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Tracing the Origins of Katong Laksa in Singapore

Katong Laksa (Credit Miss Tam Chaik)
Katong Laksa (Credit Miss Tam Chaik)

The Katong Laksa War was a heated competition between hawker stalls in Singapore, particularly those located on East Coast Road in the Katong area. It peaked around the late 1990s and early 2000s. There are various stalls and restaurants across Singapore that serve Katong Laksa, each with its own unique recipe and interpretation of the dish. It's not uncommon for locals to debate about which establishment serves the best or most authentic version of Katong Laksa, leading to informal competitions and comparisons among fans of the dish.

There are several stalls claiming to have the original Katong Laksa recipe. Competition became fierce, with stalls vying for customers by claiming to be the true heir to the Katong Laksa legacy. The term "Katong Laksa War" is typically more of a friendly rivalry rather than an actual "war” describing the competition and debates surrounding this beloved dish.

We'll be exploring the most popular Katong Laksa stalls among locals. These contenders have been at the heart of the Katong Laksa War, each fiercely debated to be the guardian of the true Katong Laksa recipe. Buckle up for a delicious journey as we navigate this iconic hawker food war!

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What is Katong Laksa? 

Katong Laksa is a popular type of laksa, a traditional spicy noodle soup dish in Singaporean cuisine. It originated from the Katong area in Singapore, hence the name. Katong Laksa is known for its distinct flavor, which comes from a coconut milk-based broth infused with a blend of spices such as lemongrass, galangal, and chili. It typically contains rice noodles, prawns, fish cake slices, and sometimes cockles or other seafood.

Janggut Laksa (The Original Katong Laksa)

The Original Katong Laksa traces its roots back to its founder, Mr. Ng Juat Swee, affectionately known as Janggut (which means 'beard' in Malay). In the 1940s, Janggut began his laksa venture by carrying metal buckets on a pole slung over his shoulders, peddling his flavorful laksa around the Marine Parade beach area. This humble operation eventually earned the moniker Janggut Laksa.

By the early 1950s, Janggut joined forces with his younger brother, Mr. Ng Chwee Seng, to expand their laksa business. Together, they roamed the streets on a tricycle, serving their aromatic laksa to locals around Marshall Road and the vicinity of the Marine Parade beach bungalow. It wasn't long before their dedication led to the establishment of their first official stall in the late 1950s at 49 East Coast Road, a location that would soon become synonymous with Katong Laksa.

Amidst the heated debate over the original Katong Laksa, Janggut Laksa emerged as a steadfast contender, defending its claim to authenticity. While opinions may differ, there's a strong case to be made that Janggut Laksa holds true to the essence of Katong Laksa, rooted in decades of tradition and flavor.

Address: 133 New Bridge Rd, B1-49A Chinatown Point, Singapore 059413

Opening Hour: 10:00 AM - 8:30 PM

The Original Katong Laksa (Credit The Wong List)
The Original Katong Laksa (Credit The Wong List)

George’s Katong Laksa

George's father acquired the cherished laksa recipe from the esteemed owner of Janggut Laksa and commenced selling his version along the streets in the era preceding the establishment of hawker centers. Now at 71 years old, George Ng proudly carries on the family legacy, having honed his culinary skills over nearly five decades. Around 1982, he officially registered the name "Katong Laksa" as a testament to the rich heritage behind his culinary craft. To this day, I've maintained the integrity of the recipe, never altering it because my father was strict about preserving its authenticity" said by Ng, who inherited the recipe and culinary traditions from his father. 

Address:  307 Changi Rd, Singapore 419785

Opening Hour: 8 AM - 3 PM

George's Katong Laksa (Credit Miss Tam Chiak)
George's Katong Laksa (Credit Miss Tam Chiak)

328 Katong Laksa

When it comes to Katong Laksa, 328 Katong Laksa is the go-to spot for many, widely acclaimed as the most popular stall for this iconic dish. Lucy Koh's journey into the world of laksa began in a cozy Katong coffee shop, where she first started dishing out her delicious creation. Remarkably, her culinary prowess even attracted the attention of Hong Kong star Tony Leung, who paid her a visit 25 years ago. Despite her newfound celebrity status, the humble 60-year-old readily admits that she's not the pioneer of Katong Laksa. Yet, her dedication to crafting this beloved dish has certainly left an indelible mark on the local culinary scene.

Address:  51 East Coast Rd, Singapore 428770

Opening Hours: 10 AM - 9 PM

328 Katong Laksa (Credit Conde Nast Traveler)
328 Katong Laksa (Credit Conde Nast Traveler)

Roxy Laksa

Roxy Laksa is a delightful spot that's been dishing out authentic Katong laksa since 1952, boasting a rich history spanning over 60 years. The heart and soul behind the establishment is none other than Mike Lim, who's been passionately serving up this iconic dish since 1981. The secret recipe hails from Lim's grandfather, the esteemed Lim Kok Seng, and it's a recipe that's been cherished through generations but he changed the recipe because he wanted to be completely different from his father. 

Originally starting as a humble pushcart outside Roxy Theatre, the restaurant has evolved over the years, finding its home at East Coast Lagoon. Mike, now in his third generation of laksa mastery, joined his dad in the business. Just a few years ago, they made a move to their current spot at Timbre+, where Mike and his wife Daisy are dedicated to maintaining the same exacting standards that have made Roxy Laksa a household name.

Address: #01-17, Timbre+, 3A Ayer Rajah Crescent, Singapore 139957Opening Hours: 9 AM - 6 PM 

Roxy Laksa (Credit Today Online)
Roxy Laksa (Credit Today Online)


In conclusion, the Katong Laksa War reflects a vibrant culinary tradition deeply rooted in Singaporean culture, with hawker stalls across the island competing for the title of the best Katong Laksa. This friendly rivalry, which peaked in the late 1990s and early 2000s, has led to a diverse array of interpretations and recipes, each claiming authenticity and excellence. As a final thought, Janggut Laksa traces the most similar to the originality of Katong Laksa. This Katong Laksa War is not just about competition, it's a celebration of culinary heritage, community, and the enduring love for a bowl of spicy, coconut-infused goodness. So, join us as we savor every slurp and discover the soul of Katong Laksa in the heart of Singapore's hawker food scene.

Join Our Food Tours

Dear foodies! If you're visiting Singapore and craving an authentic taste of local hawker food, look no further. Join us on our Michelin & Local Hawker Food Tour and embark on a culinary journey like no other. Come indulge in the flavors of Singapore's iconic hawker stalls with us – your taste buds will thank you!

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