The opening of Ruam on Wan Chai’s trendy Ship Street was a relatively low-key affair when compared to that of Black Sheep’s buzzy new venture, Associazione Chianti, a few weeks later and a few doors down. The latter was common of restaurants that have recently come to populate what has to be given credit as one of the most interesting epicurean alcoves in our city right now, and so the prospect of visiting one of the street’s quieter neighbours was all the more alluring. While certainly not proving a disappointing experience overall, the food at this self-described vibrant-casual Thai garden bar and eatery needs more attention to do the atmospheric space justice.
The name of the restaurant means “to gather” in Thai, and it’s easy to discern that this was at the forefront of the minds that designed the space. Upon trundling up a narrow staircase, visitors emerge in an outdoor, deck-style space that dominates the restaurant and is replete with wooden counter-height tables seating around four – some of which offer charming views of the street below – and a couple of sprawling round tables in the centre to accommodate larger groups. Add to this atmospheric lighting, accentuated by fairy lights festooned between the wooden beams overhead, and you have a space that is inviting and conducive to conversation.
The Drinking Snacks section of the menu is a good place to begin food-wise, as it’s where you’ll find a selection of starter-sized dishes including but not limited to skewers, spring rolls and sausage. The Poh Pia Laab Gai ($78) – deep-fried Thai spring rolls – satisfy the prerequisite of being crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside, but do little flavour-wise to set themselves apart from generic egg rolls. Similarly, the Yum Som Oh ($138), which consists of shredded pomello, roasted coconut and prawn, boasts a chili kick that is nicely tempered by the fruit, but unfortunately remains slightly insipid and is generally nothing to write home about.
Moving on to mains, the Pad Thai Kung ($138) adds a positive note, doing the deceptively hard-to-execute Thai staple proud with a pronounced but not overpowering presence of peanut complimenting succulent prawns and piquant noodles nicely. Finally, the Gaeng Phed Ped Yang ($188) – Thai duck curry – is delicious with the sauce deliciously sweet and creamy, even if the meat is a tad fatty. To wash all this down, the headliner cocktail the Oh Yeah! Is a lemony, gin-infused concoction that at $88 is nice for the price, but is too weak to hit the mark flavour-wise. For this reason we recommend sipping on a Singha beer, which at $52 a pop, makes for a good deal and no-doubt will be brought to you promptly by the friendly and attentive waiting staff. By Sam Evans