Dinner at Laut
Monday, July 26, 2010 at 9:55AM
The Lady Who Lunches in Restaurant reviews
  • Cuisine: Malaysian
  • Atmosphere: modern, pop music
  • Attire: smart-casual
  • Ideal for: good for groups, 1x1, foodies
  • Price: affordable; all menu items under $20
  • Phone: 212-206-8989
  • Location: 15 E. 17th Street (between 5th Avenue & Broadway)
  • Website: click *here*
  • Directionswww.hopstop.com/?city=newyork

    In honor of Anjie's recent engagement, I invited her to dinner so that I could hear the play-by-play of how he proposed.  "Since you're the bride-to-be," I said, "why don't you choose the cuisine?  I'll pick the actual restaurant.  How does that sound?"  Anjie happily obliged and stated that she was craving Thai/pan-Asian food. 

    Since I had recently ordered - though wasn't very impressed with - take-out from Laut, I decided that Anjie and I should give it another shot based on all of the positive feedback from folks who had "dined-in" (as opposed to ordering-in).  Plus, was it really fair of me to judge a restaurant based solely on one food delivery?  Probably not.

    *Unfortunately, I left my camera at home and don't have any pictures to show for this meal.  My apologies, in advance.*

    In true Lunch Belle fashion, I arrived at Laut about 20-minutes prior to Anjie.  I was warmly greeted by the staff who made me feel "right at home."  Being informed that I could sit wherever I liked, I chose the cozy two-top, positioned directly in front of the restaurant's large front window, overlooking 17th Street.  In anticipation of her arrival, I ordered a Thai-iced tea and perused Laut's contemporary, yet comfortable space.  As Justin Bieber sang "Baby" overhead, I took turns glancing through the dinner menu and people-watching, from my front-and-center street-view seat.

    While intently listening to every word of Anjie's engagement story, my stomach rumbled so loud that it literally interrupted her.  "Oh my," she gasped, "maybe it's time for us to order an appetizer!"  With our server's guidance, we chose to split the Roti Canai, which the menu described as being an "Indian pancake with chicken curry sauce."  The pancake itself was almost as light and thin as a sheet of 8/12x11 typing paper.  Imagine a crepe, the circumference of a large pizza, folded in half - then in fourths - tasting similar to puff pastry, only more buttery, crispy, and doughy-if that makes sense.  Accompanying the pancake was a small bowl filled with a fragrant, saffron-colored curry sauce containing a single piece of white-meat chicken.  Anjie and I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that this dish did not require the use of utensils - we used our hands to tear away pieces of the pancake, then dunk them in to the warm curry sauce.  Had I not been so embarrassed to speak-up, I wouldn't have thought twice about ordering "Roti Canai round deux."  Dangerous.

    Midway through sips of my cincau beverage, our entrees arrived.  While Anjie went the more traditional route - ahem, chicken Pad Thai - I chose, under the guise of our waitress and countless amounts of comments on menupages.com, the Beef Rendang with coconut rice.  Imagine, if you will, a sizeable soup bowl filled with strips of lean meat that had slowly simmered in coconut milk and spices (may include ginger, galangal, turmeric leaf, lemon grass and chillies) for several hours, or until almost all of the liquid had been absorbed.  From the beefs brisket-like texture to its playful potpourri of flavor, I found that my entree reached its level of perfection with the addition of the sticky coconut rice.    

    Our meal was truly sealed with a kiss when we received the dessert that we had allowed for our waitress to choose on our behalf.  By appearances alone, the "peanut pancake" resembled a French crepe; only this particular version was filled with chopped, salty peanuts that were bound by melted butter and sugar.  Sweet and savory flavors flirted with pillowy and crunchy textures, resulting in one of the most memorable finales I've experienced since the salted-caramel ice cream cone that stole my heart at Berthillon (Paris).

    Conclusion: how foolish of me to have almost written-off Laut!  From the unique cuisine to the excellent service we received, I must confess that this exquisite meal was the best - from start to finish - that I've had in recent memory.  I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone, and cannot wait until my next visit.

    Article originally appeared on The Lunch Belle (http://www.thelunchbelle.com/).
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