favourite things - laksa

There are times when I seriously begin to wonder whether laksa is addictive...

I was introduced to laksa at a school friend's house. Since going to university beside china town there's been no turning back!

Laksa is "first date" food, a leveller. It's virtually impossible not to flick a curried speckle across the table while slurping on the rich and spicy coconut based soup, trying not to inhale blobs of sambal, and fishing out the filling with the choppies.

My favourite laksa is at To's and my emergency laksa is home made using "asian home gourmet" laksa paste as the base.

To's Malaysian Gourmet, Shop 3, 181 Miller St, North Sydney


sir grumpy but frank said...

Sorry Grocer

we're not all laksa fans, I can't stand the bloody stuff. That coconut broth is enough to bring you guts up.
I'm going off those coconut, lime leaf, lemongrass and salt/sugar meals masquerading as true Asian cuisine.
The amount of sugar and crap in westernised Thai, Chinese, Indian and Malaysian dishes is sickening.
Even the SBS's food safari is showing this up. The Sri Lankan one avoided this sugary crap alone amongst the asian cuisines featured.
laksa for me is puke-o-rama.

grocer said...


That is your opinion and you are entitled to it. In fact, I'm rather honoured that you deem me important enough to share it with me!

I agree with your sentiments about westernised food presented to us as "se asian" "chinese" and "indian".

I have eaten more places serving poor laksa than good ones, but fortunately I am within a hop skip and a jump of the one pictured.

The shop at which, by the way, was in the Singapore food safari on SBS several weeks ago.

In fact, the school friend whose family introduced me to laksa was the home cook that did the Hainan Chicken on the very same show.

Another school friend of mine's mother is Malaysian and even they go to To's for their fix, as I suspect most of Sydney's Malay population on Saturdays, including another SBS notable, Lee Lin Chin.

I don't mind if you don't like laksa, but if you want to try, what I can only deduce is a reasonably authentic, one then this is the place.

sir grumpy said...

Yes, Grocer. of course I didn't try this one...and I'm just sick of the poor ones being foisted on us.
This sounds like a PROPER one then.
But what's with the sugar thing. I've read all about the ``balancing the sweet, sour, savour, bitter'' philosophy but I can't believe so much SUGAR was employed in Asian cuisines before the West tainted it.
Surely there was only sugar from beet or fruit to sweeten dishes previously. When did the sugar thing begin.
On one show in Food Safari, there were about three heaped tablespoons of sugar in one dish.
It's time to point the finger at all this sugary nonsense.
Bring back the asian culture in food of EXPANDING SAVOURINESS.
My apologies for ranting but we should fight the good fight.

grocer said...

Of course.

But I do think the asian countries have had sweet food long before it became popularised in the west.

My mum learned her asian repertoire in Japan in the 1970s and some of the chinese dishes certainly have a healthy dose of sugar! LOL, I still recall one night where our sweet&sour won ton were served sans sugar. Mum obviously had a "moment"!!!

Having said that, as you say, there is a difference between being cloyingly sweet and sweet. I find that mediocre "thai" eateries are the worst offenders.

Remember, sugar cane grows in tropical zones, and the chinese have been trading for centuries...

I do hope sticky might chime in and give us her thoughts and experience.

sir grumpy said...

Yes, Come on sticky...why is there a rush to oversweetness that is suddenly spoiling classics.
I am acting selfishly here, for Asian cuisine was long my favourite. But now I find I'm getting put off it. The jars of sauces and pickles at my favourite asian store often begine by listing the main ingredient as sugar.
No wonder we are having an epidemic of diabetes.
Bring back that savouriness.
PS That sweet and sour of your mum's was interesting, Grocer.
And I forgot about sugar cane.

Catherine Chandler said...

I absolutely LOVE Laksa! I was introduced to it in Adelaide,when my housemate made it for us at home, and at the Red Rock Cafe. I was very sad when I came back to the U.S. and could not find Laksa anywhere (I live in Oregon). I finally found a malaysian place in downtown portland that served it, but it was completely different than the one I'd had before. Eventually, I found an asian market and acquired all the supplies for home made laksa, and it was delicious!

grocer said...

Catherine, thanks for stopping by.
You may like to check out http://www.blazinghotwok.com/ who is also in Portland.

By the way, I had a look at your jewelery and it's lovely.

TheGeneral said...

HI everyone, i stumbled across this blog this morning and just though i would pop my 2 cents in. From what I understand there are traditionally “five flavours” of traditional Chinese cooking (and similarly with other Asian cuisine) being sweet & sour (which we are all aware of) along with, salty, pungent, and bitter. These flavours are always used with the intent of retaining a BALANCE. So, traditionally, the amounts of sugar used are ordinarily quite small. Even the old sweet and sour dishes tended toward the tart side. Traditionally with sweet and sour sauce is commonly served separately so that the discriminating diner may use it in appropriate amounts. There are, nevertheless, regional differences in use of sugar in cooking, as to counter the salty taste of soy sauce etc.
I think we can indeed blame western culture for the copious amounts of sugar in many Asian dishes. In saying that, sugar is an important part of the ‘balance’ in many Asian dishes and it would simply destroy the flavour by eliminating it and sacrificing balance. I personally cook a lot of Thai food and therefore use palm sugar in my cooking (including laksas – its only 8am and my mouth is watering already). It’s a beautiful balance to the fish sauce and lime etc and i simply can’t imagine cooking without it.

sir grumpy said...

Yes, general I know some sugar is required and different recipes require more or less.
I still love good malay curries....mainly made at home though. And, yes using palm sugar.
But go to 99 per cent of Thai or Malay places is Tasmania and you virtually get a sweet coconut gloop. There is NO balance.
After a few of these you kind of go off it!
We are lucky to have Dom's Asian Teahouse nearby and this is the only place I bother with for my fix of Malaysian classics.

melfox said...

if you are ever near broadway (sydney) you have to try the serving @ wokmaster, fan-bloody-tastic...and cheap too !