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