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One of the last major food adventures that took place during Laiwah’s summer visit (sorry folks, I’m a little behind at the moment) was at Gingerboy. With the restaurant on both our to-visit lists for well over a year, I decided to surprise Laiwah with a lunch. Surprise mission accomplished; Laiwah had no idea as to where we going until we turned onto Crossley St and saw the sign.
Much like their menu, which draws inspiration from both Modern Australian cuisine and Asian hawker street food, the very sleek and stylish interior also possessed elements that feature in both types of restaurants. The lighting was similar to that of a planetarium.
*Note. the Gingerboy menu has since changed, and some of the dishes described below may not be available.
Both the cocktail and mocktail concoctions were fruity and refreshing; perfect for summer.
Hanoi style prawn and ginger rice paper rolls - with nuoc cham.
When the dish was first placed in front of us, I immediately noticed that the rice paper rolls had been deep fried. It was not expected, but turned out to be a pleasant surprise, adding a spring roll-like texture to the rolls. And who doesn’t like a spring roll? With the rice paper being so thin, the resulting texture after a good frying was that of a crunchy crispiness. Encounters with the ginger were occasional, but the lingering taste from the ginger-laden portions flavoured the remaining ginger-less clumps of minced prawn.
Tempura oysters - with shredded iceberg and prik nam pla.
The tempura batter was incredibly delicate, and its crispy texture contrasted beautifully with the creamy oyster underneath. The oysters were served with a zesty, lemony sauce that worked perfectly with the batter and natural oyster flavour. Demonstrating how tasty this morsel was: Laiwah isn’t usually a fan of oysters, but thoroughly enjoyed Gingerboy’s version.
Wagyu beef tataki - with black bean and chilli soy, and crisp asian coleslaw.
Riddled with fat, the marbled wagyu was super tender and immediately melted as soon as it was in the mouth. When they used the word ‘crisp’ on the menu to describe the coleslaw, they meant it. The shredded carrot and daikon strips had been deep fried to the extent of a chip-like, crunchy perfection. The accompanying soy sauce was too salty, but when dialled back a notch (by smearing away the excess), the flavours complemented the beef. For the pieces that hadn’t soaked up any of the sauce, the comparatively blander flavour from the coleslaw also helped balance out the extreme saltiness.
Son in law eggs - with chilli jam and asian herbs.
The eggs were the most highly anticipated item out of everything that we had ordered, but fell short. We were directed by our waitress to put the whole egg into our mouths to enjoy the yolk explosion. A difficult feat for someone who normally cuts everything into pieces, but I managed to do it. Cooked well, the fried exterior was crispy, while the egg white was silky smooth. The egg yolk did indeed explode and oozed. With the bland egg relying on the chilli jam for flavour, it was the jam that was the disappointing aspect for the dish. Not quite spicy and not quite sweet, it just wasn’t enough…
Cone bay barramundi - with lemongrass and ginger curry, and young coconut salad.
Laiwah: “I find it funny that we ordered a fish dish.”
I completely agree with the statement since we’re both not the biggest fans of fish. But we had chosen the dish based on a recommendation Laiwah had received from a friend who had dined at Gingerboy previously. Verdict? Just after one bite, we could see why this was the case. We were both blown away by the great quality, preparation and taste of the fish. The skin possessed great crispiness, while the tender flesh practically fell apart. The curry was sweet and fragrant, and the salad, which featured sliced young coconut flesh with coriander, lemongrass, red onion and grapefruit, was refreshingly light. In both textures and flavours, all components worked in perfect unison with one another.
I myself have recommended this dish to other friends a couple of times since this visit!
Crispy fried sweet corn cakes (side).
The corn cakes were average, and quite floury in the centre. Encounters with corn kernels resulted in juicy bursts of sweetness, but I would have liked more kernels, especially to counteract the dryer flouriness of the filling.
White chocolate and tamarind parfait - with chilli raspberry caramel.
This was not your typical parfait, and it was the unusual flavour pairing that made this dish so intriguing. The parfait’s texture was similar to that of a dense but fluffy and creamy mousse. Its tamarind flavour was not too sweet. Although seemingly contrasting, the sweet and sour raspberry caramel sauce worked wonders with the tamarind parfait. A spicy sensation lingered at the end of every bite after the sweeter flavours had faded, and much like everything else in the dish, I found it both odd and enjoyable.
Vanilla tofu cheesecake - with mandarin jelly and freeze dried fruit.
The texture of the tofu was quite creamy and smooth, and the vanilla flavour potent and fragrant. I would like to think that the tofu made this dessert healthier than the cheese equivalent. Or at least marginally healthier. That’s what we told ourselves anyway… The mandarin jelly added a citrusy tang, and the cinnamon and sesame flavour in the toasted, but soggy, sesame base was very distinct. I would have preferred the standard biscuit base that comes with most cheesecakes. The component that stood out the most on this dish was easily the freeze-dried lychees. They were dry and crunchy, and still oozed of lychee flavour.
With a menu that showcases a more refined, but just as delicious, take on hawker-style food, and fortunately not too much ginger (I was fairly certain that ‘Gingerboy’ was just a name, but one can never be too sure…), a visit to one of Melbourne’s best Asian fusion restaurants is a must. Especially for that divine barramundi curry dish…
29 Crossley St,
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.
(03) 9662 4200