Photos by Worldwide Scott
Strangely enough, bowls of soup have played a disproportionately large role in my travel experiences over the years.
Hey, I'm crazy like that.
In New Orleans, I fell in love with seafood bisque the first time it touched my lips, and slurping down a batch quickly became a staple of my trips to the Big Easy.
Clam Chowder is another soup I was bowled over with, and when I finally had a chance to visit New England, I made hunting down a steaming hot and authentic version priority number one.
And on my first holiday to Europe, goulash became a hearty and filling find in both the Czech Republic and Slovenia, keeping me warm on many a rainy and cold night.
Enter the Southeast Asian soup specialty called laksa.
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I am not sure when I first heard about laksa - although I'm pretty sure it involved a travel show hosted by the perpetually peppy Samantha Brown - but once I was made aware of its creamy, spicy and seafood-y flavors, I was hooked.
While there are a few different regional varieties throughout Southeast Asia, the Singapore version she must have sampled is mostly made with coconut milk, spices, noodles, cockles, shrimp and chili paste, and I couldn't wait to ladle some out for myself.
There was only one problem, though: I was thousands of miles from Asia, so my longing for laksa simply had to simmer for while.
Fast forward a few years, and my laksa obsession had come to a full-fledged rolling boil as we touched down in Singapore for a short layover.
But where to go for the laksa?
Well, thanks to the free Wi-Fi at the Hong Kong airport and - I use this term very loosely - the "good" people of the Internet forums, a recommendation materialized: the Golden Mile Food Centre, where on the second floor there was apparently a laksa master working his magic.
I maniacally scribbled down the address and created an incredibly sloppy map, similar to what you see might see if you asked a monkey to explain where he hid his buried treasure.
In this case, "X" marked the Golden Mile Food Centre.
These food centers are essentially giant food courts, where some of the best street food vendors have been moved indoors in the name of convenience and cleanliness.
Navigating by notebook, we dodged traffic, miraculously making our way from the metro stop to our destination.
We stumbled in sweating, and in our best local dialect (which is English, by the way), asked numerous variations of "laksa?" "laksa man?" "famous laksa?" to the first poor soul we came across.
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She was probably just scared of us, but she pointed us upstairs and we went searching for the first stall we saw that had laksa on their menu. We landed at Chung Cheng, unsure if they were the place were looking for, but as we were running short on time, went ahead and ordered anyway.
What followed was one of the best food experiences I've ever had. The mixing of flavors in laksa is out of this world, the cream of the coconut, the - how shall I put this politely? - "shrimp juice," the noodles and bean curd's puffy texture contrasting with the soup. It was all I had hoped it would be and more.
Laksa at Chung Cheng Singapore: go get yourself some, you won't regret it.
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