Whoever did the interior design for the new modern Thai restaurant, Easy Tiger (96 Smith Street, Collingwood), certainly did a good job. Look up the word tasteful in the dictionary, and I’d expect to see a photo of the interior.
It’s stunning at night, and during our two hour dinner, there was a continual stream of passers-by stopping and doing a double take. What catches your eye, or at least mine, is the row of coloured drinking glasses along the illuminated shelves that span each of the side walls.
Even more important than a nice fit out is the food, and while I can’t vouch for its authenticity, having never been to Thailand, I can wholeheartedly vouch for its deliciousness. It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a meal this much.
As is the case with most Melbourne restaurants these days, there are a number of small dishes, designed for sharing. We started with three – the larp gai, kingfish sashimi with potato and miso, and betel leaves with prawn and fresh coconut – and all were fantastic. The highlight though was the latter, which was rich and clean (a difficult combination), and had beautiful texture.
Then we moved on to the larger dishes. Salted salmon in coconut cream was basically a really well executed, red curry. Cucumber and cos lettuce on the side were a nice addition, as they providing a contrast to the richness of the coconut cream.
A hot and sour Thai beef salad, cherry tomatoes, coriander and fresh lime was equally good. On paper it’s a pretty standard Thai dish, but what I wasn’t expecting was the texture of the beef, which was almost jerky-like. That may not sound appetising, but it actually worked really well.
The single bum note was one son in law egg, which had been cooked beyond soft boiled. Happily, when I pointed this out, they brought out two more, and this time the yolk was a perfect consistency, although the outside of the egg wasn’t quite as crispy as I would have liked.
While desserts are not usually the strong point of Thai menus, in my experience, Easy Tiger offers three interesting options. I had chocolate and pandanus leaf dumplings with melon, which is a visual surprise and a taste sensation. My girlfriend had the equally good steamed duck egg custard, rice ice cream with poached dragonfruit.
There’s a basic wine list and a really good beer list. The latter features the fantastic Hitachino Nest White Ale, which I think goes perfectly with Thai flavours.
The tables are well spaced, and the floor is covered in a thin carpet, so despite it being quite busy when we were there, noise levels were absolutely fine.
Surprisingly, and thankfully, it’s not one of those no reservation restaurants, although there are two sittings (at least on a Saturday night), which contributed to a feeling of being slightly rushed by the staff, who were otherwise fantastic.
Speaking of reservations, you probably want to book soon. I have a feeling that, given the location, style of eating, quality of food, initial reviews, and amount of Twitter buzz, it’s going to be very popular, very quickly and deservedly so.
Related posts: Mamanee Thai Restaurant