Does anyone remember The Late Show sketch circa 1990's titled 'Like a Tiger'? Every time I hear the word tiger, I'm always taken back to that moment where Rob Sitch was impersonating Imran Khan. Classic Melbourne comedy that doesn't age.
Easy Tiger Smith St. is shaping up to also be a Melbourne classic. Based on the oriental fare of modern China and Japan, fused with the aromatic flavours of Thai Cuisine, chef Jarrod Hudson has certainly hit the right mark with his outstanding street fare and elegant dishes.
It is reminiscent of communal Asian lunches and dinners, where sharing takes precedence and a myriad of dishes adorn the table, delectably waiting for you to dive in and relieve your tastebuds.
My friends and I opted for the 'carnivore' banquet menu ($75 - $95 per head) and the two vegetarians at the table were catered for as well. To say you'll be spoiled for choice is an understatement.
We had close to 5 entree samples to try. Yes, really. They are ample bite sized servings, that really pull together the classic South East Asian harmonies of hot, sour, salty, creamy and fresh. The dishes will arrive in succession and it is recommended you have a crisp beer, sharp wine or in my case pre dinner cocktail to really kick the experience into gear.
Stand outs for me were: Ma Hor (palm sugar cooked prawn, pork, chicken & peanuts, served on fresh watermelon - I believe this has now changed to pineapple)
As a huge fan of seafood, the other dish I really savoured was the freshly shucked oyster with red chilli nahm jim & salmon roe. You really won't be feeling particularly overloaded at this point, and I would recommend really saving yourself - as when the dinner dishes start arriving, it's at this point you realise how great eating out in a group really is... you get to try everything.
Dinner comes in big, ceramic white bowls and is served with steaming hot jasmine rice. A must to soak up all the beautiful curries.
The favourite dish for me was really the simple one. Son-in-Law eggs. For my regular readers, you will know eggs are my favourite eggs and the technique of making this dish is quite skilful. These were cooked to perfection and a joyful marriage of that slight sweet sauce, coupled with the creamy egg and tangy flavours.
Coconut braised sher wagyu beef shin with pickled cucumber; Sour orange fish curry with winter melon, daikon & siamese watercress;
Wok fried rice noodles with steamed eggplant & green ginger relish;
Both the beef and fish were melt-in-your mouth, packed full of heady aromas and creative flavours. The sultry textures dance around on your palate and transport you to the hustle and bustle of the streets in South East Asia. Each bite will truly make you feel like you have just landed on your hawker food holiday.
For those who are gluten-free or vegetarian, Easy Tiger has banquet menus that will cater for your needs. For those that want the full experience, go the deluxe banquet - you will not be disappointed.
Full to the brim, our night had not yet ended.
I've always got room for one more thing - anything with sago in it.
Dessert was coconut sago pudding, with agar agar strawberries and seasonal fruit. A light, only slightly sweet finish to close off the performance. We matched our courses with white wine and finished off with some crisp green tea. Easy Tiger is an intimate venue with a minimalistic approach. The staff are super friendly and informative and you will be well looked after.
Insider tip: Try and secure the table at the front of the restaurant. It has comfy, padded lounge style seats (low), you are primed against the window and it truly feels decadent to sit, chat and really enjoy the food. For those wanting a-la-carte meals, you can order those too.
Easy Tiger is located at 96 Smith Street, Collingwood.
Opening hours are Tues - Sun; 6pm till late.
Menu's are available online as PDF's.
Bookings on (03) 9417 2373