Bang on in their delivery of the refreshing and vibrant flavours of Indochina, Bang Bang RC is definitely one to visit if you're a fan of modern pan-Asian fare.
In a city like Melbourne where this type of cuisine has been done to death since the greats like Chin Chin and Longrain first rolled onto the dining scene, it takes a lot for these kinds of restaurants to live up to that kind of wow. Sure, I enjoy the feed well enough, but a lot of them do tend to blend into one blur. This was not the case at Bang Bang RC, with several menu stand-outs that left me with an itching to return.
- Betel leaf with confit duck // betel leaf with pomelo
- Crispy chicken ribs with house spice and Bang Bang sriracha
- Sashimi of Kingfish with caramelised cashew and trout roe
- Chargrilled pork neck
- Tofu, avocado & sesame seed salad with mint, black vinegar and ginger
- Chargrilled King Prawns with roasted shallot and lime
- Roasted pumpkin with Kipfler potato, cinnamon and anise curry
- Chargrilled Cape Grim Short Rib with wild ginger and holy basil broth
- Black sticky rice with Pandan sweet cream, mango and coconut sorbet
- Watermelon with chilli salt
Bang Bang RC embodies a sharing style menu that allows diners to really take on board the range of distinct flavours, predominantly from Thailand and Vietnam, captured in Head chef Matthew Dunbar's dishes.
Some highlights of our preview dinner came quite early on with the crispy chicken ribs, Kingfish sashimi and tofu salad in particular really whipping our taste buds into a frenzy. We started with the betel leaf topped with fresh pomelo and dressed with a tangy sweet sauce that rounded out the flavours nicely. Admittedly, we eyed the confit duck loaded betel leaf with a bit of food envy. The chicken ribs were spot on with their texture, delivering both crunch and juicy, succulent flesh. The ribs were suitably seasoned when eaten solo but the accompanying Sriracha sauce brought with it quite the sweet and spicy flavour explosion. The Kingfish sashimi was silky and fresh, and together with the juicy bursts of roe and zesty dressing, the dish really left its mark. In true Vietnamese fashion, the chargrilled pork neck lettuce wraps were assembled at the table. Flavours were maximised with a generous use of Vietnamese mint and accompanying red pepper sauce. The tofu, avocado and mint made for an intriguing salad combination but it was one that worked to a T. The flavours were extremely complementary and one bite had me immediately going back for more. You can make friends with salad, indeed. Last of all (of the starters) were the GIANT King prawns, with their natural flavour and gentle char pairing well with the aromatic roasted shallots.
When it came to the mains, there was plenty of love from both the kitchen team and the dining guests. The attention and time that went into prepping both the roasted pumpkin curry and beef ribs was evident in the complexities of the overall and sensationally fragrant flavour profiles. The beef itself was tremendously tender, falling away from the bone with minimal effort. Very happy vegetarian and meat-eating campers all around.
They say there's a second stomach for dessert. In this case, we had to pull out a third. I'm a big fan of black sticky rice with salty pandan and coconut desserts. I was also quite taken with the mango sorbet but the strong refreshing punch of mango flavour didn't seem to meld too well with the other components on the plate. Still, separate out the two and you could very well be digging into two excellent desserts. The chilli salt and fruit combination wasn't anything new as we see it frequently with apples, pineapples and green mangoes, but while it works well to balance out the sourness from the aforementioned fruits, I didn't quite like it with the sweeter watermelon.
Despite the desserts not quite meeting the heights set by many of the dishes we had enjoyed earlier in the evening, the roasted pumpkin curry alone, followed closely by the tofu salad and beef short rib, would warrant a visit and in my case, a return visit.
Vermouth Spritz with Dolin Dry Vermouth, orange, holy basil and soda.
Betel leaf with pomelo.
Crispy chicken ribs.
Sashimi of Kingfish.
Chargrilled pork neck.
Tofu, avocado & sesame seed salad.
Chargrilled King Prawns.
Roast pumpkin // Chargrilled Cape Grim short rib.
Black sticky rice with Pandan sweet cream, mango and coconut sorbet.
Watermelon with chilli salt.
Bang Bang Rifle Club
294 Glen Huntly Rd,
Elsternwick, Victoria, 3185.
(03) 8692 2680
Disclosure: I was invited to dine as a guest of Bang Bang RC. All opinions expressed in this post are based entirely on my experience and observations made during the time of my visit.