[Penang] Wait, wait, wait. This famous Penang Air Itam Laksa 亚依淡叻沙 is only opened during the weekends, and only three weekends per month.
That means you got to plan your travel really carefully, IF you really want to try it.
This simple, unassuming stall, often surrounded by a crowd of eager diners, serves up one of Penang’s most iconic dishes – Assam Laksa.
Air Itam is a bustling suburban area known for its rich cultural and historical significance.
This lively neighbourhood is famous for several key attractions including Kek Lok Si Temple (one of Southeast Asia’s largest Buddhist temples) and Penang Hill) offering panoramic views of the island.
Penang Air Itam Assam Laksa has actually announced its closure due to dwindling business caused by Covid-19 and unpaid debt (from son’s gambling apparently).
BUT they re-opened again, to the delight of regulars.
Upon approaching the stall, the first thing that strikes you is the fragrant aroma of the spicy, tamarind-infused broth.
The same uncle was still there, with rhythmic sounds of cooking and constant buzz of customers. He does this repeatedly so that the thick vermicelli gets covered thoroughly in the gravy and the dish stays hot.
He has a chain of staff helping with assembling the other key ingredients of cucumber, onions, red chillies, pineapple, lettuce, mint and ginger.
Each bowl only cost RM6 (SGD1.70).
The Assam Laksa here is a bowl full of bold and complex flavours, brimming with Penang’s signature ‘hae ko’ (thick sweet prawn paste) and shredded mackerel fish.
As you scoop up tablespoons, the strands of thick rice noodles are covered by the generous ingredients.
You would notice how soft and smooth the thick rice noodles are, which are almost glide-down-your-throat.
The broth which is a spicy and sour fish-based concoction, is the heart of the dish, with balanced taste of sweet, sour and spicy.
However, compared to the first time I tried it, the base was somehow not as rich, thick and gao gao (thick) was compared to in the past. Perhaps some who travelled all the way here may be disappointed.
Additionally, the stall’s popularity means that there is often a wait, and seating can be limited in a cramped and hot environment.
Penang Air Itam Assam Laksa does offer an authentic taste of Penang’s street food culture, and I still find this a very good bowl to have.
Penang Air Itam Laksa 亚依淡叻沙
Jalan Pasar, Paya Terubong, 11500 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 7pm (Sat – Sun, 3 weekends per month)
Google Maps – Penang Air Itam Laksa