First to slurp a whole bowl of laksa wins!
Sure, we’re the middle of a 30-something-degree Hong Kong summer. But no, we’re not about to turn down a bowl of steaming hot laksa noodles. Never! It’s a classic hawker stall dish; it was made to be enjoyed in the sweltering heat! The Singaporean-Malaysian staple is an all-season comfort: oodles of al-dente noodles with fresh seafood toppings and laksa-soaked dried bean curd puffs. And the star, the one that binds condiments with the carbs: a spicy, creamy coconut broth infused with a multitude of spices and herbs like lemongrass, galangal and chillies, patiently simmered and stirred to rich, fragrant, golden-yellow perfection. Grab a portable fan and the biggest soup spoon you can find; here’s where to go for a bowl of authentic laksa in Hong Kong.
Bibi & Baba
Bibi & Baba’s dedicated menu to traditional Nyonya cuisine stashes away some very delicious gems but also some very familiar favourites. Like the laksa here: The Nyonya Laksa Lemak settles for a thick bee hoon (rice noodles) base in a rich coconut-based broth. Scanning clockwise around the generously topped bowl, you’ll find fresh prawns, taupok (fried beancurd), taugeh (bean sprouts), hard-boiled eggs, fish cakes and a sprinkling of laksa leaves for a fragrant first whiff before you dive excitedly in. The best way to enjoy: Scoop out a full spoon of noodles and soup and load it up with a bite of prawn and fishcake, with a laksa-soaked taupok perched precariously over the top.
Bibi & Baba, 1-7 Ship St, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2555 0628
With honest hand-to-heart authentic Singaporean-Malaysian cuisine, Café Malacca at Jen Hong Kong is a well-kept, if-you-know-you-know kind of secret spot. The menu is prolific; a delicious serving of top-hit favourites and regional dishes worth trying. The choices of laksa here, naturally, cover all evolutions, from the popular Singaporean coconut-base-rice-noodle edition with seafood and dried bean-curd puffs typically raved about, to the Penang Assam Laksa iteration, a spicy, piquant fish-base broth with thick rice vermicelli, topped with fresh pineapple, cucumber, onions and a pungent dollop of shrimp paste.
Café Malacca, L2, Jen Hong Kong by Shangri-La, 508 Queen’s Road West, Western District, Hong Kong, +852 2213 6613
If there’s one thing you can count when patronising Rempah Noodles, it’s that their piping hot bowls are always top-notch delicious, with satisfying spoonfuls of the rich creamy broth and chewy noodles. Prawn Mee aside, the short-and-sweet menu offers two other serves, both anchored on the restaurant’s signature laksa: A dry version for a worthy alternative for the high summer temps, and the classic Nonya Laksa Lemak. The latter is what most diners would expect to order: thick rice vermicelli emerged in a flavourful, multi-dimensional coconut-milk base rempah broth that runs spicy at first sip then lingers with a mild sweetness. Layered on top? Fish cakes, shredded chicken, bean curd puff and bean sprouts — gang’s all here.
Rempah Noodles, G/F, 18 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 3618 4863
J.A.M.‘s Uncle Quek’s take, a recipe prepared by celebrated chef Barry Quek, is an enduring tribute to the South East Asian original: A consummate sunset-orange broth, entwined with thick strands of rice noodles, made from a classic hot coconut milk concoction with a handful of aromatic herbs and spice — the perfect stage for the accompanying fresh prawns, cockles, shredded chicken and bean curd puffs. However, the best part of this bowl is arguably the hefty dollop of delicious sambal sauce. Swirl it within or add a tiny dollop to every spoonful — it’s savoury, tangy, spicy, balanced out with just a touch of sweetness. The very best.
Uncle Quek, J.A.M., Nexxus Building, 41 Connaught Road Central, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2808 1086
Little Nyonya is a no-frills kind of place; tucked-away and unassuming in quiet Quarry Bay. It’s designed for hasty sit-downs, slurp-up-the-whole-bowl-and-sprint-right-out kinds of schedules. You know what you’re getting before you head over, and that’s probably the seafood laksa, which has gained a rep as one of the restaurant’s top signatures. An inviting bowl topped with prawns, cockles, fish cakes and a tasty mix of egg noodles and vermicelli nestled beneath the thick coconut broth, photogenically speckled with chilli oil from the house-made laksa paste. So hard to fault.
Little Nyonya, G/F, Shop D9, 18 Hoi Tai Street, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong
Whenever Google Maps fails to accurately locate, you know you’re in for an authentic treat. Hidden away down an alley in Sheung Wan is Mean Noodles, which prides itself for its staunch devotion to traditional Malaysian hawker serves. One of which is the Nyonya Laksa, flavourfully layered with an impressive list of 20 ingredients including fresh laksa and pandan leaves flown in from Malaysia and Thailand. It’s built up from a chicken broth base that sits simmering for over three hours with a final splash of coconut milk that adds to the creamy, fragrant mouthfeel. As for the treasure trove of toppings buried within, expect all the classics against a combined mix of egg noodles and rice vermicelli.
Mean Noodles, Shop 4, 148 Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 3104 0288
Header image courtesy of Bibi & Baba.