The Straits Times | Food Picks: Hathaway, Cai Eats and Lim Bo Rojak

By Tan Hsueh Yun, The Straits Times on 24 September 2021

A different laksa

Laksa Terengganu Kuah Putih

Many home-based food businesses have flourished in the pandemic, but few make the leap to brick-and-mortar stores. Cai Eats, which started out selling ngoh hiang, is one of those which have levelled up.

The Chua siblings - Irwin, Amanda and Charmaine - have been mining their grandparents' stash of recipes, and since opening their eatery in the Upper Thomson Road area, have been adding to their repertoire.

The latest offering is Laksa Terengganu Kuah Putih, which is not spicy at all unless you add a dollop of their fiery sambal belacan. The nuanced and balanced recipe comes from their mother's side of the family.

Richness comes from coconut milk, mixed with shallots and spices for the gravy. Hand-flaked mackerel adds umami, shredded cucumber adds lightness to counter the richness, as does a squeeze of lime juice. Aromatic laksa leaves top everything off.

For now, it is available in a set menu, which has a taste of everything Cai Eats offers - original and mala ngoh hiang, tender and juicy pork meatballs, a vegetable dish. Go for the terrific sambal petai, old-school glutinous rice, laksa, sambal belacan, Hainanese chilli sauce and housemade barley water.

A set for four costs $168 and one for six is $230. Islandwide delivery charges are included and the set is available for lunch from Tuesdays to Saturdays, and for dinner from Tuesdays to Fridays. Pre-order at least two days in advance via Instagram.

Another option is to swop out the laksa with Spicy Sambal Char Kway Teow, which means the set for four costs $150 and the set for six costs $210. That, too, is delicious.

Kway teow, shredded chicken, fish cake and egg are fried together with slices of cucumber. The vegetable, usually eaten raw, becomes tender and soaks up the piquant seasonings that go into the dish. This dish is not always available and has to be pre-ordered.

The dilemma for me is: What if I want both the kway teow and the laksa? I'll get it a la carte - at $7 for an individual serve (minimum two orders) and $50 for eight servings.