31 May 2023

First Looks: Tiger Lane's grand opening ... and they're not done yet

| Lucy Ridge
Colourful bar with shiny steel surfaces

Tiger Lane transports you to another world – and the food is seriously good. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

The next stage of the hotly anticipated Tiger Lane has been unveiled with a grand opening of five hawker stalls and Chinese restaurant Mrs Wang.

Last week’s launch event featured Chinese dragon dancing and drumming as guests got their first glimpse of the space.

The urban streetscape buzzes with energy and light from the moment you step across the light-up floor. The street food space is a visual cacophony of neon lights, flashing LED screens and kawaii (cute) motifs wherever you look.

Roast meats hanging behind glass

Lucky Duck serves traditional Cantonese roast meats by weight or as part of a meal. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

For the opening night, guests were treated to small-tasting portions of the hawker stall meals. Golden Panda serves up chewy dumplings, fried rice, and an incredible char kway teow, a dish of flat rice noodles with Chinese sausage, prawns and bean sprouts. Thanks to the chefs’ wok hei (literally, wok breath) skills, the noodles are imbued with a smokey heat.

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Traditional Cantonese BBQ meats hang in the window of Lucky Duck. Try the roast duck with rice or the char siu pork noodles with wonton. Seat yourself at the tables under the Tokyo Metro bus stop or perch at the bar while you enjoy the vibrant, authentic flavours.

Inari Express and Blowfish are attached to the main kitchen of executive chef Shaun Presland’s flagship restaurant Inari.

Blowfish has a selection of sushi rolls ranging from salmon and avocado, to bacon and egg. Inari Express focuses on rice bowls with toppings like chicken teriyaki and pork katsu, as well as ramen and snacks like takoyaki octopus balls.

dish of chicken topped with a slice of lemon

The lemon chicken at Mrs Wang was a menu highlight. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

Sticky Beak is a deep-fried feast of fried chicken and Korean hot dogs. The fried chicken is the ideal combination of crisp and juicy, with a selection of sauces to choose from. Be warned: the chilli sauce packs a punch and will linger!

If you have room for something sweet, try out the flower-shaped fairy floss from novelty vending machines that spin the sugar in front of you. The hawker stalls are reasonably priced, and if the hustle and bustle of the neon-infused lane is getting a bit much, customers can escape up the spiral ramp to a more secluded seating area.

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In the far corner is the entrance to Mrs Wang, which oozes retro elegance. The hectic energy of the laneway fades as you enter a space bedecked with mirrors and brass-reflecting red ceiling lights. The interior captures nostalgia for the charm of the old-school Chinese restaurants I’d associate with Hong Kong and China Town in Sydney or Melbourne while still feeling modern.

Guests enjoyed a taster menu of just a few dishes that will be on offer at Mrs Wang. Tender, buttery scallops with black pepper are served on the shell with hazelnuts and vermicelli noodles to start. Entree dishes include a light beef tartare served with an airy rice cracker which swaps egg yolk for mayonnaise and gets a salty citrus kick from the preserved lemon. The ‘smacked’ cucumber salad with burrata is refreshing and light – it would make a nice contrasting side dish to accompany heavier dishes.

Chef Gerald Ong has developed a menu that celebrates the best of Australian-Chinese cuisine while remaining firmly rooted in the dining traditions of Shanghai. This is perhaps best exemplified in the lemon chicken dish, which might conjure up childhood memories of oily chicken dripping in a sickly sweet sauce. But Chef Ong’s dish is a grown-up rendering of the classic: a crisp exterior surrounds juicy meat with a lightly covered in a fragrant, fresh sauce served on chewy barley. The Chong Qing lamb belly comes with a terrifying amount of whole, dried chillies, which lends the lamb a smokey heat and depth of flavour.

Mrs Wang entrance

Mrs Wang is run by chef Gerald Ong and named after owner Lin Wang’s mother. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

While there’s a strong novelty element to the fit-out of Tiger Lane, the quality of the food is seriously high. The chefs and culinary team have put together a wide-ranging selection of dishes that are worth returning for, whether it’s a casual meal or fine dining feast.

There’s still more to come later this year at Tiger Lane. Rumour is that anyone with a sweet tooth should be excited … stay tuned.

Follow Tiger Lane on Facebook or Instagram to stay up to date. Tiger Lane is located in the Canberra Centre, at 148 Bunda Street, City. The street food stalls are open seven days a week from 11 am until late.

Original Article published by Lucy Ridge on Riotact.

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