68 years old and counting - this Air Itam dining icon still pulls in the crowd every day. Singaporeans take away packs to bring home on 1.5 hour flights, whilst KL-lites drive more than 350km for their asam laksa fix here.
Currently run by Ang Kar Seong, 67, who’s almost as old as the stall started by his late mother. The elder Ang is helped by his son, Ang Kar Foo, and other family members - in fact, the stall was run by an all-women kitchen crew when I was there this afternoon.
Penang asam laksa has a spicy-sour soup base, characterised by its chilli-assam (tamarind)-lemongrass flavour, replete with minced fish-meat.
The laksa noodles are garnished with generous amounts of finely-julienned raw herbs & vegetables: cucumber, lettuce, onions, torch-ginger (‘bunga kantan’), red chillies and fresh mint. An indispensable dollop of “hae koh” (fermented shrimp paste) drizzled on top before serving adds a pungent spike of flavour.
The stall is located by the roadside, outside the Air Itam wet market, and only opens about after 10.30am, when the wet market’s morning stalls start closing down.
Ayer Itam Market Assam Laksa
Jalan Pasar, Paya Terubong
11500 George Town, Penang, Malaysia.
Operating hours: 11.30am-8pm daily
CNN Travel’s 2020 list of World’s Best 50 Foods placed Penang asam laksa at Number 7.
Prompted us here to make a return visit to Penang’s top asam laksa spot, Ayer Itam Market Asam Laksa for our laksa fix today. 71-year-old owner-chef, Ang Kar Seong, busy as usual, dispensing hot, steaming bowls of spicy, sourish noodles.
The loss of business caused by the COVID pandemic lockdowns, plus some serious financial issues faced by the third-generation of the Ang family, put paid to a 73-year-old legacy. Air Itam Market Asam Laksa threw in the towel in May 2021.
The legendary Ayer Itam Market Asam Laksa has re-opened!
Stall-owner Ang Kak Seong, 72, one of the most recognizable figures in Penang’s hawker universe, was back at his familiar location, assisted by his two daughters, Ang Kar Oon, 44, and Ang Kar Siew, 42, as well as grandson Ang Yong Jing, 18.
One of the best news I’ve heard for quite a while!