9 November 2022

Tiger Lane will bring 12 new eateries (and bars) to the Canberra Centre. Here's the hatted chef heading it up

| Michelle Taylor
chef at grill

Shaun Presland creating binchotan grill magic. Photo: Zachary Griffith.

The highly anticipated launch of Canberra Centre’s new dining destination, Tiger Lane, has brought acclaimed chef Shaun Presland to our city.

Tiger Lane will feature 12 dining outlets and bars split into different sections reflective of their cuisine and country of origin, including Japan, South Korea, Southern China, Northern China and South East Asia.

Having accumulated nearly as many chef hats in his 26-year career as he has fingers and toes, Shaun, in his new role as executive chef across the different outlets in Tiger Lane, is taking on menu creation and staff training.

The former Sake Brand executive chef says Canberra’s strong foodie scene has been a pleasant surprise.

“Tiger Lane will up the ante of the food scene in Canberra. I’ve come in to make sure the food is authentic and the flow-on from each venue has some natural causation, so dishes are not being repeated,” Shaun explains.

Beef with soy dressing and tomatoes

My favourite: the wagyu beef tataki in ginger soy dressing Photo: Zachary Griffith

When food opportunities were scarce after finishing his culinary training, Shaun decided to move to Japan, having never once tasted sushi or sashimi.

“My intention was to go over there for a year, study the language and then come back to the Gold Coast and get a job. But when I got there, I saw the food and thought, ‘Wow, this is insane!’ I got a job in a ryokan (Japanese inn) and fully immersed myself in the culture.”

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As Shaun explored, absorbed and learned ancient Japanese cooking techniques at the ryokan, nestled deep in the mountainous region of the Yamagata prefecture, that one year turned into two and a half. Shaun’s deep dive into the mastery of Japanese cuisine continued when he earned the opportunity to learn from master sushi and Japanese fusion chef Nobuyuki ‘Nobu’ Matsuhisa in his Bahamas restaurant.

Japanese food on plates

Some of the exquisite dishes from Tiger Lane Test Kitchen Photo: Zachary Griffith.

Shaun was the creative force behind the contemporary Japanese restaurant brand Sake in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. His fascination with Japanese cuisine endures.

“I’m still learning. Every day is a school day,” he says with a grin.

“The more you know, the less you know.”

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His modern fusion approach to Japanese cuisine is tempered with a deep respect and understanding of the cuisine’s foundations.

“You can only break the rules if you know the rules. For me, it comes from a strong discipline of being taught correctly by incredible Japanese chefs – learning, understanding and respecting the proper ways.”

Hot off the binchotan grill Photo: Zachary Griffith

Bela Kover, one of the consultants delivering Tiger Lane, says he is thrilled that Shaun has not only agreed to be involved in the project but is also so hands-on.

“Most multi-venue chefs don’t actually work in them, but Shaun is physically here, physically in-venue every day, which is pretty amazing!”

Tiger Lane deliciousness Photo: Zachary Griffith

The opening of Tiger Lane’s first venue, Taki, is imminent. Beautifully designed and themed on the Japanese animated fantasy film Spirited Away, Taki will offer an elevated hotpot experience and Japanese Yakiniku (flame-grilled beef).

On one side of the restaurant, tatami mats will provide a traditional dining space with a focus on hotpots, including Gyushiki, Wagyu shabu shabu hotpot; Yose Nabe, seafood lovers hotpot; and Chankonabe, a chicken and seafood hotpot.

The main dining room will shift focus to Yakiniku cooked over charcoal, with local and imported Wagyu – all complemented by a contemporary Japanese a la carte menu.

Drink in glass with flowers

The refreshing, very more-ish Konnichiwa spritz. Photo: Zachary Griffith

Tiger Lane’s Test Kitchen was open for two months, allowing diners to sample a set menu – a tantalising teaser of what to expect from Tiger Lane. When I dropped in on its last day, my meal was fantastic: imaginative flavour pairings and impeccable presentation. The beef tataki particularly delighted my tastebuds. Nearly translucent slices of tender Wagyu, their edges kissed by the flame of the binchotan grill, in a killer ginger soy dressing that was lush, salty umami perfection.

Tiger Lane is located in the Canberra Centre in the space formerly occupied by Fitness First on the ground floor below the cinemas. Follow Tiger Lane on Facebook to see when each new venue launches.

Original Article published by Michelle Taylor on Riotact.

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