I find that whenever I travel there’s always an overwhelming choice of things for me to do and places for me to eat; I tend to jam pack my holidays so that I make the most of my stay there. Don’t get me wrong, I do love holidays where things are unplanned and I get to relax a little. On my last holiday to Melbourne, when I had the greatest dining experience ever, I caught up with an awesome person for dinner. I was spoilt for choices but we decided on Gingerboy; the sister restaurant to Ezard.
The food at Gingerboy focuses on hawker and street food of South-East Asia but given a contemporary twist and presented it in a way that’s suitable for the restaurant setting. Ideally dishes are meant to be shared amongst the table because that’s what it’s like in Asia! We decided tonight to go for the banquet style menu tonight, which allows us to choose 4 starters, a main and 2 sides and a dessert to share, and all for $70 per person; it was good value in our eyes. There were a decent amount of tantalising options on the menu, so it made our choice quite hard.
I started off the night with the rising sun cocktail ($17). A concoction of homemade rhubarb syrup, orange bitters, angostura bitters, pama pomegranate liqueur, Johnny Walker Black and the juice of orange and lemon. A hit of smoke “from the forging of samurai swords” was optional. Being the curious creature that I am, I decided to give it a try. Only to find it was just some flavoured (can’t remember what) smoke cupped above the martini glass to engage the sense of smell as I enjoy my drink. There was a nice balance of tang and sweetness to this cocktail followed by strong alcoholic punch!
Apparently a signature of the restaurant, we had to try the son in law eggs; a traditional Thai starter of deep fried eggs served with chilli jam and Asian herbs. I was instructed by Anh to pop the entire thing into my mouth and to be careful because the yolk explodes as you bite into it. The chilli jam is subtle in terms of the heat department and is slightly sweet and tangy to provide a balance of flavours, typical of Thai cooking. A simple yet exciting dish to start our wonderful meal.
Next up was the steamed Spring Bay scallops with black vinegar and XO sauce. The scallops were cooked perfectly; slightly juicy and sweet at the same time. The sauce used to dress the scallops was mellow and enhanced the natural sweetness of the scallops further.
As soon as I saw “la lot”on the menu I knew we had to order it! Based on the Vietnamese Bò lá lốt (grilled beef in wild betal leaf), the grilled lamb in la lot leaves with coriander and mint relish pays homage to this wonderful dish by putting their own twist to it. There’s something about cooking with la lot (wild betal leaf) that makes meat that extra bit juicer and sweeter, that was all there with this dish.
The last of our starters was the smoked ocean trout tartare which was served with a green chilli mayonnaise on a fried wonton crisp. Melt in your mouth pieces of lightly smoked ocean trout was a textural pleasure combined with the wonton crisp. The chilli mayo was subtle but provided a nice little kick to this dish. Though I’m not too sure where in South-East Asia I’d be able to find a dish like this as I don’t think it would be classified as street food but it doesn’t matter as it was extremely delicious.
For our mains, we chose the fried whole baby snapper with roasted chilli and lime dressing and mango and lychee salad which was filleted at our table by the waitress. What a sight this dish was when it was brought to our table, to see the fish plated upright is a sight you don’t normally see at restaurants. The flesh was succulent and the dressing was bursting with flavour. I loved the balance of flavours and textures of the salad, it was a nice contrast to the soft, succulent and spicy snapper.
The sides we chose to accompany the snapper were crispy fried corn cakes and creamed coconut rice. The rice is a creamy concoction similar to porridge/congee and lends beautiful fragrance and flavour to our meal. Whilst the corn cakes were wonderfully moreish; they were crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and packed with corn kernels.
Being lovers of a fiery kick, we ordered the spiced mango crumble with chilli which was topped with dried strawberries and toasted coconut ice cream. The first thing we noticed about this dessert was the intense sweetness the mangoes provided to this crumble which was offset by the tart dried strawberries and the crumble mixture featured black sesame seeds which provided a nice nutty flavour. After a few more bites, the chilli started to kick in.. They weren’t playing around with the addition of the chilli in this crumble, it was hot and unexpected in a dessert because you’d think that the flavour would be subtle. The addition of the toasted coconut ice cream became our saviour as it provided a much needed cooling affect to combat the temperature and spiciness of the crumble.
Overall it was a lovely dessert despite the initial shock of how chilli the dessert was but the flavours were well balance and complimented each other nicely. I’d order it again!
So for $70 a head we were completely stuffed! Our evening was made pleasant with good food and polite and helpful staff. Make sure you make a booking because the place fills up pretty quickly, even for a weekday.