96 Smith St
Collingwood, VIC 3066
03 9417 2373
For some reason, the lure of fine dining has taken a step back recently. Fakegf and I used to go somewhere fancy and ‘degustationy’ for our combined birthdays, but last year, we kept it simple and had Sichuan food in Toorak. And these days, I find myself going for cheap eats and I cook at home more… maybe it’s a subconscious act of saving money for nice holidays!
But that’s not to say we won’t give ourselves a little treat once in awhile. I’ve walked past Easy Tiger several times in the past few years and have always liked its beautiful interior and the eco sofa seats in the front. Fatbee and I walked past this same window yet again around Christmas last year, and finally decided to cast our metaphorical lines and spend a special evening here.
So there we were… breezing in one quiet Sunday a few weeks later with Fakegf and The Angmoh. I hate to say it but… you could call this a double date… ha ha!
And guess what… we got that front table with the sofas! It was really comfy for us to lie back and relax with beautiful natural evening light spilling in from the large window.
sunset lily tea (green tea, orange, lily flower – complimentary)
Things work a little differently on Sunday nights at Easy Tiger. Instead of an a la carte menu, you’re offered a two or three course chef’s banquet. Just list any dietary requirements that you have, and leave everything else to the chef to decide. I’m kinda the lazy sort of diner who hates making dish choices, so this arrangement really appealed to me.
2 courses comes at $50… you get three street foods followed by two mains, eggs and rice. 3 courses goes for $75, and you get four street foods followed by three mains, eggs, rice and dessert.
We picked the two course banquet, with plans on scuttling elsewhere for dessert. We then ordered a delightfully incoherent spread of drinks. Fatbee and I chose white wines while Fakegf had a cocktail, and the Angmoh ironically became the most ‘Asian’ amongst us all by having Vietnamese iced coffee!
ma hor (palm sugar cooked prawn, pork & chicken, on pineapple)
And so began a food journey so memorable that Fakegf, despite being tipsy, upped and blogged it that very same night! An almost unheard phenomenon amongst us bloggers with our massive backlogs.
We started off with these unique balls of pork floss bound with chicken, prawn and aromatic palm sugar… served on a crisp slice of pineapple. From its appearance to its flavours, there was something very different-yet-coherent about this dish that made us go silent with curiosity as we bit into it… then we collectively smiled with appreciation.
betel leaf with tea smoked scallop, fresh coconut, lime, peanuts & fried shallots
Next came what I considered to be the dish of the night for me. This rarely happens to me, but as I sank my teeth in, I felt like I was being transported to faraway lands… flooded with Eastern memories of the Mekong. Juicy, crunchy, full of freshness and flavours that’s both new yet instinctively familiar… Wow.
traditional thai fishcake with house made chilli sauce
Our final street food came as Thai fishcakes made from red snapper and ocean trout.
They were crisp, fresh and fragrant with herbs.
It seems I’d really enjoyed all of the entrees served in the first course. And calling it ‘first course’ was a bit of a misnomer too… it’s more like a first wave of food!
A change of plates and the arrival of two tall bowls of rice signalled the coming of the second course, where the two mains and eggs all came at once.
nahm prik of duck with watermelon, green mango & chilli jam
First up, a very piquant green mango salad with duck, watermelon and crudités on the side. Fatbee quite liked this while I thought it was a touch too tangy even when eaten with the rice and crudités.
sour orange fish curry with daikon, winter melon & siamese watercress
Equally tangy was this red snapper fish curry. Fakegf loved the confident use of chillies and tamarind, and the veggies in it were very lightly cooked. I liked how this wasn’t those generic sweet and creamy rich Thai curries that you tend to see in Melbourne, and enjoyed how the daikon and wintermelon remained crunchy.
By the way, we found out that Siamese watercress was essentially kang kung (water spinach).
son in law eggs
Then came this nest of eggs that pretty much blew my mind again. Crisp on the outside, half-cooked and gooey on the inside, I was in heaven…! They came in a sweet palm sugar sauce with garlic, chilli and coriander which counterpointed very nicely with the other two mains’ sourness.
Can’t believe I’d never eaten son-in-law eggs before… how much have I been missing out? I’m tempted to suggest that faddy brunch spots serving crumbed poached eggs (which tend to be quite firm / overcooked) should just consider making these babies instead.
So our two course meal ended here, but we had the option of adding dessert to our meal. Once our waitress described to us what’s on offer, all our original intentions of going elsewhere for sweets flew out of the window. Sorry… Gelato Messina!
chocolate & pandanus dumplings with melon & salted coconut cream 19
We decided to share two desserts between the four of us. First came these beautiful pandan dumplings which were quite reminiscent of tang yuan (汤圆 – glutinous rice flour balls) except that you got dark and oozy Monsieur Truffe chocolate as its filling. They sat amongst fresh melon balls, basil seeds, a surprise sprinkle of coriander seedlings and a creamy-savoury coconut soup.
ice creams and sorbets 15
And our final dish was an ice cream ‘terrine’. From closest to you, the layers consist of Thai basil ice cream, a wafer of white sesame, pineapple sorbet and then mandarin ice cream. And surrounding everything is a layer of coconut sorbet… amazing.
Aside for the two somewhat tangy mains, I really enjoyed all the other dishes we had here. Our lovely waitress, Lucy, took care of us very well too. The flavours are unique, fresh and contemporary without losing touch of its Asian origins. Serving Asian-inspired dishes to Asians and impressing them is quite a challenging feat… but guess what? Easy Tiger did exactly that!