Tan Kee Cathay Laksa 陈记国泰辣沙
Since it was a food trail with Tony, I would not be limited to one meal, right? But we were trapped by the rain and we were on foot. The heavy downpour in fact turned out for the better. Tony has blogged on all the stalls in Restoran Shang Ji, including the Braised Duck stall that was not operating that day. Why did I say it turned out for the better? For one thing, all the stall holders were very friendly. Except for Tin & Tin Cathay Beef Noodles, the father and son were on the shy side. Mr. Ah Teng only smiled when I asked if his fare was Hainanese Beef Noodles. He quickly asked if I’m Hainanese. I answered yes and that broke the ice. He enquired if I spoke the dialect and I replied in my limited but humorous exchange. We spoke a little more. Hainanese, a minority of the Chinese dialect group, where members have its priviledges 😉 If a Hainanese patronises a vendor of the same dialect group, chances are you’ll get an extra something on your plate. Sorry I digressed so let’s back to my next meal.
While I was gobbling the remains of my lai fun from Tin & Tin, I saw a couple of guys (at separate tables) enjoying their noodles. They had different bowls, one melamine and one porcelain. As usual, my eyes rovers whenever I’m eating. I can’t help the gourmand in me. So I searched for the stalls. In fact, the two men had patronised the same stall. Maybe the difference in price led to different types of bowls being used so that the stallholder know how much to charge – much like the colour code pricing system of sushi trains.
And so the hunt began. Mrs. Tan had been bobbing around us while we were having our beef noodle meal. Tony has blogged on her fare before and she appreciated it so much, she was eager to serve him another bowl. She was not pushy but genuinely chatty and bubbly. She offered to get me some drinks but I declined as I already have Kopi Peng (Malaya coffeeshop term for iced coffee).
A quick note: When I use the word Malaya (now obsolete due to its connotations of the British colonial era), it is to include Malaysia and Singapore.
Until 1946, and for some time afterwards, the term Malaya included Singapore. In Singaporean law, the term “Malaya” includes Singapore, but the term “States of Malaya” does not. In Singapore law, Malaya means the States of Malaya (also known as Peninsular Malaysia) together with Singapore (1946–present).
Never mind the confusion, the word Malaya used in my posts has nothing to do with political entities but rather geographical connotations.
Back on track.
Mr. Tan has been in the Laksa trade for 41 years. He has been selling this type of laksa with his wife for 16 years and moved to this restoran for about slightly over 2 years.
According to Mrs. Tan, their laksa gravy stock is made of soy beans and ikan bilis and their own recipe of curry paste. There’s no chicken or pork bones used. The fishballs (from wolf herring) are hand made daily and then deep-fried till golden. The taukwa (firm tofu) are bought from the wet market and they also deep fry these themselves. The taukee are cut into small squares and deep fried too. When there are no sales, these ingredients are covered with muslin cloth to prevent dust and houseflies gathering. They offered 3 types of noodles, beehoon, yellow noodles and kway teow.
Mr. Tan’s stall is very well kept. He cleans the counter top (spotless) after cooking each time. I’m very impressed with the stallholder’s cleanliness.
Mr. Tan is man of few words while Mrs. Tan is very chatty and smiling all the time. I had the chance to notice the couple in action. They seemed to be very loving even at work. Mr. Tan would pour the water into the chilli bowl while Mrs. Tan stirs it. Whenever she encountered some difficulty, he would be there to assist her. Mrs. Tan portayed admiration when describing Mr. Tan’s career.
We had the beehoon which Tony said would better absorb the gravy rendering the meal even more tasty. On first bite of the fishball, there was fishy taste, not in a bad way but the natural taste of wolf herring. The taukwa had a wrinkly texture outside and tender “creamy” inside. The crispy bean skin was not boiled in the gravy but only added when ready to serve (topped with gravy). The gravy had a wonderful aroma and natural sweet taste from the anchovies and soy beans. I am delighted with the thin version of gravy. I could drink the soup which was fragrant and not overly lemak (Malay word for rich tasting food).
Two thumbs up for food and service. A must try if you’re in the neighbourhood. But then again, they aren’t easily accessible so one must make a purposeful trip to Restoran Shang Ji. It is worth it!
Tan Kee Cathay Laksa 陈记国泰辣沙
Inside Restoran Shang Ji.
141-142, Jalan Lumba Kuda,
Bukit Chagar 80300,
Johor Bahru, Johor.
Opening hours: 7am – 2pm
Closed on Mondays.
Happy food trailing 😀
Some of the information found on this post is due credit to Wikipedia.