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January 25, 2024

Paper Tiger burns bright

Down the foodie end of Rundle Street, Paper Tiger and it’s sister, Wax Bar, are bringing a fast-paced, Asian inspired, good vibe to going out.

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  • This article was produced in collaboration with Penny Hospitality.

The vibe at Paper Tiger is lively – in both the pace at which things happen in the Rundle Street restaurant, and in the animated conversations of its diners.

Manager Karl Tang says they want people to have a great time from the moment they walk in the door and plonk down on the sumptuous banquettes.

To this end, they’ve pulled together great cocktails, an excellent wine list and traditional Southeast Asian food with a modern twist. Neon lights and whimsical soy fish lamps add to the atmosphere, and the music gets more up tempo and a little louder as the dinner service progresses. Karl likens it to somewhere buzzy in Hong Kong.

Chef Ben Liew, previously at Madame Hanoi, has been given free rein with the menu, his Malaysian heritage coming to the fore in dishes like nonya chicken curry. There’s DIY crispy pork bao buns, and grilled beef wrapped in betel leaf which is a recent addition. Desserts include a sweet corn ice cream cone.

Chef Ben at the pass.

Prices are on par with or cheaper than a meal at an upmarket pub – but at Paper Tiger it feels like an event and a serious night out.

Paper Tiger wants to take the torment out of deciding between dishes, so there’s a feed me menu with a vegetarian option. Staff are also ready to recommend Asian botanical-infused cocktail (or wine) pairings.

The cheekily named Fresh Off The Boat is a zingy refresher of kalamansi, lychee, vodka and Thai basil. Meanwhile, the house-made pandan-infused rum and elderflower liqueur in Be My Pandan offer an intriguing mix that deserves a second serve.

For those arriving early for dinner, or not wanting the night to end, Wax Bar is just upstairs. It opens at 6pm and closes late. Manager Tiana Petropoulos says it bridges the gap between a nightclub and bar and between the generations.

“If you don’t want to stay out until the sun comes up, but you want more than a cocktail or wine bar, this is perfect,” she says.

There’s a dancefloor and DJs spin the tunes from behind the pink terrazzo counter. Friday nights are Ya Mum’s Disk’O, going back to the 80s with dancefloor classics.


Paper Tiger is located at 285 Rundle Street, Adelaide. Book now at the website.

“It’s a bit groovy,” says Tiana, who shares that her mum has been known to stop by on a Friday. On weekends, it’s old school vinyl on the decks and the place is packed, with young and old.

“A lot of people will go for dinner at Paper Tiger and then they’ll come up for a drink after and stay for a dance.”

When asked for a cocktail recommendation, Tiana says her favourite is the Tropical Caipiroska, which “tastes like a Frosty Fruits ice block” and is the colour of starfruit on a Singapore breakfast platter. 

The Paper Tiger kitchen serves up bar snacks here too. So, if heading straight to Wax Bar, one doesn’t have to miss out.

Wax Bar also has its own entrance from Frank’s Lane. Look for the pink door simply marked ‘Bar’.

All up, it’s going to be fun. 

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