The team behind the sceney and acclaimed Chinese Tuxedo is expanding with a new, far more casual restaurant on the Soho and Chinatown border on Howard Street. But instead of China, the Tyger hops around Southeast Asia and Indonesia — honing in on both regionally specific dishes and ones that combine elements from several cuisines.
Like at Chinese Tuxedo, where chef Paul Donnelly became known for “refined riffs” on Chinese fare, the Tyger will reflect contemporary pan-Asian restaurants in Australia more than anything in Thailand or Bali, according to co-owner Eddy Buckingham.
Curries, seafood, and takes on street food will be featured heavily on the menu, which nods to food in Java, Bali, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore. Some will feel more specific — like a chargrilled squid with sambal matah, a bright and spicy condiment from Bali — but most of it isn’t intended to be traditional in any sense, Buckingham says. There may be a king crab doughnut with curry with mayo and makrut lime, a Chiang Mai-style curry, and a Singapore version of a Japanese pan-roasted fish dish. Chicken satay will likely be available, with coconut, tamarind, and “a very textural peanut sauce,” Buckingham says.
“It’s actually a quite Australian style of cuisine and speaks to Paul’s cooking experience and also my food heritage and experience,” Buckingham says. (Donnelly spent time working with famed Bangkok restaurant Nahm under Australian chef David Thompson, and Buckingham was born in Singapore; both are Australian.)
The drink list will be tight, with a bigger emphasis on non-alcoholic and low-ABV options. Wines will lean natural on the 40-bottle and 12 by-the-glass the list, while the short cocktail menu will play into Southeast Asian drinks such as Vietnamese coffee.
Tuxedo’s co-owner Jeff Lam is building this restaurant too, taking over the corner space at 1 Howard Street at Centre Street that once housed fancy diner Nickel & Diner. The 70-seat spot features floor-to-ceiling windowed doors that will open in warmer months, and two dozen seats will be set up on the sidewalk then, too.
Chinese Tuxedo, though known for its design, doesn’t have windows, and as such, the duo created the Tyger to be more of a daytime spot, with a brighter look. Lots of yellow is in the space, as well as golden velvet banquettes. “We’re trying to do the absolute opposite of Tuxedo,” Buckingham says.
In hopes of making it more of a regular spot for locals, the Tyger’s prices will be lower than Chinese Tuxedo’s. The duo’s first restaurant on the very fashiony Doyers Street in Chinatown is a splurge, and they’re hoping the Tyger, which will be open starting at noon daily, will be a place where people can drop in more regularly.
The Tyger is expected open in May. Stay tuned for more.