With One One, Team Waila highlights Phuket’s Thai style

Erika Chou and Doron Wong’s Rivers and Hills Hospitality Group have opened a string of successful businesses since their founding in their mid-20s, led by Japanese-Italian hot spot Kimka on Kenmare Street, where Chef Kristen Lau headed up; and equally great Thai restaurant Wayla on Forsyth Street, which has a lovely garden outside and chef Tom Naumsuwan in the kitchen.

Now, Chou, Wong, and Naumsuwan have taken over the former Tartinery space on Mulberry Street with Wan Wan, a comfortably appointed oasis in an old Phuket-style cooking-focused venue. The island province of Thailand is mostly known for its beaches – Naumsuwan, who grew up in Bangkok, often vacationed there with his family as a child – but it also has a unique culinary history.

“Phuket was a city where a lot of Chinese miners came in the 18th century, bringing their food and culture with them,” Nomswan’s wife and translator Lalita told Gothamist last week. “So if you go to Phuket, there is a section of the city called Old Phuket Town, where all the buildings are in Chinese or European style and there is a lot of dim sum. People go to beaches and resorts, they take food tours in Old Phuket.”

Showcasing a Thai-Chinese fusion of ancient Phuket, Wan Wan’s menu is divided into two sections, both of which deserve your attention. There are several stellar appetizers (or drink snacks, when liquor licenced) in the Shared Dishes section, including Moo Tad Lam Pa, a pile of pork belly chunks, sticky with fish sauce and deep-fried to just the right combination of Chewy and crunchy Hur Mock Crab Cakes, and a pair of Creamy Hur Mock Crab Cakes, stuffed with crustaceans and drizzled with spicy pineapple sauce.

Also featured here are the shrimp and pork wonton, so do the fall spare ribs (mo hong) bathed in soy, ginger and garlic broth, and some premium oyster tempura served on a spicy salad of sorts. A dish called Yum Koi. Naumsuwan was particularly excited about Hae gune, which is a lobster, shrimp, and pork dumpling that is wrapped in fried tofu skin and sliced ​​for easy dipping in plum sauce. It’s a dish that his father, a Chinese (his mother Izan Tai), used to make.

We’ve eaten four of Naumsuwan’s noodle dishes, and they were all fantastic, led by Mee Hoon Ped, a mountain of fried noodles with funky, greasy, crunchy roast duck. Guay Tiew Nua is built from a base of slippery rice noodles, which are topped with thin translucent slices of raw wagyu, some bitter broccolini tossed in for color and bite, and a large tabletop pour of beef broth to heat it all up.

Naumsuwan called Mee Hok Kien, which are fried yellow noodles laden with mushrooms and turnips, “Phuket pad thai” for its prevalence in that city. Fish noodles (literally, fish that is pressed into pasta) added excitement to a nicely flavored seine bla, with vegetable broth and branzino slaw. The baller’s request at Wan Wan, though, is clearly Guay Tiew Tom Yum Lobster, which comes with whole lobster floating in fiery lemongrass broth.

The space underwent a complete renovation from Days Tartinery. Gone are the balcony and the two-story tree that once dominated the room. They were replaced by a quieter design, filled with velvet banquettes, pillows, rough bricks, dark wood and curtains. The basement is not completely finished yet, but it will be more of a seating area with a full bar.

Is this line out? These folks are waiting to buy $140 vegan sneakers nearby.

Wan Wan | It is located at 209 Mulberry Street, just south of Spring Street, and is currently open daily from 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM (212-888-6278)

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