On my previous visit to Malaysia, while in Melaka and Penang, i had the chance to taste many traditional dishes, including the famous “Penang laksa”.
This is a legendary soup over here and it’s been even listed number 7 in the Top World’s 50 most delicious foods, complied by CNN Go in 2011. For more info about origin, different types and recipes, here’s a link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laksa.
This is not “backpacker’s” food, and it is hardly found in “non authenthic” environments. Here in Malaysia it can be tricky to find out, because Indian Restaurants don’t serve it, neither Malay ones do. It was such a busy time since my arrival in KL that, even though i’ve always had great food, i have never had the time to look for a Laksa stall. My craving and frustration were getting unbeareable, so the other day, while expressing my devotion for this dish to Cezar, the owner at The Wheelers guesthouse, i’ve managed to get a very precious hint: there is a place in Chinatown, where they serve proper Asam Laksa. This place is tucked in that i’ve never been able to spot it. Cezar provided me with a map and i went looking for my corner of paradise. To reach this place one has to go through the wet market, where during the day they sell meats and fish, and at the end of it, every day at 5pm, the symphony begins.
This place is runned by Chinese, therefore is efficient and functional. The first great thing about it, is that there is no tourist insight: this means that this place caters to locals and does’nt try to be in the Lonely Planet, with the result of serving authenthic flavours and conserving the great malaysian food culture unadulterated and safe from commercial temptations. A part from his hidden position, one of the things that may keep a lot of foreigners away is the environment around, wich is not what one could expect being safe and “belly friendly”. Walking through the wet market, even though closed, silent and clean, the organic feel stills in the air and so do some of the creatures that populate the alleys of Chinatown.
I love this kind of places. i love the way they make me feel; invisible. There’s no waiter kissing your arse for a western tip here. Everyone is the same, mouths to feed. All you need to do is to sit down, place you order, wait 3 minutes and get ready to dive into the ocean of flavours that a Laksa can offer. For many people, to travel means to do crazy things , or to see places: well, to me it mainly means sit down in places like this, wait for my food and eat soaking up the culture and history with every spoon of sour fishy wisdom. I don’t know what people are saying around me, and i’m happy in my ignorance. I’m no one, i’m invisible and i like to be isolated in a such crowded space.