BangPop by name and by nature, this delicious Thai street food restaurant has hit the dining scene in South Wharf with a… bang. We chatted to Head Chef Kam McManamey (ex Dandelion, St Edmonds) about his passion for free range and unique produce.
How did your interest in Asian food come about?
The cleanliness of the flavours and the [need] to achieve balance as well as everything else.
I tried mucking around with it, experimenting with it in my kitchen and things just kind of went from there. The first book I got was Charmaine Solomon’s Encyclopaedia of South East Asian Food, which was really what piqued my interest.
What’s your approach to produce?
Obviously seasonality is a massive part. I love eating good quality in-season produce and try and do so as much as possible. I also like sourcing some slightly odd and kind of boutique-y stuff, I’ve been checking out the people from Tathra Oysters today just to see what their caper was and see if we can get hold of their stuff. We tend to use watermark crabs, which are the all-year-round soft shell fresh crabs.
Is free range something that you identify on your menu?
We always get free range products when we can, I mean it costs a little bit more but I think in the 21st century we’ve got an obligation to use those products. We try and use free range as much as possible, it’s not always possible with some of the pork products. All the chicken is free range, all the eggs are free range, I don’t think I can source free range duck at the moment, I think it might even just be free range the way the farming is.
Was BangPop always meant to be a street food style offering?
Yeah, the initial idea was that the a la carte menu would be a pretty much South East Asian type street food, what you get on the streets of Bangkok or Chang Mai and then we would experiment and have a little bit of fun through the specials menu. So you know, the a la carte has your pad kraos, pad thais, and pad see ews and curries and whatnot and then coming on the specials are different things. I’ve got some Hervey Bay scallops coming tomorrow that I’m going to put in the yellow curry.
We’ve developed specials like a curry which is taking the turmeric from the yellow curry and swapping it over for beetroot which makes it a bit more earthy and putting more ginger in it. People are having fun with it and the a la carte’s for more traditional, more authentic stuff.
We have to ask – do you have a favourite dish?
I’d go the yellow curry, it’s usually barramundi – it’s a market fish curry. Or maybe the grilled pork.