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Across the Street From Crowded Lauriol Plaza: Awesome Malaysian Food

Wonkabout

On a nice summer night, when humidity levels reach a mere 96%, we know you will head to everyone’s favorite Mexican food restaurant,Lauriol Plaza. Sure, it’s cool in that soulless kind of way and has a rooftop deck, and the eye candy doesn’t hurt. But upon arrival you will wait five hours to get a table -- nine if you want the patio.


And when you're finally seated, you will consume average food (although the salads are great.) IT’S NOT WORTH IT. There are plenty of better restaurants in the area, including Straits of Malaya, which is right across the street.

The patio at Straits of Malaya? Superior! The food? Superior! And the service? Painfully slow, like AOL in 1994. But at least you’ll be on a glorious patio, heckling people waiting for blah Mexican food across the street.

Straits of Malaya (not Malaysia as it is often INCORRECTLY REFERRED TO) serves delicious Sarawakian food. Sarawak is one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo. The food is Malaysian, but with a heavy Chinese influence, so it shouldn’t shock your system if you’ve never had it before.

When you go -- and you will go, because we’re forbidding anyone from waiting at Lauriol anymore -- order the following: For the appetizer, if you want deep fried food, go with the Five Spice Roll (fried meat) or the Sayur Goreng (fried vegetables), or if you’re in a soupy mood, try the Laksa. For your entree, the Chicken and Eggplant with Curry is the most popular dish and another favorite is the Poh Pia (it tastes like the moo shu you get at Chinese restaurants). If you’re in the mood for curry, try either the Bee Hoon (curried noodles), or the Ayam Limau Purut (creamy lime curry dish).

Take note: the bartender serves excellent drinks, and certain diners may be able to flirt their way to a free drink or two.

And now for the best and oddest parts about Straits:

  • The rooftop is huge and lit up by Christmas lights, which makes it look really nice.
  • The service is snail-like -- 3-5 people work the roof and they don’t have sections. This means the person that takes your drink order may not be the same person who takes your appetizer order and so on. The result? Slower service. It’s just inefficient and silly.
  • The actual menu makes no sense. Each item’s description is taken from a review of the restaurant and provides no real explanation of the dish. For example, the description of Tamarind Chicken: "Tamarind add its mysterious sweet-tart accent to a chicken dish, stir-fried with tomatoes, onions and water chestnuts. Nice." Washington Post (2004). Huh?
  • The owners also own Larry's Lounge (the bar next door).
  • The inside is awesomely horrible. We struggle with this because the food tastes good no matter where you eat it, but the inside is just sooo ugly. Perhaps it’s really only worth eating there when you can enjoy the roof deck -- or just eat with your eyes closed.

Straits of Malaya, 1836 18th St NW, Washington DC 20009, (202) 483-1483.


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