I was confused. Looking at online pictures of kolo mee and kampua noodles, the only difference I could see was that the first used curly noodles and the second, straight noodles. Yet, the verdict from their shared place of origin, Sarawak was loud and clear: less famous, yes, but kampua was its own thing.
A Sarawakian investigation was in order and it sounded like a job for SuperTaster Girl aka me, Pavin!
My first step was deciding where I would find the best possible examples of both dishes together. Several names were considered but, in the end, I settled on Sarawak Delicacy Laksa & Kolo Mee in Bedok North.
It’s a name that has been on my radar for some time now but I’ve never had the chance to visit. The obvious appeal is its authentic North Borneo flavours— the Sarawakian owner imports ingredients from her home state for a taste that cannot be replicated.
I made my way down there last week. Trying kampua for the first time was definitely the appeal but I was hoping to add to my list of my favourite kolo mee destinations, too.
When I arrived, it was obvious that Sarawak Delicacy Laksa & Kolo Mee isn’t your typical hawker stall.
Firstly, the trio behind the counter were in their twenties, fresh-faced and fast. They bustled about in the matching uniforms under a wide flat screen displaying the menu as well as media mentions.
Gently illuminating the scene were 2 neon signs, ‘Order’ in pink and ‘Collect’ in blue.
What I tried at Sarawak Delicacy Laksa & Kolo Mee
There are just 9 items on their menu, with their signature dish, Laksa Beehoon (S$6.30/S$8) most prominently displayed. What choice did I have but to add it to my order? Joining it at my table were the 2 dishes that had drawn me there: Kolo Mee (S$5.50) and Kampua Noodles (S$4.50).
I dove right into the mysterious (to me) Kampua Noodles, which you can identify the dish by the straight noodles. There were 6 slim pieces of char siew on the noodles as well as a generous helping of shallots and fried onions. It also came with a bowl of clear chicken soup.
It was a bit difficult to pick up the noodles because they were all nicely meshed together. A bit of shaking and I freed a nice little portion for my first taste. Covered in a light sheen of oil, the noodles are saltier than the norm. However, the lightly sweetish char siew makes it a perfect combo.
Oh, it was so good!
I took a sip of the soup and that just made it perfect. It was just peppery enough to give me that warm, homely feel without being too overwhelming.
The Kampua Noodles had brought their ‘A’ game. How would the Kolo Mee compare?
In their deeper bowl sat the curly noodles, topped by about 10 pieces of char siew, a whole lot of minced pork, shallots and fried onions. It is served with chilli slices in vinegar and you are supposed to throw it all in the mix. I didn’t do that immediately because I wanted a ‘pure’ taste first.
The char siew was the same as that in the Kampua Noodles, which is good! I’d say the minced pork was one step ahead— it shared a similar sweetness but some additional secret ingredients made it distinctly better. Add that to the flavourful crunch of the fried onions and shallots and this was one of the best bowls of kolo mee I’ve had in a long time.
And that was before I added the chilli and vinegar. Guys, this Sarawak Delicacy Laksa & Kolo Mee is a great way to spend S$5.50.
So, it was a really difficult decision but I think the Kampua Noodles still win. It was on razor’s edge but I don’t want to take the weak route and call it a draw. Perhaps it’s because kampua was totally new to me and blew me away with that burst of varied flavours. Either way, there’s your winner!
My dining companion and I moved on to the signature Laksa Beehoon next.
This is a loaded bowl, I must say. Filled with shredded chicken and egg, taugeh, prawns, and a sprinkling of coriander, this was definitely worth the S$6.30 price tag.
The soup was a much deeper brown, apparently due to the secret mixture of spices that they use. It turned out to be one of the lightest laksas I have ever tasted, and spicy, too. There’s less coconut milk in this version and that makes for a thinner, more fluid laksa that’s easy on you.
A pleasant dish but nothing too special after the wonderful cousins, kampua and kolo mee.
I was blown away. This is the closest I have ever come to awarding a hawker stall 5 stars and all the heavy lifting was done by the kampua and kolo mee. It was also nice to see that this is a younger generation of hawkers who are keeping their culinary traditions alive in such an exciting and delicious way!
Now, go eat the Kampua Noodle.
Expected damage: S$4.50 – S$8.50 per pax
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