By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Apr 11, 2024 at 11:04 AM

Step through the doors at Room Service, 2159 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., and it's easy to forget that you’re in Bay View. 

The chic new restaurant by Chef Joey Phadungsil features gorgeous modern details – think towering industrial ceilings, slate flooring, green velvet seating and gorgeous art – in sexy, dimly lit quarters that underscore its date-night-worthy urban charms. 

But the scene merely sets the stage for a menu that represents the fare of Thailand and Japan in a way that’s both respectful of the history and proudly representative of the unadulterated flavors inherent to the cuisines.

“My goal is to showcase Thai food the way it is in Thailand,” notes Phadungsil. “I want people to experience the true flavors of Thai cuisine as well as the fresh, expertly crafted dishes of Japan. My goal is for everything to be prepared perfectly.”

A place to explore

When I hear a chef speak about their food the way Chef Phadungsil does, it’s a thrill. In most cases, it means that a visit to their restaurant is going to take me on a journey. It tells me that being adventurous is likely to pay off, exposing me to flavor profiles I’ve not experienced. And – maybe most importantly – it’s going to give me a better understanding of both the culture and the cuisine of that particular place.

The soft opening at Room Service – during which I worked my way through a variety of dishes, both familiar and unfamiliar –  provided just that, whisking me into a world of unabashedly bold flavor and beautiful presentation. It also made me eager to return for more, which is always the best possible outcome.

The menu at Room Service offers far more than what I was able to try, even when sharing with friends. But these memorable dishes are worth your while, especially if you approach food in a similar fashion.

1. Chor Muang

Thai traditional savory dumplings filled with sweet-salty radish and peanut filling, wrapped in a tender butterfly pea flour dyed dough ($14; four per order).

Chor Muang

This sweet-salty dumpling – derived from a recipe dating back to the early 1800s – is delicately flavored with a tender-chewy exterior. They are served with lettuce, cilantro and edible flowers, which can be wrapped around each dumpling to enhance its flavor profile. Before you wrap, take a peek at each dumpling; they are hand-carved into a floral shape and daubed with flecks of gold leaf. 

2. One Night in Bangkok (cocktail)

Gin, vodka, bael, coconut, galangal, chilli, basil, lemongrass smoke ($16).

One Night In Bangkok cocktailX

What you get is a well-balanced drink with a fruity complex flavor that’s not overly sweet. Showcased on a stand topped by a traditional Thai headdress, the addition of wafts of lemongrass smoke adds aromatics – as well as tableside drama – to the experience.

3. Tom Yum River Prawn

Fragrant Thai grilled river prawns and Thai herbs, hot spicy creamy soup with mushroom, cherry tomato, scallion and cilantro ($16).

Tom Yum with River PrawnsX

This creamy take on the classic soup is infused with aromatics tableside using a siphon. The result is a rich, herbal broth that packs a Thai-worthy kick while adding a rich boost of flavor to the mild head-on prawns. We found the portion to be shareable for 3-4 guests as a starter.

4. Zesty Sashimi Salad

Assorted sashimi with mixed greens, tomato and mango in spicy soy mustard dressing ($16).

Zesty sashimi saladX

Fresh fish forms the foundation for this refreshing salad, which offers up a balance of savory, sweet and tangy flavors. The dressing is deftly applied, so it doesn’t overpower the fish.

5. Spicy Tuna Tartare

Guacamole and tortilla chips topped with spicy ponzu sauce ($15).

Spicy Tuna TartareX

This might be the perfect dish to introduce a hesitant diner to the wonders of tartare, as well as the commonality of ingredients found in Mexican and Thai fare. The richness of the mild, mashed avocado complements the texture of the fish, while the slightly spicy, citrus-forward umami of the ponzu brings everything into balance. 

6. Chashu Bao

Tender slices of soy-glazed braised pork belly nestled within pillowy soft bao. Complemented by a symphony of traditional Asian seasonings and vibrant toppings of scallion, cucumber, ground peanuts and hoisin sauce ($12; two per order).

Chashu BaoX

If you love a good pork bun, the chashu pork buns at Room Service are a must try. They are sweet, savory and fresh with a combination of textures that run the gamut from pillowy soft and succulent to fresh and crisp.

7. Hung Lay Short Rib

Derived from the traditional pork hung lay recipe, our chef invites you to savor the intricate flavor of our tender beef short rib, simmered slowly for six hours in fragrant spices, resulting in a rich and flavorful dish ($28).

Hung Lay Beef RibX

At its most basic, this dish is composed of ultra-tender short ribs in a rich, complex sauce. If you stop for a moment to suss out the flavors, you’ll get the beautiful balance of sweet, savory and tangy, along with the a hint of warmth from baking spices like cinnamon and cardamom. It’s a dish with depth and complexity that exceeds that of most Thai curries. The meat pulls easily from the bone, allowing it to absorb the flavors of the long-simmering curry. If you are the sharing sort, the sheer amount of meat in this dish makes it perfect for communal eating.  Be sure to soak up any extra sauce with the accompanying purple rice.

8. Namyapu

This aromatic lump crab curry, enriched with fragrant hers, coconut milk and spices offers a delightful culinary journey to Thailand’s southern region. Served with vermicelli rice noodles ($28).


Indulgent is the word I’d use to describe this creamy curry, redolent with the flavors of chiles, coriander, lemongrass and ginger and deeply complemented by sweet, tender pieces of crab. I recommend adding the accompanying fresh components (bean sprouts, red onion, cilantro) to balance both the flavors and textures in the dish.

9. Tamaki: Samurai Signature Set

50/50 poké (salmon, tuna, crispy shallot, citrus shoyu); Spicy Hotate with spicy yuzu sauce; Shrimp Tempura with spicy mayo; Unagi with eel sauce; Avocado Cucumber with black sesame sauce ($28; five pieces). 

Samurai Temaki Set - handrollsX

While we didn’t delve too far into the menu of sashimi and curated specialty rolls, we did revel in the beauty of the Samurai Signature set of hand rolls. The fish was fresh, texturally pleasing and full of flavor, while the simple sauces and select additions were there to complement, rather than detract from their flavor. Crisp nori enhanced the experience with both its texture and vegetal “of the sea” flavor.

Served in the on-trend taco shape (rather than in a cone), this open-style allows you to feast on the fillings with your eyes before you consume them. The nori is also protected by a special eco-friendly covering (which can be easily removed with a few careful motions). It protects the seaweed from getting soggy, so it’s immaculately crisp when consumed.

Temaki are available in sets, which is a great way to test the waters; but more experienced guests can also build their own using a laundry list of available ingredients.

10. Dessert

Mango, ice cream, coconut sticky rice balls.

Mango, ice cream, coconut sticky riceX

If you need something sweet to follow your feast, this take on a classic Thai dessert delivers on fresh fruit flavor, creamy sweetness and coconut-scented toothiness of sweet sticky rice.

You can view the full menu online.

Hours & reservations

During its first week (April 11-18) Room Service will be open for dinner only with hours from 5 to 11 p.m. Reservations can be made online or by calling the restaurant at (414) 414-9789.

Beginning Friday, April 19, the restaurant will switch over to its regular hours offering lunch service Sunday through Thursday from 11:30 to 3 p.m. and dinner service from 5 to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, lunch service will take place 11:30 to 3 p.m. followed by dinner service from 5 to 11 p.m.

On both Friday and Saturday, Room Service will also showcase a late-night menu featuring special cocktails and bites served from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.