It's the red neon signage that hails you down the depths of Crossley Street. This restaurant's distinct identity — created in collaboration with Studio Round and with a fit-out by Elenberg Fraser — and unique consideration for the fusion between contemporary food and design is what makes Gingerboy one of Melbourne's most exciting dining destinations. Since 2006, it's been the leader of the pack, quietly showing the rest how it's done. Like a beacon of light, there's nothing you can do but follow the red glow and go down the rabbit hole.
Part opium den, part cosmopolitan outpost, Gingerboy is dark, seductive and thoroughly chic. Black tables juxtapose ghost chairs, whilst a tactile bamboo wall provides an element of the exotic. Dim lighting keeps your senses alert and, against this backdrop, Gingerboy's refined approach to South East Asian hawker-style fare bursts for attention.
Gingerboy is an experience in new flavours and spices, making it particularly worth the visit if you're finding your own home fare a little bland. With the menu broken down into small and larger dishes that are ideal for sharing, it reads as a sharp and varied introduction to the buzz of an Asian hawker market. Ingredient combinations are individually delicate yet imposing when combined, including a moreish coconut chicken salad ($17) and a thoroughly impressive whole fried baby snapper, with roasted chilli lime dressing, mango and coconut ($38). Deboned before your eyes, it's likely to be devoured within minutes. Just like its dimmed interior, the deeper you dive into the darkness of the menu at Gingerboy, the greater your reward.
Dessert cools the palette, but Gingerboy's sugar banana fritters with star anise ice cream ($16) are nothing like your local Asian takeaway joint. Airy and delicately sweet, appreciate the generous serving as you'll be licking your fingers for more. Finish this with service that is attentive, knowledgeable and beautifully inconspicuous, and suddenly, this den is yours.
Gingerboy is energetic, exciting and bold. It's clear that a few years in the game has allowed for the ambitious concept to be refined to near-perfect practice. Gingerboy is one of the few places in Melbourne that hits sizzling style with class and character, merging the tastes of a global city with a distinctly Asian twist.