Bucătărie: South East Asian
Approximate Price for two: Rs. 1000 after tax (Drinks are unavailable)
Address: Somewhere in the beginning of Hauz Khas Village – Address won’t help you!
Phone: 011 26521106
Summary: Tiny hole in the wall with a mix of good and average food.
The last time I went to Hauz Khas Village (HKV), I went to Yeti and got food poisoning along with 3 other friends. I had originally gone there to look at Out of the Box (which was under renovation) and TLR which so crowded I stuck my neck in and walked out.
So despite the advice of my friend Misha who had been to Lah before and warned me of her average experience, I decided to give it a shot. I thought my 6th sense of being able to pick out the best dishes from a menu would yield better results.
Now the first thing that hits you is that the restaurant ends before it starts. It is basically a small room with 5 tables (each table seats 4) and 2 air conditioners. There is one desk at the head of the room which seats two ladies who stare at a Computer until you ask them for something. I later learned that they were the waitresses who run the restaurant. I am told that the owner of the restaurant and head chef Anisha Maker usually takes orders herself but I guess she took the night off. The decor is simple: nicely painted walls, Adele singing in the background, simple tables and chairs all blending together to create an aroma of ‘love it or hate it’ coziness which you would feel in your own bedroom.
From what I understood of the menu, there were two of them. One was a laminated double sided one pager which had some new additions. The other was a more comprehensive booklet. The one pager offered soups, starters, some curries, Laksa and Phad Thai. The main menu had its own starters, a noodle bowl section and a section on Fixed Mains (curries and Nasi Goreng).
Having entered Lah after Out of the Box, the first thing that surprised me was the price! Starters were all priced between Rs. 150 and 250. Chicken Wings were Rs. 220 and Lamb Skerwers were Rs. 250. Noodle Bowls consisting of 4 veggies and 2 meats with a noodle and sauce of your choice are priced between Rs. 200 and 275. The mains like Nasi Goreng and Thai Curry were priced between Rs. 220 and 300.
Our order was a nice mix of everything. We started with ‘Kylie’s Chicken Kung Pao’ (which I can only guess to be inspired by Kylie Kwong) and Chicken Tom Kha (a coconut milk and lemon grass based soup which is a milder version of Tom Yum Soup). The Kung Pao was a bit too gooey and cornflowery for my liking while the flavour was nice.
The shocker was the soup. Absolutely delicious! It really was Thailand in a bowl! All the flavours that you expect when you have a Thai soup… Lemongrass, coconut milk, Kaffir lime, loads of lemon juice offset by sugary sweetness. One of the best Thai soups I’ve ever had in Delhi. The only criticism was the quality of chicken which was a bit chewy and had a lot of sinew on it but for Rs. 180, I’d eat happily eat it again!
In main course, we ordered a chicken laksa, a noodle bowl with cilantro soy garlic and a veg nasi goreng. The laksa was the highlight of our meal followed by the soup at close second. The combination of flavours was just right and probably the best I’ve had in India. I just wish we hadn’t found some hair in it! In all fairness, finding hair in your food is not earth shattering. It’s happened to me at 5 star restaurants more than street joints and the real test is to see how people handle it. Luckily, the two ladies that constitute the entire waiting staff handled it gracefully. They apologized, smiled and asked us if we would like a fresh batch which we politely refused. Since they didn’t charge us for it, I thought it was handled professionally.
From there unfortunately, things went downhill. The noodle bowl was a thick sludge in which you could stand up your fork and it wouldn’t move for hours. I wish I could say it tasted good but it just tasted of Cilantro and nothing else. The meats were chicken and beef (which is a lie because it’s actually buff) which were both chewy. I’ve had noodle bowls before and they are supposed to be either dry or soupy but never sludgy. The Nasi Goreng was presented beautifully but lacked flavour. It was served with an amazing vegetable stir fry with Thai flavours which we agreed we would be happy to order separately, but that was it.
All portions were huge and in terms of value for money, the place was excellent. All in all, it was a cozy, economical experience. The restaurant has lots of potential but is losing out on some basics. For example, the quality of meat was disappointing. I know the restaurant is cheap and their meat won’t taste as good as the more expensive places. However, they may benefit from going vegetarian because some of their dishes have enough flavour to not need meat while others won’t taste good regardless of the quality of the meat. Alternatively, they would do well to get some critics in and try their entire menu and collect feedback on all the dishes to weed out the tasteless ones.
Picture this; we ate a soup, a chicken starter, a laksa, a noodle bowl, a nasi goren, a Vietnamese cold coffee and a lemon grass cooler (which didn’t taste of lemon grass at all), our bill was Rs. 1,150 (excluding the cost of the Laksa which we weren’t charged for). Would I go here again? For the Tom Kha (minus the chicken), the Laksa (minus the hair and chicken) and the prices, probably.