BangPop opens this week on South Wharf, in the space formerly known as The Sharing House, serving Thai street food in a fun and casual environment. Remaining in the (Paul) Mathis Group, BangPop sets out to bring some vibrancy and fun to the often neglected South Wharf, and has some stunning, perfectly-balanced Thai food. I feel this concept fits the area and space very well and offers that spark of excitement that should make it a destination spot.
The kitchen is run by Kam McManamey (last seen at Dandelion in Elwood), with Yaigum, a Thai stallholder for more than 40 years, consulting on the menu and sharing her knowledge of Isaan cuisine. This pairing brings a sense of authenticity and refinement to the dishes and I can safely say that the kitchen has the light touch needed to serve simple, clean flavours in perfect balance.
Keeping in line with the street food theme, the menu is designed to share on communal tables, and comes closer to street food prices than most, without comprising on quality. They are also going to experiment with lesser-known dishes, flavours and techniques and offering them as specials; one of the desserts we tried was pumpkin filled with a custard and served with coconut sticky rice. It was different and unsual, which I like, and the flavours all worked well; there was just a little tweaking needed on the ratio of each component.
The drinks list, by restaurant manager Hamish Lee, focuses around aromatic wines, to complement the spicy Thai flavours; as well as featuring Thai/Asian and craft beers. You should also expect the cocktail menu to veer from the traditional and bring in Thai flavours and ingredients. The service is young, eager and friendly, with no sense of stuffiness,and fits the casual engaging environment well.
What I loved:
- Dtom Yum Koong (Hot and sour prawn soup)
A dish of perfectly balanced simplicity, taking you right to the edge of sour, sweet, salty and chilli before melting away. Stunning.
- Khao Mun Kai (chicken and ‘gravy’)
Another dish where the simplicity was deceiving. Tender chicken with a moreish ‘gravy’, lifted by a Thai Lap Cheong-style sausage and herbs.
For anyone who has travelled to Thailand and eaten off the beaten track, you’ll know that authentic Thai does not hold back on the spice, and neither does BangPop. The Nam Jim Talay sauce accompanying the chicken ribs (also delicious) was fiery with chilli hedonism.
- Most importantly, the lego-covered bar has survived from The Sharing House and fits right at home in the bright design of BangPop. (Yes, the lego is moveable).
Anything that I thought could have been better?
- Whilst the Pad Ka Prow Nua (basil chilli beef) was tasty and served with a perfectly cooked egg on top that burst over the dish when cut into, it lacked a bit of fiery punch for me. However each table is given its own sweet (sugar), salty (fish sauce and chilli), sour (lime and chilli), and spicy (chilli flakes) so that each diner can tweak the dishes to their own palate.
BangPop has exploded onto South Wharf, serving perfectly-balanced, authentic Thai street food in a casual and fun environment. Officially opening on Friday March 15, but open Thursday March 14 as part of its soft opening (offering 25% off food/drink). This one is worth the visit to South Wharf to enjoy a great meal.
I was invited to preview BangPop ahead of its soft opening, however my views are my own.