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When Greedy Girl hears the words ‘modern Thai’ she sighs, remembering a less-than-successful night at Melbourne’s Longrain some years back, then considered to be the yardstick for such cuisine. Heading out on a rainy night to Easy Tiger on, arguably, Melbourne’s hippest eating strip, Smith Street Collingwood, she hoped the very solid buzz about the place was deserved.

While she enjoys dishes made with coconut milk, the dishes don’t really like her back and that places some serious limits in Thai cuisine. At the aforementioned Longrain, she recalls the starters were all intensely enjoyable – but each of the main courses tasted identical – dominated by coconut milk and coriander. That was a huge let down as well as not too good for the tum.

So, presenting at the small shopfront on Smith Street, Greedy Girl, with foodie friends Madame Lapine, FullAsAGoog and Ate His Crusts, Greedy Girl hoped that the definition of modern Thai had progressed somewhat. She was not disappointed.

The dining room at Easy Tiger is dark and atmospheric. The decor is understated but dominated by the huge mural (see the picture, above). Settling in with a bottle of Shadowfax Minnow grenache blend, we deferred to frequent diner Ate His Crusts to recommend dishes. As a lovely treat, the kitchen sent out two nibbles – taro chips with chilli salt and soy roasted cashews (below). Having already downed a couple of pre-dinner drinks, these quickly went down the hatch. Both were light, fresh and just the right amount of salt. Delish.

soy roasted cashews

Soy roasted cashews

Easy Tiger, led by chef/owner Jarrod Hudson, divides its menu into street food, rice courses and dessert. Buoyed by the delights of the two abovementioned plates, we ordered a plate of ma hor as well as betel leaf with tea-smoked scallop, fresh coconut, peanuts and fried shallots. Regular readers of this blog will know that Greedy Girl despises pineapple used in a savoury context.  Ma hor is a palm sugar cooked prawn, pork, chicken and peanut ‘ball’ served on a slice of fresh pineapple. It was a revelation – too often, where pineapple is present, it’s the only flavour that can be discerned. Not this time. The lightness and freshness of the pineapple was a counterpoint to the yummy ball of deliciousness on top.

Ma hor

Ma hor

Greedy Girl didn’t indulge in the betel leaf, trying to limit her exposure to coconut, but it was pronounced delish by the other diners. It certainly looked very attractive.

betel leaf

Betel leaf with tea-smoked scallop

We also indulged in a yummy crispy soft shell crab, with house made sriracha sauce and fresh lime. Sriracha sauce is essentially chilli, garlic and sugar. It was not too hot and the crispy crab was an utter delight. Anyone worried at the thought of eating these whole crabs should have no fear. They’re very tasty.

Soft shell crab

Soft shell crab

And so to the rice courses, with a little side plate. Greedy Girl had been warned that one of the signature dishes, a Wagyu beef shin was probably not going to be to her liking. It’s a very attractive looking plate. Sher Wagyu beef has been braised in coconut milk and served with pickled cucumber and a profusion of greens. The beef was incredibly tender and Greedy Girl was delighted to see it wasn’t smothered with the coconut milk sauce. She left the sauce for others to mop up.

wagyu beef shin

Wagyu beef shin

Next up was stir-fried pork and crab with house made ink noodles and chilli oil. This was a wonderful dish. The squid ink noodles were soft and worked extremely well with the pork and crab mix. Lovely little pieces of fried garlic on the top were an additional and welcome texture. Proof positive that not every Thai-inspired main course needed to test positive to coconut.

stir-fried pork and crab

Stir-fried pork and crab

We’d ordered a green curry of slow cooked beef short ribs but our waitress suggested we might like to try some different flavours and recommended the Massaman curry of kipfler potato and red banana chilli. The very vivid colours made this dish look hotter than it was. It was very well balanced and quite tasty.

Massaman curry

Massaman curry

Our ‘side’ dish was son-in-law eggs. These little poached beauties are topped with herbs and fried shallots and sit in a little chilli caramel pool. According to the SBS website these were made for a man who mistreated his wife, by his mother-in-law – the inference being that if he didn’t change his ways, his, ahem, body parts would be substituted for the eggs in future dishes. While the dining group didn’t discuss the likelihood of that, we did reflect on the trials and tribulations of ordering poached eggs – and how many times they arrived at the table cooked through. As Ate His Crusts remarked: “If I wanted hard-boiled eggs, I’d order hard-boiled eggs”. Chefs take note. Happily these were soft, runny and luscious.

son-in-law eggs

Son-in-law eggs

Feeling decidedly full, the kitchen again surprised us with a couple of little desserts. One was a big surprise for Greedy Girl, having accepted that chocolate and Asian cuisines don’t often mix. This was chocolate and pandanus leaf dumplings with melon and salted coconut cream. The dumpling went down the hatch and was very pleasant. The melon was cold and refreshing. The coconut cream was left in the bowl. Greedy Girl does indeed wish her belly could tolerate coconut products much better. Sigh.

chocolate and pandanus leaf dumplings

Chocolate and pandanus leaf dumplings

The final offering of the night was a selection of house made sorbets. This was presented in an innovative way – as a terrine with stripes of the various sorbets made of sweet and savoury flavours – among them, lime, watermelon and pumpkin, surrounded by coconut. There’s no getting away from coconut here!

house made sorbets

A rainbow of sorbets

Easy Tiger is a very enjoyable experience. It’s a lively spot but our group of four could still carry on a conversation without too much difficulty. The wait staff are knowledgeable and personable and the food is exciting, with plenty of diversity on the menu. Greedy Girl would like to taste more.

Easy Tiger

96 Smith Street, Collingwood

Easy Tiger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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