The hype: There just aren’t enough establishments in Singapore putting our region in the spotlight. Yet, Southeast Asia, with its diversity of cultures and cuisines, offers much to be inspired from. Thankfully, Laut, whose name is derived from the orang laut (or “sea people”), has took it upon itself to showcase our region’s bounty.
The vibe: Step inside the shophouse and be transported to a modern, stylish space inspired by traditional kelongs. Find upscaled rattan furniture, overhanging lights encased in wooden fish nets, and wavy blue table tops reminiscent of the sea waves—all pointing to the different elements usually found at one of those offshore platforms.
A modish crowd can be found at Laut every night (the venue is dinner and delivery only). Well-dressed folks from nearby offices and a young but discerning audience can be seen filling the venue’s seats and having a good time over cocktails and moreish eats.
The food: Most, if not all of Laut’s ingredients are locally-sourced. Seafood is gotten from Ah Hua Kelong, the team scours the nearby wet markets for their other produce, and spices are sourced from a local spice maker.
This might seem like a limitation, but we find it’s a poignant step in grounding Laut’s identity as a Southeast Asian establishment. It creates emphasis on sustainability too, by relying on their most immediate producers for ingredients and thereby contributing less to their carbon footprint.
But how does this translate to the cuisine? There’s a succinct menu of about 10 food items here, a mix of small and large sharing plates. It might not look like a wealth of choices, but there’s no filler dish. Each item is well thought out and offers something unique from the other.
The Oyster Eggs ($11), for instance, is a plate of two pieces of poached local oysters served with steamed egg custard and sauces, that when combined, taste very much like the orh luak (starchy egg omelette) we know and love. Slurp them down in one mouthful for a flavour explosion.
Then there’s the Burnt Eggplant Dip ($11), a crowd favourite, where you get curry spiced papadums served alongside the truly addictive bowl of starchy eggplant dip. Definitely get this to start, before moving on to the Otah ($15), that’s essentially an otah sandwich, taken to the next level with generous chunks of fish and shrimp, plus a Nonya achar side that is just the right amount of sour and spicy to get your palate going.
For bigger plates, go for the Squid Gado ($25), inspired by the eponymous Indonesian salad dish, for a whole squid doused in deliciously nutty peanut sauce and topped with fish crackers perfect for soaking up any of the remaining gravy. Or try the Prawn Raja ($29), that’s actually their take on the thunder tea rice, interestingly served with petai, century eggs and two king prawns.
The drinks: We’d say that the cocktails (all $21) are given equal if not more attention compared to the food menu. Each of the eight concoctions are named after a produce, and make full use of local distillery Compendium’s spirits to create beautiful drinks like the Grass and the Dragonfruit.
The former is made using Rojak Gin, a pickle brine and kombucha for a floral and savoury drink best enjoyed in sips, while the latter is a fruity and spiced beverage made using Singapore’s first commercial vodka, the Straits Vodka.
Our favourite has got to be the Surgarcane though. Also made using a locally-made spirit, this time a dark rum, find woody, smoky notes permeating your nose as you savour every drop of this complex creation.
Why you’ll be back: Locavores will instantly fall in love with the place. But even if you’re not too hung up about that, you’ll enjoy how there’s local and Southeast Asian touches in everything served here. Whether you’re into cocktails or good grub, Laut serves quality ones in spades.