

A bowl of laksa varies across regions, from its type of noodle to its broth and condiments, but none is superior than the other for they are all delicious! I will list down all the famous laksa for each region and try to provide you with a ‘locals-certified’ laksa spot for you to try for yourselves. (I have found this to be a bit tricky as we usually enjoy this dish home-cooked, at family functions, and by the roadside stalls!)

Laksa Kedah. Source: iluminasi.com
Northern Region: Laksa Kedah

While Penang assam laksa uses tamarind juice/ paste to give off the tangy, sour taste (hence the name, assam) and paired with prawn paste, Kedah laksa is more mild in its flavor as it is cooked with dried tamarind slices. Its broth is also lighter-coloured compared to Penang’s, which uses more red chillies. Kedah laksa is usually garnished with sliced bird’s eye chillies for that extra spicy kick when you bite into one! Click here for Penang assam laksa’s recipe and here for Kedah laksa. (Pro tip: if there’s no laksa noodle where you are, udon serves as a good replacement!)

Where to try:
CikWan Laksa Sotong Kulim
Address: Lot 705, Jalan Lunas, Kampung Sungai Badak, 09000 Kulim, Kedah
Phone: +6013 - 490 6490

Laksa Johor. Source: theinsiderarchived.com
Southern Region: Laksa Johor

Much different from the northern laksa, Johoreans prefer to have their laksa with spaghetti noodles! What’s more interesting, due to its thick gravy, it is traditionally eaten with our bare hands. However, this really depends on the thickness of the gravy of each household. Some prefer to enjoy their plate of laksa with the usual fork and spoon.

Apart from its noodle, laksa Johor is also distinctive in its gravy as it uses coconut milk, giving a richer, creamier flavour, accompanied by spicy sambal. (My mouth is watering just by typing this!) To get the recipe, click here.

Where to try:
Pondok Santapan Larkin
Address: No. 8, Jalan Puyuh Larkin Jaya, Larkin, 80350, Johor
Phone: +6012 - 745 0560

Laksa Nyonya. Source: bakewithpaws.com
Southern Region: Laksa Nyonya

If you head to Malacca, do not miss out on trying a bowl of laksa nyonya, the Peranakan version of laksa with curry broth! With similarities more inclined to match the curry mee, laksa nyonya is topped with various condiments to complement the creamy curry broth, such as fish balls, tofu puffs, as well as crunchy bean sprouts and long beans. However, it won’t be complete without the red sambal! (Much like many different laksa.)
To try it for yourself, get the recipe here.

Where to try:
Baba Low’s
Address: Jalan Siantan Sek 2, Off, Jalan Tengkera, Kampung Lapan, 75200, Malacca
Phone: +6012 - 324 7200

Laksam. Source: asianinspirations.com.au
East Coast: Laksam

Similarly, the East Coast’s favourite laksa, or laksam, is distinctive in its choice of noodle and broth. Well, in this case, they’re not technically noodles, because they’re rolled! Its thick, pale-coloured, almost gravy-like broth also uses coconut milk and the whole dish is complemented with sambal, as Malaysians always like it spicy. For its recipe, including a step-by-step of making the rolled rice noodle, click here.

Where to try:
Mariani Laksa
Address: 1177, Jalan Guchil Bayam, Kampung Darat, 15200 Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Phone: +6013 - 947 0017

Laksa Terengganu with kuah merah. Source: rasa.my
East Coast: Laksa Terengganu

Next, Terengganu’s laksa, a laksa that comes in two versions! ‘Kuah mentah’ (raw broth) or ‘kuah masak’ (cooked broth). As the name suggests, one is not exactly cooked in the conventional boiled-to-perfection way, while one is cooked as usual. ‘Kuah mentah’ is specially cooked by combining the coconut milk and hot water with other ingredients, and has to be consumed immediately.

Laksa Terengganu with kuah putih. Source: cookpad.com

On top of that, laksa Terengganu can be found in the form of ‘kuah putih’ (directly translated as white broth, more similar to Kelantan’s laksam) or kuah merah (directly translated as red broth, more similar to laksa Johor). Also similar to laksa Johor, laksa Terengganu is traditionally eaten with hand!
Click here for the recipe with ‘kuah merah’ and here with ‘kuah putih’.

Where to try:
On The Way Kopitiam
Address: No. 147, Jalan Bandar Baru, 20100 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu
Phone: +6012 - 954 6118

Laksa Pahang. Source: rasa.my
EAST COAST: LAKSA PAHANG

Another variation of laksa available in the East Coast region, is laksa Pahang. Also available in either kuah putih or kuah merah, it can be served with either the usual laksa noodles or spaghetti. Originally, laksa Pahang is distinctive in its type of noodle. While the usual laksa noodle is made of rice flour, Pahang makes its laksa noodle using wheat flour and uses a tool made from copper called ‘kebuk’ to turn the dough into noodles.
For its recipe, click here.

Where to try:
Laksa Gebok
Address: Kampung Batu 1, 28000 Temerloh, Pahang
Phone: +6019 - 924 8964

Laksa Sarawak. Source: sarawaktourism.com
East Malaysia: Laksa Sarawak

Last but definitely not the least, is everyone’s favourite laksa Sarawak. Unlike the rest of her laksa sisters, laksa Sarawak doesn’t use fish for its broth’s main ingredient! Instead, the key to its base is sambal belacan. Due to this, the flavourful broth is the most distinctive among the others. The protein of laksa Sarawak is not blended into the broth, but instead is topped with other condiments, like shredded chicken and prawns. For its noodle, Sarawakians use rice vermicelli noodles, a much thinner option than the rest of the laksa we have mentioned. To prepare the ‘Breakfast of the Gods’ (as dubbed by the late Anthony Bourdain), click here for its recipe.

Where to try:
Mom’s Laksa Kopitiam
Address: Ground Floor, SL-2, Jalan Astana, Ave Astana, Petra Jaya, 93050 Kuching,
Sarawak
Phone: +6019 - 812 8587

Who knew there would be so many versions of Malaysian laksa? I hope this short list will do justice to the rest of the scrumptious laksa(s) in Malaysia, for they all deserve a spot in the World’s Best Foods!


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