Sunday, October 7, 2018
Which One Is The Real Katong Laksa
Walk along East Coast Road from Haig Road to Still Road, you'll come across a number of Katong Laksa shops. I understand you can find Katong laksa not only in other parts of Singapore but also in China. Who started the Katong Laksa?
The origin of Katong laksa was started by one guy popularly known as “janggut”. Janggut is a Malay word which means beard. Actually the laksa seller had only a few strands of hair beside his chin. I know this guy personally because he lived on our land at Tembling Road nearby Joo Chiat Terrace. He also came to play poker at my home in Joo Chiat.
Janggut was an itinerant hawker, moving from place to place in Joo Chiat area. Later he found a niche at the 5 foot way of a coffee shop at East Coast Road /Ceylon Road junction. After business hours moved away his makeshift stall home. Some time in 1970, there was an exercise by the Ministry of the Environment, to move street hawkers into markets and food centres. Janggut's niche was affected. He could no longer sell his yummy laksa on the 5 foot way. He moved into the coffee shop and had a roaring business everyday for Katongites loved his yummy laksa.
After Janggut passed away, his children splits the business and competing with one another in Katong. That is the reason there are so many Katong laksa along East Coast Road. But they cannot claim the name of “Katong Laksa” as it belongs exclusively to George, who has registered 'Katong Laksa' with the Registrar of Companies. I understand that Janggut and George have a common ancestor. So all those that wanted to be known as “Katong Laksa” added words to their company chop such as 328 Katong Laksa, Katong(Tong Kee) Laksa, Singapore Katong Laksa, Original Katong Laksa (Janggut Laksa) and so on.
George's Katong Laksa has been operating for 25 years at the junction coffee shop between Telok Kurau Road/Changi Road. The coffee shop closed recently and he has moved across the road between Lorong Sarina and Jalan Eunos. I visited him on Sunday and his laksa quality remained the same.