I'm regularly asked where and how I learnt to make this dish and, I'll admit, that it does seem a spot random. I've no Malaysian, Singaporean or any Asian blood, but my love for this dish was ingrained to me at an early age.
I remember one time in high school (let's say it was year 8), when my friends and I were standing in a group at lunchtime and everyone was sharing what their final death-row meal would be. The usuals where all in there; chicken parmy, a medium rare steak, nonna's spaghetti bolognese (and don't get me wrong, all bona-fide classics!)
But I was definitely the only kid there who said laksa, and I'm fairly confident I was also the only one who knew what a laksa was.
It is a dish I was obsessed with as soon as it was introduced to me by my Dad. He put it on a regular dinner rotation from the time me and my siblings could handle the chilli. He had eaten all the great laksa in Sydney: at the Malaya and the Malay Chinese Takeaway on Hunter Street and as an accomplished home chef himself, he managed to perfect the art of the paste and the other elements required to make this dish. I would always offer my help when laksa was on the menu as I wanted to learn for myself.
Fast-forward to studying at UTS, smack-bang in the middle of Chinatown, surrounded by the most amazing asian food-courts with so many incredible laksas around me: Happy Chef at Sussex Centre, Dixon House. So many study days ruined by eating a gigantic bowl of Laksa and losing all ability to focus.
The exploration continued when I worked in the city after university. Laksa King, Ipoh on York and of course the Malay Chinese Takeaway. Work trips into the suburbs also led me to a personal favourite, Temasek. The power of the bib came to the fore in these days, as shirt stains became an all-too frequent embarrassment in the corporate environment.
The trip to Malaysia to search for Kuala Lumpur's greatest Laksa was a big inspiration, which I have written about in another blog. Please check it out if you have the time.
When the quarter-life crisis travels were cut short by our dear friend COVID-19, it was in these lockdown months that the idea of Laksaboi was born. Restaurants closed, people at home, job prospects at an all time low, and (to paraphrase the late Ned Stark) winter was coming. It seemed like the perfect time to chase the dream of owning a Laksa Restaurant, or something similar - so here we are.
What's your laksa story? Did you find this great dish later in life, or were you raised with it like me? Share with everyone in the comments below :)