Disclaimer: I managed to snag a complimentary invite to the sneak peek tasting before the restaurant formally opened
Bangpop is the newest addition to the South Wharf eating district, focussing on authentic street Thai flavours, with prices that won't hurt your pocket. So having said that, Bangpop is an awfully appropriate name.
I had heard a couple of weeks back that Bangpop were doing a sneaky tasting, so naturally bothered them until I was granted a table the day before the first tasting!
Residing where The Sharing House used to be, the interior hasn't really changed much from what it was originally, it's bright with high ceilings and pops of colour all over the place.
Accompanied by my friend Shamim (who slept through her nap alarm and therefore delayed us!), we eagerly perched on our high stools, at the lego covered bar, where we drank and ate the array of predetermined food that was placed in front of us.
Oh and what a variety it was!
We started with Khoa Kreab Tod (which I didn't manage to get a picture of because we arrived late), Thai rice crackers served with a lemon grass and chilli jam. Man, that jam just seriously punched you in the face. Hard. Really hard. And you liked it. We particularly loved the rice crackers with black sesame seeds through it, great crunchy texture and incredibly moreish!
To keep the chilli going we then tried the Larb Kai, a warm chicken mince salad with fresh mint, shallots and dried chilli. Oh my goodness. This made so happy. Vibrant, citrus and chilli all at once. I had to take breaks between mouthfuls to fan my mouth and grin stupidly.
The Kor Moo Yang, chargrilled pork neck served with sticky rice was salty, firm and just delicious. The sticky rice was a little cold by the time it got to us, so it was hard to give it a solid evaluation, but it did go quite well with the pork.
We had seated next to 5 and Dime Bagel and his wife, who was pescatarian, so had already tucked into the spicy prawn salad, which had similar flavours to the Larb Kai, being citrusy, spicy and minty, but a personality all it's own as well.
The Lad Na Ka noodle was a breather from all the chilli, and reminded Shamim and I very much of wattan hor noodles in an egg sauce. It was explained and that it was from an area that had some Chinese influence in their food and it showed. The stir fry noodles with chicken, gai lan and baby celery was very homely and wholesome. The noodles were just so soft and slippery in a gravy that was thick and herbaceous. I'd be super excited to have a bowl of this (to myself of course) when the weather cools down.
We were a little over enthusiastic with the Gaeng Lueng Tai, poached barramundi with southern Thai style yellow curry with Thai basil and lime leaf, and I didn't get a proper picture of it before we tucked in. Whoops! I think I tend to struggle a little when my curry gravy is more soupy than saucy, as Malaysian curries are generally very enthusiastic with the coconut milk, but the flavours in this were still just lovely and warming.
Although we thought we were full, you never really are once you see dessert. We were treated to two, the first being the Fak-Thong Kang Buad (which I think may not have made it to the final menu), a coconut milk dessert with pumpkin. It was quite unusual, served warm and not overly rich (surprisingly). The pumpkin was so sweet and tender.
And finally, what I think is the Woon-Ma Prow, with young coconut jelly, young coconut flesh and toasted coconut. This was a great way to finish up the meal. Cooling and sweet, and a little bit lighter on the system.
I was seriously impressed. I've always complained that we don't have enough good Thai food in Melbourne, but at Bangpop we had incredibly vivacious flavours that popped and made you sweat. Sure, a little bit out of the way in South Wharf, but have we finally got what Melbourne's needed?
I'm very much looking forward to coming back again, bright and colourful food with everything generally around or under the $20 mark and no queue (yet). I would be more than happy to tuck into some Larb Kai, Kor Mee Yang and Lad Na Ka again, and am extremely interested to try out the pad thai, Tom Yum Koong and maybe more of those chillis…getting the sweat on in Melbourne during winter sounds like it might be a treat…
35 South Wharf Promenade
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