Wat does "Lah" mean? Well, Lah really means nothing, and is more an emphasis on the sentence. Like we in India say "Na", Malays and Singaporeans say "Lah".
I have been skirting around Lah for a long time now. The first time I peeked in, the owner told me that she served South East Asian food because of a trip to Singapore that was truly palette altering. Having lived in Singapore, that instantly resonated with me. Sadly, a glance at the predictable menu and I wasn't convinced. Nor was it all that Singaporean, which, to be fair, were my own expectations of it. Or perhaps it was the sign saying, "We are not an authentic restaurant. We just cook great food!" Sneaky. Does that now mean I can no longer expect a dish to taste a certain way because of this prior disclaimer? It's only then fair to name it something else altogether, right, Lah?
It's a small place: a little room holds that about 5-6 tables. Looks fairly cute without much effort, partly because of its chirpy pink and lime walls.
After much debate about whether to get a main or a noodle bowl, we decided to get both, of course! Now time to test the slogan on their wall. First comes Kylie Kwong's Kung Pao Chicken. If you've seen the original you'd know why this is a must! Thankfully, they did due justice to one of my favourite dishes. The Kung Pao may even be why I am writing about Lah in the first place! The only strange thing is that it's served as a starter, when it is best as a main paired with a steaming bowl of rice. On a very minor level of nitpicking, it was a tad too sweet — the sweetness certainly is needed but it should not overpower the soy and rice wine combo. Also, some dry red chillies would have complemented the dish beautifully.
Sadly, our Som Tam paled in comparison. Sweet, Salty, Sour, Spicy — the necessary marriage of flavours for any good Som Tam. They started with sweet, and ended with sweet. That balance of flavours was severely lacking, making it a bowl of lightly salted and superfluously sweet, raw papaya. The portion though was quite generous but too bad it went to waste.
Lah has a D.I.Y noodle bowl section that can make the control freak in you feel at home. It allows you to pick up to 4 veggies, 2 meats, one type of noodle and a sauce to drown it all (they do keep it quite soupy). This could have gone either way for us but luckily it went the right way. Our regular (yellow) noodles, with pak choy, broccoli, carrot, black mushroom, prawns and black bean sauce turned out A-OKAY! I would have preferred to have more noodles in there to counter my greed and all that extra sauce, but overall a nice, comforting, noodle bowl, I wouldn't mind ordering again.
Last, but not least — the Nasi Goreng. I had heard great things about it, and since I've been on an unsatiated thirst for a good nasi goreng, I went against my gut and ordered it. Now its not exceptionally hard to make, but somehow most restaurants in the city make a mess of it. It is essentially Indonesian fried rice that is commonly made in homes with whatever leftovers remain. It can be served on it's own or with different accompaniments. Lah's nasi goreng itself isn't bad. What is lacking are the sides. The random chicken veggie stir-fry on the side just didn't add anything to the dish. What would have been nicer is either just cooking it in, or serving juicy, satay-style, grilled chicken on the side, with some spicy, sweet, shrimpy sambal. That would have allowed each component to stand out more, providing a well-rounded option of flavours. Either way I would definitely suggest some sambal!
No room for dessert, but perhaps next time I will try their Goreng Pisang — batter fried bananas are delicious in any language
So, Lah may not be a place I would go out of my way to try. But I happened to be in the neighbourhood and I certainly don't regret stopping by. It doesn't bowl you over but it is simple, unpretentious food at great prices. Come with a humble heart and you'll leave with a happy belly.
Building 6, 2nd Floor, Hauz Khas Village.