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.