Fried Laksa & Stories from Penang, Malaysia

Laksa is a popular noodle curry soup which you find all over South East Asia. It’s particularly popular in Malaysia and even more so in Penang where Chinese immigrants settled from the 15th century onwards, mixing their food and culture with the local Malay people resulting in what is widely known as Peranakan culture. Laksa is widely eaten all over Penang and sold in restaurants, hawker centres and on the streets. We tried it both in the traditional way as a soup but also as fried laksa.

Buckle up, there’s a story coming!

Our flight into Penang was heavily delayed at Kuala Lumpur and we arrived late, hungry and very grumpy. To make things worse, our Uber didn’t turn up and the small amount of Malaysian currency we had with us (to buy food with) ended up going on a metered taxi which was double the price of the Uber. By the time we got to the hotel it was close to 10 pm and the streets around us were dark and the shops closed up. Not knowing the area or how safe it was at night, we wandered a little way (getting increasingly fractious with one another) before heading back to the hotel, resigned to a hungry nights sleep.

It was at this point that we spotted the Fried Laksa restaurant near our hotel, just pulling the shutters down. We asked them if there was anywhere to eat nearby and they welcomed us in (despite being about to close) and promised to feed us. We ordered our food, choosing ingredients to have in our laksa from a display and sat down, relieved to be on the brink of food. And then it hit us. We didn’t have enough cash!!

Choosing our ingredients for Fried Laksa in Penang

As we explained the embarrassing situation to the waitress, we were convinced that she’d cancel our order and send us packing. She didn’t. She brought us a drink told us not to worry and continued with our order. We thanked her profusely and told her we’d bring the extra money the next day. Actually, it turns out that the fried laksa (their own invention) was totally delicious and we went back THREE more times. Firstly through gratitude but following that, because the food was just SO bloody good!

The food:

This family run restaurant serves two dishes – fried laksa and tom yam soup. That’s it. You can tailor your dish by choosing from an array of ingredients (fish, meat, veggies) and choose your noodle type. Everything is fresh, on-ice and cooked in house. We tried a few different combos and every one of them was delicious. The fried crispy bean curd, prawns and fish balls were my favourite items!

The Laksa itself is hot and spicy with tangy sour notes. It definitely has the taste of Laksa but in a different way. The noodles are big like udon but chewier and the topping of fresh lettuce, red onion and cucumber perfectly balances the rich flavours. Even if you go crazy and add all the most luxurious ingredients on offer, it’s likely to still cost under £2 per portion for a big bowl of deliciousness.

The counter at the Fried Laksa restaurant in Penang Fried Laksa and dumplings in Penang

As I mentioned, we also tried the Tom Yam soup. It was really spicy which we loved, and had pork meatballs and greens in it. It also came with fried fish fritters which at first sounds odd, but really worked! I used my chopsticks to dunk them into the soup before eating in one big mouthful!  Whilst you’re there, also make sure you order a glass of chrysanthemum tea. Served on ice, its sweet, floral and moreish!

Delicious Tom Yam with Fried dumplings

I Demand World Domination for Fried Laksa!

We chatted to the waitress a couple of times about their fried laksa and she explained that the chef (her brother) came up with it as a way of offering something different in such a crowded food scene. We mentioned it to a couple of locals during our stay in Penang and no one has heard of it. Clearly, these guys are the first. And I HOPE that it takes off. Because, whilst it’s not traditional, it’s bloody delicious. So, if you’re in Penang, bookmark this place and make sure you go! It’ll be the best £1 you spend!

Although we stumbled onto this place in desperation we returned for the friendly service and excellent food. I really can’t thank the waitress enough for her kindness on that first night. I wish them every success in their plans for fried laksa world domination!

20 Comments

  1. 8th June 2017 / 11:17 am

    That is such an adorable story. It’s easy to pick at each other when things don’t go the way you’d planned AND you’ve got an empty stomach. I love that the waitress not only reopened for you, but trusted enough that you’d return to pay in full. Adorable spot and I’d go there just because of that. Also – the food looks amazing! 🙂

    • 10th June 2017 / 9:09 am

      I know! She was amazing, I wish I could remember her name! I hope that they somehow see this post and realise how great they were and are! 🙂

    • 8th June 2017 / 12:01 pm

      Yes! You should, especially if you can find it fried. Although, the soup is just as delicious!

  2. 8th June 2017 / 1:58 pm

    Wow I could almost taste the laksa from your pictures! That is such a heartfelt story about how they were so kind to you there. It is amazing when someone offers grace like that! It just shows there is some real love in the world. That was nice you were able to go back several times to support them. I hope I will get to try their laksa one day!

  3. 8th June 2017 / 3:09 pm

    I am reading your post after dinner and those fried Laksa, Tom Yam soup and fish balls make me hungry again. I wish we could have “smelly-internet’ by now so I can try my favorite Laksa . I am also impressed by the kindness of the waitress and the service at the restaurant, and that you can totally enjoy your dinner and not worry about anything. The chrysanthemum tea sounds delicious too, and it is good to have on a hot summer evening.

  4. 8th June 2017 / 3:14 pm

    I adore laksa soup, but have never come across fried laksa. How very intriguing. I think I need a fried laksa bar in the locality.

  5. 8th June 2017 / 3:44 pm

    OMG! Laksa is my FAVOURITE!!! And reading up on your experience about this fried laksa (which I’ve never heard before) makes me want to teleport to this place like, yesterday!!! Hahahaha. I’m keeping this bookmarked in the future! Thank you for sharing!!!

  6. 8th June 2017 / 4:12 pm

    I remember an Singapore expat’s video on his love for Laksa! I didn’t know much about it, than its noodles! So, first of all, thanks for this explanation!
    Indeed, its so gracious of them to actually feed a customer when they’re almost shutting down and that too after you said, you didn’t have enough cash!!!

  7. 8th June 2017 / 4:45 pm

    Now that is a high recommendation, so great they still fed you. Wow fried laksa sounds really good. At least I wa snot hungry but I get your struggel I got in to Beijing at 1am, no public transit open had to take a sketchy taxi.

  8. 8th June 2017 / 4:51 pm

    Oh yum, I love that you found a totally unique restaurant out of what I assume were thousands around. It sounds delicious and I love that you can customer your order with fresh ingredients. I will definitely keep this in mind if I visit Penang one day.

  9. 8th June 2017 / 4:51 pm

    I love the fresh, vibrant flavours in Malaysian food but I’ve only ever been to KL. I must go back!

  10. 8th June 2017 / 6:55 pm

    I have never tasted Malaysian food, but after reading your blog I would definitely give a try. Fried Laksa and tom yam soup looks nice as they can be tailor made because I would go more vegetable options. Chrysanthemum tea served on ice is really tickling my taste buds.

  11. 8th June 2017 / 8:55 pm

    What a lovely story! How reassuring to be welcomed with not only a smile but with such generosity of spirit. I love laksa but have never tried it in this form. It all sounds absolutely wonderful

  12. 9th June 2017 / 1:29 pm

    That was very nice of the restaurant to give you the food even though you didn’t have the cash with you, it’s perfect when you meet good people whilst traveling. The Fried Laksa looks and sounds delicious, I sadly missed it when I was in Penang, Malaysia but on my next visit I will check it out. The Tom Yaam soup sounds delicious too but what does sound refreshing in the Penang heat is the Chrysanthemum tea with ice!

    • 10th June 2017 / 9:13 am

      Yes incredibly nice! It totally changed our first impressions of the city! Such generosity 🙂

  13. 9th June 2017 / 6:13 pm

    Would you believe the first overseas trip I ever took was to Penang, Malaysia nearly 25years ago. I love spicy stuff so the fried laksa sounds so yummy to me and that picture made my mouth water. It is really crazy to think how cheap things are there too.

    • 10th June 2017 / 9:12 am

      I’d be interested to see how it has (or hasn’t) changed in that time Mel. There are a couple of big shopping malls but it feels like the old town has never changed in 50 years!

  14. 10th June 2017 / 3:17 pm

    I love Laska and the food look terrific here. Chrysanthemum tea sounds something completely out of the world. Would try it some day.

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