Bang recently fired its opening shot, offering a smart and attention-drawing introduction to Bangladeshi street food on Crown Street, Surry Hills. This restaurant is full of target-hitting appeal, thanks to how it translates a cuisine that’s relatively underexposed in Sydney.
The head chef is Tapos Singha (Est, Gowings Bar and Grill, Lucio’s), and his menu is more sophisticated and nuanced than the slash-and-burn effect that people assume characterises food from the subcontinent. There’s plenty of firepower in certain dishes, but what’s on offer isn’t completely ruled by an arsenal of chilli. There are the crisp pockets of Dal Puri $6 – spiced lentils encased in a crusty layer of fried roti. The Bengali ‘Potato Chop‘ ($8) is a croquette zipped up with mustard seed and yogurt raita. And a salad of Paw Paw, Young Coconut, Green Mango, Snake Beans, Spiced Almonds and Mint ($18) acts as a summery cleansing agent – a light, cool contrast to all the sizzle and crunch.
It’s not all snacks and small bites, though. Will’s Wagyu Tri Tip Curry ($32) is full of deep-set flavours – strong, heavy and rounded off by shatkora, a citrus fruit used in Bangladeshi cooking. The Honey Roasted Paneer ($18) is all rich and heavy-hitting, with the caramel sweetness of onions adding extra punch. It’s already been name-checked as a signature dish by Nicholas Gurney in Good Food.
Bang is Nick’s latest venture and its street-style buzz is a big contrast to the rustic home-style approach of Farmhouse, which he also co-owns. One common-ground detail, though, is Nick’s design-savviness. Farmhouse could have been a constant dance of squeezing into a tiny room and trying not to knock over other diners’ drinks and plates (and the apology-a-thon that followed), but Nick made it a space-smart establishment, which cleverly maximised every centimentre in a way that was cosy, rather than a game of Twister.
With Bang, he’s created a lively space – sparked by the hot blaze of the restaurant’s name in glowing script as you walk in. Staff members wear bright graphic shirts that show off the Bengal tiger. The open bar and slick interiors are punctuated by Arne Jacobsen plates that spell out B.A.N.G. on tables. Food comes presented in scrolls and sheets of the first newspaper printed when Bangladesh declared independence. The menus are bold and punchy, too – like the tiger that unapologetically growls amongst the listed dishes, the commentary-filled rundown of food and drink doesn’t hold back.
There’s a geographical explanation for why all the wines are sourced from Portugal (it’s a ref to Vasco Da Gama’s arrival on the subcontinent), some colourful cocktail descriptions about “baddies” smuggling sugar from India, and how most of Bangladeshi’s tea comes from chef Tapos’s home turf of Sylhet (in honour of that, you can order 9 Fruit Tea or Earl Grey Tea upgraded with honey, lemon and blueberry jam, plain iced or spiked with gin, if you like).
A “no funny tummy” joke might not be everyone’s brand of humour when it comes to describing the water situation, but what’s undoubtedly cool is the selection of lassis (extra jolt of rum, optional). There’s a bracing take on the typical mango pick, while the “bang” lassi ($8/$18) is an above-board version of the cannabis-infused concoction served during the Holi festival. “We agree it’s more dope than dope,” says the menu.
What’s also worth your attention – the good intentions behind the Sand Roasted Shell Peanuts ($2); proceeds from this item helps support Fred Hollows Foundation in Bangladesh (a charity that Tapos has a personal connection with). And if you need another reason to keep snacking, definitely try the Bombay Mix ($6), which feels like stuffing firecrackers into your mouth – the arsenal of ingredients includes puffed rice, eschallots, coriander, lemon and a trigger-happy hit of spice.
If you need some tastebud-cooling relief, do order the Kulfi popsicle ($11), a summer roll of mango ice cream, white chocolate and pistachio. Or if you want to finalise proceedings by feeling wrecked (in a good way), sign off with the Rum-drunk Doughnuts ( $15), which are served with saffron crème fraiche, caramelised peaches and milk powder crumb.
Given what Bang has in its cross-hairs, this restaurant definitely hits the mark. It brings something unexpected to a part of Surry Hills that can feel overpopulated with the familiar. Bang lives up to its very self-explanatory sign (the one that has been promising Bangladeshi street food to Crown Street passersby for the last few months), but not only that, this venue is simply what it says – it’s a blast.