Na Bangkok brings Thai street food to FudoDori
Darase Kraykaew has been keeping folks fed and watered with her beloved Thai restaurant At Bangkok since 2007. The popular restaurant – located in the heart of Chinatown in Haymarket – is know for being open until 5:00 am, ensuring guests can get a fix of Thai street food in the wee hours of the morning. In fantastic news for fans of authentic Thai fare, Darase is bringing her culinary concept north, opening sibling restaurant Na Bangkok at Elizabeth Street precinct FudoDori today, Friday September 13. Na Bangkok’s menu of inspired eats will not only tantalise tastebuds, but will educate diners on the origins of some of Thailand’s most popular dishes.
When At Bangkok first opened its doors in Sydney, it was a place for Thai folks to find Thai cuisine on par with that found overseas. Home-style cooking and Thailand’s street-food culture was something that At Bangkok’s owner Darase Kraykaew searched high and low for in the city before deciding to jump into the hospitality scene herself – pad-see-ew-craving Sydneysiders have been thanking their lucky stars ever since. In addition to being an oasis for authentic Thai cuisine and a lively late-night hangout for many, At Bangkok has always boasted an educational element, imbuing the history and nuance of cuisine from Thailand’s southern peninsula (think Phuket and the region near the Malaysian border) into the menu as a whole. The team behind Elizabeth Street restaurant hub FudoDori reached out to Darase to sell her on the idea of expanding to Brisbane. It didn’t take long – after noticing the rapidly evolving food landscape and the city’s vibrant culinary undercurrent, Darase jumped at the chance to try something new and exciting at the burgeoning food precinct. Na Bangkok is At Bangkok’s sibling – a 120-seater venue that offers a cross-section of Thailand’s street fare and an interior aesthetic that pays homage to Bangkok of the past and present.
Located in the middle of FudoDori’s alleyway strip (next to Amai Kawaii), the restaurant’s interior aesthetic and atmosphere has been purposefully designed to evoke the crackling energy of Bangkok’s perpetually bustling streets and footpaths. Neon signage beckons from just within the entry threshold, illuminating a front counter where street-food morsels are made in batches. If you can peel yourself away from the prime ogling position at the glass, you’ll be invited to take a seat inside Na Bangkok’s lavishly decorated dining space, which has been purposefully designed to evoke a heaving streetscape – one showing the hallmarks of Bangkok’s post-war multicultural influences accumulated over decades. One end of the space is coated in an eye-catching scene of a fairground in full flight, with a cart showcasing toys and decorations much like the kind hawked at such festivals. A feature wall boasts a selection of shopfront facades – one selling toys, another filled with Chinese decorations and miscellaneous articles, and a third stocks Thai products. Located on the opposite wall is a recreation of an iconic Bangkok cinema, complete with its own illuminated marquee billboard, red-velvet curtain and a screen airing classic Thai films. At the venue’s rear is another dining space inspired by Bangkok’s canal district, where locals would purchase dishes from boat vendors and eat overlooking the water. Coincidentally, this end boasts a view out to Charlotte Street.
The food and drink
Eating at Na Bangkok is an all-day affair, stretching from morning street-food snacks to a veritable feast of light bites, noodle and rice dishes, desserts, sharing plates, curries, hot-pot soups, and At Bangkok signatures. Darase and her kitchen crew have paid close attention to nailing the ratio of Thai cuisine’s four flavour pillars – spice, sweetness, salt and sourness – as well as the historical and cultural significance of each dish. The fun starts with the snacks, which include the likes of deep-fried potato balls (using purple, gold and sweet potatoes for a colourful spin), banana fritters, shaved ice with toppings and flash-fried dough sticks – a treat that was brought to Thailand by Chinese immigrants. Larger street-food feeds include the popular boat noodle soup (named after the dish commonly sold by boat vendors), pad Thai, guay jub (tubular rice noodles with pork), seafood tom yum (spicy and sour noodle soup) and khao mun gai (Hainanese chicken and rice). A selection of At Bangkok signatures are also available, including the yum pla foo (crispy minced fish topped with green-apple salad), pineapple fried rice (served in a whole pineapple), spicy salmon and gai yang (chargilled turmeric and lemongrass-marinated chicken). The rest of the menu is filled with intriguing options, including the sticky rice pudding with durian, duck pancakes, grilled octopus, spicy tilapia fish and beef-tendon hot-pot. Na Bangkok is hoping to obtain a liquor licence in the coming months, and for now will only open until midnight at the latest. Guests can sip on Thai iced coffees, pandan drinks with coconut jelly and green teas, though the selection will be bolstered with beer, wine and cocktails once licensed.
Na Bangkok officially opens to the public for dinner tonight, Friday September 13. For opening hours and contact details, seek out Na Bangkok in the Stumble Guide.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.