Janggut Laksa: The stall that made Katong laksa famous!
What we liked:
— The iconic Katong spoon laksa is excellently done here
— The Singapore-style chicken curry is one of the best we’ve had
What we didn’t:
— The prices are a little on the high side
There are many laksa stalls in the Joo Chiat/Katong area but only two of them made Katong laksa the famous dish that it now is.
One of them is the now-defunct Roxy Laksa which started in 1952 at the old Roxy Cinema (now Roxy Square) and Janggut Laksa whose owner invented the dish of laksa in the 1940s.
The story goes that original owner Ng Juat Swee started selling his unique creation of laksa around the Marina Parade beach area in the 1940s. His younger brother, Chwee Seng, joined him in the business and by the late 50s, the stall was based at 49 East Coast Road under the name “Marine Parade Laksa”.
The business closed down in 1978 due to increases in rental but reopened two years later at Far East Square as Janggut Laksa.
Fast forward to current times and the business is now being handled by the second generation and they now have four outlets across the island.
Their current laksa offerings are perhaps less intense in taste as compared to earlier years, predominantly due to less dried shrimps, less tee po (dried solefish) used in the gravy and also not being able to use charcoal for the cooking.
But the final result has actually resulted in an arguably better tasting laksa.
Instead of dried shrimps and tee po dominating the flavour, the flavours are more delicate and restrained such that you are able to taste the cockles, the laksa leaf and the light coconut creaminess.
There is a nice blend of savoury dried shrimp/dried fish stock flavours, light but still present and there is a combination of oil and milk richness in each bite.
The other highlight are the multitude of textures which can be had in a bowl — curdled coconut milk bits, leaf and ground spice bits, crunchy towgay and firm chor (thick) bee hoon.
As it is spoon laksa, all the ingredients are cut up — fishcakes, prawns, beehoon and ask for more chilli if you don’t mind the spice as it adds a nice amount of spiciness and mild sweetness, just enough to round out the dish.
The downside is that their laksa is pricier than most places — $4.50/5.50/6.50 — but that doesn’t stop the lunchtime crowds at their flagship stall at Queensway Towers.
It is customary to eat laksa with otah ($1.30) and — even though it is factory made — it comes nicely moist, flavourful and rich with herb and fish bits.
Not talked about much but almost as popular is the chicken curry, but it is a little on the pricey side.
The Curry Chicken w Rice/Bread ($4.50/5.50/6.50) comes thick and robust with a moderate spiciness and very little sweetness. Taste-wise, it is one of the best renditions of a Singapore-style lemak (rich) curry available to buy.
A pity the portions are a little lacking — you only get three small mid wings, two small drumsticks and rice. It makes for a modest portion if anything.
You can get that addictive curry with a fried chicken cutlet ($5/6/7) but again, the portions are small for the price.
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