Cheap & Good

Penang assam laksa packs a spicy, sour punch

Satisfaction in a bowl best sums up the Penang Assam Laksa at Penang Kaki, a stall in Maxwell Food Centre.

You can tell that a stall is doing something right when Singapore-based Malaysian friends and family tell you that the laksa there is "not bad" or "a good attempt", especially since they hardly admit to anything here being authentic. When it comes to food, Malaysians are just as fussy a bunch of eaters as we are.

The assam laksa is a little more reddish and watery than other versions out there, but it's nothing to be alarmed about.

Flavour-wise, it hits all the right notes - it is punchy, adequately sour and mildly spicy.

I love that the noodles are thick, all the better to soak up the soupy gravy. In fact, the type of noodles is quite similar to what is used in Penang and Kuala Lumpur. They are fatter and bouncier than the thick bee hoon used in curry laksa, and the texture resembles silver needle noodles, also known as mee tai mak.

Delightful chunks of fish can be found throughout the bowl too.

My only gripe is that there could be more ingredients for garnishing - more mint leaves, more pineapple, more shredded cucumber, more ginger flower.

I guess I have been spoilt: When eating assam laksa at home, I pile on the pineapple, along with the other toppings. So, to me, anything less can seem meagre and insufficient.

But at $4 a bowl, there isn't much to complain about.

The assam laksa here keeps my cravings at bay.

Other items on the menu include prawn noodles, rojak and kolo mee. If the laksa is anything to go by, perhaps the other offerings will be just as promising.

It's hard to say whether a dish is authentic because it all depends on an individual's upbringing, background and taste preferences. But I can certainly attest that Penang Kaki's laksa deserves a thumbs up.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.