I never would have found this place if my friend didn’t already know about it. It’s one of those restaurants in Amsterdam that’s totally unassuming from the outside with surprisingly delicious food. My theory is that these hidden gems have a higher density along Zeedijk (where WAU is located), but I need to do more research to prove it…
If you’ve spent any time at all around expats (especially we Americans), you’ll have heard a complaint about Dutch customer service, particularly servers at restaurants. I think I’m in the minority that actually prefers the hands-off approach that you usually find in Amsterdam. I’m happy to sit at my table, unbothered for hours, until I’m ready to receive the check. I don’t find it annoying to have to summon the server when I need something, and I’d much prefer slower service than the in-your-face checking-in-between-every-bite kind of service that Americans are more accustomed to.
The service at WAU Malaysian Restaurant was right in the middle, which is to say: perfect. Our server let us know about the specials, answered questions, and checked to make sure our drinks were full. I didn’t feel smothered, but nor were we abandoned, and I think Dutch and Americans would feel equally looked after here.
I ordered kari laksa (a coconut soup) and requested that it be made vegetarian, as suggested by the menu. According to the menu, several dishes could be made vegetarian or even vegan, and when the server took my order, she confirmed that I don’t eat fish. As a vegisaurus abroad, I really appreciate this kind of clarification. It shows that the kitchen is willing and prepared to accommodate special dietary requests with minimal fuss and it’s not something I ever take for granted in Europe.
The soup came out with lots of veggies, huge chunks of tempeh and tofu, and fried tofu skins (which I’d never had before; they’re kind of the consistency of a lacy fried egg) over vermicelli noodles. I would have liked the dish a bit spicier, but I’m only saying that in retrospect because at the time, I inhaled it like it was my first meal in days. It was delicious.
My dinner companion ordered kari sayur sayuran, which was a vegetable curry that also looked super yummy. I was so in love with my own soup that I didn’t think to ask to try hers, and afterwards she admitted the same. Next time (and there will definitely be a next time) we’ll share.
For dessert we both ordered a scoop of coconut ice cream with salty crushed peanuts on top. Simple, creamy and a perfect end to our meal. I definitely recommend this place if you like Malaysian, Thai, Indonesian or Vietnamese food. I’ll be back for sure.