Ancestry meets modernity – pan-Asian restaurant Tai Tai opens in South Bank
Mantle Hospitality Group already boasts a plethora of well-received dining concepts in its portfolio, but its latest addition might be the operation’s most personal eatery yet. Quietly opening earlier this week, Mantle Group’s Tai Tai is the newest eatery to join South Bank’s percolating dining scene – a restaurant immersed in ancestral history, traditional Chinese and South East Asian influences and an abundance of diverse flavours.
The term Tai Tai is a Chinese colloquialism for the head wife of an extended family unit – a revered head of the household whose role was partly to oversee the kitchen’s operations, source produce and work with the cooks to present incredible feasts. Jenny Mantle’s great, great grandmother was Tai Tai of her family unit, and it was her story and influence that formed the inspirational beginnings behind Jenny and her husband Godfrey’s newest culinary venture. Tai Tai is the latest venue from Godfrey and Jenny’s Mantle Group Hospitality (The Charming Squire, Pig ‘N’ Whistle, Jimmy’s on the Mall), a modern street-side eatery and bar that delivers a synthesis of influences from traditional Chinese cuisine and techniques adopted during Chinese migration through South East Asia in the 19th century.
Tai Tai is perfectly positioned on the corner of Russell and Grey Street – a mere stone’s throw from The Charming Squire at the base of the ABC Building. The 200-seater space has been conceptualised as an open-plan eatery, where street-side and interior dining both capture the natural flow of the bustling promenade. The main dining area, bar and kitchen are shielded by burnt timber, which has been imbued with black and gold brass touches. A curved wall – also made from burnt timber – encases the private ten-seat dining space, with artistic nods to Tai Tai’s ancestral origins tying the aesthetic together. At night Grey Street’s trees are illuminated by fairly lights, setting a suitably magical scene for balmy summer snacking.
The food and drink
Tai Tai’s menu incorporates Chinese, Malaysian, and Taiwanese cuisines, but creatively liberates each to establish a tantalising interplay of flavours. Tai Tai’s head chef Jicky Chow and sous chef Owen Liang (as well as their crack team of dim sum, wok and roasting specialists) are bringing new ingredient pairings to the table, shaking up a traditional Cantonese approach with some adopted techniques. One consistent thread across Tai Tai’s menu is its serviceability for large groups and shared dining. It’s not uncommon to see a table stacked with baskets of steamed dim sum, Jiangsu crispy skin duck, Xinjiang cumin lamb short ribs, spicy seared marmite king prawns, crispy whole barramundi and typhoon shelter Yangzhou fried rice – but these mouth-watering morsels are only a fraction of what’s on offer. Tai Tai’s food menu is matched in flavour and versatility by its drinks menu, which offers everything from dragon pearl jasmine tea, Australian wines, Chinese grain liquors, colourful cocktails, tap beers, artisan spirits and more.
Tai Tai is now open. For contact details and opening hours, click on over to Tai Tai’s entry in the Stumble Guide.
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