1. Bowl of Thai noodles.
    Photograph: Supplied
  2. Inside BKK
    Parker Blaine
  3. BKK
    Parker Blaine
  4. BKK Ocean Trout Salad
    Parker Blaine
  • Restaurants | Thai
  • Melbourne

BKK Melbourne

Ascend to the third floor of Her for Thai-inspired fare

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Time Out says

July 15 update: Craving a belly-warming bowl of fiery noods? BKK's new $15 special is serving up chilli-spiked Northeastern Thai-style chicken noodle soup with tamarind leaves and mushrooms; pork, egg and prawn noodles hot off the wok; and fish bomb tom yum noodle salad, with vege options also available. If you're hungry for more, you can still nab an affordable feed with BKK's new express banquet at just $35 a head. The flame-fuelled feast includes two snacks, an entree and a rotating selection of seasonally inspired mains from head chef Sungeun Mo. This could just be our new fave cheap eat in the CBD. Find out more here. 

If Her is the new the Toff in Town, BKK is the new Cookie. Like Cookie, you have to work for it – one flight of stairs becomes three in BKK’s case – and like Curtin House’s most famous food destination, the fare is Thai-inspired, with BKK named after the capital city’s airport code.

 The first thing we realise upon entering BKK’s flashy confines is that it’s best tackled with an even group of two or four – round copper tables are shunted together for groups of any other size, but it’s awkward business manoeuvring between them. The unexpectedly tiny L-shaped restaurant has a 70s futuristic feel – brown leather seating and exposed brick walls sit alongside neon-light art and brushed copper.

BKK’s menu is divided into entrées, skewered meats, a selection of salads boasting four different kinds of laabs and two som tums, heavier meals ranging from noodles and curries to meat mains, four different preparations of rice, and desserts. If you’re feeling flush, a whole market fish is available for an unspecified market price and the 500g T-bone is barbecued for a princely sum of $52. On this occasion, we share several smaller things to sample a cross-section of BKK’s take on Thai street food.

The entrées make for a promising start. The red curry-spiked Thai fish cakes, redolent of chilli and lemongrass, are fluffy with a pleasant spongey quality. The accompanying quick-pickled cucumber, coriander and chilli relish is slightly sweet with a gentle hint of spice. The same relish arrives alongside the crowd-pleasing chicken curry puffs, which see curried minced chicken enveloped in flaky, melt-in-your-mouth pastry. Encased in glistening deep-fried wrappers, the fillings in the mushroom and glass noodle spring rolls are nonetheless unevenly distributed in every mouthful.

More restaurants are wearing their heart on their sleeve, so to speak, and BKK’s serving of chicken hearts threaded on to a skewer, dipped in an aromatic concoction of dark soy and lime, is a standout dish. Delivered straight out of BKK’s custom charcoal-burning grill, the barbecue pork skewer has good char and smokiness. Less known than its sister dish som tum, the crispy som tum sees strands of papaya and carrots deep-fried in flour and peppered with slivered red chillies.

Rich, creamy and packed with flavour, the only thing that lets the classic Northern Thai coconut curry egg noodle soup of khao soi gai down is the lukewarm temperature it’s served at. The strips of glazed crisp stir-fried beef are sticky, sweet and moreish, and though we hear about the fire-breathing properties of BKK’s jungle spice raw beef lab, the jackfruit and green banana green curry lacks a characteristic heat.

Where BKK truly hits it out of the park is with its desserts. The lemongrass mousse enclosed by a thin layer of mango and white chocolate and topped with a scoop of buttery, slightly nutty rice ice cream is a heady melange of Southeast Asian flavours. The term ‘tiramisu’ is a misnomer with the next dessert owing to its lack of horizontal layers – it’s more a marriage between the Korean shaved ice dessert bingsu and the Malaysian grass jelly dessert ais kacang, with the strong earthy sweetness of the Thai tea syrup and salty shaved ice an unexpectedly good pairing.

Service mishaps are to be expected with such a new outfit, but they’re numerous in BKK’s case. We’re less perturbed by our empty water glasses and the fact that our table is still full of dinner plates and cutlery when our desserts arrive, and more concerned by the som tum that arrives with peanuts – despite us having advised the kitchen of a nut allergy – and the laab that never comes.

But BKK is an assured fun time, if not a uniformly good time. Make a booking beforehand to avoid queuing downstairs and make use of the manifold post-dinner entertainment options in the building, whether it’s a tipple at Her Rooftop, an intimate drink at level one soundproof bar Music Room or a cocktail at all-day ground floor restaurant Her Bar.

Details

Address
Level 3,
270 Lonsdale St
Melbourne
3000
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