Situated in the opulent Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah, LAO is our dining destination for this evening. Inspired by favourite comfort foods and classics, LAO aims to serve the best of Asian home-style cooking with authentic spices, sauces and cooking techniques, focusing on traditional dishes from across Southeast Asia.
As we walk into LAO we are warmly greeted by the team. The décor instantly transports us back to our travels across Asia. The beige marble flooring against the traditional dark wooden features effortlessly blends contemporary and tradition. The large open kitchen is undoubtably the focal point of the restaurant, adding an element of theatre to our dinner this evening.
We take a seat directly opposite the open kitchen, not to miss any of the culinary action. As we browse the menu we are presented with a few crackers and an assortment of dips, which keep our hands busy as we select our dishes.
To begin, I select the Crispy Garlic Prawns which are served with spicy mayo on the side and my dining companion selects the Beef Bao. Worth noting, the beef has been marinated in five spices for over 24 hours, allowing it to absorb the flavours, offering a melt in the mouth moment. The dishes arrive, instantly I am impressed with the presentation, many a time I (unfortunately) find that the lack of quality presentation in Asian restaurants does bring down the whole experience. I am happy to report that I do not face this issue at LAO. The plump prawns are very lightly battered, whilst the garlic is understated, the crisp bite and rich texture make this a good start to our dining experience. However, I must admit the Beef Bao’s are a whole other level of deliciousness. Light and fluffy, three bao buns are brimming with fine cuts of deliciously marinated beef. Upon my first bite my mouth is filled with a multitude of flavours, the beef is so tender it literally melts. This is a must order dish when visiting LAO and one I would personally return for.
Would any visit to an Asian restaurant be complete without ordering the Tom Yum? No. We each place an order. The team do well and ensure that the level of spiciness is to our liking. The soup is light, yet fragrant and the prawns, galangal, lemongrass, mushroom and coriander all balance the dish well.
Moving onto the mains, my dining partner enjoys the Beef Bao’s so much he decides to continue with another beef dish, this time selecting the Wok-Fried Beef. I select the Steamed Seabass and we decide to share a portion of Broccoli as a side. The Steamed Seabass has been cooked extremely well and flakes off the fork. The ginger, soya sauce, coriander and mushrooms are very subtle. This dish would be perfect for those with a more sensitive palate, that perhaps prefer understated flavours. Personally, I am drawn to my dining companions Wok-Fried Beef. With a more dynamic flavour profile this dish is more to my liking, much to my dining companion’s delight. Comprising of beef tenderloin, garlic, celery, capsicum, cherry tomatoes and black pepper sauce, the Wok-Fried Beef offers hints of savoury with small, sweet notes, delicious. Not overlooking the Broccoli, which has been wok-fried with a pinch of garlic, it makes for a great, healthy side.
Do note that the portion sizes at LAO are extremely generous, we could have shared one main easily between two people. However, with a good sized menu and so many attractive dishes to choose from, overordering maybe your biggest issue when visiting LAO.
Throughout our evening we feel very comfortable, the tables are spaced as per regulations and the team do well to ensure we are taken care of. Guests are invited to dine indoor or alfresco, overlooking the hotel’s central gardens. A spacious and creatively designed private dining room is available for intimate parties and dinners. Overall if you are looking for a restaurant that serves an array of Asian cuisine with a blend of traditional flavours in a modern style we would highly recommend putting LAO on your list of places to dine.
Crispy Garlic Prawns, AED 75
Beef Bao, AED 85
Tom Yum, AED 75
Wok-Fried Beef, AED 175
Steamed Seabass, 185
Broccoli, AED 35
LAO, Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah, +971 4 818 2222