Your guide to the best breakfast laksa in Singapore
Anthony Bourdain called it the ‘Breakfast of the Gods’. It’s also a cheap and delicious way to start the day.
In a country known for its food culture – where even the street food vendors earn Michelin stars – it’s hard to single out one dish. Hard, but not impossible.
Sweet, creamy, spicy, sour; laksa is an amalgamation of Singaporean’s culinary flavours in a single bowl.
This coconut broth is packed with delicate noodles, fish paste and the heat of fiery sambal. It somehow quells your hunger and still leaves you wanting more, so it’s a good thing it usually costs less than $3 (£1.60) a bowl.
Laksa isn’t just eaten as breakfast food, but the chilli kick is especially rewarding in the cool of the morning.
When Anthony Bourdain ate it in Malaysia, he called it ‘Breakfast of the Gods’.
This is where laksa is thought to have originated – in Peranakan kitchens, taking influence from Chinese, Malay and Indonesian cultures.
The dish became common in Singapore in the 1960s, taking on a less sour, creamier broth to match the local palate.
And where to try this holy breakfast dish? Start in one of Singapore’s 114 hawker centres.
These food halls are considered the nation’s community dining rooms, where locals from all walks of life can mingle and eat cheap, freshly-cooked dishes from morning to night.
A personal favourite is 63 Laksa, found at Ghim Moh Market – a real ‘locals’ hawker centre on the outskirts of the main city.
Aunties and uncles (the affectionate name for elderly Singaporeans) linger on benches by their favourite stalls, most of them living in the surrounding housing blocks.
Breakfast (7am to 10am) is the busiest time, where you can easily end up queuing 30 minutes for a stall.
63 Laksa is owned and run by Singaporean Kelley Ng. He serves laksa in one size and one style at one price only: a humbling $2.50 (£1.40). Raw cockles are an optional free extra.
The recipe he uses was his grandfather’s – one of the first traders to cook and sell laksa in Singapore – dating back 60 years.
Kelley Ng dishes out each serving in pretty blue-and-white ceramic bowls. According to him, the ceramic keeps the broth at the perfect temperature, while the size of the bowl means it’s just enough to satisfy but not too much to feel heavy.
“It always makes my customers come back wanting more,” he says.
That’s certainly the case for me.
- For more about Olivia’s adventures in Singapore, visit her website, olivia-lee.co.uk.
Top tip: ‘Chope’ (the Singaporean word for ‘reserve’) your seat first by leaving a packet of tissues or something similarly innocuous on a table. This is a universally accepted way of guaranteeing your spot.
Main image: A bowl of Laksa prepared by Kelley Ng (© Olivia Lee)