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Wau Malaysian Restaurant - Amsterdam Restaurant Review

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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In a city where Indonesian eateries proliferate, the other cuisines of Nusantara frequently suffer short shrift; Wau Malaysian Restaurant on Zeedijk, however, makes a powerful case for Malaysian cuisine with its vibrant renditions of the country's classics.

Pros

  • Fresh, authentic take on classic Malaysian dishes
  • Centrally located on Amsterdam Chinatown's restaurant row
  • Romantic ambiance

Cons

  • Pricier than many other choices on the Zeedijk (and fellow Malaysian eatery Nyonya Malaysia Express, on the other side of Nieuwmarkt)

Description

  • Address: Zeedijk 35
    Phone: +31 (0)20 421 2487

  • Location: Amsterdam Chinatown.

  • Directions: From Amsterdam Central Station, cross Stationsplein to Prins Hendrikkade; from the south side of Prins Hendrikkade, turn onto Zeedijk.

  • Attire: Casual.

  • Decor: Subdued, with some colorful Malaysian touches - like the wau (kites) that lend the restaurant its name.

  • Payment: Cash and Dutch debit cards.

Guide Review - Wau Malaysian Restaurant - Amsterdam Restaurant Review

Sometimes it takes new eyes to re-learn how to appreciate the well-trodden streets of the towns and cities one frequents. I must have passed in front of Wau Malaysian Restaurant hundreds of times in the years since I've moved to the Netherlands, but it was only recently that, on the hunt for some novel and non-touristic food, a friend new to the Nieuwmarkt area spotted its cheery red and yellow name board and nominated it for our dinner spot. Thus I discovered a Malaysian restaurant in Amsterdam that's well on par with its Kuala Lumpur counterparts.

The dimly-lit restaurant contained ample reminders of its dishes' provinance; posters from the national tourism board stared out at diners from various surfaces. But the best incitement to visit Malaysia would prove to be the restaurant's renditions of national classics, as we were soon to find out. The servers were prompt, attentive and informative, and offered advice solicited and unsolicited as we deliberated over our choices. One such recommendation was for a warm teh tarik, Malay for 'pulled tea', a concoction that's become the stuff of national competitions in its home country. The black tea, sweetened with condensed and evaporated milk, is poured back and forth between vessels to incorporate the liquids and aerate the drink; while we weren't treated to the conventional showmanship (the drink was prepared in the kitchen), the taste transported me back to the mamak stalls of Kuala Lumpur. Another of Wau's specialty drinks, a passionfruit seed-spiked lemonade, was a cool counterpoint to the pleasantly lukewarm teh tarik.

For dinner we opted for two Malaysian classics: mie goreng, a typical fried noodle dish that's based on Chinese chow mein, but infused with quintessentially Malaysian flavors such as the sweet soy sauce kecap manis, and served with a dollop of sambal, a potent chili paste; and sambal petai, a stir-fry with the peculiar petai beans, a bitter and mildly malodorous bean that resembles fresh favas, as its centerpiece. Compared to the nearby Nyonya Malaysia Express, which I've reviewed in the past, the flavors were even fresher, crisper, more vibrant - closer to what one would find in the cuisine's home country.

We finished off the abundant meal with a dessert of roti kaya, a variant of the traditional kaya toast popularly consumed as breakfast or a snack: kaya, a sweet, custardy coconut jam, is slathered between strata of roti, an unleavened bread from India which has infiltrated cuisines worldwide, not least that of Malaysia. Even the bill - which, while more expensive than usual for the Zeedijk, was proportionate to the quality of the food - came with a small token of Nusantara in the form of the Indonesian coffee-flavored confections, Kopiko. For a comfortable, sit-down dinner, full of fresh and distinctively Malaysian flavors, and a more formal (but still quite casual) and date-appropriate ambiance than the nearby Nyonya Malaysia Express, Wau Malaysian Restaurant is one of my new top spots on the well-trodden Zeedijk.

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