I was a little reluctant when my friend Sarah first mentioned this dish that we had to find while in Singapore. She described this “laksa” as a soupy kind of curry; and while soup and curry are right up my alley, I wasn’t megakeen on hot food in such a hot place. I had been to Singapore previously, but had been with a group that wasn’t overly interested in hunting down local foods, so I didn’t really have a sense of what Singaporean food was even like.
Lucky for me, Sarah had also previously been to SG to visit her sister who had been living there, so her first experience in the city was a bit more authentic and robust than mine had been. I trust her judgement implicitly- and if she said that it was something I would like, then I was on board.
Before we left the hostel, we charted our day-plan – and were sure to include a trip to the shops and restaurants hidden under the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. We stayed at City Backpackers on Hong Kong Street (which was so amazingly central to everything that it enabled us to walk just about everywhere), so in the morning we grabbed our hydration, took one last look at the map, and headed out. After walking for a bit, we stopped for some pictures with the Merlion and then trudged on towards our final destination: food. Altogether, it took us about 45 minutes to get from the hostel to The Sands.
We walked around the basement food court, Rasapura Masters, with me looking confused and maybe a little frightened (I tend to get this weird crazed look when someone has told me to “keep my eye out” for something) and Sarah moving with a swift determination of a lady on a mission.
“This is it!!!” She’s usually really calm, so when the excited proclamation came, I knew it was time to get serious – and get laksa. The stall’s name was Mei Xi’s Yong Tau Foo and can be easily spotted because it has a “pick your own” display at the front. I followed Sarah’s lead, grabbing veg and other things that looked familiar, and then handed over the bowl to the man behind the counter. Our bowls were hit with noodles, broth, and then handed back.
The time had come…. what was this threatening, yellow-orange, hellbroth in front of me? It was wonderful, that’s what it was. It was coconutty and smooth and not nearly as spicy as the color made it appear. I finished everything in my bowl and left stuffed.
We left Singapore without making it back again – so much food, so little time! We were pretty bummed that we had only eaten laksa once, that we were nothing shy of tickled when we saw it on a menu in Malaysia and we ordered a bowl to split. As it turns out, there are lots of different kinds of laksa. And they are not all created equal. No sir. No.
While we were bummed, I think we ultimately chalked it up to a learning experience. I had put the whole ordeal out of my mind until I came back to the states in April 2014. I was about 2 weeks back and the cravings for all things Asian-food hit me like a ton’o’bricks. I binge-Googled locations for all the most reputable places in the Rhode Island and Massachusetts area, and was heartily disappointed to discover there were not Singaporean restaurants around. I periodically recheck the Boston area offerings and look for Singaporean food whenever I travel to a new place, but so far I’ve had no luck.
I deeply regret not spending more time with the curry laksa; telling it how I felt and how much it meant to me. Laksa made me feel joy in a way I had never before experienced, and though I was a little surprised at how drawn I was to a homely bowl of curry soup, it was the best dang curry soup I’ve ever had and ever will have. So….. Mei Xi’s laksa…… if you read this: I love you, I miss you, and I want you here with me. XOXO
- Have you ever been to Singapore/tried Singaporean food?
- Have you encountered any “foods that got away” – something you can’t find anywhere but it’s home location?
- What is the best hawker/food stall type food you’ve encountered while traveling?