Ask a local what Katong is most famous for and chances are the word Katong Laksa would come into mind. Yes, this time round foodiedoo pops by the still-very-famous 328 Katong Laksa.
To dig into the history books trying to find the original “Katong Laksa” would be something that I might do someday but there is not denying about the fact most people would come to Ceylon Road’s 328 Katong Laksa to get a taste of the popular “Katong Laksa”.
To be honest, whether 328 Katong Laksa is the original or not would be irrelevant. So long my taste buds are happy about the taste, anything goes! I remember for a good number of years many other hawkers tried to ride on the Katong Laksa fame by opening Laksa stalls in the area, claiming to be the original Katong Laksa but not many of such stalls survived the expectations. I guess that the reason might be simple. It’s not the name that matters. The taste does.
Mdm Lucy Koh (aka Nancy) with her son
When I visited 328 Katong Laksa to satisfy my craving for some really good Laksa, Mdm Lucy Koh happened to be there manning the stall with her son. After chatting up, she presented me her name card which read Lucy Koh (Nancy). I immediately asked why the two different names out of curiosity. It turns out that Nancy was her “street name” which was commonly used by her customers. It was until she joined a pageant competition which her real name must be used to register that she had no choice but to use her original name, Lucy. She eventually won the title of Classic Mrs Singapore Globe back in the 2006 pageant.
Since Mdm Lucy started hiring workers, very seldom would she be required to be behind the stall doing the cooking. She basically takes charge of managing the handful of outlets and the main outlet at Ceylon Road is co-run by her son.
The main ingredients that made up the popular Katong Laksa are fresh cockles, sliced fish cakes, halved prawns and a little bit of beansprouts for the added crunch.
These key ingredients are first topped onto the smooth, white thick beehoon before the cook starts pouring the laksa sauce into the bowl. The gravy is then poured back into the pot, draining the ingredients. This action is then repeated 3-4 times before the bowl of fragrant is finally being served.
So why the repeated actions of pouring and draining the laksa gravy with the ingredients? Apart as an act to contribute some slight showmanship to preparing the laksa, it’s basically to allow the ingredients in the bowl to soak in all of the laksa flavour. To enhance the flavour even further, a sprinkle of laksa leaves are added before serve.
The End Result
Katong Laksa , comes in Small, Medium and Large portions
(from $4 onwards)
One would easily notice that no chopsticks are given and only a large spoon is provided to customers to enjoy the laksa. This is also one of Katong Laksa’s signatures, to be able to consume with just a spoon and nothing else. The thick beehoon are already pre-cut as such that with each spoon that you put into your mouth would contain all of the ingredients with the laksa gravy to ensure you get the fullest kick!
Each ingredient within the bowl complements each other very well and I quite like the laksa gravy. It’s not too heavy as compared to the Claypot Laksa which I recently tried. It’s certainly not too spicy either, which is good news to those who don’t really take can’t take the higher end of the Scoville scale. Not to mention that the gravy is smooth and gentle to the throat. I had no problems slurping down the entire bowl without getting “choked”. The thick beehoon slides down the throat very easily but I do hope that the coconut milk taste can be a little bit, just a little bite, stronger. Overall the laksa is not too oily either!
If you need to add some extra kick to the already-very-good laksa, feel free to add some of these homemade chilli paste made by Mdm Lucy. Not too oily and definitely a good pair-up with the laksa gravy, you can add as much as you like! If you really like the chilli paste you could also buy some from the stall, all conveniently pre-packed for easy consumption.
The otah-otah is also worth the try. At $1.10 each, the portion of each otah-otah is huge. Well-wrapped in banana leaves and grilled on the spot, the fish meat is fresh and certainly goes very well with the laksa.
Otak-Otak available at $1.10 each
You could almost taste the fish with spices, in your mind.
I would also recommend to try the home-made barley here to help lighten up this heavy meal. At $1.20 for each cup of ice-cold barley, this is considered the stall’s favourite drink.
As I mentioned, whether or not 328 Katong Laksa is the original “Katong Laksa” is pretty much secondary to me. The fact is that the laksa here is indeed very well worth the visit. I can’t really fault the laksa gravy, which is the essence of all Laksa dishes but I don’t mind if the laksa gravy can be a little be heavier in terms of taste, spiciness and the use of coconut milk. This is definitely one of the must-tries in my books, especially if you are a Laksa lover!
Ratings: 4.0 foodiedoos out of 5.0
328 Katong Laksa
216 East Coast Road
Tel: 90212389 (Lucy Koh aka Nancy)