Asian food always seems to be the default when I’m with my friends and we’re trying to decide what we want to eat. More specifically, it seems like we can all always agree on Thai food. And on top of that, we always all end up getting either pad see ew or pad thai. My friends and I are so predictable.
One Friday afternoon I was planning on going out for lunch with some coworkers, and I thought (based on my musings above) that some place Thai would probably be satisfactory for all parties. Well, it just so happens that while wandering around Union Square a few weeks prior, I noticed a little board outside Laut advertising their lunch special menu. I made a mental note and went on my way. Now, there was finally an opportunity to check it out!
We walked over to Laut, which I should mention is also billed as Malaysian and Singaporean cuisine, and saw that the place was packed. Or rather we felt it when we opened the door and found ourselves smack-dab in the middle of a crowd of people. To our dismay, the hostess told us that it was going to be a 20 minute wait, which normally is fine if not great, but when you’re trying to get something to eat during your work lunch hour, it’s much too long.
After being so excited to try this place and seeing how many people were there, proving that it is was an awesome spot, we were all pretty disappointed. I was determined to go there again for lunch, and I was not going to be shaken! Okay, that makes it sound like a much bigger challenge than it was. Really I just made a reservation for a Thursday (actually kind of shocking that they allow reservations for weekday lunch) in order to have a guaranteed table and hopefully avoid a big lunch rush.
The place was still packed when we went back, but of course, no worries as we had a reserved table. Laut has great ambience–as soon as you walk in, you can smell incense and see a beautiful painting along the wall. We all flipped right to the lunch special menu, where you can get a bento box, a grilled entree with a soup and a salad, or a noodle dish for $10-$12.
I restrained myself from order the routine pad see ew/pad thai/drunken noodles, and instead ordered the Laut special noodles, which are mixed thin rice and egg noodles with bean sprouts, Chinese broccoli, shrimp fritters, your choice of meat (I chose beef) in soy sauce. The combination of two kinds of noodles and the shrimp fritters were what really caught my eye as I had never had either of those. Plus, it helped that the dish had the name of the restaurant and “special” in it.
I LOVED the noodles. They were so flavorful, just the right portion size , and served in a beautiful dish. The shrimp fritter, which turned out to be a crunchy fritter with a whole shrimp fried into the center, was especially interesting and appetizing. Suffice to say, I cleaned my bowl.
This is one of those places that passed the work lunch test with flying colors, and is therefore now moving to the must try for dinner list. I’m sure whatever they have on their regular menu will be just as good if not better than their lunch specials.
Laut special noodles
15 E 17th St
New York, NY 10003