Bangpop is the brand new cool-kid-on-the-block at South Wharf which has set up shop in the space previously occupied by the Sharing House. It claims to capture the vibrancy and energy of Bangkok’s street food culture, with a focus on affordable dining and fresh, authentic flavours. It’s not often that I pay attention to restaurant press releases but this one in particular piqued my curiosity. Given that most of my experiences with Thai food have most likely been less than authentic, I wanted to see what ‘real’ Thai was all about.
This whole ‘vibrancy’ thing is quite apparent when we arrive at a long line of bright and shiny retro-style bicycles. Red-and-yellow outdoor chairs and a bar bedecked with multicoloured Lego pieces continue this theme.
The menu featured quite a range of interesting sounding dishes, many of which I had never seen before. Probably a good thing when it comes to the whole authenticity factor.
Pad Thai ($14.90)
Most of the pad thais I’ve had in the past have been pretty much the same: slightly greasy stir fried rice noodles tossed with egg, peanuts and bean shoots, flavoured by little more than a dash of soy and mild wok hay. This, however, was a pad thai to rule them all. The crisp deep fried tofu, chives, chilli flakes and lime were all welcome additions. It was quite flavoursome, with a strong aroma of fish sauce.
Kor Moo Yang/Grilled pork neck ($11.90)
Slices of grilled pork neck came with sticky rice and nam jim saap, a condiment which from what I could tell was based on freshly crushed chilli, garlic and lime juice. I was a little overzealous with the nam jim before actually tasting any, which I immediately regretted as I fought back tears and sniffles. However, despite the excess chilli hit I did enjoy this dish. The nam jim was fresh and punchy, giving the tender, marinated pork a good lift.
Kang Daeng Phed/Red duck curry ($23.90)
Now this isn’t just your ordinary roast duck curry. Here, a whole duck leg is slow cooked for 16 hours until the meat is falling off the bone and served with a rich, thick curry sauce and fresh coriander. It was wonderfully fragrant and flavoursome, with an absolutely perfect balance of spices. I remember previously stating that I hate pineapple in savoury things – I take it back. The fresh pineapple chunks in this curry were just sweet and tart enough to counter all the spice and richness. This is easily the best curry I’ve ever had, hands down.
Bangkok street ice cream ($10.90)
I would have said this was more of a sorbet than an ice cream, but that’s just the pedant in me. I didn’t have that dairy creaminess that one would usually associate with ice-cream. Nevertheless, it had a good smooth texture and the mango and coconut flavours were both very refreshing. The toasted coconut on top was also a nice touch. It was a very suitable end to our meal.
Service was very inconsistent. The couple next to us arrived after we had already ordered, got roughly the same amount of food as us and then left before we got our dessert. Our duck curry was forgotten and by the time we received it the rice was cold and we had to ask for some more. Dessert also took an inordinate amount of time considering that it was just ice cream and the restaurant was nearly empty by that stage. I guess it’s all to be expected when you go to a place that’s only been open three days. I’m sure that over time the service level will pick up.
In addition to the above items we ordered a large serve of rice ($4.90), bringing the food total up to $66.50 for the two of us. Quite reasonable indeed. As we visited during the soft opening period we got an additional 25% off, so in the end it only cost $25 a head. I felt like that basically made up for any gaps there were in the service.
And oh, the food. The emphasis on fresh, bold flavours is clearly demonstrated in every dish. I like their attitude of presenting traditional Thai dishes as they are; nothing has been toned down or modified to suit the so-called ‘Western palate’. From a quick glance around the dining room (and the Twittersphere) it would appear that Western palates are quite taken with Thai street food. Especially that duck curry.Bangpop 35 South Wharf Promenade South Wharf