Laksa Shack is a franchise operating along the trend of establishing hawker food fare in the air conditioned comfort of malls. It has outlets throughout Malaysia and specializes in laksa, as the name implies.
Laksa is a noodle soup dish originating from Malaysia and has two major variants – curry laksa and asam laksa. The first one is santan (coconut milk) based while the latter is a medley of sour and tangy notes from tamarind. Sarawak laksa is an offshoot of curry laksa but I tend to prefer the asam laksa more.
Asam laksa has no coconut milk and is based on a fish paste broth with tamarind, which gives it the distinctive sour taste. I find that very appetizing, and it’s served with translucent thick rice vermicelli instead of the thinner version.
Laska Shack is a quick service operation and offers Asam Laksa, Johor Laksa, Curry Laksa, Laksam Kelantan, Tom Yam Laksa, Laksa Nyonya Melaka, Sarawak Laksa and Laksa Lemak Singapore. The soup base is all pre-cooked and kept in heated receptacles at the counter so they just need to pour the right gravy on the right kind of noodles.
I went with my girlfriend to the outlet at MidValley Megamall and we shared a Laksa Set (RM 14.90) which comes with the laksa of your choice, 2 pieces of otak-otak and Sirap Bandung Cincau. The drink (left) is a rose syrup drink with milk and cincau (black jelly). I ordered another drink (right) for RM 5.50 – Ipoh White Coffee Cincau.
This is what the Laksa Set looks like. The laksa ordered separately costs RM 9.90 each and the drinks will set you back RM 5-6 so it’s usually more cost effective to order the popular laksa set. The two pieces of otak-otak came really fast – the operation at Laksa Shack is all very streamlined.
Otak-otak (literally brains-brains) is a fish paste snack wrapped in banana leaves. Laksa Shack offers the steamed version and the otak-otak is (very) highly processed, leaving very little taste, as is oft the case in mass produced bulk food.
The Asam Laksa at Laksa Shack is surprisingly good for a quick service restaurant. The soup base is tantalizingly sour and comes with pieces of fish. I find tamarind based broth to be very appetizing and drank all the soup in the dish.
I didn’t quite like the fish pieces though – it seems to be sardine to my untrained palate and sardine is one of the few aquatic lifeforms I do not like to eat (due to taste rather than any sentimental PETA/Greenpeace ideology).
You can probably get better laksa for a lower price at regular hawker stalls but Laksa Shack offers the experience (and convenience) of eating hawker food in air conditioned comfort inside a mall. I have seen this trend take off and I suspect the end is nigh for the novelty value of hawker-food-given-premium-treatment concept eating establishments.
It’s going to jump the sardine soon, mark my words. ;)