Where: 27-29 Crossley St, Melbourne
When: Mon-Fri 12pm-2:30pm, Mon-Sat 5.30pm-late
Contact: (03) 9662 4200
Nestled in a quintessential cobbled alley, Gingerboy is a glittery, high-end Melbourne favourite serving “modern south-east Asian street-food”. The venue has an exciting bar-vibe; low lights, dark smooth furnishings and bar-staff who’s drink knowledge is rivalled only by their personability. If you’re after a special night out, this is a good place to start.
On the drinks menu are some exciting cocktails as well as several crisp beers, including a mango beer (a little like a cider), to compliment the spicy food. The menu itself is designed for sharing and it is handy to know that sizes can be modified to suit the number of guests, for example: a plate of three dumplings can be changed to four or five if required. There is an entirely separate vegetarian menu, which is provided upon request.
Prawn and Ginger Dumplings, Peanut Chili Soy ($15)
Son in Law eggs ($13.50)
To start we ordered the Prawn and Ginger Dumplings, Peanut Chilli Soy ($15) and the Son in Law eggs ($13.50). The dumplings were just incredible; luscious and fresh and had a surprise hint of chilli in addition to the spicy soy. Son in Law eggs, notoriously tricky to pull off due to being soft boiled inside and carefully fried on the outside, were not good simply because they were barely warm. They hadn’t been on the plate very long but still the insides were tepid, which is a real game changer for runny yolks. The accompanying chilli jam was fantastic, just make sure it doesn’t get left behind on the plate when you excitedly snatch your egg away.
Following the entrées we indulged in one of the specials; pieces of deep-fried crab with a zesty, very savoury salad of fennel, red onion and herbs. The crab’s buttery flesh melted in mouths, although some thought the batter was a little heavy. Servings were quite small, with only really a little finger of meat per person.
Also eaten were the Fried Sticky Rice Balls, Chilli and Coconut Caramel ($13) which weren’t nearly as fantastic as their mouth-watering description. The balls were flavourless and stuck in teeth while the sauce couldn’t easily be mopped up by them so it didn’t come together very well.
Next up was the Fried Silken Tofu, Blackbean Chilli Soy, Crisp Asian Coleslaw ($32) which was very sweet and very delightful. Silken tofu takes on an entirely new feel when deep fried, with a crispy outside and a warm creamy explosion inside.
Surprisingly the humble Wok Greens ($8.50) we had on the side was my favourite dish. They’d been infused by a smoky wok and perfectly accented by a touch of oil and fresh bean shoots.
Fried Silken Tofu, Blackbean Chilli Soy, Crisp Asian Coleslaw ($32)
Deep-fried Crab Special
Fried Sticky Rice Balls, Chilli and Coconut Caramel $13
To finish, we indulged in dessert share plate ($39.50) which contained all of the following: south eastern mess of strawberries, passionfruit, mandarin sorbet, chilled toasted coconut pudding with black sesame and chocolate soil, cinnamon sugared banana fritters with pandan ice cream, chilli peanut parfait and choc coated freeze dried fruit, vanilla and rhubarb compote with cashew crumble. All this felt like more of a visual performance than anything. All the flavours were surprisingly subtle, particularly the ice-creams. Even the chocolate dessert didn’t have a lot of depth to it. The exception to this was the rhubarb and custard which managed a perfect marriage of sweet, tart and creamy.
Gingerboy does feel like a special experience both in atmosphere and food creativity but some of the dishes lacked the real intensity of flavour from the traditional cuisines which inspired them. It is also important to consider the price tier Gingerboy are playing in, which has brought the food rating down slightly. The staff is professional and attentive although very serious and really could have been warmer.
Dessert Share Plate ($39.50)