Welcome to Da Bao Diaries, a daily column dedicated to what Time Out Singapore's editors are eating and drinking while Singapore's 'circuit breaker' measures are in place till May 4. Da bao is a Singaporean colloquialism derived from Mandarin that refers to having a meal to go instead of dining in at an establishment.
Perhaps you're familiar with the term orang laut – Malay for 'sea peoples' – nomads with no loyalty to the land, living instead by the coasts of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia in the 1800s. They depended on the sea; it connected them to ingredients, people and cultures beyond borders. And it's that richness of produce and heritage that Laut, a new bar and restaurant on Stanley Street, wants to celebrate.
But don't expect strictly traditional cuisine. After all, the concept's co-founder Leon Tan was the former head bartender of Native, a progressive cocktail bar that consistently ranks on the World's 50 Best Bars list. At Laut, the ingredients are the star. Seemingly simple and familiar elements are transformed into bold concoctions in its bottled creations. The Soy ($88/500ml) is a mix of clarified fermented soy with gula Melaka arrack, spiced mango, tamarind and chrysanthemum while the Kumquat ($88/500ml) is a fresh burst of citrus tempered with Malaysian molasses, root tincture and aged Vietnamese sweet potato. Simply pour over ice and enjoy – or add a splash of tonic for some fizzy flair.
The food is worth a shout too. Like the bar, the kitchen takes everyday dishes and turns them into something new. We particularly enjoyed Laut's take on thunder tea rice ($29), a comforting, risotto-like dish of thunder tea butter stirred in with century eggs and petai topped with plump king prawns. There's also the Laut curry ($33) a lightly spiced seafood broth reminiscent of zi char-style fish head curry, but without the fuss. You get a generous slab of seabass, local shellfish like mussels and clams procured from Ah Hua Kelong and seasonal greens.
How to order Be among the first to taste Laut's novel creations by placing your orders from lautcollective.com.sg. Delivery is available islandwide (priced from $20, minimum order $50) and will reach you within 90 minutes once you place your order.