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Dodge the Sake Bombs at Laut

A fine Malaysian joint hides near Union Square

I found Laut's rendition of chili crab odd. (That's really a Singaporean thing, but the two countries are separated only by the narrow Strait of Johor.) Instead of stir-fried whole crabs, the dish comes with deep-fried soft-shell crabs (frozen, surely, since they're not in season), doused in a ketchupy, not-hot-enough chile sauce shot through with egg. Ketchup sometimes shows up in the "authentic" sauce in Singapore, too, but Laut's version is just too syrupy. It's almost so-bad-it's-good, but not quite. Instead, choose the fish preparation called asam pedas, which tastes utterly fresh and vibrant, combining either shrimp or snapper with a sour tamarind-lemongrass broth, stewed tomato, and okra.

Unfortunately, you won't find more challenging dishes like fried intestines at Laut, and you may be subjected to Britney Spears cracking her circus whip. Try to drown her out with the sound of your own slurping.

sdigregorio@villagevoice.com

For more of our restaurant coverage, check out our food blog, Fork in the Road

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