Last Updated: September 24, 2020
It took me a really long time to compose this review on recently-opened laut. In some ways it felt like writing a love letter—there were so many impressive dishes, and thought-provoking elements behind the concept that I’d fallen in love with, I couldn’t possibly list them all in a single article.
After the ‘Circuit Breaker’ period and as things slowly resumed for the F&B industry (and for us food writers), laut on Stanley Street was my first dine-in meal. As one of those brave eateries that opened during the ‘Circuit Breaker’ period, laut has proven that the night is indeed darkest before the dawn—and the Southeast Asian culinary creations here are certainly glorious as breaking dawn.
Walking up to the doors, one might be forgiven for missing the entrance. A set of dark wooden doors open, and I am greeted by what I’ve come to call a ‘modern kelong at night’.
If you haven’t already figured it out, laut is inspired by the sea. ‘Orang laut’, or ‘sea people’, are the indigenous nomads who called Southeast Asia home. And laut explores these roots in food, in drinks and in its contemporary décor, complete with flourishes of rattan, light wood and the rippling illusion of underwater light.
Let’s dive in.
Start the meal with the Burnt Eggplant Dip (S$11). ‘Burnt’ doesn’t sound the most appetising, but this hummus-like dish is quick to prove me wrong.
Served with curry-spiced papadum which has been seasoned in-house, it’s the perfect, addictive accompaniment to the creamy burnt eggplant dip topped with tomato & onion relish. With just the right amount of heat and a delightfully complex smoky flavour, you might not want to share this.
Looking for something more local? laut serves up their unique take on the popular chai tow kway (carrot cake). At S$11, laut’s Oyster Eggs seem a tad pricey, but this was certainly a pretty dish.
Served in a pearlescent oyster shell, you get poached local oyster with steamed egg custard, and chewy little glutinous rice balls.
The drizzle of chilli oil gave quite a spicy kick—it’s not for the faint-hearted. I liked how the glutinous rice balls added a chewy textural contrast to this otherwise smooth, silky dish. And bonus: the rice balls looked like little pearls in the oyster!
Crab lovers should get a taste of the Soft Shell Crab (S$18), a reinterpretation of the familiar black pepper crab. Well-seasoned with a blend of Borneo peppers, honey glaze and a smattering of fish flakes, this soft-shell crab also came with a foamy chilli crab dip.
When I first tried it, the heat was pretty intense. I suppose they must have toned down a little, because my second (unhosted) visit brought a more mellow and palatable version.
My absolute favourite has to be the Prawn Raja (S$29). An incredibly tasty rendition of thunder tea rice (擂茶饭), this dish brings together local elements together with aspects of Spanish paella and Italian risotto. The result? A really delicious and decadent rice dish that I wish I could keep all to myself.
The dish comes with century eggs and king prawns served with simmered rice and petai. Simple, but stunning in its simplicity. The petai, in particular, lent a slight minty bitterness that I actually really enjoyed.
The Squid Gado (S$25) weighs in at an awkward portion—not quite enough to share without feeling dissatisfied, but a little too much for one.
Taste-wise, though, I have no complaints. My favourite part of squid is always the tentacles, for its lovely combination of crunchy and chewy textures. I really loved how laut managed to cook the squid beautifully—each ring had a slight char on the outside, but retained its tender texture.
I have a terrible sweet tooth, so I couldn’t possibly pass up the chance to try dessert. My personal favourite, if I really had to pick only one, would be Laut Pisang (S$11). Laut Pisang is a twist on traditional goreng pisang, or fried banana fritters.
Shaped like cockles (doesn’t it just warm your heart?), these bite-sized snacks are made of tapioca and deep-fried to a perfect crisp.
The filling is what takes the cake—velvety banana puree that’s just the right balance of sweet and sticky. If I had it my way, there’d be no sharing.
Talking about the drinks available at laut could be a whole other article, but let me share with you at least one, to ignite your lust for libations. Each cocktail is exquisitely and thoughtfully crafted, and I really appreciated that the servers take the time to explain each drink.
My favourite of the night was Banana (S$21), a hard-hitting cocktail that tasted anything but. Unlike most strong tipples that leave your head swimming and your tongue tingling, Banana delivers a well-balanced flavour profile.
It’s all very zero-waste and eco-friendly here—Banana gets its authentic, fragrant banana flavour from the peels that are left from making Laut Pisang. Take a sip, and be pleasantly surprised by the medley of distinct flavours. Smoky sweetness from the aged Malaysian molasses, and nutty, earthy notes from the combination of coconut palm sugar and buah keluak (candlenut).
A meal at laut might be a little hard on the wallet, especially if your party consists of cocktail enthusiasts as mine did. But truly, this is one of those restaurants where I can wholeheartedly tell you that it’s worth it.
Drop by for a tipple or two, or introduce your foodie friends to a meal here. You’ll come away with rave reviews and a full belly.
Expected Damage: S$40 – S$60 per pax
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 5 / 5
17 Stanley Street, Singapore 068736
17 Stanley Street, Singapore 068736