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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Penang laksa all spiced up

Penang hawker Chaeh Siew Mooi will serve up her famous assam laksa at Resorts World Sentosa's Malaysian Food Street.
The Straits Times - August 29, 2012
By: Eunice Quek
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Penang laksa all spiced up Hot stuff: Ms Chaeh Siew Mooi (above) has been dishing out her Penang laksa for more than 20 years at a coffee shop in Batu Ferringhi. Ms Chaeh runs the stall with her childhood friend Ong Saw Phaik. -- ST PHOTO: PANDORA WONG

For two weeks only till Sept 9, tuck into authentic Penang assam laksa prepared by popular Penang hawker Chaeh Siew Mooi, better known as Auntie Mooi to her regular customers.

She is sharing the shop space of the Ampang Yong Tau Foo stall at the Malaysian Food Street in Resorts World Sentosa.

Unlike the laksa commonly sold here which has a coconut-milk base and ingredients such as fishcake and tau pok (fried beancurd puff), the Penang laksa broth is fish-based and is sour and spicy.

Ms Chaeh, 56, who is married with three children, says in Mandarin: "Lemongrass and galangal are important ingredients for the laksa. We cook the soup for at least four hours."

Fresh and dried tamarind (assam) skins are also key ingredients which add a sour tang to the hearty soup. The dish, which is garnished with mint leaves and shredded red onions, and comes with a saucer of black prawn paste, costs $5.

Her hand-made white noodles are slightly thicker and have more bite than the usual laksa thick beehoon. She adds: "Our noodles also have a smoother texture compared to others. It hasn't changed since we started more than 20 years ago."

Ms Chaeh runs her stall at Mandarin Cafe, a coffee shop in Batu Ferringhi, a beach area in Penang. Her childhood friend from school, Ms Ong Saw Phaik, 56, works with her and will be coming here with her for the promotion.

The outlet also sells other dishes such as char kway teow, poh piah and porridge but her assam laksa is the most popular item. She sells up to 300 bowls daily. As part of the Penang state government's efforts to promote Penang street food, the duo have been to Macau and Sarawak.

Next month, they will do a promotion at Christmas Island for two weeks. Last year, they took part in York Hotel's Penang Hawkers' Fare, a Penang food buffet that occurs three times a year.

Whenever they are travelling, Ms Chaeh's 30-year-old daughter runs the Penang outlet. She will take over the stall when her mother retires.

Ms Chaeh does not rule out the possibility of opening at the eight-month-old Malaysian Food Street at Resorts World Sentosa.

The food court sees more than 33,000 diners weekly, who turn up to try hawker fare such as KL Hokkien Mee and Klang bak kut teh (pork rib soup).

The latest stall to open there is Straits of Satay from Perak, which opened two months ago. The tender skewered meat comes with a peanut sauce mixed with pineapple puree.

While Ms Chaeh considers Singapore laksa to be "tasty", she humbly says: "In Penang, we like our laksa sour and spicy. It's a different flavour from the local one here and we hope everyone enjoys our version."

The Malaysian Food Street at Resorts World Sentosa is open from 11am to 10pm (Mondays, Tuesdays & Thursdays), 9am to 11pm (Fridays & Saturdays), 9am to 10pm (Sundays), closed on Wednesdays.

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