Katong Laksa wars! Ground zero used to be at the junction of Ceylon Rd and East Coast Rd. Around 15 years ago, that place was a war zone with a good 4-5 stalls claiming to be serving ‘Katong Laksa’ in two small coffee shops next to each other. At the time, the internet was not yet so developed with all the foodie information and what I did was to simply try every single stall. Yes, I was a foodie hunter even back then.
No prizes if you can guess which laksa stall impressed the most. You would have to travel a good 550m from the ‘war zone’ down to 216 East Coast Rd with a rather large 328 Katong Laksa stall just next to the famous Chin Mee Chin Confectionery. At the time they had the laksa that impressed me the most with the most fragrant laksa gravy and you only needed a single spoon to eat the delicious noodles.
Fast forward to the present day and 328 Katong Laksa has also completely taken over the ‘war zone’ at the junction of Ceylon Rd and East Coast Rd. The two coffee shops are no more, one replaced by a bar and the other completely taken over by 328 Katong Laksa.
Why ‘Twin Titans’? Right now there are only two uber delicious Katong Laksa stalls left standing – the other stall is the famous Marine Parade Laksa stall at the Roxy Square coffee shop. I had sadly missed out on trying that stall 15 years ago during my laksa craze period. Look forward to our review of that stall soon!
Hawker Heroes Challenge
Back in 2013, SingTel organised the Hawker Heroes Challenge pitting the best hawker food in Singapore against Mr Gordon Ramsay, the famous Michelin-starred celebrity chef from the UK. The public poll selected chicken rice, chilli crab and laksa as the representative dishes of the Singpapore hawker culture. 328 Katong Laksa was shortlisted as the laksa representative. Mr Ramsay was given two days to master all three dishes as he learnt their preparation techniques from the local hawker masters.
On the day of the competition, Gordan Ramsay had to create 1000 portions of each dish to serve to all the local voters that showed up. Each voter would try Gordan Ramsay’s creation, followed by the original hawker dish. These were the results:
|Results of the Hawker Heroes Challenge|
|Food dish||Hawker Heroes||Gordon Ramsay||Winner|
|Chicken Rice||53%||47%||Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice|
|Chilli Crab||47.5%||52.5%||Gordon Ramsay|
|Laksa||59.5%||40.5%||328 Katong Laksa|
328 Katong Laksa defeated Gordan Ramsay by the widest margin of all the hawkers. Gordan Ramsay also remarked of the laksa that:
That was a tough one because of so many variations. I was struggling. I knew, within the first 45 minutes, that we were slightly running behind on that. And I changed the recipe. Which might have been a dumb thing to do.
Well, give a famous chef with 16 Michelin stars two days to master three of our local hawker dishes and he really couldn’t match up with 328 Katong Laksa’s creation.
Service and Ordering
I prefer laksa without cockles and unfortunately the staff at this branch at 51 East Coast Rd omitted to ask the question. Do not forget to specify your preference! The staff at their main branch over at 216 East Coast Rd have never forgotten this question. Also over at this branch, the chilli is provided in packets limited to two per person; at the main branch, you could help yourself and there was a chilli container at every table.
328 Katong Laksa – their famous signature laksa
As you can imagine, this is one of the best two laksas in Singapore. Honestly it is not even close. The key to making this delicious laksa is in the gravy’s coconut milk balance, and the folks over at 328 Katong Laksa have got it down to perfection. This concoction is so good and difficult to make that even Gordan Ramsay was not able to match it. On your first mouthful the laksa fragrance is overwhelming and delicious. The noodles are al dente and the ingredients are fresh, the taste is just perfect. We rate this amazing dish 4.5/5. This is the small bowl that is priced at S$5.
If we were to compare the taste of the laksa between their main branch at 216 East Coast Rd, and the present branch at 51 East Coast Road, we would prefer the laksa at 216 East Coast Rd. There is a slight difference that does not affect our rating.
Here’s a tip: the fresh lime juice that goes for S$1.80 goes very well with the laksa, so get it to wash down the overwhelming and delicious spicy laksa aftertaste.
This is a story of location over taste. The 328 Katong Laksa that I fell in love with at 216 East Coast Rd is usually quite empty even on weekends. There are many empty seats and friends that I bring along with me always wonder if the laksa is as good as my recommendation. They always leave with a big smile on their faces. I have a good friend from Japan who was so hooked by this that she ended up bringing a bunch of instant laksa back to Japan.
If you look at this branch at 51 East Coast Rd, it is filled to the brim even though the laksa here doesn’t quite match up to their main branch at 216 East Coast Rd. Moral of the story? Once in a very rare while, you will be able to get great food even without a queue.