Thursday, 11 February 2010


“Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.” - Voltaire

This very difficult week fortunately has passed and I can look forward to some relaxation at the weekend to recover. We have had a staff development retreat as well as a two-day workshop, where 45 of our academic staff have attended from all over the nation. Fortunately all went well and they gave very positive feedback about their attendance. All was organised very well and I have had some great help from my colleagues. As well as that, we have had the book launch, we had a group of 40 Korean students come in for a short course, had to entertain some business contacts from the USA and in the midst of all of this, a family member had to have a minor operation, which fortunately went well also.

Last Monday night my boss took us (the American business contacts, two directors and me) out to dinner. We went to a restaurant in one of the Melbourne lanes, called “Gingerboy”. It is located at 27 Crossley St, off Bourke St in the City and the style of food served is inspired by Southeast Asian very genteel street cuisine. The food was delicious and while spicy, never terribly hot, very tasty, sometimes surprising and always extremely well presented.

The restaurant has a wonderful ambience and the décor is very modern, yet draws on classic Asian materials and themes. Bamboo and rich red fabric feature prominently, but there are some surprises. For example, the bamboo-screened walls and ceiling are lit with hundreds of tiny lights giving the appearance of a starry sky. The tables are wooden and there are some interesting light fittings that are Asian retro (like something out of the “World of Suzie Wong”). There is a bustling vivacious feeling in the place but at the same time there is warmth and intimacy. Our guests loved the place in terms of both food and décor.

What did we have? Well the restaurant prides itself on banquet-style food presentation with much sharing occurring on each table. Theoretically, we had three courses with entrées, mains and desserts served. For entrées, we chose the following:

•    Son-in-law eggs with chili jam and Asian herbs
•    Coconut chicken salad with chili, green beans, peanuts and mango
•    Blue swimmer crab wontons, nuoc cham with beanshoot salad
•    Spring Bay scallops with smoked chili and black bean dressing
•    Crispy chili salt cuttlefish with lemon and roasted sesame
•    Steamed wagyu and bamboo dumplings, cashew chilli soy
•    Duck san choi bao with water chestnuts and lup cheong
•    Deep-fried spicy corn fritters.

The main course selections were:
•    Roasted kingfish in banana leaf with lemongrass and ginger curry
•    Red duck leg curry, shallots, Thai basil and coconut cream
•    Spicy Penang chicken curry with turmeric, garlic and mint yoghurt
•    Slow roasted lamb with jungle curry, sweet potato and kang kong
•    Steamed jasmine rice

We then shared dessert platters which included:
•    Cinnamon sugared battered banana fritters with baileys ice cream
•    Tofu cheese cake with panadan jelly, poached apple and dried mandarin
•    Toasted coconut slice with spiced strawberry, lychee and fresh mint
•    Steamed lemongrass pudding with white chocolate and chili ice cream
•    Raspberry and passionfruit splice with mint jelly

We drank some excellent Semillon Blanc with our meal and I must admit that I was very impressed with the cuisine and especially (this is saying something for an Asian restaurant!) the desserts, which were the biggest pleasant surprise for me. Asian restaurants are not renowned for their desserts and what little they have (banana fritters, ice cream or lychees, usually) are terrible. Gingerboy’s desserts were delectable and certainly ended an excellent meal with a bang, not a whimper!

Price-wise, the restaurant is not cheap, but certainly good value. For a three-course meal, allow $100 per person, including wine. Much of the fun comes from going there with friends and ordering lots of different dishes, so that each person samples a large variety of different dishes as we did in a dégustation-type dinner. I recommend this restaurant most highly, so if you are in Melbourne try it out!

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful meal, Nic!!! Sounds delicious. If I visit Melbourne will you take me to dinner there????