Disclosure: I dined courtesy of Mr Nice Guy and Zilla & Brook.
Mr Nice Guy could be run by two of the nicest people in hospitality. Owned by the same people behind Middle Fish – Pla Liamthong and David Holtum – Mr Nice Guy came from a desire to do a night time trade, something that Middle Fish was restricted from for a long time.
Where Middle Fish serves more traditional Thai food, Mr Nice Guy’s focus is a bit more fusion – incorporating Thai flavours with more modern cooking techniques.
They recently they held a bloggers’ evening, with a group of us swarming the restaurant.
After a brief stop in the kitchen, where we were shown the brining process they use for meats, how they make the fish cakes, and a som tum demonstration, we settled in for a hearty meal.
First was an appetiser tasting plate, including fresh oysters, fish cakes, mushroom spring rolls, chicken ribs and pork neck skewers. Particular highlights for me were the chicken ribs and the pork neck skewers.
Here we have the som tum – shredded green papaya, chilli, tomato, green beans and carrot ($8.90). You can add your choice for protein: salmon, chicken, beef, tofu or pork belly for an additional cost (between $5.90 – $7.90). The som tum was nice enough, though I would’ve liked it to push the flavours a bit with more spiciness and more sourness.
I got more spiciness in the grilled baby barramundi with asian salad and nam jim ($29) though. The barramundi was stuffed with a very spicy paste. I loved it even though it was almost to my limit. 😀
In the following dishes, you can see the fusion element using more modern cooking techniques spoken about earlier.
Look at the home-smoked Tasmanian salmon ($17) with Siracha mayo, baby beetroots, pickled radish, black sesame cracker and sprinkled with dehydrated raspberry dust. The salmon was beautifully cooked, with a crunchy skin, and it was fun to incorporate all the elements of the dish into one mouthful.
The pork belly ($24) could’ve been a more classic dish, except for the addition of an oyster sauce foam. The meat was really very good – juicy, not too fatty, with a great crackling – and surprisingly the oyster sauce foam complemented it well.
(Surprising because sometimes foams seem pointless.)
And finally the last savoury – the Mr Nice Guy famous chicken with spicy cauliflower, leek and jus ($24 half / $38 whole). The chicken had been brined in a coconut milk mixture, flavoured with herbs and lemongrass. After brining it’s then slow cooked, resulting in very juicy and tender meat.
For dessert we were served the lemongrass cheese cake with smoked pineapple, containing a surprise element of pop rocks ($15). The smoked pineapple gave it a bit of a twist as well.
While there’s wine and beer available, there’s also Thai milk tea and coffee.
I thought the food at Mr Nice Guy was really good – I’d definitely head back. I also really liked the bright mish mash of colours and quirky little touches the restaurant has been fitted out in. So charming.
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Mr Nice Guy
Shop J, 535 Little Lonsdale Street
(Enter via Healeys Lane)
Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: 03 9973 1761