35 South Wharf Promenade
+61 3 9245 9800
Hot, spicy Thai food in Melbourne?! Can it be true?! When I heard that there was going to be a new Thai restaurant in South Wharf that offered authentic, spicy, street food, I was skeptical. However tweets and pictures appeared to be promising and furthermore, a 25% discount was offered during the soft opening. I dragged The Angmoh down for dinner on the evening just before its official launch.
Bangpop is situated in the South Wharf Promenade and is one of Paul Mathis’ babies. It had taken over The Sharing House, which I had dined at previously and enjoyed. The décor has been kept the same: glowing orange filaments suspended in glass bulbs, perched seats surrounding the bar, and the colourful lego counter. It all didn’t seem to fit the image of a Thai restaurant, and certainly not the country music in the background.
The Angmoh and I decided to share the papaya salad, chicken ribs and a duck curry. Papaya salad is one of the most ubiquitous dishes on menus in Thai restaurants, and yet also one of the most disappointing (or bastardized, if I may). There is never a balance of the essential Thai flavours (sweet, salty, sour and spicy) and most of the times, a sickly saccharine taste overwhelms the entire dish with hardly any chilli to counter it.
Bangpop’s papaya salad packed a punch. It had julienned green papaya, long beans, baby tomatoes with a sprinkling of dried shrimp and papaya. It wasn’t overly sweet, and the best part was, I had to down several glasses of water and blow my nose while eating it. It certainly was hot.
Our next dish of deep fried chicken ribs was spectacular. It was fried without being greasy and the dipping sauce was irresistible. It had plenty of bite from the garlic, and dipping the rib made it finger-lickin’ good.
The duck curry was sweet from the pineapple and roasted coconut, and the addition of basil enhanced that sweetness, and also brought about a slightly herbaceous fragrance at the same time. I will admit that I am not familiar with this particular Thai flavor. The coconut milk also gave it a richness that might have made the curry slightly cloying. The duck, on the other hand, was superb. After being subjected to a long slow cooking process, the meat was tender and fell off the bone easily. The duck had its own slightly poultry salty taste and was a good counteract to the sweet curry. As I’m not a fan of strong rich food, I felt a little equivocal about the dish.
Bangpop certainly didn’t disappoint in the chilli department. Bring plenty of serviettes or a bottle of milk, as Bangpop will leave a bang and a pop in your mouth.