Sarawak Laksa – The Greatest Hits of Borneo

Laksa is type of spicy broth served with noodles, with many variants found across Asia, albeit predominantly in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia. It is an intense, intoxicating, and absolutely addictive experience, that one aims to replicate many times over despite the tropical heat and humidity. Some of the more popular versions that one might have encountered are Assam Laksa, Curry Laksa, or Katong Laksa. But a lesser known, but no less important variant, is the Sarawak Laksa. And it is definitely overdue for some love.

Sarawak Laksa
Sarawak Laksa

Emily Loo had shined the spotlight on Sarawak Laksa at Masterchef Australia, and I could see many of my Sarawakian buddies squeal with glee! Although eventually eliminated, she was nonetheless successful in lifting this humble dish up onto the rafters, and into the international stage.

The base of the broth is typically made with sambal belachan, lemongrass, tamarind, galangal and coconut milk. The preferred noodle type is rice vermicelli. The dish is topped off with strips of cooked omelette, shredded chicken, prawns, beansprouts, and fresh coriander. This is usually served with additional sambal and a lime wedge on the side. Personally, adding lime is absolutely critical to me as it adds some much needed brightness to an otherwise intense dish.

As the name helpfully implies, Sarawak Laksa is located all across the state. And according to my buddies, the true motherland is probably Kuching. Although some do swear by the award winning laksa served up at Laksa House in Bintulu, which is definitely on the hit list if I’m ever over on a business trip. On the flip side, Miri certainly has a few decent Sarawak Laksa joints, and I’ll list out some that are worth revisiting:

  1. Miri Golf Course @ Hole No.16 – Not far from the Piasau Boat Club, this little shack called Laksa Lolita (go figure?) is located in the middle of the golf course at Hole number 16 of the Miri golf club. This place only serves Sarawak Laksa, and a pretty good one at that albeit a tad heavy on the coconut milk. It’s worth mentioning that the food is classified Halal for my Muslim pals. Fair warning, as the place doesn’t have any air conditioning, or fans for that matter, and best visited during cooler weather.
  2. Madam Wee – This place along Jalan Murraya, Krokop, is quite often packed to the brim, and one of the preferred Sarawak Laksa joints for locals. It is definitely more similar to the curry laksas found in the Peninsular, with a spicier kick, albeit less herbaceous.
  3. Tasty Point – Located opposite the Imperial Permaisuri mall, this place is one of the local favourites, with decent food in general. I actually like the laksa here, as it is more balanced and herbal compared to Madam Wee’s variant.
  4. Piasau Boat Club – This typically expat haunt, nestled within the newly cristened Piasau Nature Reserve, actually serves up a pretty decent Sarawak Laksa, and one of my staples after a workout at the club gym. Plus I love the view here, and you might actually see a Hornbill on the way over as well.

Other honourable mentions that I’ve yet to experience are Happy Dragon, which apparently serves up some decent Laksa. Learn more about Happy Dragon at the inaugural article of my blog.

I have to admit that Sarawak Laksa is one of the few bright spots whilst on my Miri sojourn. It’s my default dish for breakfast, and sometimes even for lunch and dinner. Although the other laksa variants are absolutely delicious, Sarawak Laksa deserves a special place up there on the pantheon of Laksas, and definitely worth going for whenever you’re in Sarawak.

P.S. Alexis, and Aunt Christina’s stall at Lucky Garden, Bangsar serves good Sarawak Laksa in Peninsular Malaysia as well.

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