The Very Very Hungry Caterpillar

YES, this is yet another Melbourne food blog!

Gingerboy

27-29 Crossley St
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 3 9662 4200
http://www.gingerboy.com.au

As some of you might already know, Ezard restaurant on Flinders Lane is one of my favourite Melbourne restaurants and I’ve been wanting to visit Ezard‘s sister restaurant, Gingerboy, for a very long time. The opportunity finally came last night with the convenient excuse of “it’s my birthday” for me to shout dinner to a few of my very good friends. Because it was a last minute thing, I was kinda worried that we might not get a table for Saturday night given that I’ve heard that it’s hard to get a booking here. However, luckily the guy on the phone said that they were able to squeeze us in. Because clearly my awesomeness exuberated from my phone to the guy’s phone. Heh .

If you’re familiar at all with Ezard, you will find that Gingerboy is a very different restaurant. Sure, the Asian elements are there but whereas Ezard is top-class fine dining, Gingerboy is more casual, more “Asian” and I guess, cheaper. The reason why Teage Ezard (i.e. the grand master) decided to establish Gingerboy is because he is a fan of Asian street food. But Gingerboy doesn’t offer you “authentic” street food that you’d get from Bandung or Hanoi. It’s a more “funked up” version that caters to Melbourne’s young and hip crowd using all sorts of fresh and exciting ingredients taken from all sorts of Southeast Asian cuisines that culminate into one very distinctive “cuisine” simply known as Ezardese. Of course, that means that the food is 10 times more expensive that the $2 dumplings you might find on the streets of Pattaya but that doesn’t mean that you should shun Gingerboy like some of my fob friends do because they say that they can get much cheaper and much more “authentic” food back home.

Another thing that prevents Asians from going here is because the owner is an Aussie. Just because he ISN’T Asian, doesn’t mean he can’t cook Asian food. The notion that you HAVE to be Asian to be able to make good Asian food is absurd. I know lots of Asians who can’t book anything beyond a simple bowl of 2 min noodles. And I have a mate who is from a Northern Greek Macedonian background whose mother cooks the most amazing Peking duck and Singapore fried noodles, even better than a lot of the stuff that many Asian restaurants can come up with. So there.

Okay, back to the review. We rocked up at 6pm and proceeded to be amazed at the awesome architecture that greeted us. The decor consisted of black bamboo rods that lined the walls and little blue fairy lights were scattered all over the ceilings and some of the walls to give the place a “magical” feel. The tables were dark and polished and the chairs, which were apparently $600 each, were effing uncomfortable as they were hard but it was nothing to make a big fuss about. I guess what Ezard wanted to achieve with this look was to re-create a 1950s Shanghai tea-room. Very stylish, very funky – and I’m talking about both the room and the people. It’s like you HAD to be young and hot to be able to eat here. Like I said, my awesomeness and hotness(sic) could be detected through the phone when I was making the booking, haha!

While we were waiting for Tim to hurry up and get here from work, we ordered some cocktails. I had the gingergirl cocktail ($16) which was a lemongrass infused vodka mixed with ginger, coriander, and pineapple juice. I suppose it’s more of a “summery” cocktail but who cares, I like pineapple and coriander so shut up. After finally learning that Tim was running an hour late, we decided to order without him first seeing as we had to be out by 8pm for the next lot of diners to arrive. For us, the $55 p/h banquet sounded good so we went for that. The waitresses told us that for a group of four, we’d get 4 entrees and 3 mains (shared dish) plus a dessert plate to share and coffee if we wanted to. And when Tim rocked up, we can just add on an extra main or something. We were able to choose our dishes from the a la carte menu or let the chef choose for us but I had my eye on a few of the menu items so I picked about 3 of the dishes and let the kitchen choose the rest. Although we ordered a banquet, I will include the individual a la carte prices of each dish as I do that with most of my reviews anyway.

Compliments from the kitchen. We got an appetiser of a taro chip topped with chilli jam, coriander and coconut. Although it was the size of a Verge entree (i.e. molecular-sized), it was one huge explosion of flavour which opened up our eyes so wide that we all looked like anime characters.
Son-in-law eggs ($4 each). I think every Southeast Asian mum can make this snack but Ezard’s version is what drives people to Gingerboy. The differentiating factor is that Ezard soft boils the eggs rather than cooks it until it’s hard so you get a soft goofy yolk that goes really well with the sweet and slightly tangy chilli jam. Sensational.
Oxtail pot sticker dumplings with Chinese black vinegar ($13.50 for three pieces, according to the menu).  It is rather unconventional to eat oxtail in dumpling form but I thought this dish was delightfully sweet and the delicate oxtail meat went well with the vinegar.
Crispy chilli salt cuttlefish ($12.50). Ohmygoodness, YUM! The cuttlefish was soft and chewy. The light-almost-tempura batter was fried to perfection. The chilli salt gave it so much awesome flavour. And there was some roasted sesame sprinkled on top to give it some nuttiness. There was a wedge of lemon provided which was tied up in some muslin to eventually spread out the lemon juice and to prevent the seeds from coming out. Genius!
Hervey bay scallops with Korean black bean dressing ($13.50 for three pieces). Although the dressing was more “soy sauce, lemon and mirin” rather than “black bean”, it was very nice. Aaron thought otherwise though, as he only had one bite before declaring that he hated scallops (it was his first time trying it) but that was fine with me – I ate the rest of his scallop happily, heh! (they WERE big scallops)


Digging in…


Birthday girl is loving it.

“So, in Vietnam they have this drink called snake wine right.. basically, they rip out the snake’s skin, take out its heart – which they force you to eat – and use its blood to make the wine. Guys drink it so that they can perform good in bed.”

Heh, love the look on Pat’s face!

It was time for the entrees but to be honest, we were actually starting to get full from the entrees. Not completely full to prevent us from eating the mains but full enough to be pleasantly surprised at how filling the entrees were even though it seemed like we didn’t eat much. A far cry from the Verge that me and Adam had last Saturday.
Coconut grilled trout with avocado and crab salad + roasted chilli dressing ($30.50). The trout was cooked slightly-longer-than-medium-rare which I liked (but Aaron didn’t). The chilli dressing was made out of that yummy chilli jam and infused with coconut milk. I didn’t taste much crab in the salad but then again, perhaps Pat hogged all the crab to himself so I wouldn’t know how much crab was in the salad .
Singapore noodles on coconut laksa topped with spiced vegetables ($27.50). This vegetarian dish was rather similar to Chiang main noodles, soup on the bottom and crunchy noodles on top. It had an amazing tangy flavour which almost made me want to drink the soup right out of the bowl. I loved the rich and sweet coconut broth which was accentuated by the sour tomato.

Red duck leg curry ($32.50). Four succulent pieces of duck legs were presented on a clean white plate, topped with some sort of tumeric and coconut sauce. The flavour was not much different to beef rendang sauce except that it was tangier and sweeter. The crispy shallots and the Thai basil added a beautiful fragrant aroma to a very yummy dish.

We also got 2 side dishes to go with our mains as part of the banquet. Above are the wok greens ($7.50) which were basically Asian vegies lightly stir-fried in oyster sauce.

Fried corn cakes ($7.50). My mum makes a decent version of these but I’m sorry mum, Gingerboy‘s were much more tasty . They were puffy rather than flat, soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Tim had arrived between the entrees and mains and we were going to order another main dish but frankly, we were all very full and didn’t think we needed another dish. So we went straight to dessert.

The dessert plate! How awesome does this look! *squeals*

L-R:  Taro icecream with fermented sticky rice pudding inside topped with fried lotus root, tofu cheesecake with lime jelly and glazed rhubarb, cinnamon sugared pineapple fritter with star anise ice cream, chilled chocolate pudding with chilli caramel and spiced pears, sweet potato bun with red bean filling.

They were all sooooo good, I was not able to choose a favourite!


Me and Aaron


A toast from The Great Patrick J Shilling

The total, for us five, only came to just under $260 including drinks. Foodwise, they only charged us for four people ($55p/h times 4 = $220) so Tim technically got a free meal. We saved a few dollars by doing the banquet thing rather than getting each individual dish separately. And if Tim had rocked up on time, he would have been counted as an extra head (so, $55 times 5) and we would have got one extra main and one extra entree. But we need not have done that as we were all very full so I’m glad that Tim rocked up late as I managed to save some money. Yay! I like Gingerboy. A very exciting and flavoursome meal. Would definitely do it all over again.We left at exactly 8pm on the dot and there was a huge queue of people waiting to get in for the 8pm session. Pat had to say goodbye to us to go to a farewell party which left me with Adam, Aaron and Tim. After a brief stopover at the bar in Sofitel (sorry, no photos), we went bar-hopping for the rest of the night.
@ Robot


Adam, me, and the retro game machine


Adam, me, Tim. Oh, and the retro game machine

(Yeah, Aaron was going Wong Gar Wai on us)


Hahahaha Mark Henderson! (geographical humour)
@ Rooftop Bar

Aaron-is-so-silly and me


Tim and me


Adam and me

What a great Saturday night! Not even the rain, Matt being sick, Tim being late and some random’s butt-awful black vinyl jacket could ruin the night. We may have gone to many bars (not included in photos are Atrium 35, Martini Bar and Sister Bella) but I only had one Asahi the entire time. Talk about showing restraint!

Damn, I feel like one of those son-in-law eggs again…

Gingerboy on Urbanspoon

10 Comments on Gingerboy

  1. icesabre
    May 18, 2008 at 07:46 (6 years ago)

    HOT DAMN!!!!!!!!

    Nice looking and possibly awesome tasting Food and 1, 2, 3, 4 5 Bars!!!!!

    Geez, it was raining hard last night too!

    Reply
  2. David142Perry
    May 18, 2008 at 09:04 (6 years ago)

    Wow, you and Adam must burn a lot of money eating out.  I can’t begin to imagine how much you must spend on that.  I’m not sure where you get the money from, any tips on how to afford so much eating out? hehe

    Reply
  3. s_l_v
    May 20, 2008 at 02:51 (6 years ago)

    You know what I’d love to go out on one of those dinner things with you and do my own reviews. I bet yours would be all detailed and fancy and mine would be “everything tasted weird and I made Lib come to Maccas with me afterwards and she called me a douchebag who doesn’t appreciate food and I squatted on the side of the road and cried into my Big Mac”.

    Happy birthday again though, looks like you had a blast

    Reply
  4. SNSAZN
    May 20, 2008 at 04:34 (6 years ago)

    @s_l_v - Hahahaha your comment’s gold! And I will do a detailed review on the McChicken I will have at Maccas and write about how squidgy the bun was, how cold the chicken was and how soggy the lettuce was. Hehhhhh.

    Reply
  5. sizns.
    May 23, 2010 at 12:53 (4 years ago)

    Gingerboy is among the few restaurants (e.g. Longgrain) that does a poor imitation of Asian food.

    How can “we fob asians” expect to pay a premium on a bastardized version of our food? (not to mention, cooked by the people who barely understand our culture).

    Singapore Noodles for $27.50? We “fob asians” are simply not suckers, if that’s what you’re implying.

    Reply
    • libishski
      May 23, 2010 at 18:15 (4 years ago)

      Hi sizns, thanks for your comment. If you read my entry properly, you will see that I wrote that Gingerboy does not pretend to offer “authentic” Asian fare. Instead, Teage Ezard is simply showcasing his interpretation (which is distinguished from ‘imitation’ as you put it) of Asian hawker food; his intention was never to reproduce hawker food exactly how it SHOULD be. Sure, he was not brought up in an Asian culture but like I said, that does not mean that he’s not allowed to open up a restaurant, offering dishes that have been Asian-inspired.

      I can understand peoples’ reactions towards the prices that Gingerboy charges for their dishes. Yes, it’s pricey and you certainly wouldn’t pay that much for hawker food. However, you’re paying for the service, atmosphere and top ingredients amongst other things, essentially an experience that one would not get from Singapore Chom Chom (I’m by no means dissing Singapore Chom Chom or any of those places, just saying that SCC and Gingerboy are two very different restaurants so people should adjust their expectations accordingly). Plus, there will always be people willing to pay those prices for that sort of food. At the end of the day, taste is obviously subjective and it all comes down to personal preferences. As an Asian myself, I like both authentic hawker food and I did enjoy Gingerboy very much. Obviously, not all Asians will agree with my view but I just thought that for them to simply dismiss Gingerboy without giving it a go makes me think that they’re somewhat closed-minded. I personally just don’t think that Asians should shun a place, simply because it’s run by a non-Asian nor should people avoid going to a particular fish and chip shop because it’s run by Asians.

      I have never been to Longrain but I’m really keen on giving it a go.

      Reply
  6. sizns.
    May 23, 2010 at 21:16 (4 years ago)

    hello, Thanks for clearing that up. My apologies for coming across harsh, because I was somewhat offended when I came across that statement, (because I do fall into the category of being thrifty). I certainly do respect that everyone do have different tastes etc.

    I suppose that people go to places like gingerboy, longrain etc for the atmosphere (just like why people go clubbing). However I am still skeptical of such places which overcharge for food, since I think that for average punters, there are better venues out there which will provide a better experience. By no means am I implying that the high end market is a rip-off, (In fact, I’m currently planning on going to some the St. Pellegrino Top Restaurants) The main reason I made a comment was because of my skepticism that the reputations of these restaurants are rather more commercialized.

    Reply
    • libishski
      May 27, 2010 at 00:08 (4 years ago)

      No wories, sizns. I must also admit that I tend to use the word ‘fob’ quite a far bit in this blog which might offend some people so I’ll tone it down a little bit.

      I like going to places like Gingerboy etc but I like going to more ‘authentic’ Asian places just as muc. In saying that, although I liked Gingerboy, I did not like Coda (which offers a similar concept). Like I said, it all depends on personal tastes and how much you’re willing to spend on food (for me, a lot because I love my food so much as you can tell!). And yes, I will agree with your comment re: some high-end places being a bit of a rip-off, especially those who have somehow received a hat or two when there are better restaurants (in my opinion) who miss out on these sorts of accolades.

      Reply
  7. CJ
    August 13, 2010 at 16:03 (4 years ago)

    love your reviews. by the way, im singaporean and there is not such thing as singapore fried noodles in my country! its a western invention! anyway keep writing.
    cheers

    Reply
    • libishski
      August 25, 2010 at 21:45 (4 years ago)

      Hi CJ,

      Thanks for stopping by. I had no idea that Singapore noodles were a Western invention – that’s very surprising. It’s a great one though, I must admit :)

      Reply

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