294 Glen Huntly Road
Elsternwick, VIC 3185
So guess what Melbourne’s come up with this time? A French-Indochine-inspired cafe and bar, located in a converted historical rifle club. Pretty quirky, hey?
Sitting right by the train station, this old brick building scrubbed up real nice. Surrounded by parkland and palm trees, and complemented by the lush, leafy interior, Bang Bang RC felt like a desert oasis.
With alumni from the likes of Longrain, the menu at Bang Bang RC is nothing to scoff at. Things start off in the morning with smoked trout congee and Spring Bay mussel bouillabaisse, before transitioning to an interim snack menu, finally settling on a dinner of tapas, share plates, and wicked cocktails with an Asian twist.
The evening started with bright little mouthfuls of Betel Leaf, Confit Duck ($6ea). I found the meat a little dry, but it was remedied by the copious amounts of fresh herbs and the sweet, jam-like sauce.
I didn’t get to try the Betel Leaf, Pomelo ($6ea), but I was assured that they tasted as good as they looked.
The Chargrilled King Prawns ($7.5ea) looked and smelt gorgeous. They were huge and smoky, and suffused with the tangy aroma of lemongrass and lime. I did however feel that they were a tad overcooked, and a little tougher as a result.
The Sashimi of Kingfish was a hit around the table. The slices of kingfish were firm and fresh, and I thought it tasted absolutely lovely with the bright combination of citrus, lemongrass, and a good whack of chilli.
Who can say no to Crispy Chicken Ribs ($15)? The juicy chicken pieces were coated with a nubbly batter that was moreishly salty, and served with a dish of sweet house-made sriracha.
I was in two minds about the Tofu, Avocado, Sesame Seed ($15.5). Whilst the flavours were lovely – creamy and indulgent, with sharp notes of ginger and mint – I just couldn’t get over how mushy it all was. I feel like it would’ve done a lot better with pieces of avocado and tofu, as opposed to having all of it mashed into homogenous gloop.
The Chargrilled Pork Neck however was a complete success. The meat was juicy and tender, with a slight sweetness that was reminiscent of BBQ pork. The chilli jam on the side was deep and complex, and it was delicious stuff, wrapped in crisp lettuce leaves.
Our first main of Roasted Pumpkin ($35) was a crowd-pleaser. The veggies were wonderfully cooked – the wedges of pumpkin honey-sweet with chewy skin, and the potatoes waxy and fluffy, but it was the curry sauce that was the real star. The rich, fragrant sauce was warmed by a myriad of spices, the deep flavours a perfect harmony of sweet and savoury, creamy and spicy. It was agreed around the table that we would all be happy to curl up with a bowl of rice and some of this amazing curry sauce.
Speaking of stunning, the Chargrilled Cape Grim Short Rib ($55) was about the size of a small ham (even though you can’t really tell in this photo). Despite its size however, the meat was incredibly well-cooked. The meat fell off the bone with tenderness, whilst the middle still retained a blushing hint of pink. Despite how deliciously the meat was however, we all faltered rather quickly in the face of how fatty it was. This is definitely one to share with the fam.
But wait! There’s still more! The dessert of Black Sticky Rice ($13) was another hit around the table. The traditional trio of sticky rice, mango, and coconut milk had been given an upgrade. The addition of pandan essence, coconut sorbet, and dehydrated apple slices definitely made the dish feel fancier and more indulgent, whilst retaining the timeless combination of sweet tropical flavours and the unique, slightly savoury taste of black rice.
Finally, our palates were cleansed with a simple fruit dish of Watermelon with Chilli Salt. The chilli salt was ok, but frankly I would rather just eat the watermelon by itself (which I did).
I thought my long, long dinner at Bang Bang was quite good. It lacked a bit in the finesse and execution departments compared to some of the big-name pan-Asian restaurants around town, but the cleverness and creativity of the menu should be lauded. It’s a crowd-pleaser for sure, and with a little bit of tweaking, it has the potential to become a serious heavy-hitter on the Melbourne food scene.
Rating: 14/20 – bang for your buck.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.
Sweet and Sour Fork dined as a guest of Bang Bang RC.