LAO

Sleek restaurant serves decent South East Asian food
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Time Out Says

By the time you get to Lao in the Waldorf Astoria out on the east crescent of the Palm Jumeirah, you’ll be more than ready to eat. A huge and very impressive hotel, when we visit, it’s eerily empty.

Lao is located downstairs, where we’re welcomed by friendly staff who show us to a table indoors, looking out onto the hotel’s courtyard. There were more tables outside but we were happy with our seat, which had a great view of the open kitchen – abuzz with action, unlike everywhere else. The restaurant interior is dark and classy, heavy wooden tables are big enough to fit four or five different dishes on at once – and you’ll be happy they do, but more on that later. For us, the wide wooden chairs with cushions were a little uncomfortable – we were trying to find a spot where we were happy for the duration of the meal, though our companion had no such complaints.

The menu includes dim sum, soups, salads, noodles and rice dishes, as well as Thai curries, Szechuan chicken, and the Indonesian nasi goreng. You can dine on lobster, beef carpaccio and foie gras here (as you’d expect from such a high-end restaurant), thereby introducing European touches to the menu. However, we decide to remain traditional, ordering dim sum, steamed siew mai with shrimp xiao long bao – a soup dumpling filled with chicken and mushrooms – a green papaya salad, stuffed grilled squid, and nasi goreng. The helpful waiter made sure we knew what we were ordering and was happy to explain dishes as well as fill us in on their origins. Before the main courses arrived we were served an amuse bouche of mango salsa with a prawn cracker – a perfect one-bite dish. The cracker was fresh and crisp and the mango a refreshing counterpoint. Then the rest of the food began to arrive and before we knew it there was a table full of delicious plates.

Presentation was stylish without being too fussy and portions were big enough to share. The dim sum was perfect – not too stodgy. The soup dumplings were the pick of the bunch – biting into them and sucking out the broth always adds a fun dimension.

The squid was charred from the grill, giving it that magical barbecue taste. It was soft, tender and clearly as fresh as could be, while the calamari rings were stuffed with a combination of ginger, garlic, dill and onion.

These were accompanied by a few octopus tentacles and finely-diced mango. The clean taste of squid was brought to life by the other flavours and the cold salad was an ideal side dish, shredded papaya came with green beans, cherry tomatoes, dried shrimp, chilli and crushed peanuts, all flavoured with tamarind. It meant every bite was exciting and different. Asked how spicy we wanted the dishes, we chose two chillies – the waiter told us it would be pretty hot and it was, so be warned.

Our waiter (from Indonesia) also recommended the nasi goreng, a simple dish eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner in his native country. Lao’s version was refined; there was a generous portion of fried rice and chicken topped with a fried egg. The yolk was still runny, making for a rich sauce to bind the rice. It also came with skewers of chicken and a velvety satay sauce, which was so good, we asked the chef for the recipe (and, surprisingly enough, we got it).

The ample portion sizes defeated us in the end and we had to leave some of the dish, which was a real shame. But the food at Lao meant the trip was worth making, even if the lack of diners gave it a slightly cold atmosphere. Nonetheless, our waiter chatting to us for a while made the experience a whole lot warmer.

You could end up spending quite a lot on dishes here, as some of the ingredients used are expensive, but the simpler options were fantastic and offered very good value for money.

The Bill (for two)
1x siew mai dumplings Dhs25
1x xiao long bao Dhs30
1x stuffed grilled calamari Dhs87
1x green papaya salad with tamarind Dhs52
1x nasi goreng Dsh110
Total (including service) Dhs304

By Time Out Dubai staff  | 09 Dec 2014

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Details

7:00 PM to 10:30 PM
Sunday: 7:00 PM to 10:30 PMMonday: 7:00 PM to 10:30 PMTuesday: 7:00 PM to 10:30 PMWednesday: 7:00 PM to 10:30 PMThursday: 7:00 PM to 10:30 PMFriday: 7:00 PM to 10:30 PMSaturday: 7:00 PM to 10:30 PM
Show number 04 818 2222
Dubai, Palm Jumeirah, Crescent Road - The Palm Jumeirah، first floor - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
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