Michelin-starred Malaysian eatery owner never been to Malaysia

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 21 May 2024

PETALING JAYA: A Malaysian eatery in New York that has earned a Michelin star is owned by a chef who has never been to the country.

Salil Mehta, originally from New Delhi, India, admitted that he had never even been to Malaysia in an interview with CBS News on May 18.

Located in the city's Upper West Side, the eatery, named Laut, is the first Malaysian restaurant in New York to earn a Michelin star, according to the American broadcaster.

In an interview on its segment, The Dish, Mehta told host Meg Oliver that he learned to cook from "a lot of research" as well as from "Thai ladies" who cooked for monks in a Thai temple in Elmhurst.

He also said he was inspired by "south-east Asian flavours".

Born and raised in New Delhi in a family with 40 relatives, Mehta said he had originally arrived in New York with aspirations to do design.

Mehta said he originally left design for the food industry to "pay the bills", taking over Laut in 2010.

"I have never been to Malaysia in my life," he said.

"You've never been to Malaysia in your life... and you took over a Malaysian restaurant that ended up earning a Michelin star?" Oliver replied in surprise.

"Which was crazy," said Mehta, claiming to not know what a Michelin star was at that time.

During the almost seven-minute interview, Mehta also demonstrated making what looked like roti canai.

One of the most popular items on the restaurant's menu is his version of a popular Malaysian dish which he called "Dragon Breath Char Koay Teow."

Other dishes that made an appearance in the show are claypot curry rice, his spin on nasi briyani, nasi padang and rendang.

Mehta now has four restaurants, including Wau, which is named after a Malaysian kite.

He also has a bar, "Singlish", which he said was inspired by cocktails from Singapore.

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