Tyger Tyger reopens in Funk Zone with bold new menu
With its iconic black-and-white tiger mural by local artist Tom Stanley spanning two sides of the building, Tyger Tyger, the Asian-inspired cafe at 121 E. Yanonali St., has been relaunched by Acme Hospitality.
The original Tyger Tyger opened in 2018 and quickly became a hot spot in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone.
The bright colors, energetic vibe and focused Southeast Asian casual menu resonated with the community, and the Instagrammable food and ambiance were instantly embraced.
Unfortunately, the pandemic forced the restaurant to close, and the concept was placed on hold. But the strategic location became ideal as a test kitchen to give Acme Hospitality chefs a place to experiment with new menus, concepts and pop-ups.
Eventually, the question arose: What if the restaurant took the very best flavors of the original Tyger Tyger and leaned in on “clean and green?”
Consulting chef Jasmine Shimoda (formerly of Los Angeles vegan restaurant Jewel and Santa Barbara’s Loquita) and Chef Trevor Laymance (farm-to-table fine dining chef from Ojai) put their heads together to develop a new plant-forward menu offering vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and omnivore options.
Tyger Tyger 2.0 is the same beast with a different diet, roaring back just in time for the holidays. This iteration offers breakfast and lunch daily and dinner service Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
The structure on Yanonali was built in 1945 by the Castagnola family as the original “net barn” where fishing nets were stored and repaired and has served the community as an auto repair shop, bakery and catering kitchen/café.
Large windows bring all-day sunshine into the airy room. Window frames and counters are crafted from natural teak wood and are accented by textures of stained concrete floors, terrazzo tabletops and whimsical wallpapers, including the canary-themed ceiling and wildly floral kitchen and restroom.
The bright pink, green, orange and turquoise floral palette warm the interiors and are juxtaposed with the natural wood and grays of the building, evoking the colorful designs of Southeast Asia.
“Ever since Tyger Tyger was forced to close its doors two years ago, we have had consistent requests from our loyal guests to reopen with our innovative Asian fare. Those voices have been loud and clear, demanding a healthier and more sustainable menu brimming with flavor but good for the body and the planet. We are listening, and this new iteration of Tyger Tyger is our effort to deliver on that promise,” said Sherry Villanueva, founder of Acme Hospitality.
The Tyger Tyger menu is inspired by the bold flavors discovered in street food carts from Southeast Asia, showcasing the Central Coast’s year-round bounty with its plant-forward selections.
Breakfast dishes include Banana Loaf with miso butter; Coconut Berry Parfait with coconut yogurt, 7-spice granola, blueberry chia jam and local berries; Overnight Oats with chia seeds, coconut, kinako, tahini, Santa Barbara pistachios and house jam; Spicy Avocado Toast with chili-garlic crisp, scallion, house pickles and green goddess; Roasted Mushroom Toast with miso cream, tarragon and scallion; Breakfast Sando of herby egg omelet, fermented hot sauce, spicy cilantro aioli and pickled Fresno (sub tofu scramble); Breakfast Tacos with eggs, black beans, pickled red onion and jalapeno and house-fermented hot sauce, tingly chili oil and corn tortilla (sub tofu scramble). Eggs can be added to Avocado and Mushroom Toasts on request.
In addition to the Spicy Avocado and Mushroom Toast, lunch and dinner offer a Crispy Rice Salad with Her Produce spicy greens, puffed quinoa, cucumber, mint, Thai basil, pickled shallot, roasted mushrooms and lime leaf vinaigrette; Tea Leaf Noodle Salad with kelp noodles, cabbage, romaine, tomatoes, peanut crunch and fermented green tea condiment; the Tyger Bowl with coconut rice, black pepper tofu, fried shallots, pickled chili and golden curry sauce.
Guests can add a Tamari Egg, Coconut Chicken or Grilled Fish to all salads and bowls at an additional charge.
Tyger Tyger’s signature Chicken Khao Soi is back with an aromatic coconut broth, scratch curry paste, egg noodles, braised chicken, lime leaf, fresh coriander, pickled mustard greens and noodle nest.
Other lunch and dinner dishes include Fried Yuba Sandwich with Chicken Fried tofu skin, spicy maple, shaved cabbage and vegan yuzu ranch dressing; Lechón of crispy pork belly, black sticky rice, pickles, herbs, chili citrus glaze and black vinegar; Cha Ca La Vong, a turmeric and dill-marinated local catch with vermicelli noodles, nuoc cham and local veggies; and Mushroom Carbonara with khao soi noodles, wild mushroom medley, miso cream, preserved lemon, thyme, tarragon, green peppercorn and bonito.
A tamari egg can be added as an option, and for dessert, there is a vegan soft serve or Ube Cream Pie and non-alcoholic drinks of house-made sodas and iced tea.
Danny Bendett, Acme director of restaurants, has selected wine selections from around the world to complement the flavorful cuisine. Unique Sake and beer selections reflect the popular and the uncommon, all remarkable and expertly matched with Chef Laymance’s cuisine.