9 November 2023

Drunken Tiger Takeaway brings casual Asian fare to Melba

| Lucy Ridge
Jiwoo wears a black Drunken Tiger branded shirt and yellow necktie and smiles as he hands a paper bag across the counter.

The takeaway style of Drunken Tiger means the team is focused on speed and flavour. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

The opening of a suburban takeaway shop wouldn’t usually get a food writer particularly excited, but Drunken Tiger at Melba shops is no ordinary takeaway.

Jiwoo Kim and partner Amy opened Cafe Mamé at Melba shops in 2020, trading fine dining kitchens for their own suburban cafe. Despite opening their doors amid COVID restrictions, they’ve quickly become a local favourite, and they had soon set their sights on a vacant shop front nearby.

Teaming up with Amy’s brother Kay Kwon, they opened Drunken Tiger – an Asian takeaway with a difference. There’s a small menu on offer that crosses cuisines and cultures for dishes jam-packed with flavour that can be served up fast.

“I didn’t want to stick to one country’s cuisine because it limits us and we want to play with lots of ingredients. It’s good for the staff and the customers,” Jiwoo told Region.

“And I get bored easily!”

Chef in black with a fiery wok in a stainless steel kitchen.

The woks are flaming at Drunken Tiger takeaway in Melba! Photo: Lucy Ridge.

The first menu ranges from Schezuan Dan Dan noodles to Korean pork and kimchi fried rice and Thai beef salad. The plan is to develop and change the menu based on seasonality and also to respond to demand from customers. Jiwoo says that as they gain the trust of customers, he wants to bring more traditional and ‘home-style’ Asian meals to Canberrans who may not have experienced these dishes in other restaurants.

“We chose easily accessible dishes to start with, but we’ll slowly start adding a bit more colour to it. There’s so much street food and traditional foods that we love, so we thought we’d start off slowly and then start getting into Asian cuisines more deeply,” he said.

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For now, they’re focussing on speed and flavour. The takeaway style of service means they need to work quickly, but they’re happy with how things are going so far. And Jiwoo says they’ve had “massive” community support: it’s not uncommon for someone to grab takeaway for dinner and then come in for their morning coffee at Cafe Mamé raving about the food!

A crunchy dumpling with takeaway containers of yummy food

All the dishes travelled well (even the fried chicken kept its crunch). Photo: Lucy Ridge.

When I visited to try out Drunken Tiger’s takeaway, there was a customer ordering who had returned two nights in a row because she was such a fan of the food.

Music pumps out of the speakers as the team sends flames whooshing around the busy wok station. A teenager rolls their eyes as Dad has a boogie to some classic funk while they wait for dinner.

I ordered Tofu and Chive Dumplings, Soy Garlic Fried Chicken, Dan Dan Beef Noodles and the Seafood Pad Thai to share with my housemate and it was ready surprisingly fast!

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Transporting fried foods can often have disappointing, soggy results, so I am delighted that the fried dumplings and the fried chicken are still satisfyingly crunchy when I get home! The dumplings come with a dipping sauce and make a delicious starter. The fried chicken is very tasty and, like many items on the menu, is also gluten-free. It comes with a generous container of pickled daikon radish.

I love a good Pad Thai, and this one definitely lives up to my expectations. The flavours are fresh with plenty of garlic chives, bean sprouts and a wedge of lime. There’s a generous amount of prawns and squid throughout the noodles.

Four cardboard takeaway containers with yummy looking food.

The dishes we chose were all winners. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

The Dan Dan noodles were a popular menu item at the pop-up dinners the team held earlier in the year. The thin wheat noodles come with beef mince, peanuts, pickled vegetables and a delicious sesame paste and Szechuan chilli sauce. It’s a comforting dish that results in a pleasant numbing sensation on the tongue as the Szechuan chillies take effect.

I’d go back for any of the dishes again, and my only disappointment is that Drunken Tiger isn’t located at my own local shops!

Drunken Tiger is located at Melba Shops, shop 1/8 Melba Court. They are open from 5 pm to 8 pm Monday through Saturday. Follow Drunken Tiger on Instagram, and check out their current menu on their website.

Original Article published by Lucy Ridge on Riotact.

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