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Wild Rice Thai Restaurant, Soho:
Starting your own restaurant is never an easy business. However first-time restaurateurs Mike Asavarut and Pan Serirak have just opened two. Both Thai restaurants and both at the same address – offering two alternative takes on classic Thai dishes.The first floor in their central Soho site houses Mamasan – a casual joint selling Thai fried chicken and some rather excellent cocktails based on southeast Asian spirits. But we are here to review the 25 seater Wild Rice which focuses on creative reworkings of Thai cuisine using seasonal British ingredients. The interior is all about dark wood with attractive brightly coloured accents from the array of shutters that line the wall. The dishes are based on family recipes as well as some original plates, with curry pastes and spices sourced directly from Thailand for added authenticity. The menu is divided into 5 sections: nibbles, small plates, mains, vegetables and rice. So we have a drink whilst deciding what to eat. We choose a refreshing cup of Cha Yen Thai tea and some delicious Sanatwotsuru sake for me – clean and crisp with peach notes – because lunchtime drinking is compulsory on the 3rd Wednesday of the month…My first memory of eating a Tom Yum seafood soup was on a train to north Thailand. It was unbelievably hot – my first tentative sip left me breathless and panting with sweat pouring off my face. The chilli hit was so addictive it left my face numb for several hours. This version is better suited for a western market with a fragrant heat with lemongrass, lime leaves and galangal giving flavour and enoki mushrooms a certain creaminess. It was like being reacquainted with an old friend who was mellowed out from being the person who will start a fight for fun to being an urban sophisticate. Goi Pla Thai Ceviche from North-west Thailand was made with the highest grade sea bass, given a zing by some lime juice, pungency from fish sauce and heat from chillis. Coated with toasted rice it was drier than I had expected with a deliciously intense flavour with the ground white pepper on the side adding pep. The “YUM” mixed mushrooms lived up to their name – a lovely plateful of crispy mixed mushrooms served with seasonal vegetables and bathed in the citric spice of a chilli, olive oil and lime dressing. For mains, a comforting plate of Pad Thai Woonsen (clear thin noodles) with prawns, vermicelli, sweet tamarind, bean sprouts and spring onion was just the thing on a cold late winter’s day. With a squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of peanuts, it was just like being in a Thai roadside cafe – in a good way! Chicken thigh Khao Soi curry soup made with turmeric, galangal and coconut, crispy noodles and sweet shallots had that classic Thai sweet/salty flavour but without being too hot. Delicate tapioca pearls came studded with sweetcorn kernels and topped with coconut milk cream – it’s just the sort of light, sweet and delicate dish you would buy from a street vendor in Bangkok served in a banana leaf.
My lunch partner grew up in Thailand and loved the authenticity and honesty of the food at Wild Rice. If the sweet/sour/salt and spice flavours of Thai food are your thing you should check it out.
28 Brewer St,
London, W1F 0SR
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