Published on Wednesday, 17 January 2018 00:00
Written by Cheryl Teo Kai Lin
Steamboat restaurants are a dime a dozen in Singapore, with many offering the usual suspects of soup bases like chicken, mala, tomato and etc. However, local flavored soup bases for steamboat buffets are surprisingly scarce in Singapore, perhaps due to the intricacy and time-consuming process of the recipes. One steamboat restaurant though – King's Laksa Steamboat – has gone the extra mile in boiling up a delectable laksa soup base that hits all the right notes and takes painstaking hours of preparation while simultaneously keeping its buffet prices at an all-time low and stocking quality ingredients.
Located along a row of shophouses just off the busy street of Upper Serangoon Road, this humble little steamboat restaurant is run by a happily married couple who takes pride and joy in representing one of Singapore's favorite local dishes in the steamboat scene.
This restaurant manages to stand out from the hundreds of other steamboat buffets for its premium laksa soup base prepared fresh from scratch in-house everyday with a multitude of quality ingredients.
King's Laksa Steamboat has a chill and minimalist interior, illuminated with hanging lamps and decked out in cool grey tones that provide a hint of sophistication to this all-you-can-eat restaurant.
This buffet-styled restaurant has perfected the art of offering affordable yet delicious food to the masses, with a wide selection of sliced meats, seafood, processed food, vegetables, sauces, drinks and ice-cream starting from just $21.80++/adult for a weekday lunch, and $26.80++/adult for weekday dinners, weekends, eve of public holidays and public holidays. The dining duration is limited to 120 minutes (2 hours) which is more than adequate of a duration to eat till you burst to the seams.
The back of the restaurant houses a sauce station, a drinks station and a wide array of processed food and vegetables available for your picking. Some of the dishes available at the back include hot dogs, fishballs, meat balls, quail eggs, luncheon meat, crabmeat, cuttlefish, enoki mushrooms, shimeiji mushrooms, con, tau pok, spinach, lettuce, chye sim, and cabbage, just to name a few.
The fresh meats, noodles and freshly cooked food are to be ordered directly from the staff so that the restaurant can ensure its freshness. Some of our favorites include the sliced pork belly, sliced lamb, sliced beef, sliced fish, flower crabs, cockles, la-la clams and mussels.
Sliced Pork Belly
The sliced pork belly was our favorite of the array of fresh meats available. It was sliced paper-thin and extremely dewy pink, rimmed with a thick layer of glorious fat. The lady boss herself spoke highly of its quality, proudly informing us that the restaurant offers the same high quality pork belly typically served in well-known Korean BBQ restaurants. The cooked slices were incredibly buttery, fatty, tender and melt-in-the-mouth thanks to the high content of fat contained within its meat.
We also favored the sliced lamb that was surprisingly well marbled. It was bright red and moist, and abundantly weaved in fat that gave the cooked slices a tender texture. The musky and earthy flavors of the lamb best paired with the rich and fragrant laksa soup, the gravy imbued a sweetness to the distinctively delicious gamey essence of the lamb.
Customers are entitled to two soup bases, but you can top up an additional $8 if you wish to have three types of soup bases. The soups available for selection are laksa, chicken, herbal and ma-la. We picked the restaurant's signature laksa soup base to go along with the chicken soup so that the clean mildness of it can balance out the laksa's richness if it gets too overwhelming.
The recipe to the restaurant's popular laksa soup base is kept a secret, but the lady boss revealed that they grind up superior dried shrimps (hae bee), lemongrass, garlic, chilli, and a whole bunch of other ingredients down into a paste before frying it for a lengthy duration of four hours so that all the flavors of the ingredients are intensified and well amalgamated. The fried paste is then tediously boiled with more ingredients in a cauldron for 8 hours to ensure a rich and robust flavored laksa soup base.
The laksa soup was full-bodied, thick, rich, creamy, spicy and fragrant, with a smooth and velvety texture. The brilliant addition of lemongrass cut through the creamy gravy with its citrusy tang and prevented the soup from overwhelming the palate. The luscious gravy contained just the right amount of spice to prickle the tongue with the perfect measure of coconut milk to balance out the spiciness and inculcate the soup with a delicate sweetness and fragrance. The dried shrimps were thoroughly infused into the gravy, suffusing the soup with its savory and umami crustacean flavors.
The chicken soup surprisingly held its own despite the richness of the robust flavored laksa soup. It was thick and creamy, sticky and rich, subtly sweet and savory, which could only mean that it had been so diligently simmered over low heat for an extended duration that the chicken literally dissolved and released all the collagen in its skin, flesh and bones. It was wonderfully invigorating and a joy to the tastebuds to alternate between the vastly different laksa and chicken soup bases – one with its fragrant, hearty and spicy flavors and the other with its clean-tasting, comforting and viscous collagen goodness.
The thick laksa broth thoroughly permeated and seeped into every molecule of the ingredients dredged into the boiling pot, so much so that each morsel of food was richly suffused in its spicy, hearty and full-bodied flavors. Our bowls of sauces were promptly cast aside and abandoned as we gobbled up the delicious ingredients, all bursting forth with its natural juices and the intense laksa gravy.
With all steamboat sessions, the soup bases are best enjoyed towards the end of the meal when all the ingredients’ juices and essences have released its eclectic mix of constantly evolving kaleidoscopic flavors – think of the sweet and malty crustacean flavors of the flower crabs, the umami clams and mussels, the slightly metallic taste of cockles, the buttery thickness of the melted fat from the fresh meats, the savory juices of the lamb and pork, the subtle salinity of the squid, the earthy flavors of the mushrooms, and the fresh sweetness of the sliced fish. After the piping hot, hearty meal, indulge in a refreshing selection of seven ice cream flavors to end your feast on a sweet note.
King’s Laksa Steamboat
Address: 17 Teck Chye Terrace, Singapore 545724, Singapore 545724
Hours: 11am – 2.59pm, 3pm – 11pm
Tel.: +65 6287 8010
Hi, I'm Cheryl. I possess a joie de vivre spirit unique to my character, my expressions of euphoria are wild in nature and I approach life like one colossal party. I love venturing into the unknown and exploring all that is possible; from exotic foods to cliff-diving. When I am not seeking out something extraordinary to check off my bucket list, I love curling up on a comfy couch with a glass of wine and a book in hand. Follow my personal adventures in my blog here where I let loose of all inhibitions, voice my inner-most emotions, exult in all that is wonderful, unleash the monsters within, lose myself in beautiful reveries, reminisce treasured memories and curate recherché experiences.