Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Soup of Champions, Farlim, Air Itam

The synonymity of Assam Laksa and Penang is under critical threat. Serious laksa aficionados will tell you that the true art of laksa-making is on the decline on the island. Previous haunts for the best laksa, ie. Penang Road, Gurney Drive, Gottlieb Road, are faltering, no longer quite cutting local laksa tastebuds, trained and brought up on only the best.

A smattering of the good ones remain. Shell Station laksa in Farlim, Air Itam is one of them.

For me, the merit of the laksa lies heavily on whether kembung (mackerel), the original type of fish for assam laksa or sardine fish, the latter-day, more convenient substitute, is used.

Shell Station is a kembung purist, and you really don't find too many of those around anymore.


A standard bowl of Shell Station laksa comes with sliced fish balls, which I can frankly do without. However, the soup, thick and mysteriously murky, implores urgently and quietens the cynic in me immediately, commanding a downpour of sweat and island-style humility.

Unlike the traditional recipe calling for the fish to be flaked, Shell Station's laksa merely debones its kembung whole and leaves the flesh of the meat and skin intact. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I don't mind it as much, even though I decide that I still prefer mine flaked.

Crispy spring rolls, great for dipping into the soup of champions.


While Farlim is outside my comfort zone on the island, it's great to know we can still come back here for the real thing. It is located on Medan Angsana 4, in a more functional lot in the Farlim Business Square, having moved from its namesake's location some time back.

15 comments:

allie said...

Hear a lot about this laksa. Wanted to try it out soon :)
Thanks for reminding!

ck lam said...

Nice intro to this new place.

babe_kl said...

hey, my fren took me there before and i liked the laksa here. the broth is clear type and they scoop out the flesh from one fish. my fren ask them to kar liew :p so we each have 4 slices of kembung halves

FoOd PaRaDiSe said...

Wow.... long time did not had this shop laksa. Should pay a visit already.

worldwindows said...

I took an instant liking for the laksa. Kembung meat in chunky pieces and bunga kantan.

Nic (KHKL) said...

i can still remember the one behind komtar, sold by an old Indian uncle from his bicycle. i had 2 servings and tar pau-ed 2 packs back to kl, in a bus. i was only a student back then but the taste lingers til today. ahhh, penang laksa rawks! big time!

mimid3vils said...

dipping spring roll with laksa soup, oh..so appetizing!!!

Bangsar-bAbE said...

I don't know of this asam laksa. I usually eat the one at the Air Itam market...

I'm guessing this one is way better? =)

New Kid on the Blog said...

looks like lots of people visiting this place....

Lingzie said...

i didn't even know about this laksa stall! must go d... hehehehe though i do prefer my fish flaked! :P

gourmand extraordinaire said...

I don't like Assam Laksa cause i can't stand astringent flavours. but there's a really good place for Lemak Laksa. It's at the kopitiam corner of Pulau Tikus where theyhave a really insane Wan Than Mee in the morning. The corpulent Siamese Laksa lady only operates around the afternoon. Go check her out.

550ml jar of faith said...

Allie, CK Lam, definitely must try! Right up there with Air Itam & Balik Pulau's!

Babe KL, ooh kar liew! Very good idea! Mine only had the standard 2 kembung halves. I shall top up next time!

Food Paradise, too much good food in Penang!

Worldwindows, now that you mentioned it, yes, the abundance of bunga kantan really does add bonus points!

Nic, Indian uncle behind KOMTAR?? Could it be the same one who then moved to the spot next to the longkang behind Penang Plaza? He's a legend!

550ml jar of faith said...

Mimid3vils, spring rolls dunked in laksa, the ultimate teatime snack!

Bangsar Babe, not necessarily. The Air Itam one maintains its charm... AND the use of kembung so still gets top marks in my books!

NKOTB, hmm when we went during the weekend, there were only a few tables occupied.

Lingzie, I'd go for Balik Pulau's cham as the top one on my personal list, just because of the flaked fish. If only it wasn't such a long drive away!!

Gourmand Extraordinaire, oooh I think I know which one you're talking about. There's also a very popular Hokkien Mee stall there too right? OK, Siamese laksa, here I come!

vialentino said...

wow....i must try this laksa then...thanks for the recommendation

cariso said...

I will try out also!