Mr Nice Guy is a lively Thai restaurant that stays true to traditional Thai flavours but gives them a modern twist. We encountered adventure and a passionate team who enjoy their creative license in the kitchen. These are the guys that impress at Middle Fish and have taken their prowess deep in to business and legal territory in the Melbourne CBD.
Pla Liamthong is a bubbly and savvy operator with a sense of humour and a penchant for exciting Thai cuisine. She and partner David Haltner (Mr Nice Guy) are a tour de force and have opened this restaurant with business partners.
I was treated to a bloggers evening at Mr Nice Guy and it was a great night all round. For a start it's fun hanging out with fellow bloggers, all foodies, and many of whom are professionals in their day jobs. Upon entry to Mr Nice Guy I was offered a fragrant tea by David. The Wine and beer selection is excellent here but the teas are gaining a reputation.
I was then appreciative of the funky fit out including creative lighting and colourful tiled walls and tables. Thai artist Torlarp Larpjaroensook has used actual Thai bathroom tiles for this project to great effect. Mr Nice Guy is modern and quirky and has a cultural feel to it.
We were then given a masterclass in Thai cooking in the open largish kitchen. The Chef sourced authentic Thai flavours to marinate the meat. It was all about the masterstock. Aromas were incredible as this stock simmered away on the stove. While Middle Fish concentrates on Southern Thai, Mr Nice Guy also breaks out into other Thai regional styles and flavours.
In the kitchen is Shanghainese chef Jiaqi ''Will'' Tang, who has experience at Cafe Vue, Vue de Monde and Maze. I'm wondering whether the Vue De Monde experience accounts for the foam techniques?
Mr Nice Guy has designed a menu that encourages shared dishes - again a departure from traditional Thai eating.
Mr Nice Guy serves up a plethora of delightful Bar Snacks such as Mushroom spring rolls (that's fusion right here), Pacific Oysters, Chicken ribs and Fish Cakes (fusion is in the chunky texture, unlike usual Thai fishcake mash). These bar snacks were delectable and I particularly enjoyed the spices on the chicken ribs.
The salads were fresh and a pleasing balance of flavours and textures.
The Home smoked Tasmanian salmon below was a stunner with the quality of Salmon to the fore, along with Coconut Reduction, Baby Beetroot and Pickles to accompany. Utterly enjoyable in its nod to Tasmanian salmon and its match with Thai flavours.
Technique was displayed in spades with the Hurstbridge Pork belly, Kha Na, Chilli-Garlic, and a coup de gras of Oyster Sauce Foam. I have to say I'm still into foams and the presentation of this dish was first class. The Pork belly had been cooked for 12 hours and given light spices - and was melt in your mouth. I can say I've never seen foam served in a Thai dish before and I like it. And yes the crackling was crunchy.
One of my favourites was the spectacular and spicy Grilled baby barramundi with Asian salad and Nam Jim. Under the skin of the Barra was some serious heat with high octane kang som paste, ginger, leek and lemongrass. I love the trend of Thai restaurants not to dumb down the spice. Hit me! Poking away at the flesh of the Barra I reflected on how Barra is so versatile across cuisines. It has that sublime buttery sweetness.
Mr Nice Guy exhibit attention to detail in all areas including sauces and condiments that accompany to perfection.
Another highlight was the Mr Nice Guy Famous Chicken with Spicy cauliflower, leek and jus. The juicy chicken hums and purs on the palate.
Desserts were also a crowd pleaser including Lemongrass cheesecake (another fusion triumph) and smoked pineapple.
Check out the funky decor and table arrangement.
And these colourful vibrant dining spaces.
Come here for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Yes Mr Nice Guy delivers on Thai style breakfast options such as Home-smoked lemongrass cured salmon.
Mr Nice Guy is a standout in terms of Thai cusine in Melbourne. What you find here is a passionate dedicated team and a symphony of fusion flavours that makes this a compelling culinary destination.