Kuala Lumpur - Best Sarawak laksa in town?
- klyeoh May 26, 2011 10:55 PM
To get really good Sarawak laksa usually entails a 2-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching on Borneo island, across the South China Sea. I'd been totally captivated by the unique & very addictive taste of Sarawak laksa from my very first taste of this divine dish during a trip to Kuching (Sarawak) a few years back - so much so that I'd insisted on having it for breakfast every day for the rest of my stay there.
So it was an utter joy when I finally discovered perhaps the BEST Sarawak laksa in Kuala Lumpur at the much-talked-about Auntie Christina's in Lucky Gardens this morning (after disappointing versions in Laksa Shack, Alexis, etc.). There's a sign on Christina's stall which proclaimed that she'd been dispensing bowls of her piquant delicious Sarawak laksa since 1960!
Christina Jong, Sarawakian native of Chinese-Hakka descent, is a pleasant little lady, immaculately groomed, and took great pride in meticulously preparing each & every bowl of her laksa. I ordered a bowl, then sat & watch as she carefully blanched the bee hoon rice noodles, followed by the beansprouts (just 30 seconds or so in hot water to remove the raw flavor, yet retaining the crunch). Into the bowl went the blanched noodles & sprouts, which were then topped with finely shredded egg omelette, strips of poached chicken breast meat, and 3 peeled/blanched fresh shrimps. She then filled the bowl with her hyper-delicious Sarawak laksa broth, which had the viscosity of lobster bisque, but with an absolutely different, semi-herbal, semi-spicy, totally-addictive scent and flavor. Christina's version has the requisite slight-sourish taste, but lacked the bitterish after-taste of the versions I had in Kuching (e.g. Min Heng in Carpenter Street - the supposedly grand-daddy of all Sarawak laksa eateries in Kuching), perhaps because Christina has tweaked her recipe to suit KL tastes and is less concentrated. Still, she explained that she uses native spices flown in from Sarawak on a regular basis. She topped her laksa with fresh green sprigs of coriander leaves before it's proudly served.
The textures & flavors of the ingredients - crunchy sprouts, al dente noodles, tender chicken, fresh shrimps, sourish kalamansi-spiked laksa broth, all came together like a perfect symphony. Definitely a must-not miss foodie spot in KL!
Auntie Christina's Stall
Nam Chun Coffee Shop
2-4 Jalan Ara Kiri 2
59100 Kuala Lumpur
Open: 8am to late-afternoon.
Slurp. We have a nice Sarawak laksa spot here in Singapore:- Block 205 Bedok Central which was recommended to us by a Sarawak friend.
Back at Nam Chun Coffee Shop this morning - but this time for another Sarawakian speciality - the "kolok mee" which I'm guessing evolved from Cantonese/HK-style "kon-lo wanton mein".
The stall is situated right behind Aunt Christina's stall, you won't miss it.
Each bowl of kolok mee consisted of springy egg noodles, minced pork & barbecued pork (char-siu), plus young kai-lan shoots & finely chopped spring onions, all tossed in a light pork-based gravy. A little saucer containing pickled red chillis in vinegar were served on the side - I tossed the contents of mine into the noodles & the sharp vinegary sauce cuts thru the noodles beautifully. Tasty meal - perfect for breakfast.
Tried another Sarawak "Kolo Mee" today - at least, that's what this other Sarawakian stall in PJ New Town called their noodles. Very interesting - beautiful, springy noodles with a texture that's to-die for, dressed in basically pork lard oil, then topped with delicious char-siew pork and cuts of a 5-spice meat-roll. The noodle dish was accompanied by a little bowl of fish-ball and seaweed soup. Nice!
The steamed rice dumpling (粽子) filled with pork, chestnut, dried oysters, salted duck-egg yolk and shitake mushrooms from a neighboring stall was also absolutely delicious - the glutinous rice was soft yet retaining enough bite.
I have to come back here for their other popular stalls - Penang prawn noodles, wanton noodles, and kaya toast.
Stalls at Kam Heong Coffeeshop
8 Jalan Tengah, off Jalan Yong Shook Lin
(near Menara MBPJ)
PJ New Town
46200 Petaling Jaya
I would expect so, yes?
The default meaning of "Har Mee" in KL - when I lived there - was always "Penang Har Mee", that bowl of fairly thick egg-type noodles (ee meen) in a yellow-brown-orange prawn stock w/ red chili&prawn-headcream-colored oil floating in it [made from prawn shells/heads/"head cream" + prawns + seasonings (+ some belachan with some stalls) + chili paste] that had a decent chili "kick" but not too fiery; kangkong; sliced hard boiled eggs; & cooked prawns as the essential components. Oh, and always a scattering of fried shallots, maybe some scallions/cilantro. YUM!! I think I'm going to have to make another pot of it soon, now... :-)
Except that kangkong is hard to get/not good in winter here in the US... :-(
...and is technically "outlawed" in various States due to its status as a noxious weed...
Oh yes, that's the type I saw. BTW, huiray, I could find "kangkung" quite readily in San Francisco (where I spent 30% of my time between 2007-2010), although I must confess that it's not exactly my fave type of vegetable. I'm more a broccoli and asparagus person - which is great since Chinese preparations of these types of vegies are simple but totally delicious.
Regarding kangkong (Ipomoea aquatica): Yes, I'm sure you found it readily in SF. I can find it readily in the Mid-West and in NYC too, most of the time...but they may not be of the best quality now because they would be more woody because of colder weather, and transportation into the northern States now in cold weather is iffy because the veggie falls apart so readily to mush under cold and damp conditions.
Many "Asian" stores sell kangkong openly, some more discretely. Propagation and selling of kangkong in some states is not disallowed (usually the more northerly ones, because their Natural Resources Dept may have ruled it unlikely to spread rapidly due to the climate zone of the state or other factors [e.g., see: http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/PLANT/603_0...] notwithstanding its inclusion on the Federal List of Noxious Weeds: http://www.weedcenter.org/inv_plant_i... .
Some states (usually southerly ones) have various actively applied laws regulating farming/commerce with kangkong, or transport across State lines. See, e.g.: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/pi/en... [The 'Comments' section towards the bottom might be interesting... :-) ]
Texas, for example banned the growing of kangkong some years back but relented to allow small-scale growing for the "Asian" population. See, e.g.: http://www.texasinvasives.org/plant_d... ; http://www.machsong.org/english/modul... .
See also: http://www.worldcrops.org/crops/Water...
Have a look at this, too, if you are interested - in particular Section VI page 6 regarding kangkong in San Francisco. :-) http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_healt...
Back to Auntie Christina's for more of her irresistible Sarawak laksa. This time, I also tried her 'weekend special' - chicken simmered in wine and Sarawak pepper. Absolutely brilliant!! The chicken pieces were moist and tender, and the wine sauce sure packed a punch.