Sunday, November 14, 2010

November 6, 2010: Easy Tiger

Collingwood is booming - it seems as though every month a new trendy place opens up at the southern end of Smith. We caught the initial buzz about new Thai place Easy Tiger and put it on our 'once the hype fades' list, to check out when getting a table doesn't require planning ahead or going on a waiting list. Wandering Smith St on a Saturday, we discovered a new option: lunch-time! Easy Tiger was sitting open at midday on a Saturday without a single patron in sight - we strolled in, grabbed our pick of the tables and were the sole focus of the staff's attention.

As everyone else has commented, it's a beautiful fit out - sleek and clean, with rows of bright colourful glasses running down the walls to frame everything. The guy serving us was amazingly friendly and helpful, taking us through the menu, suggesting dishes that would work well together, even telling us how we should eat things. Even better, he was a vego, so was happy to figure out what they could for us. The $60 vegetarian banquet sounds brilliant, but seemed a bit excessive for an early lunch.

Instead, after taking advice, we picked a couple of small dishes, a salad and a curry. The first dish was the main reason I'd been enthused to try Easy Tiger - the dimly lit picture on Brian's post couldn't disguise the impressiveness of the silken tofu with eggplant and Thai basil ($10).

The star of this dish is the amazing smoky eggplant paste - apparently it's as simple as roasting a whole eggplant over a gas burner and blending it with some oil and basil. However simple it might be to make, it was exquisite atop the silky (but essentially flavourless) tofu. Throw in a couple of crispy salty eggplant chips and a crunchy betel leaf and our meal was off to an amazing start.

The rest of our order came out together: son in law eggs ($4 each, with the fish sauce swapped for a mild chilli jam), Panaeng curry of pumpkin, baby corn and Thai basil ($26) and a watermelon salad with green chilli, mint and peanuts ($25 when served with the standard duck, we forgot to check if we paid less).

The son in law eggs were crispy fried on the outside and oozed soft and gooey when cracked. The chilli jam was sweet and rich, but pretty mild in terms of actual chilli kick.

Even without the duck, the watermelon salad was a success - sharp mint and lemongrass flavours, a mild chilli hit and the sweetness of the watermelon, combining to make a refreshing and tasty dish.

The curry was a good complement to the salad - providing something rich and warm to offset the salad's sharpness. Again, this was mild in terms of spiciness, but had a satisfying depth of flavour. The pumpkin was soft without being mushy, while the beans and corn retained enough crunch to add some textural variety.

We were both very impressed by our lunch - the dishes were all well cooked and flavourful, and the set of things we ordered worked together nicely to add up to more than the sum of their parts. This was at least partly down to the service - the staff were among the best we've dealt with: helpful and friendly and willing to answer any of our questions (this may have just been because we were the only people in the place, but Ashley had an equally good experience during a busier visit). If you expect your Thai food to get the eyes watering a bit you'll be a bit disappointed by Easy Tiger - they're working with a subtler range of flavours. But if you go expecting an excellent meal, wonderful service and a stylish setting, Easy Tiger will hit the spot. Our only disappointment was not getting to try the desserts that Claire and Joyce raved about - we'll have to return for an evening meal some time soon.

I've already mentioned all the blog reviews of Easy Tiger I could find: Melbourne Gastronome, Mel: Hot or Not, Fitzroyalty, Hookturns, I'm so hungreeeeeeeeee

Easy Tiger
96 Smith St, Collingwood
9417 2373
veg banquet $60 per person, small plates $4-$10, mains $24-$30


  1. Good idea going at lunch, if only because you get some good photos.

  2. I haven't noticed this place, inspired to check it out - thank you!

  3. Thanks for the mention! I didn't realise they opened for lunch but it looks like a much better option than dinner (quieter, better light for photos :)). Good to see that they do meat-less dishes just as well.