We were in the typical SOHO shopping area, walking around, and lounging. We noticed that the traffic in this area is starting to recover and getting a little more traffic than usual. It was around 5 PM, and we started getting a little hungry. I had remembered Wayan receiving a lot of accolades. I often get it confused with Wayla, so I never quite remembered why it was so popular. Fortunately, we were able to do a walk-in on a cloudy Saturday night at 5:15 PM. The host sat us right in front of the kitchen which was pretty cool.
The restaurant is an Indonesian inspired restaurant with a French flair. It showcases seasonal fresh products and savory Southeast Asian flavors.
The ambiance was very cool and sleek. There is a lot of wood accents everywhere, whitewashed brick exposure with recessed lighting, and plenty of Asian earthy accents as if you’re in the middle of a cool, damp cave.
We were seated in front of the kitchen, where there was a transparent screen that separated us from the kitchen. We could not hear the chefs and the clanging of the pots noticeably, and it was easy for us to have a conversation at a normal level. It was very fun to watch the chefs perform their assigned duties. The one closest to us seemed to be responsible for decorating the dishes, whereas the cooks behind were responsible for cooking the meats.
The service was very fast, and everything came out immediately as they were cooked. There definitely was not much pacing between dishes, so be prepared to eat. I am guessing they might have tried to push us out quickly since we didn’t have a reservation, but that was fine since we were there for about an hour and we were very hungry.
The Passion Fruit Cooler ($10 - left) came with passion fruit, basil, and soda. This was a very refreshing drink and was pretty good. I am not a big fan of how small this is and the price because it’s really good, and it doesn’t quite quench my thirst.
The Devil’s Avocado ($17 - right) came with tequila, mezcal, avocado, spicy honey, and cucumber. This was well balanced. You get some of that smoky hints from the mezcal along with the creamy texture of the avocado. The cucumber livens it up with that sense of light freshness, and the spicy honey gave it a very subtle kick.
The Crispy Softshell Crab ($26) came with scallion sambal and cauliflower acar. Sambal is basically a chili sauce or paste, in this case, it was using scallions as the base. The crab was very delicious as it had an abundant amount of the head cheese oozing out. When mixed with the sambal, it was an excellent additive though some might find the sauce to be very flavorful. The head had a lot of The cauliflower was tender yet crispy enough where it provided a great complementary texture to the crab. I do think you can become confused on whether the protein or the sauce is the star since the flavors are pretty bold.
The Papua Ceviche ($20) came with hiramasa, coconut, and citrus. Hiramasa is a basically yellowtail kingfish. One thing that was misleading when reading the description is you would think this would be somewhat similar to a latin style ceviche. The citrus was definitely not that strong, and there was a more prominent sweetness coming out of the juice. My partner was wildly conflicted by these flavors, so they did not enjoy it as much since they have never had these flavors. I did think this ceviche was fine if you are open to sweetness, but I definitely preferred more acidic styled approaches.
The Combination Skewers ($36) came with:
- scallop came with chiltepin and makrut lime. These little scallops were cooked perfectly and were delicious. You can’t go wrong with this.
- pork came with pickled radish and kecap manis. Kecap manis is a sweetened soy sauce. The radish was quite good as well.
- beef came coriander pesto and green finger chili. Surprisingly, this was my least favorite because the pesto was very strong, and the beef was heavily covered by that. Despite this criticism, it was still very good, and you can’t go wrong with any of these proteins for skewers.
The Octopus a la Plancha ($24) came with roasted fennel, sweet chili sauce, and cilantro. The octopus came with two large leg pieces, and were charred nicely. The legs were quite tender. The fennel, sauce, and cilantro were all very bold flavors that worked great with the octopus.
The Crab Fried Rice ($29) came with uni (+$12), lion’s mane, tapioca crisp, and cilantro. I think in total they gave us probably 4 pieces of uni. The rice was cooked perfectly and was mixed with an OK amount of crab meat. I really wished there was more of it. The uni, of course, was fresh and tasted great with the crab. I think for the value, it beats ordering uni at a sushi restaurant.
The Crispy Pork Ribs ($34) came with soy tamarind glaze, sesame seeds, an urfa biber. Urfa biber is a Turkish chile pepper that is a dark burgundy color. The glaze on top of the pork ribs was a thick, but it was a great complement to the pork ribs. The pork meat (about 6 pieces) was literally fall off the bones, so it made eating this quite easy with a fork and knife. As a whole, this was pretty fantastic.
The food at the Wayan was very good, at least for my palette. You get a lot of bold sweet and sour Southeast Asian flavors that are not very typical in Manhattan’s more expensive Asian restaurants. The quality of the ingredients is noticeably good, though the price can climb very fast if you are not careful with what you order. If you want to try something different in the SOHO area or want a pretty distinct and refreshing take at Southeast Asian cuisine, check out the Wayan for a fantastic shareable journey.
Food wasn’t worth the price paid. Lobster noodles and crab fried rice were good but both had limited pieces of meat. Each plate was $30+ and was barely enough of a portion size for two people to share.
Just like dim sum, the more people you have at a table, the more dramatic the price per person decreases. The unfortunate part with this Elitist is they ordered 2 carbohydrate heavy dishes where they were expecting the protein to be a prominent star. How much lobster would you expect with noodles for $36 in Manhattan? Lastly, one might wonder what this Elitist is expecting to be a shareable portion size.
We ordered a bunch of small, large plates and a few cocktails (+tip costs over $500 for 6 people) … it was not worth the hefty price tag.
This restaurant is definitely on the expensive side, and I can definitely sympathize with this Elitist. However, they emphasized that the total cost per person was $60. That’s actually pretty decent for each person. My partner and I spent more than double that for ourselves. One important note is that if you are on a budget, you probably would want to skip the $18+ cocktails. That would have easily cut that price down to $42 per person, and it would allow you to order an extra group dish.