All hail Chalawan; the Crocodile King, and the delicious croctails and Thai-fusion eats that come with him. Or rather, the recently-opened Smith St eatery named after the croc king.
But the crocodile element doesn't stop there at the name of the venue or their cocktails, with the theme also carried out throughout the funky interior and decor of the establishment. The connection didn't click immediately but closer inspection definitely gave off the impression of being inside a crocodile, minus the arrrrrgh sensation if you were to find yourself inside an actual crocodile...
Part bar and part gastropub, Chalawan manages to wow with both their drinks (croctails all the way) and food menus, and brings something fairly unique and exciting to Collingwood's electrifying eating and drinking landscape. My encounter with Chalawan took place at their launch event and the evening kicked off with some tasty Dear Jasmine croctails. Featuring a blend of Bombay Dry Gin, pavan, banana liquey, cinnamon, citrus, Jasmine and sparkling water, the cocktail was immensely vibrant and refreshing in flavour.
We were also treated to a selection of canape servings of their regular menu and these included:
- Pla pla - Bonito Kingfish ceviche with roasted chilli jam and roasted coconut flake.
- Tom kha hoy shell - pan seared Canadian scallops with crispy mushrooms, radishes and pomegranate on frothy tom kha broth.
- Hoy tord - deep fried freshly shucked Coffin Bay oysters served with lightly pickled beansprouts, Chalawan's smoked chilli sauce and Chinese chives.
- Khai loog koey - poached, then fried, Willowzen pasture fed free range egg served with crunchy green salad, dressed with caramelised palm sugar and tamarind juice dressing.
- Kanom jeen neua - 10 hours braised O'Connor beef cheek green curry with rambutan and Thai rice noodles.
The combination of quality ingredients and an east-meets-west vibe was a constant throughout the dishes we had tried. I'm quite picky when it comes to Thai (and Thai-fusion) food as it takes quite a bit of skill to execute that delicate balance between spicy, sweet and sour, but the culinary team at Chalawan do very well to tick this box. Favourites included the silky plump scallops teamed with a delicately battered enoki mushrooms and fragrant and spicy tom kha foam, and the fried oysters. I anticipate a return visit some time soon for the fuller version of these dishes...
102 Smith St,
Collingwood, Victoria, 3066.
(03) 9078 9532
Disclosure: I attended the launch event as a guest of Chalawan and Zilla & Brook Publicity and Production. All opinions expressed in this post are based entirely on my experience and observations made during the time of my visit.