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Apr 28, 2008 10:41 AM

Laksa in Western Canada

Has anyone been able to find a laksa anywhere in Western Canada that is close to the laksa you can get in Sydney, Australia? I lived in Australia for a little bit and got addicted to the seafood laksa in the little asian food courts in Sydney (the ones with all the photos that you can order by number). I have never been to Singapore or Malaysia so I have no idea if the stuff in Australia was "westernized" but all I can say is that it was damn good. Spicy, sweet, coconutty with fresh seafood, rice noodles at the bottom and a tasty topping *drool*.

I'm in Calgary and there's only one Malay place I know of (Tropika) and I've tried their laksa and it was disappointing. The closest I've had here was sadly out of a laksa packet mix from T&T supermarket that I prepared myself.

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  1. I quite enjoyed the laksa at Prima Taste in Vancouver. The broth was very coconut-y and a wee spicy, with perfectly "al dente" rice noodles and healthy portions of chicken (I had the chicken laksa).

    Calgary is sorely lacking for Malay food. However, I recently tried the Thai Thom Yum soup at Spice Café, and while it is not the same thing as laksa, it is dang delicious.

    3 Replies
    1. re: aktivistin

      Where is this Spice Cafe? I've read older reviews about this place having laksa but I seem to be getting different address locations when I google it.

      1. re: slingshotz

        There is a Spice Café location on 11 Ave SW, between 5th and 6th Streets (south side of the street). There is also another location in Kensington, at the corner of Kensington Road and 10 St.

        1. re: aktivistin

          and another in the 5 West Condos (5th Ave b/t 8 and 9 St SW)

    2. In Vancouver: Prima Taste and Banana Leaf for higher-end places (I have reviewed both of these places on this board).

      Cafe D'Lite and Hawker's Delight for hawker-style service.

      I've had Laksa in Sydney (I can't remember the names of the restos as it was a few years ago now...) and I think these places will compare favourably.

      Laksa (since you mentioned the instant mix) is actually very easy to make from scratch yourself .

      1. surprisingly, I would recommend a place in New Westminster, BC, called Tamarind Hill. i work in new west, so if you are in burnaby or the burbs, its incredibly delicious and well-valued Malaysian cuisine. I get the Singapore Laksa at least twice a week for lunch.

        Its on 6th Avenue, across from royal City Centre, near 8th Street.

        1 Reply
        1. re: gelfball

          I have heard good things about this place - too far out of the way for me, though. kwailan4 has recommended Tamarind Hill for the Chicken Rice.

        2. Bumping this thread. I'm seeking the definitive Laksa in the GVA. I've had it at Prima Taste, Banana Leaf, Hawker's Delight, Cafe D'Lite, Tropika, Seri Malaysia, and a couple of other places over the years.

          I'm hoping a Singapore or Malaysian ex-pat could weigh in on authenticity (kwailan4 are you reading? ;) ) . I have a clear understanding on what will make this dish "authentic" having prepared it myself and having had it many times in situ in Singapore...but there's nothing like a native's stamp of approval.

          13 Replies
          1. re: fmed

            Well here I am :)

            When I first arrived, I cook laksa with my mom's sambal chilli which I brought from home. When that ran out, I ate mainly at Banana Leaf. Later, we found Ellie's. But ever since Prima Taste opened, it has been there. Partly because it is near where I work and partly because my daughter loves their pepper crab.

            So what do I look for? Dried shrimp and good coconut broth. Tofu puffs are bonus. I like the way they soak the broth and squirts when you bite into them.

            In Vancouver, some restaurants' Laksa taste like what we call curry noodle in Singapore, but most people can't tell the difference.

            Note that there are 2 kinds of laksa, Penang and Singapore. I am not too familiar with Penang Laksa, but I understand the broth is fish-based.

            1. re: kwailan4


              >>So what do I look for? Dried shrimp and good coconut broth. Tofu puffs are bonus. I like the way they soak the broth and squirts when you bite into them.

              >>In Vancouver, some restaurants' Laksa taste like what we call curry noodle in Singapore, but most people can't tell the difference.

              So what is it different? Is it missing belachan or similar ingredient? I have had Laksa in Sydney Australia and that seems to be a common omission (it was lacking in the fermented seafood flavour note). An Aussie colleague tried the Laksa at Prima Taste and did not like it because it "tasted fishy". It could also be candlenut - I think some restos are using peanut butter or omitting it entirely.

              I like Prima Taste's Laksa, for the record, though the serving is a tad small ;)

              1. re: fmed

                Well, it's hard to be put into words.

                The base for Laksa is sambal belacan (dried shrimp) while the base for curry is curry paste and both are cooked with coconut. So yes, it could be fishy to some.

                For your quest, you may have to first decide what to take as base comparison :) For me, it is the Katong version.

                1. re: kwailan4

                  Katong Laksa was awesome. Which # was you favourite? I think i ate at 3 different stalls for lunch on the same day! :)

                  1. re: yen

                    This is the "cut up" Laksa right?

                    1. re: yen

                      Err ... There were only 2 stalls along Tanjong Katong during my time. I understand a lot of copycats emerged since then.

                      It is the stall right under the overhead pedestrian bridge. The broth looks like it has beaten eggs in it. And yes, fmed, no chopsticks needed.

                      On my last trip back (3 years ago), I was brought to a stall where they still cook the laksa over charcoal. S$2 per bowl. I had 2 bowls. I know how to get there, but I do not know where it is.

                      Back to what I look for in laksa. Laksa leaves!!! You can get them in the Vietnamese supermarket. It is known as something else though. I do not remember any restaurants using it here. For the price Prima Taste is charging, you would expect them to use fresh ones, but no, they use dried ones.

                      1. re: kwailan4

                        We are getting closer to the definitive Laksa.

                        Laksa Leaves = Vietnamese Mint

                        I've seen it in pho garnish plates around town in the past (along with the thai basil, sawtooth herb, limes, bean sprouts)'s getting rarer now though.

                        So here in Van, kwailan4, you mention Prima Taste and Ellie...anywhere else serves quasi-authentic Laksa that you personally like?

                        1. re: fmed

                          I'll probably add Banana Leaf to the list simply because that used to be my "default", but I have not been there for a while.

                          1. re: kwailan4

                            So far the only place I haven't been to is Ellie, then. Thanks kwailan4.

                        2. re: kwailan4

                          Really? There were probably 7 or 8 stalls when i was there last fall. Ah well, tasty times regardless.

                2. re: fmed

                  Update. Prima Taste and Orchid Delight are closed.

                  There was a notice on the door at Prima Taste saying they will re-open in mid-Jan. It was then changed to late Jan, and now, nothing. I called the restaurant and there was a message saying they are closed for good.

                  I guess it is back to Ellie's and Banana Leaf for now.

                  BTW, listed a Cafe D'lite express in Aberdeen food court. Anybody tried it yet?

                  1. re: kwailan4

                    Too bad on on PT and OD...PT was a located in a pretty pricey location.

                    Interesting note on Cafe D'lite Express....I may have to head out there soon.

                3. I too cannot find good laksa in Alberta...except:
                  My mother in law makes awesome singaporean laksa from PrimaDeli packages. she boils shrimp and chicken, then reserves the stock for the laksa soup. I really like the sambal chilli that comes in the package - reminds me of Singapore.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Simsters

                    Has anyone tried laksa at the Singapore Baba restaurant in Edmonton? I've only been there once, about 8 years ago, so don't remember much about it.

                    1. re: Simsters

                      haven't found a good place in edmonton for laksa yet. right now the only one I know of that's still open is tropika. there's another place called matahari that has singapore laksa which I'm gonna try in a few hours here. I'll post after how it is.

                      1. re: Simsters

                        so I tried singapore laksa from matahari. tasted a bit like assam. I thought that tropika's was better. also tried their curry puffs. they were small.