AMSTERDAM – A Malaysian walks down the streets of Amsterdam on a wet cold day, wishing how lovely it would be to sip a glass of hot "teh tarik" along with the "roti canai" in a warm cosy restaurant like back home.
And the wish is soon granted at Nyonya Malaysian Restaurant along the Kloveniersburgwal street that serves tantalising Malaysian food.
The restaurant which is open daily is the pride of Phang Man Wai, 44, a Malaysian from Kuantan and boasts of its Malaysianness with such fare as rendang, kangkung belacan, tomyam, sambal petai udang, satay, nasi lemak and char kway teow.
Opened in September 2005, the restaurant now sees over 120 customers daily from all walks of life and nationalities.
"I was 22 years old when I decided to go to the Netherlands. My brother was working in Amsterdam then. I worked a few years at Chinese restaurants here before opening my own in the city's Chinatown in 1998," he said.
To differentiate his business, Phang wanted to introduce Malaysian food.
Part of his strategy was to relocate his shop to a different street. He rented a small outlet in a building owned by the government for 850 euros per month (RM3,315).
Phang is assisted by his Hong Kong-born wife Lisa and three kitchen helpers.
He has no problems sourcing raw ingredients as they are available from an Asian market nearby.
His customers include the usual Malaysians and Dutch, with a number of Indonesians and other Europeans.
The Malaysians have grown quite fond of Phang and affectionately refer to the father of two girls as abang (brother).
Many of the regulars have become Phang's friends.
"It's interesting to see them eating nasi lemak, and the spicy offerings like asam pedas and sambal petai," said Phang.
So far, Phang has invested RM600,000 into his 35-seat outlet and he hopes to open a second and bigger restaurant.
Prices of food at the Nyonya Malaysian Restaurant ranges from four euros (RM16) to 18 euros (RM70), and portions are generous.
A sip of the two euro (RM7.80) teh tarik will remind Malaysians of home.
Phang himself makes it a point to go back to Malaysia thrice a year to visit his ageing parents. When that happens, the restaurant dishing out Malaysian goodness takes a break. — Bernama