Restaurant Review: Ruam In Wan Chai May Be Your New Go-To Thai Place
There is never a dull moment on Wan Chai’s Ship Street: French fine-dining Akrame went kaput while Black Sheep Restaurants opened Associazione Chianti just doors away. Across the street from them, a new Thai restaurant quietly opened its doors. Ruam, taking over the same space that formerly housed Koh Thai, is the new addition to this busy address.
Named after a Thai word for ‘to gather’, Ruam divides its space into two main sections, the main dining area and the terrace. The main dining room features a long strip lined with tables, set along the semi-open kitchen where guests can have a view of chefs preparing hot dishes. On the terrace are spacious wood furniture filling the outdoor space, an excellent al fresco area embellished with abundant greenery, a perfect spot for cooler weather outdoor dining.
Ruam specialises in Thai cuisine, with classics featured all over its menu. Guests can choose a la carte, or opt for a tasting menu where the entire table shares salads and larger dishes selected by the chef. Choices are in abundance at Ruam. We began with gai ping, or free-range chicken thigh skewers with peanut sauce. A good start of the meal, the skewers of chicken remained tender with just a smoky hint of charring, forming a light crust and nuttiness coherent with the cool peanut satay dipping sauce served on the side.
Pla muk, or fried squid with green peppercorns and tamarind chilli sauce, is wonderful paired with ice-cold beer. The calamari is well-seasoned, and the tamarind sauce offered tartness with just the right hint of heat. We were in the mood for soup, as Ruam’s tom yum kung served four guests generously. Fresh prawns were cooked in the hot and sour broth, with a potent punch of aromatics such as fresh galangal, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves.
Yum hua plee (tamarind-dressed banana blossoms with shallot and coconut) is refreshing and just tart enough, but it is the multitude of texture that won our hearts. Crunchy in every bite, the salad is not only best on its own, it is also fantastic as a palate cleanser between curries.
We couldn’t resist the khai jiao pbu, the crab omelette which is executed so well in local Thai eateries such as Samsen and Sip Song. Ruam’s version is a much thicker omelette roll, laden with lumps of crab meat with beaten egg to adhere to the picked crustacean. The omelette, however, could use a little more browning to develop golden, lacy edges for richer textures.
Gaeng Penang kung (creamy coconut-based prawn curry with kaffir lime and peanuts) caught us by surprise. The curry was tepid at the time of serving and the coconut based sauce was a bit on the lighter side, and lacking the sweetness from coconut, although the curry itself is fantastic with homemade roti that are made to order.
Ruam’s dessert selection is small, between a roti with fried bananas and classic mango sticky rice we opted for the latter, which was a slight let down. The glutinous rice, one lump each of black and white varieties, differ in temperature and the mango was very tart. The mildly salted coconut cream dressing managed to salvage the Thai classic with its velvety texture on the sweetened rice.
Wine service at Ruam is proper and the wine list features a modest selection of wine from sparkling to reds and whites, and every one of them are available by the glass or by the bottle. Beers are available bottled or on draft as well. Cocktails are Asian-inspired, although it can be a bit too light for taste. Service is fast and attentive, although we suggest ordering one or two dishes as you enjoy them as delivery tend to be very fast and dishes may be left getting cold as they arrived all at once.
Ruam offers a good standard and consistency in its offerings, and at a convenient location, an asset to help the eatery easily on its way to become a neighbourhood favourite.
A meal for two with one beverage and service: around HK$750
How we rate
Each of our reviewers score restaurants based on four main criteria: setting, food, service, and drinks, taking into account more than 35 different points of reference including manners of staff, usefulness of the wine list, and whether or not the restaurant makes an effort to be environmentally aware. 5/5 indicates an exceptional experience; 4-4.5/5 is excellent; 3-3.5/5 is good to very good; and 2.5/5 or lower is average to below average. Before visiting a restaurant, the reviewers will book using a pseudonym and do not make themselves known to restaurant staff, in order to experience the venue as a regular guest—if this is not possible, or if we are recognised, we will indicate this in the review.