There’s a funny story behind the name of Son in Law. The Collingwood restaurant partially takes its name from the famous Thai street food dish – son in law eggs. “It’s said that if a mother in law feels her son in law is being less than kind to her daughter, she’ll cook and serve these deep fried eggs as a clear message: be nice because your family jewels are on the line!” Secondly, owners Tony Rungpradit and his wife Oh, the head chef, source much of their inspiration from Oh’s mother, showing how important the mother in law relationship is to them.
I love Thai cuisine so I have been planning to visit Son in Law Melbourne for quite some time, but the silly season got the better of me last year. I finally had the chance to visit last week and let’s just say it was certainly worth the wait…
Owners John and Oh are not strangers to the hospitality business; they previously owned Chapel Street favourite, Ayatana, much to the locals’ dismay when it closed. Now north of the river, Son in Law on Johnston Street is much more laid back than Ayatana, but this doesn’t mean they have compromised on creativity or flavour. The menu showcases traditional Thai dishes with a fun and creative twist.E xpect palate popping Thai fish patty sliders with kewpie mayo, braised beef tacos Thai style, betel leaf bites and a comforting massaman curry amongst many other mouthwatering delights. The larger the group the better at Son in Law so you can sample as many as the small plates as possible.
We started with the famous son in law eggs ($8) on ‘Mum’s classic recipes’ – a dish which would be a crime to miss. Two hard boiled eggs are beautifully fried until golden and cut in half to reveal the bright yellow yolk. A touch of sweet tamarind, chilli and fried shallots provided the dish with a lovely balance of sweet and salty flavours.
Equally good were the duck bao ($6 each) encased in a soft and fluffy bun which held its integrity beautifully. The aromatic roast duck was paired with a generous drizzling of hoisin and slithers of cucumber and coriander to add a hint of freshness. Finger licking good indeed!
After a flurry of mouth-watering posts on Instagram, the dish I was dreaming about the most was the deep-fried chicken ribs. Prettily presented in a pink wicker basket lined with red and white checked serviettes, the chicken ribs had the most delicious golden crumb with hints of chilli and citrus notes, making your taste buds scream with every mouthful. It’s definitely a dish that’s worth getting your hands dirty for. A sprinkling of fried shallots, spring onion and red chilli provided a further insult of chilli and spice paired with a rather delicious bowl of nam jim jaew.
One of Son In Law’s signature fusion recipes is the Thai green curry, a palate popping bowl of soft shell crab and tiger prawns in a shallow bath of creamy coconut curry. You will want to scoop up every last mouthful of this flavoursome sauce infused with Thai basil and kaffir lime leaves. A handy hint; Order a side of roti to mop up the sauce in the bowl – very handy! The crispy soft shell crab was crispy and golden on the outer with a fleshy soft centre, providing a nice textural contrast.
On the bigger plates, a small mountain of twice cooked crispy pork belly ($16) may not be as “pretty” as other dishes but it sure made up for it with flavour. The pork belly itself was beautifully cooked, topped with an impossibly crisp crackling and sticky flesh packed with flavour and intensity. Stir fried with chilli jam, green beans, and kaffir lime leaves, the dish literally screamed with depth and flavour.
To finish, two marshmallow and nutella puffs, little bundles of joy resembling empanadas wrapped in puff pastry – one bite revealing oozing gooey nutella and sticky marshmallow within. A generous dollop of French vanilla icecream topped with berries and crushed cashew nuts was just enough to cut through the richness of the nutella.
And don’t miss the gelati sky icecream ($5.50 per scoop) I couldn’t resist the coconut sorbet flavour, so cool and refreshing for summer.
In addition to the food offering, Son in Law serves up fun and colourful Thai inspired cocktails, craft beers, and a well crafted wine list. The Samui Slushie is the perfect summer cocktail brimming with coconut ice, vodka and lime.
Much like the food the interior design is playful and fun, with a glammed up canteen type atmosphere. Expect plenty of neon and fluorescent furnishings and decor. Industrial light fittings are paired with rustic communal wooden tables and retro looking tables and chairs. The split venue restaurant has a bar area for those stopping by for drinks and bar snacks and a sun drenched alfresco area at the rear, perfect for balmy summer evenings.
What I love the most about Son in Law is their warm, friendly service. Upon entering you’re immediately made to feel at home and one of the extended family. I can’t wait to return to try more from their exciting and affordable menu.
Son in Law
A 56 Johnston Street, Collingwood
T (03) 9410 0399
I was invited as a guest of Son In Law, however all views are honest and my own.