And the laksa search continues…

5 Dec

My search for an incredible laksa is still underway. As I had anticipated, my search looks like it will be quite the challenge as Vancouver is a city of ramen, not laksa. And whilst I enjoy the occasional bowl of steaming ramen (particularly on a grey, cold day) I am more inclined to crave laksa rather than ramen.

Laksa?! If you are like most people that I know in Vancouver, you may be scratching your head wondering what the hell I am going on about. So, here is a quick “Introduction to Laksa 101”:

  • Laksa is a noodle-based spicy soup.
  • The noodles can be vermicelli or egg noodles.
  • Apparently there are numerous types of laksa, however the two most popular type are the curry laksa (made from coconut milk) or asam laksa (a sour fish soup).
  • It is typically found in Singapore or Malaysia.
  • You can pretty much have anything in it; seafood, chicken, barbecued pork, tofu, boiled eggs, assorted vegetables…the list goes on.
  • It’s delicious.

Laksa is extremely subjective; how one person likes their laksa is likely to be different to how another person will like theirs. So what am I looking for in a laksa? Personally, I am only interested in the curry laksa and, to me, the broth is the most important element of a laksa. I love a fragrant, thick, spicy coconut milk broth. My biggest complaints with Vancouver laksa has been that they are not thick enough, not spicy enough (this is usually fixable with some chilli paste), and not enough depth of flavour in the laksa paste. Most of them just simply fall flat on taste.

For the noodles,  I prefer egg noodles because I like them thicker, and for the toppings I don’t enjoy seafood in my laksa (I had a bad food-poisoning experience with seafood laksa once before) but I love chicken, tofu, boiled egg, and a few vegetables. A garnish, like cilantro and chilli slices, adds flavour but also much-needed colour. A laksa with no garnish is a sad laksa indeed.

My search has continued and with only weeks until the end of 2011, I’ve amped it up. I was at Banana Leaf on West Broadway at Willow Street on the weekend and ordered what used to be one of my go-to laksa (mostly because it was the closest thing to what I am used to). Unfortunately, the laksa standards at Banana Leaf have been slowly dropping and the one that I had on Saturday (not to mention ones that I’ve recently had prior to this one) was very disappointing.

I have been ordering chicken laksa everywhere that I go so that the reviews can be consistent and comparable. This was a Singapore Laksa with chicken.

Room for improvement:

  • The broth was far too runny. It would have been better slightly thicker.
  • There was absolutely no heat/spice to the broth. This was what really let the whole dish down. More spice and more depth of flavour was needed.
  • I was not asked how hot I wanted the laksa (mild, medium, or spicy). This likely would have helped with the complaint above.
  • No egg noodles, just vermicelli.
  • There were far too many vegetables. More chicken would have been preferable, especially as I paid the same price as a seafood laksa but had opted for no seafood.
  • The garnish was waaay too much. Yes, garnish is great. A bunch of cilantro, on the other hand, is over-kill.

Price: $11 (without tax)

Rating: 2/5

I’m sad to say that all three locations of Banana Leaf have let their laksa standards slip. It was most certainly not incredible. And the search goes on…


10 Responses to “And the laksa search continues…”

  1. Ben December 5, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    Have you tried Bo Laksa King before? People swear that there is no better Laksa than Bo’s and I absolutely like it. It is addictive. The only problem is that they don’t serve it with cockles here in Vancouver.

    • greedyguts December 7, 2011 at 10:04 am #

      Thanks for your message Ben. Yup, I’ve tried Bo Laksa King but only once before. I’ll have to make another trip back there on my search.

  2. Emma F December 6, 2011 at 4:26 am #

    Wow looking at that photo I would not of even tried it! But then again I am spoilt for choice on the laksa front. Good luck with the search but I feel you might have more luck making it yourself.

    • greedyguts December 7, 2011 at 10:04 am #

      You are spoilt for laksa. It has ruined me!

  3. VancityAllie December 12, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

    Keep us updated on your search… if you love it, it’s got to be good 🙂

    • greedyguts December 12, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

      Thanks Allie. I’ll keep you posted!

  4. Katy Scaia November 15, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    I tried Bo king’s laksa I thought it was good. But that was a while ago. Now I’m on the search in Victoria BC for laksa, any suggestions???!

    • greedyguts November 16, 2012 at 5:08 am #

      I’ve been to Bo’s once, I REALLY need to get back there! Unfortunately, I have no suggestions for Victoria. If you find anything, can you let me know??

      • katy scaia November 16, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

        Ferris’s oyster bar has a Laksa. I’m going to give it a try tomorrow.


  1. Photo Visit – Bo Laksa King – February 2013 « The Culinary Adventures of a Greedy Guts - February 15, 2013

    […] may remember that some time ago I was trying to uncover Vancouver’s best laksa. Well, let it be known that the search hasn’t stopped but it hasn’t been progressing as […]

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