Think Penang and one of the first things that come to mind is Asam Laksa. The most frequented and famous Asam Laksa to us non-Penangites will be located at the Air Itam Market. Air Itam is malay for Black Water.
What is Asam Laksa? It is a sour, fish-based soup. Asam is tamarind, a sour fruit,which is the main flavor of the soup. The soup is cooked using spices and ikan kembung also known as mackerel fish. Asam laksa is usually served with mint.
At the popular junction in Air Itam where the we market is located, be prepared for the jams and the people and the smell. This road also leads to the popular Kek Lok Si Temple and will be packed with tour buses.
Come here around 1045am as the uncle starts cooking at 11. At 1050, there was already a lack of seats to sit. Hordes of people will start lining up for the food. Most of them are usually out-of-towners. I was eating at 11am, so the timings are a rough estimate only.
At RM4 per bowl, the price has increased from the last time I was here. If I am not wrong, it was in 2010. It used to be RM2.70
The plates are prepared and filled with the ingredients. Noodles, sauces, spices, onions are all thrown into the bowl.
This uncle has been cooking the noodles as far as I can remember.
The uncle will then “cook” the noodles by running the hot broth over the bowl many times. This is boiling hot.
Adding some prawn sauce, this is the final product.
The noodles are chewy.
I added some salt that made the soup more tastier. The sour and salty soup made it so much more enjoyable. I was slurping away.
I was questioning if one bowl was enough. I have eaten two bowls at one go in the past. But thinking of the other things I needed to eat in Penang, one bowl was enough for me.
This dish is highly recommended. Locals say there was another at Balik Pulau much nicer than this, but Balik Pulau is on the other side of Penang and was a long drive. We had just landed at the airport and came directly to this place first. Do slurp out the soup. Brace for the jams on weekends.
I have heard of people doing take-away for family and friends who did not make the trip…..from KL (5 hours drive away)
This place is probably the only place I eat asam laksa. Come to think of it, I rarely eat asam laksa and when I do, I usually am in Penang at this place.
If you have other recommendations, leave a comment below.