Restaurant Reviews

Review: Tiny's is mighty

A changing of the kitchen guard takes a Perth CBD favourite in an unexpected but welcome new direction.

By Max Veenhuyzen
Tiny's head chef Justin Wong.
Paul Aron and Michael Forde are all about showing Perth a good time. In addition to their seemingly unstoppable Mary Street Bakery juggernaut – at the time of writing, they have six outlets; it's highly likely they'll have opened another by the time you finish reading this review – the duo's rap sheet features some of Perth's most singular venues including no-waste pioneer Greenhouse, mezcal-soaked Mexican cantina El Publico, plus high-octane pizzeria, Ace Pizza. All are concepts you'd describe as cool, a compliment that the gents' CBD stronghold Tiny's is just as deserving of.
Although Tiny's might have the business crowd in its sights, its aesthetic is anything but corporate drab. A handsome lime terrazzo counter curls around the bar. Monsteras, a woven mural and forests of timber beautify the mid-century-inspired space. Since Tiny's opened in mid-2018, some aspects of its original vision have been scrapped – the excellent liquor store; the rooftop garden – but that doesn't seem to bother white-collar Perth. They're still here draining pints and snappy cocktails while picking at golden chips, crudités, crisp whitebait and communal bar snacks. They're still here quizzing likeable staff for advice on the thoughtfully considered wine list. And they're still here to eat.
Since March, the kitchen has been run by Justin Wong, a first-time head chef who, after a decade of cooking everything from Northern Italian to Northern African food, gets the chance to put up dishes that draw on his family's Malaysian (Kuala Lumpur) heritage as well as his own dining interests.
Scallop congee with XO and rotisserie chicken with spinach rice.
So grilled flatbread is finished with chicken fat and, in a nod to Ramen Keisuke across the road, white and black sesame seeds; congee crowned with grilled scallops and a house XO sauce is a contender for Perth's savoury porridge to beat; and Tiny's famous rotisserie chicken is now seasoned with ginger and turmeric and served with rice and kapitan sauce: a magic condiment spiced with shrimp paste, lemongrass and torch ginger that's somewhere between rendang and laksa in weight. Otherwise, the wood-burning grill imparts savour and flavour to everything from clams and pork belly to thick pucks of eggplant.
The dining room at Tiny's.
Although the menu isn't entirely Malaysian – the eggplant is propped up by braised lentils and dressed with tahini, while "à la Grecque" crudo equals slices of cobia dressed with olive oil and lemon – there's no mistaking the accent. Malay food is ubiquitous west of the Nullarbor, but Malay dining options that combine a sincere understanding (and handling) of Southeast Asian flavours with choice booze, switched-on service and other pleasures of restaurant craft are less common. In short, Tiny's, like the Long Chims and James Parkers of Perth, is a welcome riposte to the ironic, loud-casual Asian eateries that seem so commonplace in Western Australia. Here's hoping it's here for both a long time as well as a good time.