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Sep 3, 2001 01:13 AM

Looking for good Laksa

  • b

I had Laksa a few times when visiting Australia, and got hooked, Where is the best Laksa in the bay area?

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  1. I'm sorry to say you may never find a laksa to rival the ones you had in Australia here. The reason is that laksa in Australia is very, very authentic due to the fact that during the 60s, 70s and 80s Australia took in an unprecedented number of Malaysian Chinese professionals. Monash University, where I attended college, had the largest intake of Malaysian students and incidently the best darn laksa I ever tasted outside Kuala Lumpa. It is a sad fact that amongst the new world nations I have found that the most significant amount of adulteration of ethnic Asian foods occurs in the US. I'm not sure why this is the case...perhaps Asian migrants feel more accepted by American customers if they homoginize the food.I would be interested to hear from Americans who have eaten Asian foods overseas, whether or not they feel this is the case.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Panpan

      i have to agree that americans(both the cooks and the consuimers) are changing the tastes of many of these ethnic foods.

      maybe they are just not adventurous or willing to try something new. just today i saw this family at a Korean buffet in Hayward and they saw the little round pink things in the dessert section and went "eeeel". they did not even try it. some even thought it's fish eggs. if i were them, i will just try it to find out. they want things that are very familiar to them.

      also, many of my wife coworkers when going to chinese restaurant do not eat other dishes than the common dishes like sweet sour pork. they have not even tried it once in their lives and already they're turn off by it. maybe there are many percentage of americans like that so the restaurants changed their menu to accomodate them.

      1. re: Han Lukito
        Food Dog Man

        It's a two-way street. The people who own restaurants want to sell food. They sometimes change it in the belief, mistaken or not, that they'll sell more of it.

        You should taste Chinese food in Germany. Yechhhh!

        1. re: Food Dog Man
          Melanie Wong

          There's a recent post on the International message board bemoaning the state of Chinese restaurants in Budapest.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Yes you are certainly right Melanie..I remember having dreadful Chinese food in London too. I guess the problem is proximity. I forget how close Australia is to Asia. The food is authentic there, perhaps, because the source isn't too far away. BTW the best Bei Jing kao ya I ever ate was made by an Australian aborigine not a Chinese!

            1. re: Panpan

              Another problem is lack of ingredients. A whole Americanized Chinese cuisine grew up in the US before globalized transportation made it possible to get authentic ingredients.

              It is still hard to get fresh Asian produce items outside areas with large Asian populations. I don't know if it's because it is impossible to grow them in local soil and climate conditions or if very few Asian immigrants go into farming or something else, or all of the above.

              I'm guessing Australia benefits from being physically close to Asia and from Asians being a larger percentage of the population than in the US or Europe.

    2. I haven't been able to find good laksa around here - either the red hot spicy Singaporean version or the Malay Assam Laksa ones. For stop gap measures, I go to Tracy Garden on Judah and 48th or Singapore Malaysian on Clemtn and 10th in SF. I haven't tried the laksa at Banana Garden in the Richmond.

      1. I don't know why, but there are some dishes that just don't translate well over here, where so many ingredients are bigger and better. Laksa is probably one of them. Maybe it's the scarcity of fresh coconut milk, or laksa leaf, or some other spice.

        I fell in love with laksa in Singapore, and that bowl still haunts me, the broth, thick with coconut cream, and the fragance of the herbs, the heat of the curry paste, and the pungency of the blachan. . . Does any one have a good recipe? I once bought a packet of "laksa spice paste" made in Singapore and it was truly awful. But is laksa leaf available here?

        2 Replies
        1. re: Pia R

          Here is a recipe that friends seem to like. I have tried using frozen coconut juice which you can buy from Ranch 99, but it doesnt seem to improve it that much over the canned variety, although some cans are better than others.


          pork bones 1 cube of chicken bouillon 3
          chicken legs 1 - 2 cans coconut milk 2 stalks lemon
          grass 1/2 cup dried prawns (processed or chopped fine)
          2 tablespoons Thai Red Curry paste salt to taste My fun or lai fun noodles
          Fish balls, fried bean curd, cooked prawns and bean sprouts for garnishing

          Cook soup stock with pork bones, chicken, lemon grass and chicken bouillon.
          Remove chicken and shred meat for garnish. Stir fry dried prawns and add to stock
          with curry paste. Add coconut milk last and warm up fish balls and fried bean
          curd in the gravy just before serving. Cook noodles separately. Scald bean
          sprouts. Serve in soup bowls with bean sprouts, noodles and garnishing on top.

          1. re: Chen

            Many, many thanks for taking the time and effort to write up your recipe for laksa. I will enjoy trying to prepare it, almost as much as eating it!