Meet Wan Wan, your new favorite Thai place in NYC’s Nolita neighborhood; the latest restaurant from Rivers and Hills Hospitality group — you might know them for their other Manhattan restaurants: Wayla and Kimika.
Drawing inspiration from the yesteryear Phuket-style restaurants where Chinese influence, a result of heavy immigration from China to Thailand, head Chef Tom Naumsuwan fosters a Thai culinary fare here that’s familiar yet unique. Born in Bangkok, he grew up hanging out in the city’s local markets, where his mother would vend fresh curries & homemade bread, a presence, which, in turn, led him to masterfully learn how to cook via the talents of local street vendors.
From the restaurant’s focus on often-overlooked regional Thai dishes to the menu’s standalone noodle selection, this isn’t your basic Thai meal; it’s much better. Our favorite appetizer items include the Taw Hu Tod — lightly fried soft tofu with spicy peanut sauce — and the Yum Hoi — tempura scallops, frisee, sea bean, red onion, plus chili. As a main course, order the Chu Chee Nua — house curry braised beef short rib, kale, coconut, and crispy rice.
When it comes to their extensive cocktail menu, elect to sip on the La Vie En Thai: gin, house grenadine, hibiscus, lemon, champagne and foam.
Design-wise, the approachable 48-chair restaurant proffers a spacious, subdued design that leans into an urbane industrialist-style type of look. Exposed brick walls, high ceilings, pink velvet-fitted banquets, and tables suffusing swarthy millwork populate the space. Retro-tinged diner-style mauve checked floors, an antiquarian 1930s art deco chandelier, and a medley of porcelain wall sconces spawn an upmarket yet cozy sentiment. Green curtains line one of the walls fringing the kitchen.
Lastly, while we firmly believe anyone who loves Thai food should frequent this restaurant, it would be amiss not to mention how it’s the perfect unimposing neighborhood date spot.
Location: New York City (Nolita)
Address: 209 Mulberry Street, New York, NY, 10012
Price point: $$$
Takes reservations?: Yes, via Resy.
The vibe: A stylish, industrialist-style space equipped with a menu that’s a tasty pivot from the Thai food you’ve always known.
Our favorite items on the menu: When it comes to appetizers, opt to try the inimitable Taw Hu Tod, which comprises lightly fried soft tofu with spicy peanut sauce. Then as a main course option, order the Chu Chee Nua, containing house curry braised beef short rib, kale, coconut, plus crispy rice.
The attire: Smart Casual
Hours of operation: Wan Wan is open seven days a week, with lunch from 11:30am to 3pm, dinner from 5pm to 10pm and weekend brunch from 12-3pm.