London Simply Cannot have too much Good Thai Food
Blink and you’re liable to miss Wild Rice if you walk down Brewer Street, understated and modest from the outside it really is a beautifully quaint little gem
Review by Martin Stickley
Back in the deep dark recesses of my past (well 2010 actually) I was made redundant from what had been up to that point my first proper post-university job. I had been working for the company for quite a few years so I was lucky enough to receive a modest renumeration package (at least by the standards of an unencumbered twenty-something living in North-East Yorkshire). Having been fortunate enough to get another job lined up almost immediately, I decided to put the money to good use (as opposed to saving it for boring things like rent and utilities) by undertaking a spot of exotic travelling. I had wanted to travel to the far east for a long time, as had one of my former colleagues, and seeing as we were both now facing a month-or-so of inadvertent decided to travel to together. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have left the bulk of the planning to him as he’s the kind of guy who feels out of his comfort zone if he leaves his own front room. This might explain how the resulting trip was far from the idyllic cultural awakening I had imagined and instead ended up being more a tour of cliched Bangkok tourist traps capped by several seedy nights in Pattaya (the less I say about that, the better). Whilst I wasn’t able to successfully coax my comrade away from his culinary home comforts (in the time we were there the furthest he took his taste buds was lasagne) the trip at least allowed me to expand my food horizons and I ended up discovering what remains to this day some of the most delicious cuisine I have ever had. On that basis I was more than happy to try out Wild Rice, Soho’s newest Thai restaurant; London simply cannot have too much good Thai food!
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Blink and you’re liable to miss Wild Rice if you walk down Brewer Street, understated and modest from the outside it really is a beautifully quaint little gem. The restaurant is from first-time restaurateurs Pan Serirak and Mike Asavarut whose debut restaurant aims to use the very best seasonal British ingredients along with authentic Thai spices to bring traditional Thai flavours to the nation’s capital. The building itself is actually split into two sister establishments; Wild Rice (on the ground floor) caters for more traditional diners offering a mixture of small plates or sharing menus and Mamasan (in the basement) is a much less formal bar/eatery which provides street food, bubble teas and cocktails.
When it comes to seasonal allegiance, I’ve associated myself more with autumn than any other time of year, because of this I loved the initial impression I got from entering Wild Rice; the mossy green and slightly earthy tones from the natural decor felt almost rainforest-like but I really appreciated the juxtaposition from the wall of windows; a huge wall feature inspired by the brightly coloured timber buildings that are synonymous with the old quarter of Bangkok.
The ornamentation isn’t the only impressive thing which impressed me about Wild Rice; The menu is both bold and vibrant in flavour and features a satisfying mix of both traditional Thai dishes and more modern creations. Established plates such as Lamb Massaman curry and Pad Thai sit side-by-side with less-common but impressively complex dishes like tin-pot baked prawn and Vermicelli (huge, delicious prawns served with beautifully bronzed bean vermicelli, shiitake mushrooms and Chinese celery) and Panaeng pork with coconut cream (succulent tender pork loin, sweet red chillies coriander and earthy spices). Whilst the main dishes I sampled were fantastic, the real beauty of Wild Rice lies in the great array of small plates and nibbles. By introducing diners to the opportunity to mix, match and share it opens the door to a much more social way of eating which we have historically pursued in the UK. The Nam Prik Nhoom (Thai green chili salsa served with assorted vegetables) comes highly recommended for its freshness and tang, as do the equally delightful crackling tofu nuggets in Kaprow sauce. Both offer versatility as either starters or sharing plates.
The honesty and simplicity of Wild Rice offers a charm which shouldn’t go unnoticed by most diners, it’s certainly a restaurant I would be happy to return to time and time again. From the relaxed atmosphere to the unassuming yet delicious menu, Wild Rice is a great choice of eatery either booked in advance or dropped into spur of the moment.
Open Monday-Thursday 12:00 – 23:00, Friday – Saturday 12:00 – 00.30 and Sunday 17:00 – 22:00
Enquiries: Wild Rice, 28 Brewer Street, Soho, London, W1F 0SR / www.wildricelondon.com