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Hook, Line, and Sinker

Laut is a gem of a gastrobar that puts the spotlight on Southeast Asian flavours in an elegant, sophisticated way.

*This article first appeared in the November/December ‘Food & Wellness’ 2020 issue of Wine & Dine

Fronted by a nondescript dark wood door, it’s easy to mistake Laut as just another shophouse office along Stanley Street. But take it from us— it’s worth making an effort to keep an eye out for this gem of a gastrobar.

First impressions matter and Laut does well on this front. Servers are prompt yet welcoming, making sure we are well settled before taking the time to explain the inspiration behind the chic space.
 

Laut, we learn, takes its name from the Malay word for ‘sea’, and the menu and interiors are designed to reflect this. While it’s easy to go, well, overboard, with a nautical theme, Laut keeps it elegant and understated with navy tones and wood accents. The quartz table tops resemble the stormy waves of the sea, while wicker stools and hanging bamboo lamps are a subtle nod to kelong (local fishing village) days.

Frog Legs (Image courtesy of Laut Collective)

The menu takes on a locavore component, using locally- sourced ingredients where possible to recreate familiar yet elevated Southeast Asian flavours. Frog Legs, a common porridge supper food, is brought in from a local farm and brined for 24 hours to give the tender meat a distinctive light pink hue. The Soft Shell Crab is particularly good— local crabs are coated in a spiced batter infused with Borneo peppers, then coated in a sweet honey glaze and dusted with fish flakes. A lone crab shell is the vessel for a buttery and dangerously addictive house-made chilli crab dip.

Prawn Raja (Image courtesy of Laut Collective)

The star, though, is definitely the Prawn Raja. Inspired by lei cha fan (thunder tea rice), the savoury thunder tea (a mix of oolong tea leaves, mungwort, basil and nuts) is infused into a butter that is used to cook the risotto. Century eggs and petai (stink beans) are a welcomed surprise— the jellied preserved eggs and crunchy beans add texture to the creamy grains, while also adding a sharp flavour to each bite. King prawns, grilled to perfection, are the crowning glory of this dish.

Pisang (Image courtesy of Laut Collective)

The star, though, is definitely the Prawn Raja. Inspired by lei cha fan (thunder tea rice), the savoury thunder tea (a mix of oolong tea leaves, mungwort, basil and nuts) is infused into a butter that is used to cook the risotto. Century eggs and petai (stink beans) are a welcomed surprise— the jellied preserved eggs and crunchy beans add texture to the creamy grains, while also adding a sharp flavour to each bite. King prawns, grilled to perfection, are the crowning glory of this dish.

Cocktails take on the same trend, born from a mad scientist’s lair of house ferments that make use banana peels, pineapple rinds, and— a current work in progress— mangosteen and rambutan.

Sugarcane (Image courtesy of Laut Collective)

Laut also works with local distillery Compendium for its base spirits, which makes for some interesting tipples. The prettiest drink (and definitely one for the ‘gram) is the purple-hued Dragonfruit, a sweet concoction of Straits vodka, sour plum, smoked longan and lychee granita. And while the Sugarcane looks like Plain Jane at first sight, a jelly-like sphere of sugarcane vinegar and roasted chestnut is quick to change your mind. Our favourite, though, is the unassumingly-named Grass— the gin-based cocktail is shaken and stirred with ginger flower, pickled brine and 3-grass kombucha made in-house. A cap of rice foam sprinkled with moringa powder is an ingenious touch.

It’s hard to find fault with a place like Laut. The people are warm, the food is delicious, and the drinks are creative. But most importantly, Laut elevates Southeast Asian flavours with care. There’s no room for gula melaka or pandan cop outs here. Instead, it’s by paying attention to lesser-known ingredients such as moringa powder and petai that makes Laut a real catch.

Laut is located at 17 Stanley Street, Singapore 068736.

Tel: +65 8878 8018. Opening hours are from 5pm to 10.30 pm on Monday to Saturday.

All reviews published under Incognito Eats are paid by Wine & Dine Magazine and are unbiased opinions of the journalist.

Wine & Dine’s November/December ‘Food & Wellness’ 2020 issue is available on newsstands and Magzter

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Meryl Koh

Contributor

Although she wines and dines in fine restaurants for work, Meryl's idea of an all-star dish is really a simple bowl of piping hot congee with a raw egg. Her Muay Thai skills also come in handy when she wants to pack a punch while dissing lunch.

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