Hailed as one of the original Malaysian restaurants to receive a Michelin Star in New York City, LAUT prides itself on a reasonable price-point, authentic flavors and preserving the integrity of the cuisines it serves. With a focus on bringing the best recipes, dishes and flavors from South East Asia ranging from Chinese, Indian, Malay, and Peranakan, each plate is recreated from scratch with regionally authentic spices and the freshest ingredients. We caught up with Salil Mehta, owner of the outpost to learn more about the beginnings of the establishment and his recommendations for first-timers.
What was your vision for LAUT when the restaurant first opened?
Salil Mehta: LAUT opened right after my first son was born in 2010 June. A very memorable time for me for obvious reasons.
Can you share a few of LAUT’s signature dishes that you would recommend to a first-time visitor?
Salil Mehta: Our first signature dish is our Roti. The Rotis are a must try for a first time visitor and it’s hand made fresh for every order. Dip it into our homemade curry sauce and munch! Another would be our version of the famous Singapore chili crab. Our interpretation is that we have made the dish with soft shell crabs and the crab absorbs more of the chilli gravy as well.
LAUT features a flavor palette of spicy and tart, yet powerfully savory notes native to South Asian food, what specific cuisine(s) do you pull inspiration from?
Salil Mehta: Malaysian food is as diverse as South East Asia and the destination is a melting-pot of ethnicities. Cultures ranging from Chinese, Indian, Malay, Peranakan (Straits Chinese community) to Eurasian/Portuguese influences are evident in Malaysian cuisine and at Laut we take inspiration from local ingredients as well try to “localize” the cuisine
What do you think is so unique about Malaysian cuisine?
Salil Mehta: The amalgamation of so many flavors – subtle and robust at the same time. Many settlers and immigrants left their mark in Malaysian cuisine and the use of various ingredients makes it a very special type of food culture and cuisine.
What are a few of the more adventurous dishes at LAUT that are you would recommend to the experiential eater?
Salil Mehta: For a new experience try the Penang Asam Laksa. It hits every flavor from sweet, sour, savory,spicy and umami all in one bowl of natural goodness of a sardine broth and no oil. For the Assam Laksa, all ingredients, are put in a pot and brewed overnight.
Visit LAUT at 15 East 17th Street, New York NY 10003 (b/n 5th and Broadway; map); 212-206-8989; lautnyc.com.