Opening up an authentic Thai chef restaurant in Tel Aviv is unbelievably brave
At some point during our night at Tiger Lilly, I looked around thinking I might have stumbled into the cafeteria of a women's prison. It's not that I have an Orange Is the New Black overdose (I gave it up after 2 episodes). It's just that it seemed as though there were a lot of "girls' night outs" around. It got me thinking. The Ramat Hachayal area, even at night time, is a manly high-tech setting, and no, these ladies did not look like the kinds of women that would come to this kind of restaurant in search of a potential engineer husband; in fact, it's more likely that they left their engineers at home with the kids. Only then did I realize that Tiger Lilly's food is not only exciting (let's face it – up until that moment, I was busy enjoying its wonderful tastes), it is also light and healthy, so that even if one eats a little too much (and it is tempting), one wouldn't hate one's self the morning after. And these are qualities the smart gender can appreciate.
Opening up an authentic Thai chef restaurant in Tel Aviv is unbelievably brave. Downtown Tel Aviv Thai-House did that 20 years ago, and has been known since then as the restaurant that can teach the Thais how to stir-fry vegetables. The guys at Tiger Lilly are different, as they specialize in street food, Barzel Street for that matter, not downtown at all.
Tiger Lilly's design declares: "Thailand is here", but in a good way: brick walls, ceiling fans, ropes, bags, wicker baskets, all the right elements to create an authentic, warm, untiring atmosphere.
The menu includes starters, soups, wok dishes, curry dishes, fish and seafood, as well as main courses - it is clear that it was carefully considered. The dominant materials are exactly the ones that get our appetite and imagination stimulated at the Thailand street stands: coriander, basil and mint; coconut and coconut milk; peanuts, garlic, chili, ginger; sprouts and mushrooms – and we should also mention the fish, seafood, crispy pork meat, bobk choy and lemon grass.
So we started with some of the starters – Sum Tam is the famous green papaya salad with cherry tomatoes, peanuts, garlic, fish sauce, palm sugar, lemon and chili. It was fresh, rich and not too spicy. Tod Nam Pla is an intensive Thai dish made of crispy baby anchovy, coriander, cherry tomatoes, red onions, green onions and mint – an unflattering dish made for the adventurous palate and well rewarding at that. Pla Muk Kateam - calamari and calamari heads with green onions and garlic in crab sauce and coriander. The crab sauce gently complimented the calamari, while the garlic and green onions gave this beautiful dish a pleasant spiciness. I had my starters with Jacobson beer – Carlsberg's premium pale ale brand; its grapefruit scent moderated the food flavors richness and put out some hot fires.
For our main course we chose one meat dish and one seafood dish. Pad Kimao is stir-fried rice pages and chopped beef (also available with chicken / pork / tofu), garlic, basil, broccoli, peppers, champignons and green beans. It was a celebration of tastes and colors. Celery Pla Pad was composed of fried mullet fish in crab sauce, soy, shallots, celery and ginger. Here, too, the tasteful crab sauce and ginger were given the right dosage. This might be a good time to mention that most of our orders were assisted by our lovely waitress who took good care of us.
A delightful light dessert of tapioca, melon and mango sent us home happy and light as feathers.