Tiger Mama

By Eric Twardzik · 11/26/2016    Fenway · Southeast Asian · $$$

Talk Don’t Cook Rice—so goes the Chinese proverb that forms the red neon sign at Tiger Mama, a Fenway restaurant serving seemingly every variety of Southeast Asian cuisine in surroundings that can best be described as “jungle disco.” The neon is supposed to inspire us to pursue our dreams with action, but there’s a whole lot of talking among patrons here: Tiger Mama has quickly become a hotspot for Red Sox fans who loudly congregate before, during, and after games.

We understand why. This is a playful spot with a hugely diverse menu and a highly original list of tiki drinks, with house infusions like matcha gin and sesame rye served by bartenders in Hawaiian shirts.

Parsing through the many options is a challenge, but the Bun Cha Hanoi is hard to beat in terms of sheer flavor variety. A scaled-down version of the classic communal Vietnamese meal, this smaller iteration has everything needed to construct personal lettuce wraps: leaves, vermicelli, grilled pork patties in sour broth, and crispy fried pork rolls. With each ingredient yielding different texture and flavor, every diminutive wrap becomes a satisfying symphony of contrasts.

Less complex but no less satisfying, the Pig Rice is an impressively porky dish harboring bacon, tasso, Issan sausage, and “pork sung,” a dried Chinese beef with a cotton-like consistency that sounds gross but tastes great.

Tiger Mama may also have the best $3 buy of any Boston restaurant. The Coconut Sticky Rice is precisely what it sounds like: uber-starchy with a sweet, vibrant coconut flavor. But its presentation—served piping hot inside of an empty coconut milk can—is what takes it over the top, reminding us that Tiger Mama never forgets how to have fun.

A small patio out front satisfies our al fresco urges.

Want more of chef Tiffani Faison’s flavors? Sweet Cheeks Q, her Texas-style barbecue joint, resides on the same block.

A second, secret drink menu is available upon request. Dubbed “Tiger Tikis,” this smaller (but potent) list includes two-person cocktails served in coconut shells or metallic pineapples.

Must Haves

  • Our preferred method is to start with a bite of the completed lettuce wrap and then immediately tuck into the crispy pork roll to get all the sweet, sour, salty, and savory flavors at once.

  • Taking pork fried rice to the next level with four iterations of the hog.

  • Big enough to serve four, this duck is slow-marinated, slow-smoked, and then fried, resulting in the perfect mix of tender and crispy.

Fun Fact

Faison was a contestant on the first season of Top Chef, finishing in second place.

Tastes of Tiger Mama

So good we can't stop writing about it. Read more about Tiger Mama!

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