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The Flying Tiger
2958 West 4th Avenue
Hours: Mon-Wed, 5:30pm-11pm; Thu-Sat, 5:30pm-12am; Sun, 5:30pm-10pm
Driving along W 4th Ave, I’d spotted the sign for The Flying Tiger on more than a few occassions, and most of the time I just thought it was a tattoo parlour (from its interesting logo) or some kind of store selling Asian-themed goods or something. But this day upon closer inspection, I discovered that it was actually an eating establishment, and thus decided to check it out with some friends. The menu dubbed itself as being “modern Asian street food”, which kind of raised some concerns in the back of my mind as whenever the word “fushion” pops out, I tend to run for cover. Thankfully though, I was pleasantly surprised with most of the dining experience here, so let me go into some detail…
The menu consisted of about twenty items that were broken down into headings labelled “smaller” and “larger”, with a few “sides listed as well. Apparently the food is meant for sharing, which ended up being ideal so we could all sample bits and pieces of each dish. Obviously, the menu was trying to cater to the entire Asian continent with its liberal naming of items and tagging on the country where the inspiration was drawn from be it Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Korea, India, Vietnam, etc.
Began my meal with a refreshing cocktail called an Indian Summer, made up of Bombay Sapphire, ginger liqueur, berries, lime, and pineapple juice. Then the food began to arrive at our table one at a time, with long breaks of time in between (we’d gotten there early, so the place wasn’t yet busy but once it was full, the time between dishes took even longer, I’d say at least thirty minutes). It seemed like a very popular place from about 8pm onwards and reservations are a must as I saw many people getting turned away at the door (coincidentally, we had no reservation but got seated at the one table that was free at that time). Inside, it was quite dark, especially towards the back of the room. Music was playing at a good level though once the room filled up and conversations started everywhere, it got difficult to hear people sitting at your very own table. Very much a lounge-like atmosphere though quite laid back in terms of atmosphere and no attitude from servers (who also took time to explain each component of each dish as it arrived at our table, something that I appreciate).
Our first dish was the Crispy Thai Squid, which were crispy panko crusted slices of fresh squid, with a dip of sambal ($9). The breading was nice and light and not oily at all, and the squid was very well done, not that rubbery mess that you often find with frozen squid product. It came served in a simple white cup with some paper to absorb any excess oil. I’d recommend this item off the “smaller” side of the menu as a good appetizer to start your meal.
Next up came the Pulled Duck Confit Crepes ($16), served with a jicama and cucumber salad with Vietnamese coriander to add to your self-serve crepes. The aromatic hints of mint and basil in the confit contrasted well with the tender meat mixture. The bowl of duck confit had more than enough for the six crepes on the plate, but you could order more on their own, which we did as this dish was quite delicious. How can you go wrong with a flavorful protein cooked in its own fat?
Looking for some more substance, our next dish was the Humba Style Braised Pork Belly, a Filipino-style preparation which was braised in a sweet marinade which tasted like it contained some soy sauce, acid from some vinegar, bay leaf, garlic (not too strong though) and the obvious taste of star anise. On the side was a leaf wrapped up like a Japanese sushi maki, that was filled with some garlic fried rice (now this was very garlicky). The pork belly was again very tender as one would hope, and the rich flavors worked well with the more plain tasting fried rice (which was too dry on its own to eat). It wasn’t as easy to eat as the a fore mentioned duck confit.
Last came the Hawker Street Noodles ($14), made up of egg noodles, shiitake mushrooms, prawns, peas, and bok choy, that was stir fried in a sweet oyster-based sauce. Upon looking at it, it didn’t look too bad, but I was disappointed in the overall taste. The sauce was just too gluey and pulling the noodles out of the bowl was a challenge, as it ended up being this great big gooey clump of noodles. We didn’t end up finishing this at all, and perhaps it was one dish too many, or just a bad dish that was the wrong call.
So I can say that I was glad that I discovered what this establishment was all about, and was a nice venue to catch up with folks I hadn’t seen in a while. No big push from servers for you to leave after your meal and the bigger gaps in time before each dish arrived actually helped stretch out the evening and have a good long conversation over an interesting and for the most part, a good tasting meal.
Apologies for the lack of quality in the images this time around, the darkness of the room made it a real challenge to get any decent lighting (and I refuse to use a flash).
P.S. The Flying Tiger boasts that it is proud to offer natural, free-range meats, organic produce and wild, sustainable seafood and locally sourced (when available), so if you are into these food conscious aspects it should have some appeal.