Be it a top notch meal at a high flying Michelin star-studded restaurant or a humble street side affair, every self-respecting gastronome I know could name their most memorable meal in a heart beat.
Mine came at the tender age of three and was a humble home-cooked experience. It came in a white bowl with hand painted roosters on each side, which was probably even bigger than my face back then, holding together a pool of thick gravy on the inside. Made with a whole lot of mackerel and spices, the gravy was as golden as the sun, and as grainy as the sand on a beach. Rising from the middle of the bowl was a mix of julienne cucumber, egg omelette slices and a few sprigs of mint leaves. I remember how my nanny, Auntie Tan, would also mix in a spoonful of hae ko (prawn paste) right at the end before letting me dig into my very first bowl of Siamese Laksa. It was tangy, it was spicy. I burnt both my lips and tongue. But, it was addictive! She watched and smiled as I lapped it all up in a matter of minutes and to her surprised, I pulled an Oliver Twist.
“Please auntie, could I have some more?”
Don’t ask me how I can remember such details. I just can.
It’s been over 23 years since Auntie Tan was called home to the arms of the good Lord. And it’s been just as long of a search for a bowl of Siamese Laksa as magical as hers. I’ve yet to find one that comes even close to her version. I’ve been spoiled.
Having said that, I’m thankful that there is a place where I can go to whenever I crave for some. No doubt that this Little Penang Cafe‘s weekend special is nothing like my childhood food, but it still holds a few punches of its own. It’s thick, fishy, and spicy enough. Perhaps, the only thing missing is some of Auntie Tan’s tender loving care. But every time I’m here, I still find myself holding up the bowl with both my hands and slurping every last drop of the gravy.
Yes, this is my biased opinion. I know they have had their share of bad reviews over the years, but I’ve got a soft spot for Little Penang Cafe. I’ve been eating there since their Starhill days. Be it their Chicken Lobak, Penang Hokkien Noodles, Fried Kway Teow, Ju Hu Char, Red Rubbies or Cendol, I know I can always count on them to serve a good simple hawker-styled meal.
Little Penang Cafe
They can be found at these malls within the Klang Valley: The Curve, Mid Valley Megamall and Suria KLCC