Gingerboy has made the transition from hot young thing to established star with aplomb
The fact that nearly ten years after opening Gingerboy is packed by 7pm on a wintry Tuesday night suggests that snappy Asian flavours, sharp service and schmick surrounds hold lasting appeal.
Gingerboy is like a glamorous bat cave: its black bamboo walls, transparent ‘ghost’ chairs and red chandelier sit bewitchingly in the gentle gleam of fairy lights that dot the ceilings and walls. Young, assured and vigilant, the staff cruise the room, happy to act as knowledgeable Sherpas guiding you through a hawker-style food menu that references the cuisines of Thailand, China and Malaysia.
Settle in with one (or two) cocktails. They’ve got swagger, and the bobbing hunks of ginger and generous slugs of chilli and lime deliver quite a zing.
Small, flavour-packed snacks get the taste buds revving. They tend to come in trios but you can add or subtract according to the size of your posse. Son-in-law eggs, with their gnarly brown exterior, are popular. Each should be consumed in one fell chomp to accommodate the yolk explosion, and throw in a mint or Thai basil leaf to cut through the gooey richness. Plump oysters are bound in a light tempura batter and accompanied by prik nam pla (Thai chilli sauce). If you want to resist the treasures of the deep fryer, the clean flavours of the pretty swordfish tataki, topped with avocado chunks and shiso, make virtue a pleasure.
On to bigger dishes, the green vegetable curry consists of an uncommon combo of vegetables – cauliflower, baby leeks, chickpeas and fried lotus root. It’s sweet, creamy and you’ll want a straw for the gravy. An ocean trout special, with crisp skin and pink, succulent flesh, is freshened up with a salad of orange segments and bean shoots. You may not need corn cakes on the side, but if temptation wins out, you’ll find them fluffy on the inside, a little too tanned on the outside and a smidge oily.
Desserts all have Asian twists (chocolate tofu cheesecake!), and while the steamed banana pudding won’t blow your hair back, its soft coconut and palm sugar flavours make a soft-focus finale.
Sitting comfortably but not complacently in the niche it carved for itself almost a decade ago, Gingerboy has matured into a restaurant that knows exactly what it’s about – slick professionalism and glammed-up hawker food with big, bright flavours.