Thai Tastes

Tiger Lilly in Sarona Market launches a new dinnertime tasting menu

August 8, 2019 12:59
3 minute read.
Thai Tastes

Tiger Lilly. (photo credit: EREZ HARODI)

There are only a handful of full-service restaurants in Sarona Market (as opposed to the Sarona Compound), and only one that serves Thai food. Interestingly, the chef, Yanir Green – who is also one of the founders of the two sister restaurants in Sarona and Ramat Hahayal – is Israeli.

Tiger Lilly’s Sarona premises are long and narrow, with plain but sturdy wooden furnishings, plus a few al fresco tables, accessible only in the summer. The background music is Western, and occasionally loud; the overall decibel level can rise when the place gets full.

Although Tiger Lilly has been open for years, a recent innovation is an evening tasting menu – consisting of six dishes, rice and two desserts – meant to be shared by two people. The special menu, served daily from 6 p.m. costs NIS 120 per person.
It is worth starting, however, with one of the five Asian-inspired specialty cocktails (NIS 42-49). The Whole Lotta Vodka, for example, blends vodka with ginger, lemon grass, pineapple juice and palm sugar syrup, while the Coconut of Bangkok combines rum, triple sec, coconut milk, grenadine and tapioca. The former is fruity and refreshing, with a tart finish, while the latter looks like pink candy, but still packs a punch. 

The tasting menu starts with Sum Tam, a salad of julienned green papaya with cherry tomatoes and peanuts. Tossed with a tart and tangy dressing, this was a particularly crunchy version of the Thai classic, with just the right amount of heat. 

This was followed by Tod Man-Kung, two shrimp fritters served with a sauce of red chili peppers. Unfortunately, the pancakes were mealy, although the hot sauce perked up the bland mixture a bit.

Next came Pad Tod Katyam – morsels of goose tempura with oyster sauce, broccoli, green onion, shallots, coriander and crispy garlic. This dish was not only a novelty to me, it was so good I couldn’t get enough of it. 

The Yam Tua is a green bean salad with chicken, purple onion, peanuts, chili paste, roasted coconut flakes, mint, crispy shallots and coconut milk, topped with hard-boiled egg. The consistency of this dish turned out to be mushy, but on the whole the result was tasty.

There were two substantial main courses, starting with the iconic Tom Yam, served on burner at table to keep it warm. Our version was chock full of fresh seafood, with champignons mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, green onion, galangal, lemon grass, Kaffir lime, coriander and coconut milk. While the fiery red soup garnished with floating red chili looked daunting, it was actually more complex than spicy, and featured outstanding plump shrimp. For those who do not eat seafood, you can order the Tom Yam with chicken. 

It is not truly a Thai repast without curry, and the tasting menu’s is Phad Pet, a reddish coconut milk curry with beef, red pepper, bamboo shoots, Thai basil and green beans. Once again, the taste sensation was pleasantly complex, with an undertone of peanut flavor. Rest assured that this is an authentic curry: The more you eat, the more the heat builds.

The curry is best enjoyed with that Thai staple sticky rice, which was brought to the table at the beginning of the meal, tempting us throughout the evening.  

We washed our food down with cold beer from Thailand, of which there is a choice of three imported brands, including one on tap. There is also a limited wine list.

The two desserts can be found in various incarnations at other Thai restaurants in Israel, but the versions here are more elaborate than elsewhere. The tapioca comprised tapioca beads served with seasonal fruits, chestnuts cooked in grenadine, coconut cream and lemon grass syrup. So far, so good, but then a mound of crushed ice is dumped all over these great ingredients. The ice is meant to chill the dessert, but the small chunks are more annoying than anything else.

On the other hand, the Banana Lotti is a sheer delight: Crispy pastry filled with slices of banana and roasted coconut is fried in butter, then doused with condensed milk, dusted with roasted coconut and coconut powder, and topped with coconut sorbet.

Tiger Lilly
Not kosher
Sarona Market, Aluf Kalman Magen St. 3, Tel Aviv.
Open 7 days: 12 noon-midnight.
Tel. 1-700-70-70-97
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

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