Sensory Overload at Bang Bang

Aggressively seasoned Southeast Asian bar snacks join NE Fremont’s growing restaurant row.

By Benjamin Tepler February 18, 2015

The new kid on Northeast Fremont’s suddenly surging food block is Bang Bang, a “curry and cocktails” concept from the folks behind Belmont’s Aalto Lounge. From-scratch Thai curries fly from the kitchen until 2 am, Little Dragon thumps over an intimate, candle-lit bar, and good cocktails (try the White Negroni, with local Aria gin, Suze bitters, and Cocchi Americano) shake out under $9.

Bar food is inherently aggressive: fatty, salty, spicy, and sour are the natural bedfellows of a heady IPA, or smoky whiskey sipper. But an early taste of the menu’s skewers, fried rice, and curry bowls ended in a tailspin of mouth-puckering saltiness and toothache sweetness. The kitchen is shooting for fun, loose interpretations of Thai drinking food, but the flavors are engaged in a shouting match.

Curries are presented with their raw components; the broth is held in a white carafe for the diner’s discretion. On one recent visit, the jungle curry, with its half-moon shrimp cakes, charred sticky rice, and morsels of fried chicken, was marred by a punishingly salty shellfish-steeped broth. The pumpkin curry, loaded with chewy short ribs, heavy coconut cream, and palm sugar, was like downing a bowl of condensed milk.  The accompaniments (chile-garlic schmaltz, pickled coconut, and charred lime relish) were lost in the flavor brawl.

Bang Bang's jungle curry

Even the chicken wings, with their promise of aged black garlic and vinegar, are a rendition of General Tso’s take-out: candy-cane sticky-sweet wings, without the much-needed Wet-Nap.

We’ll be back to check out Bang Bang’s affordable late-night menu, stocked with pork belly banh mi and fried rice with house sausage and blue crab. It doesn’t need to be as innovative as Smallwares (one block over); it’s already bustling with its own youthful neighborhood energy. If the kitchen can put a silencer on the flavor riot, Bang Bang has the potential to be more than just a great local bar. 


Bang Bang
4727 NE Fremont
Mon, Wed, and Thurs 5pm-12am
Fri and Sat, 5pm to 2am

Filed under
Show Comments