Heng Heng Katong Laksa is the fruit of an intense yearning for authentic Singaporean laksa. Despite the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, co-founder and self-taught cook Nicholas Ng was resolute in satisfying his cravings all the way from Jakarta. After a year-long trial and error, with the help of fiancée Aprilia Tjandra and feedback from their Singaporean friends, he finally succeeded in replicating the exact flavours he cherished—only after the 76th try.
A local variation from the eastside neighbourhood of Katong in Singapore, Katong laksa was first developed by the Peranakan community living in the area. Drawing inspiration from popular local joints such as Janggut Laksa (the original creator) and 328 Katong Laksa, Nicholas’s interpretation is faithful to the original, which not only satisfies the cravings of many Singaporeans but also introduces this lesser-known variation to the Indonesian community.
Serving at Terrace Ciranjang, their second outlet following their eatery in Pluit, Heng Heng’s bowl of laksa greets hungry stomachs with its sharp fragrance of seasonings and spice even before hitting the dining table. The broth’s opulent sunset-gold colour is befitting of the rich tangy-spice at first slurp; a creamy savour best washed down with a refreshing lime juice with sourplum.
Flavoured with hae bee (spicy dried shrimp sambal), Heng Heng’s coconutty stock stays true to tradition with its pronounced seafood notes, giving way to a savoury-salty profile distinct from the slightly sweet Kopitiam style more commonly found in the city. Another characteristic feature of Katong laksa is the chopped thick vermicelli noodles, or beehoon, that lay underneath bite-sized toppings of cockles, prawns, bean sprouts, and fish cakes—that’s why the only utensil really needed is a single Chinese soup spoon, the way it is traditionally enjoyed.
Diners could also opt for a serving of Singaporean otah (otak-otak) on the side, a grilled fish cake wrapped in palm leaves, which Aprilia recommends dipping into the laksa soup for an extra tang. Warming and fulfilling with flavours hitting close to home, it doesn’t come as a surprise that many homesick Singaporeans have taken comfort in the laksa bowl. For curious locals, it’s also a gateway to the rich iterations of laksa in Southeast Asia, one that isn’t bound by a default flavour or how they are typically enjoyed.