If you’re missing the cool, contemporary take on Thai cuisine that was Chapel Street’s sadly departed Ayatana, have no fear, husband and wife duo Tony and Oh Rungpradit have popped up again north of the river in Collingwood, offering a more relaxed take on tradition in Johnston Street’s newest addition, Son In Law.
The name, of course, refers to the tamarind fried eggs with a sweet and sticky chilli sauce so familiar to any Thai food aficionados, but it’s also a clever play on the tip toe political struggle between a husband and his mother in law, particularly fraught in Thailand but certainly a universal occurrence.
“The name is quite funny,” Tony laughs. “It’s our answer to mum in law. My wife is the chef, and she has already picked up some recipes from her mum, always asking her to send recipes or to get some expert feedback when she tries out a new dish.”
As well as the obligatory eggs, bigger dishes on Son In Law’s menu include a twice-cooked crispy pork belly stir fried with chilli jam, kaffir lime, green beans and shoots as well as a slow braised beef Massaman curry or a steamed barramundi with wild ginger, mushrooms, choy sum and soy sauce.
Lighter bites take in crispy prawn betel leaf bites, pan-seared scallops with green apple and crispy soft shell crabs and tiger prawns served in a traditional Thai green curry. The green papaya salad is a firecracker for the brave and of course there are finger-licking veggie spring rolls too.
Son In Law is a good bit bigger than their previous spot, taking in a dedicated bar area and outdoor seating too, perfect as the sun starts to make its way back into Melbourne skies.
Just as the menu has some fun with traditional expectations, with the nifty inclusion of Thai fish patty sliders and braised beef tacos, the look of the joint, designed by Brand Works, is also more down to earth. Funky light fixtures pop against a bright yellow feature wall, with colourful art hung on a contrasting, exposed whitewashed brick one.
“The look is bright, fun and playful,” Tony says. “Chapel Street was quite serious dining, whereas Son In Law is more of a casual eatery at a cheaper price with bigger portions. It’s more drink focused too, with fun cocktails and craft beer.”
A PP island ice tea packs Sang Som Thai rum with the brandy, whisky and Frangelico while the Bloody Mary packs a punch thanks to the inclusion of Sriracha sauce. If you need a cool down, try the coconut ice, vodka and lime Samui Slushie. “We use Thai whisky and rum in our cocktails, so you get that spicy kick in the classics,” Tony says.
Beer-wise, they have Singha on tap and a host of bottled options like Little Creatures’ stout, Feral Brewery’s Hop Hog IPA and Hawthorn Brewing Company’s crisp, clean pilsner.
And if, like us, you need a dose of sugar to finish off your evening, Son In Law also has a fun dessert in their marshmallow and Nutella pastry puffs with crushed cashew nuts and a dollop of vanilla ice cream.
Image credit: Moja Moyo