Come on down, the spice is right…

Laung by Peppermill opened its doors to the public for the first time earlier this year, it’s a concept from (as you can probably guess) the team that brought you Peppermill, a tried and tested crowd favourite. We’re told that Laung trades in modern Indian cuisine with its own little signature twists and tinkerings — but these are phrases we hear chewed around so often, that they’ve all but lost their flavour.

We felt compelled to explore the menu of this new arrival in person, navigate its alleged twists, savour its touted tinkerings and see just how well it holds up against what we must acknowledge is healthy competition.

You’ll find Laung on the first floor of Nation Towers Mall, it’s a thoughtfully designed modular space, with private dining rooms and a bright glass-encased terrace that offers panoramic Corniche views. It’s a classic fine-dining set up, with white tablecloths and fancily-finished furniture, in the evening the windows can be raised to let in the balmy coastal air.

We’re at the mercy of chef Chef Munish Rana today, our guide and a man with big ambitions for the evolution of the menu. We start with an Indian interpretation of a classic tomato soup — it’s thick and creamy and glowing with gentle spicy sparks (Dhs29). Next up, a pairing of karare palak chaat (Dhs39) appears, served on slate. One of the pieces gives you a swift left hook of cooling yoghurt, the other counters with a sweet and sour swing of tamarind.

Plates and slates whisked away, Chef Rana cheerfully transports to us a tandoor fusion dish “it’s traditional tikka” he says, a playful glint in his eye “with a molten European cheese marinade”. We admit to a cautious first bite, this feels like forbidden alchemy, but the palate experience is solid, it’s a wicked blend of spice and salt and gloriously gooey fondant fromage. This dish is a keeper.

After this, it’s dab moilee – tiger prawns in a creamy coconut curry, with a croquant touille (Dhs99). The curry is pitch perfect, the prawns are chunky and undeniably fresh, if perhaps a fraction overcooked. Alongside it we try a salmon tikka, served in a rich aromatic gravy – it’s bold, flakey, fusiony, an arm’s length from anything you’d find in your typical Indian bistro. Another stand out dish.

Chef Rana insists we try at least one dessert before we leave, groaning outwardly but secretly smiling on the inside we dig spoons into the gulab jamun, a sweet milk dumpling soaked in saffron milk. It’s as refreshing as monsoon rains, sweet and sticky with ripe plum pudding genes, a fond farewell to a highly enjoyable meal.

Verdict: This isn’t just another Indian restaurant. It’s excitingly inventive, experimental in the best kind of ways, and their ideas for the future leave us in no doubt, there are big things bubbling on the stove at Laung.

Rating: B+

Level 1 Nation Towers Mall, Corniche Road, 11am to 11pm. Tel: (02) 886 8877, @laungbyppm_uae