The One [Food] That Got Away

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,Β 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 Β 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.

Marina Bay and the Merlion.... and a guy in white linen..... our destination in the background.

Marina Bay and the Merlion…. and a guy in white linen….. our destination in the background.

We walked around the basement food court, Rasapura Masters,Β 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.

My laksa at Mei Xi's in Marina Bay Sands

My laksa at Mei Xi’s in Marina Bay Sands

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.

Me with my beloved

Me with my beloved

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?I LEFT MY BELOVED LAKSA BACK IN SINGAPORE :(I LEFT MY BELOVED LAKSA BACK IN SINGAPORE :(
  • 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?

 

 

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15 Comments

  1. Haha! I’m from Singapore and am delighted to see this post dedicated to laksa! It’s one of my favorite too (there’s too many different good food in this country). There’s assam laksa in Malaysia’s Penang too, great observation when you noted not all laksas are created equal.

    Here’s hoping you will get to satisfy your craving in this country soon =)

    • Thanks Kristine! I’m actually going to order stuff online and try to make it myself lol It might not turn out the same, but I’m sure it’ll be enough to take the craving away!

  2. I have never tried laksa but now I’ve read your post I really want to. I’ve never been to Singapore, but it sounds like it might be worth it to try this authentic dish! I hope you track down somewhere you can eat it now that you’re back home.

  3. Oh, I LOVE street food! I have never been to Singapore but a coconut curry sounds delicious (my mouth is watering now!) – I am pinning this for when the time comes πŸ˜‰ Btw. is that an Alice Cooper song reference there in the title?! πŸ˜€

  4. This post is hilarious! I loved the humour you used at the end πŸ™‚ I suspect that I will feel the same about pav bhaji – a Mumbai streetfood speciality. I used to eat it all the time when I lived in Mumbai, but I left in May and worry that I may never eat it again πŸ™

  5. Aww it sucks you can’t find laksa at home! I’m from Sydney and there is laksa everywhere. I used to work at a pub and the restaurant attached specialised in laksa. I’m not a massive fan because all I could smell all day/night at work was laksa!!

  6. We were in Singapore some time back but missed out on Laksa. Of course our itinerary was packed and we actually did not go for local cuisine, no wonder we missed this, will look out for it next time.

  7. I have not been to Singapore yet, but I have made laksa at home and I was surprised by the taste πŸ™‚
    Hopefully I can visit SP someday and try some real laksa!
    x

    • That’s awesome that you were able to make it at home! I wasn’t able to find the ingredients here, but luckily Santa saw my Amazon wishlist and I have everything I need now, too! Singapore is incredible and it has a little bit of everything… beach, city, outside stuff…. And Singapore Air is the best airline I’ve ever been on πŸ™‚

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