So I could start this review out telling you how Straits of Malaya in Adams Morgan used to be Wazuri and how at he beginning of the year the owners of Wazuri decided to close and reopen Straits of Malaya after 5 years, but EVERYONE knows this. If you don't know, you can read all about it here, here, and here.
Anyway, last Friday, Amy and I went to Straits of Malaya. I was really in the mood for something new last weekend. We'd been to the places in our neighborhood way too much lately, and it was time for a change. After reading some interesting things about Straits of Malaya, I thought Malaysian food would be an welcome diversion.
At about 8 PM we arrived at the restaurant. There was a short wait to get a table on the roof top deck or the front sidewalk, so we just opted to sit at a window inside. The first thing we noticed once we were sat was the extremely friendly service from all the staff. Everyone from the bus boys to the manager were eager to serve. One of the people serving us turned out to be the owners sister who was visiting her brother and was helping out at the restaurant. She was very friendly as well.
The menu was atypical from other places we've been and that was to be expected since we've never had Malaysian before. My first impression was that all of the dishes had hints of Thai, Chinese and Indian influences on them. The appetizer that caught my eye as well as Amy's was the five-spice roll. From the description on the menu, it sounded like an Indian style meatloaf - and I love meatloaf, so we ordered it. Another appetizer I'd like to try is the beef-stuffed curry puffs - Maybe next time. For an entree, I ordered the "signature dish", a spicy chicken and eggplant curry with rice and carrots. I forget the Malaysian name for the dish and I seem to have misplaced the menu I grabbed on the way out. Oops. Amy ordered the Cha Kway Teow, a spicy Chinese-style rice noodle dish with sprouts and chicken. The only reason I know the name of that dish is because everyone else who has reviewed Straits of Malaya has written about it.
As we were waiting for our food to come out we were people watching. I can't think of a better place to people watch than Adams Morgan. There is always such a huge variety of people there. Looking around the restaurant and seeing all the empty tables at Straits of Malaya, and then looking across the street at the tourist trap we call Lauri-hole Plaza, we laughed. There's no reason there should be such a wait for that place. Anyway, there...I said it. Just like everyone else who has reviewed this Straits of Malaya. So? Sue me.
The five-spice roll came out and it wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but non the less it tasted great and turned out to be the highlight of the meal. Basically, it is a thick, Malaysian-style beef sausage, sliced thin and served with a spiced soy sauce. This dish was like nothing else I've had and Amy and I both really enjoyed it. We almost ordered another one, but then our main courses came out. Another comment is that the food always came out promptly and with good timing.
The entrees came out similar to the way entrees come out at an Indian restaurant. They are served in little dishes on trays and meant to be shared among everyone at the table. My first impression of my entree was that it would have been better without the eggplant. The eggplant was really overcooked and had an overall mushy texture. Maybe it is cooked this way on purpose, but I just did not care for it. Other than that, it had some really good flavor - spicy, hints of curry, etc. The chicken was not overcooked which is always a good thing and the carrots were a nice touch. Overall though, I would say I have have better dishes that were similar to this.
I like Amy's Cha Kway Teow better than mine. The noodles had just the right texture, and everything was cooked to perfection. The sprouts were not overcooked, the chicken was tender, and the sauce had just the right amount of spice to make you have to take a drink every couple of bites. This dish, I would say, is worth a second trip to Straits.
The portions are fairly large, so we had no room for dessert, although, there was nothing on the dessert menu that really peaked out interest. As I said before, the service was very attentive, and the check came out as soon as we were ready for it. The bill came to around $70 with an appetizer, 2 entrees and 4 beers, and tip. I would say that it was pretty reasonable given it's location and the quality of the food. Most entrees were priced between $10-15 and the appetizers were all below $9.
Dress was casual. Most people there were wearing jeans although I spied an occasional sport coat. I was wearing a nice pair of dress slacks and a nice shirt and I fit right in.
My final judgement. Straits of Malaya is probably on of the better restaurants in Adams Morgan. I'd put it up there with the likes of Meskerem. As far as service goes, it is probably the best in Adams Morgan. We'll probably go back, but I just wont order the same entree again.
Straits of Malaya
1836 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
Dress Code: Casual