Like Legos, bikes, and a waterfront view? BangPop restaurant serves up Thai food with a side of cute décor. My plus one and I took a seat at their Lego-encrusted bar to watch the crew in action and indulge in a five-course vegan dinner.
The restaurant collaborated with guest vegan chef Saruttaya ‘Na’ Lakchai to present a multi-course meal complete with matched wines. Plant lovers – chef Na is one to watch. She left a lucrative job to pursue her passion for cooking. She’s a vegan herself, runs the Plant-Based Kitchen, and continues to travel overseas for culinary inspiration.
The meal (advertised as five courses, but was six in reality) was expertly matched to a variety of vegan wines. The wine matching was optional, but my plus one and I agreed the pairings really made the meal. It’s always a good sign when the staff can talk about the venue’s products from personal experience. Fortunately, we had a lovely front of house server happy to share his tasting notes.
The night started with a BK Rose, described as strawberries and cream with cinnamon followed by a hint of Thai basil and watermelon. The accompanying dish woke up our palate with crispy herbs, sunflower seeds and cashews in a betel leaf. Sweet, sour, and chilli flavours all popped on our tongue.
I’ve seen many Melburnians shy away from spicy food; fortunately Chef Na wasn’t afraid to incorporate a full range of flavours into her dishes. We dined on two different mushroom dishes seasoned with the likes of gluten-free soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, chilli, fresh basil, and parsley.
A pinot noir named Skin & Bones joined the Phla Hed (spicy Portobello mushroom). The wine’s description alone won me over – it turns out all you have to do is compare something to a negroni and I’m sold. Oddly, the green curry that followed almost tasted like it was designed by a different chef – it still packed heat, but the strong, multi-dimensional flavours present in the previous dishes were lacking.
The aromatic mango tango dessert ended the evening on a sweet note. Fresh mango was served alongside mango sorbet and coconut sticky rice. With a semi sweet sparkling in our hands, we savoured the experience and were one of the last to leave.
The event attracted a variety of diners – foodies, after work friends, and plant eaters proudly sporting vegan t-shirts. The location is lovely – BangPop’s interior is charming, as is their South Wharf waterside view. Although I suspect that there is a location-based markup on the meals. Vegans that enjoy dining out will get the most value from BangPop’s multi-course meal.
It’s a great opportunity to experience Thai food without the addition of fish sauce and Chef Na’s cooking demonstrates that vegan food can pack a flavourful punch. (It’s not just salad!)
Jenny S. is an event adventurer. She loves being the first to know about all the cool events in Melbourne and living The Plus Ones lifestyle.
Keep an eye out for BangPop and Chef Na’s next collaboration on February 8. Tickets are $69 for the vegan, gluten-free dinner or $99 with matched wines. Book tickets now.