Holy moly Bangladesh, your food is a revelation! Bang is open now in Surry Hills, serving up food inspired by the streets of Dhaka, and injecting new life and flavour into one of Sydney’s most popular dining strips, Crown Street.
One of the best things about this place is the dynamic atmosphere. Maybe it’s the on-trend, industrial-meets-designer interior, the jazzy neon lights, boldly monogrammed crockery, or friendly staff in their vibrant, tiger-themed T-shirts. Or perhaps it’s the thoughtful little cone of roasted, unshelled peanuts that lands on the table to see you over until the food comes. The optional $2 charge goes straight to the Fred Hollows Foundation.
But it’s also the playlist – think Cyndi Lauper, Shaggy, the Backstreet Boys and the always-entertaining ‘Hungry Eyes’ from Dirty Dancing. These guys know their audience: 20- to 30-somethings who like a side of nostalgia with that brand new dish you've probably never heard of before.
Bucking the share plate trend, Bang separates its service into starter, main and dessert. So bear in mind that your small plates will all arrive at the same time, and cleared before the larger dishes land. After years of one-dish-at-a-time dining, it’s actually refreshing to be able to eat this way, like holding your own pic’n’mix party – a little bit of this, a little bit of that.
Bangladesh’s most beloved street food goes perfectly with this style of eating – fuska are little puffs of fried pastry filled with smooth, spicy mashed potatoes. Delicate, grated boiled egg bedecks the tops, and a little jug of tamarind water is served alongside, ready to pour over as you eat (we saw a similar dish at Subcontinental last week). It’s playful, filling, and sort of like a savoury Tim Tam slam.
Whatever you do, order the omelette with blue swimmer crab. It’s just clever cooking – the salty, oceanic flavour of the crab lapping against the potent heat of green chillies (which, with their grassy intensity, are too often overlooked for the more familiar heat of the red variety). You get hits of hot and hits of salt, so every mouthful is different. Keep the fish theme going with the cobia tartare, which is like a spicier ceviche. Heady with coriander seeds, it’s light, bright and pleasingly refreshing.
The soupy goat curry has the flavour of a great bone broth backing it up, the meat rich, tender and melting off the bone; there's a tingly cinnamon finish to the mild, gravy-like sauce. The wagyu beef tri-tip curry comes with lovely little cords of chive flower and is light and similarly stock-driven, the meat itself tender and flavourful. Go all out and try the mussels in bhuna sauce – the garlic and curry leaf sauce doesn’t overpower the delicate flavour of the shellfish. A restrained use of coconut milk keeps the dish refreshing, not heavy.
And what to mop all of these sauces up with? Rice, of course. Here, it's fit for a Maharaja and positively humming with saffron, that most luxurious of spices. The naans from the in-house tandoor aren’t the doughy kind you get with your chicken tikka roll; here they are blistered and puffy – much like the rest of the dishes, they represent a lighter approach to what is often seen to be heavy food.
As for drinks, feel free to spike your lassi with a shot of dark rum (the mint-infused Bang Lassi is a great balancing act with the food) but we wouldn’t walk past the Porto Grande cocktail, either. The white port concoction sings with cardamom, and the PE Rose from Alentejo is a standout if wine’s your tipple – the hefty oakiness holds its own against all that spice.
Not keen on ordering dessert after curry? Bang might make you change your mind, because the kulfi (ice cream) is a cardamom lover’s little piece of heaven, and the lal mohan (sort of like a gulab jamin or syrup-soaked doughnut), served with caramelised peach and balanced perfectly with sour, saffron crème fraiche, is a delight.
The disappointing thing about this place? What you don’t eat, you can’t take with you. Staff say it’s an OH&S issue, but we think they should sort this out. Pronto.
Bang is an exciting addition to Surry Hills, where lighter fare from the Indian Subcontinent is already a notable trend in 2015. This is food that doesn’t weigh you down, that is treated with a sophisticated understanding of the cuisine (no surprise, then, that head chef Tapos Singh is Bangladeshi). The prices are fair, and a $55 ‘Bang for your Buck’ deal gets you most of the best things on the menu, which will make things easier if you're dining in a group.
It’s rare that a whole new cuisine presents itself on our inner-city streets, so we're thrilled to say it: hello, Bangladeshi food, where have you been?