Best Laksa in Kuching

Sarawak Laksa is probably the single most important signature dish in Kuching. It originates from right here and there are many many restaurants and stalls offering their versions.

Everyone in Kuching knows “the best laksa place in town”, problem is that for everyone this place is different and the individual tastes also vary widely. I am therefore going to undertake the potentially impossible and very controversial 😉 search for the best laksa in town.

As I am neither Malaysian nor Sarawakian some people may question my qualifications to undertake the search, but it is my favorite Kuching street food and since I came here I have eaten hundreds of bowls of laksa in all parts of town. I consider this dish to be in the top 5 Malaysian dishes of all time and I therefore feel that I am qualified to undertake the search, though I am sure someone will disagree.

Firstly the Sarawak Laksa definition (according to wikipedia):

“Sarawak laksa (Malay: Laksa Sarawak) comes from the town of Kuching in the Malaysian state Sarawak, on the island of Borneo. It is actually very different from the curry laksa as the soup contains no curry in its ingredient at all. It has a base of Sambal belacan, sour tamarind, garlic, galangal, lemon grass and coconut milk, topped with omelette strips, chicken strips, prawns, fresh coriander and optionally lime. Ingredients such as bean sprouts, (sliced) fried tofu or other seafood are not traditional but are sometimes added.”

But before the search can start in earnest some ground rules have to be established, it is not enough to simply judge laksa’s as good, bad excellent etc. There has to be some way of objectively rating each bowl of soup without having to remember back every other bowl of soup we have ever eaten. Therefore I have decided to divide the dish into 3 part:

toppings (prawns, chicken, egg), noodles and soup base. Each part will be worth 1-5 points.

1 terrible

2 poor

3 average

4 above average

5 excellent

Each laksa will therefore be worth between 3 and 15 points and thus they can be judged objectively by their point value, all comments are welcome.  Now, let the games begin!

Ps: I usually order the bigger of the two or middle if there are three sizes. I also consider the soup base to be the most important part of the laksa but I have refrained from giving it more influence over the final judgment because I have met people who will not eat a laksa if the noodle is too hard or who only eat the prawns and hardly touch the rest. I you think one of the three parts of the dish is more important then the others look at the partial scores as a better guide than the total which can mask some problem areas.

Here is the list of the tested places, according to their score, with the best at the top:

“Sunday market” Laksa behind Banquet

Total 13 out of 15

Uncle 5 Laksa (at good thumb food court near Lorenzo on the way from 3rd mile to Batu Kawa)

Total 12 out of 15

Ah Chin Cafe (Saratok)

Total 12 out of 15

Golden Arch, Garden cafe Laksa (right at 3rd mile roundabout)

Total 12 out of 15

Madam Tang’s Laksa

Total 11 out of 15

Kapit Cafe (across the street from SOHO)

Total 11 out of 15

Green Hill Corner

Total 10 out of 15

Foody Goody Cafe

Total 10 out of 15

Lian Fook Special Food Place (across the street from the water board)

Total 10 out of 15

Jalan Song Laksa at RH Plaza

Total 10 out of 15

“Old immigration” Laksa

Total 9 out of 15

Khatulistiva Laksa

Total 9 out of 15

Riz’Zae Cafe(in the area where imigration used to be, close to the waterboard payment offices)Total 5 out of 15

—————————————————————————————-

ALTERNATIVE LAKSA’S

This is a section for laksa’s which are made with unusual ingredients (beef laksa, vegetarian laksa etc), which may or may not be good for them. Since they are not really the same dish any more I can not judge them with the other places.

Beef laksa at Lams Place (Chonglin park)

Beef Laksa

As I said since the recipes are different it would be useless to give them points. The beef laksa is quite good here, obviously made with beef instead of prawn, it makes a difference. The soup also tastes much more of beef, though the use of some of the same spices still makes it reminiscent of normal laksa. In it’s own right this is a good dish and it is worth trying once, but it really is a half way crossing between a laksa and beef noodles and personally I prefer to have the two dishes in two separate bowls 😉

27 Responses

  1. I agree with most of the scores and your comments explain very well how the laksas achieved their scores…although it’s difficult to judge, since everyone has their own taste, but can’t always make everyone happy…
    The laksa at RH Plaza at the corner opposite the Taiwanese restaurant is pretty good, I’d like to see your score…

    • I am working on it, will get to the RH laksa some time soon as well. Of course everyone has their own taste, but I think the most important part is the comparison between the laksas by the same person every time.

  2. Those are mouth-watering pictures of laksa. Most of them look pretty good. I say look, because the presentation should count too. Riz Zae’s looks very inviting, with all that contrasting colours. Too bad it doesn’t taste good. The Golden Cafe’s on the other hand is poorly presented. You can’t put laksa in an orange-coloured bowl. I’d like to know your scores on the Vegetarian laksa. Have you tried the laksa at Merdaka Hotel? The place has ambience, they serve you like you’re a State Representative, the soup is very thick. The price too of course. It’s the price for three bowls at a hawker’s.
    When you run out of laksa, how about grading chicken rice?

    • I chose to ignore the presentation and price in my list. Both are important I think but since this is more about finding the best tasting laksa in Kuching it would be a mistake to get sidetracked. I haven’t graded any vegetarian or hotel laksa’s yet, I am planning to get to them soon. I have heard the one in Merdeka is good, and expensive of course. i am curious because I have never had any good laksa in a hotel…

  3. Photos look great. Must try all of these places for laksa!!!

  4. I like what you are doing here. I have eaten at many of those places and I agree with you mostly. I was just wondering when the change at RH took place and how noticable it is. (RH is where Joyce’s dad would not eat it because the noodle was off)

    Is this an open forum with more reviews coming?

    Thanks for all the hard work. Some kolo mee reviews would be welcome by me.

    • More reviewing is coming, just had a lot of disruptions since christmass. Though I am not trying to check all the places in Kuching, far too many. So I am doing some of the more well known ones. A few other dishes should probably be reviewed, but I have my hands full with Laksa, also I don’t order kolok Mee too often so I am far from being an expert on it.

  5. I’ll start making about about the best laksa in Singapore. It’ll be real easy, all of them will rank zero.

  6. Wow.. impressive coverage on Laksa..

  7. I ate some laksa at a stall in Singapore and the guy put raw cockles on it. So I knew it was going to be Singapore laksa and not as good to start with but raw cockles took it to a new low in eating I did not know existed.

    If you take requests could you please try the laksa at the food court on Carpenter Street? The one with the high roof. I used to eat there a lot in the old Riverbank Suites days.

    • The one across the street from the temple? Will do next time I am in that area. I don’t think I tried the laksa there when we stayed at RB.

  8. Hey, laksa eating places updated! That’s great. I was at this 3rd Mile place where you had some sea food noodles while I had the laksa. The prawns in my laksa were too chewy for my taste. I was in Singapore recently and decided to skip the laksa there, bearing Mike’s comments in mind. You just can’t beat Kuching laksa, over-cooked prawns or not. Instead I went for the Chicken Briyani at the newly-renovated Pasar Geylang. The crowd that lined up for it was recommendation enough. It beats the Briyani in Kuching by a 10-point count. Check my blog.

  9. Hye… I really want to try the laksa cituated at the back of banquet… But where is it about.. ? I am a Laksa Lover… yummy~~~ =)

  10. I think you have to try out Laksa at Mei Mei Kopitiam , Chonglin Park, and make your marking.

    • I think I have done before, but it was before I was doing the marking. I will give it a try some time soon and see how it does.

  11. i think all the mention places above is nothing if compare to laksa golden arch 3rd miles or fat cat stutong baru. be ready, because you have to wait quite a while for your order. be early,

    • Maybe, like I said the big prawn laksa at golden arch was closed the day I went there. And I have been dreading the parking over there so much that I have not been back since 😦 I havent heard of the Fat Cat laksa at Stutong Baru. Truth be told I have had a long break in the search, but I think I may be just about ready for another round.

  12. Impressed with this article about places to have nice sarawak laksa. Feel so hungry when look at those photos. I have submitted it to youcompile.com.

  13. You must also try sarawak laksa at Chong choon cafe, located a few shops from the Air Asia office in town. It’s always crowded for it’s laksa. But don’t go on a tuesday as it’s their day-off and the coffee shop is open only in the morning. I would like to see what you’ll rate it.

  14. Laksa as in oriignal laksa before modifications began, to make it more tasty.

    Some laksa makes you run for water after 30mins. Ajinomoto did it I guess.

    The stall behind the former REX cinema is now operated by mother and daughter. Its opposite the main road from the cineplex at the centre coffee shop.

    Red hot chilly oil. Good for hangovers.

    Another is at the side of the post office, the first coffee shop left as you enter Carpenter Street.

    Taste brings back memories sometimes. Dejavou

  15. Witam,

    Z zaintereowaniem przeczytaliśmy duże kawałki Twojego blogu. Zwłaszcza moja żona nie może doczekać sie laksy po tym tekście 🙂
    Będziemy w Kuching 17 lutego w piątek, 18-tego jedziemy do Bako z noclegiem. 19-tego z powrotem w Kuching ale po południu odlatujemy do Kota Kinabalu i dalej do Danum Valley.

    Zamierzamy wypróbować Twoje rekomendacje laksy 17 lub 19-tego.

    Pozdrawiamy,

    Jacek i Monika Bełdowscy

    • Dziekuje, szkoda ze ostatnio malo bywam przy internecie i dopiero teraz zobaczylem wpis bo bym sie chetnie z wami spotkal w Kuching. Mam nadzieje ze wycieczka sie udala i Laksa byla dobra:)

  16. Hi all,
    That for breakfast and how about lunch what the best ??
    -coming to kuching in Feb2013.

    • It depends what you like. Usually Laksa is not around for lunch, so I personally would go with Bah Kut Teh (pork in herbal soup) or Mee Sua (Fuchow chicken soup with some alcohol) or there is a good vegetarian restaurant in town on the small street where Pizza hut is on the corner. There is a Japanese restaurant next door to it, I used to like that (though a bit more expensive) but since the last renovation when they added more seats I physically can’t fit my legs in to sit down anymore 😦

      • AA ok Thanks for the tips :).We will be staying at Tune Hotel is it walking distance for the Beef laksa at Lams Place (Chonglin park).

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