Laksa, a popular Peranakan-inspired noodle dish, is one of Malaysia’s most famous meals; no mean feat considering our massive menu. Consisting of rice noodles served in spicy coconut-based curry broth, every region in Malaysia from Pahang to Penang puts their own regional twist on the top (or surprise in the sauce). Here are Malaysia’s most popular laksa varieties and where to find the best bowlfuls:
PENANG LAKSA (ASAM)
Penang’s asam (sour) laksa is stewed in a spicy and sour fish broth, with tamarind and chillies the signature spices to flavour this filling noodle dish. Prawn paste and pineapple, plus other condiments such as fresh cucumber; it’s essential eating in Penang. Visit Penang Road Famous Laksa and see how it earns its name. Find the best Assam laksa in Kuala Lumpur here.
5, Lebuh Keng Kwee, George Town, 10100 George Town, Pulau Pinang.
There’s a fusion food feel in Johor’s laksa, which uses spaghetti rather than rice or vermicelli for the noodle base, giving it a slightly Western texture. The sauce is quite similar to asam laksa, though served much thicker (Johoreans prefer this as finger food). Mackerel, threadfin and prawns are the main ingredients. Spoon some spicy sambal on top, squeeze a lime over the lot, and dig in. If you’re in Johor, check out Bumbu Asli.
Danga Bay, Skudai, Danga Bay, 80200 Johor Bahru, Johor
Curry laksa (or, curry mee) is a coconut-based curry broth with thick rice or egg noodles. Topped with tofu, beansprout and usually chicken and shrimp (though some places will put in some char siew (BBQ roast) pork too), it can be enjoyed all over the country. For the best curry laksa in KL, check out Charlie’s Café.
29, Jalan Bukit Desa 5, Taman Bukit Desa, 58100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
On the menu all over Malacca, nyonya laksa is rich coconut milk-based gravy with fish broth, chicken and prawns, bean sprouts and bean curd, and centuries of flavour and spice in every slurp; inspired by Malay, Chinese, even Thai influences from the old trading routes, it’s a taste of tradition. Limapulo: Baba Can Cook does one of the best nyonya laksas in Kuala Lumpur, where so much preparation work goes into the signature dish that it’s only available on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays.
50, Jalan Doraisamy, Chow Kit, 50300 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
Sarawak’s most famous food: the iconic Sarawak laksa. A favourite food of Anthony Bourdain himself, who once described it as “Breakfast of the Gods”. Of course, it tastes great any time of day. It’s rice vermicelli, shredded omelette, and prawns and chicken, and any Sarawakian will tell you that the secret is in the laksa paste, which can require up to 20 ingredients. It’s hearty, balanced, and it’s hard to stick to one bowl. In KL, try Restoran Dapur Sarawak for the best Sarawak laksa in the city.
Off, 19, Jalan Sarikei, Pekeliling, 53000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur