All the way to Ghim Moh just for laksa? I was not entirely convinced that our in-house TikTok maestro, Rachel was being serious. The name 63 Laksa did ring a bell, though. I’ve had friends rave about the stall’s signature dish for at least a couple of months and it has been in the news for its extremely affordable S$2.50 laksa bowls.
The latter part especially intrigued me and questions flew through my head. Was it really possible to get quality ingredients and put enough effort into every serving for that price? Did Rachel just need a hand model for her viral TikToks? The answers lay waiting at Ghim Moh Road Market & Food Centre.
Kelly Ng, 51, who runs 63 Laksa uses a recipe that dates back to the 1960s and was originally his grandfather’s. That recipe was based on the famous laksa stall on Sungei Road (that’s still around at Jalan Besar, in case you are wondering) which spawned a number of copycats, leading to what is now known as the ‘Sungei Road-style’ laksa.
What does set it apart to an extent is that Kelly uses a gas stove for all the cooking. It’s a deliberate decision to move away from the mess and smokiness of charcoal.
63 Laksa is only open for breakfast and lunch (8am to 2pm) and there is apparently a queue at both mealtimes. Our plan to beat the lunch crowd by heading there at 11am worked out perfectly— there were just 5 people ahead of us.
What I tried at 63 Laksa
Rachel and I ordered one small bowl of Laksa (S$2.50) each, as well as two (large) pieces of Mackerel Otah (S$1.30).
I did a double take when my bowl arrived. Where were the chopsticks? All we had been given were a spoon each. Peering into my bowl, I unravelled the mystery. The noodles were cut up into spoon-friendly pieces! If nothing else, that one trick will save you (or likely your Mum) the time that would otherwise have been spent trying to get rid of little yellow laksa soup stain dots from your clothes.
The bowl was filled virtually to the brim with laksa that was a wonderfully appetising pale yellow colour (incidentally, almost exactly the same shade as the tabletops). There was also fishcake and a dollop of sambal. A pleasant coconut milk fragrance wafted from the steaming bowl.
I became a fan with my first mouthful. Kelly’s laksa goes easy on the salt and the well-handled seasoning went hand-in-hand with the intensity of dried shrimp. The fishcake is nothing to write home about, but gives the dish some essential bite. Rachel ordered cockles with hers and I stole one from under her very eyes. Meh, still not a fan of cockles.
One of things I liked about the laksa here was that it was light, and not packed with the creamy heaviness that will give you a food coma. I was able to go back home after and begin on my first draft of this article right away. (Seth, are you reading this?)
Despite abandoning the thicker (and perhaps more substantial) approach to laksa, the dish is not wanting in terms of flavour. With the otah as a side, I felt that I had a complete meal with a range of tastes and textures.
There’s little doubt that a large part of the appeal of 63 Laksa is the economy factor— it’s really difficult to find a S$2.50 meal anywhere, even at a hawker stall. While it may not seem like much to many of us, it probably does make a difference to the residents of the surrounding housing estates.
That said, while I did find the small bowl filling, most other people would find it a tad too small to be a full meal. It may be more accurate to describe 63 Laksa as the place for the S$4 laksa bowl (the larger option) as that would be what most people looking for breakfast or lunch would settle on.
On the other hand, if you have little kids in tow, this is the perfect place to introduce them to laksa. The petite bowls aside, you can also ask for bowls to be less spicy to develop your kids’ appreciation for this mainstay of Singaporean hawker dishes.
Ghim Moh Road Market & Food Centre is home to several stalls that have received nods from international publications. I am happy to say that 63 Laksa easily makes the cut for me.
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