West Seattle restaurants: Bang Bar sets Friday opening for its ‘Modern Thai’ cuisine

Story and photos by Bill “Hutch” Hutchison
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

The new Junction restaurant/lounge Bang Bar has chosen its opening date: Next Friday (June 10).

We learned that in an interview Saturday with Bang Bar owners Kay Fuengarom and Aom Tiacharoenwat and their chef, who goes by “Chef Jahn.”

As the owners of two other Thai restaurants (Zab Thai in Everett and Chaiyo Thai in Northgate), they were attracted to the former site of Tom Yum Koong (which closed in February) for a few reasons.

First, family ties, in two ways: Kay happens to be cousins with the former TYK owner and adds, “I also have a sister living here in West Seattle.” she commented.

Kay and her family emigrated from Thailand to Seattle in 1993; she has been in the restaurant business since she was fifteen years old. Her family owned one of the first Thai restaurants in Seattle in the Queen Anne area. She was manager at the Northgate location in 1998 and then she and her partner Aom built the Everett location from the ground up in 2007. “That was a lot of work,” she explained. “But the experience has come in handy for our expansion here.”

The new Bang Bar also offers them the opportunity to do something new, to present Thai food in a way that it’s not often seen. We were shown several of their dishes during the conversation. (Above, the Lamb Satay.)

When the menu appeared online, some WSB commenters wondered about the prices. Kay’s response: “We believe our menu is on par with the finest hotels serving Thai food anywhere in the world. We are calling it ‘Modern Thai’ and are trying to raise the bar.”

She adds, “We are sourcing as many organic ingredients as we can and Chef Jahn is creating her own fresh curries and chili pastes.” (Some of the pastes are shown in the photo above.)

“I don’t like opening cans,” declared the chef. “What I’ve created is a combination of my training, my travels, my love of food and my family’s cooking secrets.”

One example given is that Jahn is creating twenty different versions of the rice served with their entrees. “Each flavor of rice is geared to pair with the meat or fish on the plate, making the entrée that much more special.” (Above, the short ribs.)

She and her staff will also present homemade desserts, including fresh ice cream.

Tomorrow night, if you’re in The Junction, you will see activity in Bang Bar, but its public opening won’t be happening yet. The owners will be hosting a private, invitation-only party to try and work out the “kinks” before welcoming their first paying customers.

Then, what’s described as a “soft opening” for the public is slated to begin Friday at 4 pm. For the first week, Bang Bar will only be open for dinner.

Starting June 17, the restaurant will have its “grand opening,” beginning at 11 am, serving lunch and dinner. (Their original plan to also offer brunch is on hold for a while.) They’re planning to be open seven days a week – Sundays-Thursdays, 11 am to 12 am and Fridays-Saturdays, 11 am to 2 am. Happy hours will be from 4 pm-6 pm and 10 pm-close, daily, with both food and drink specials. At this point, they’re not planning any live entertainment offerings.

Food can be ordered “to-go,” but there won’t be any delivery to start with. After the business gets going, Kay and Aom want to start catering special events and will also offer an on-site chef to prepare all the dishes at the event.

Bang Bar is online at bangbarthai.com (including an explanation of the name).

SIDE NOTE: Bang Bar is the third of four new businesses opening on the south end of the east side of California between Alaska and Edmunds – shoe store The Sneakery (in the former Liberty Bell Printing space) opened May 8th; West Seattle Smoke Company (in the former laundromat/Liberty Tax space) opened a week and a half ago; and A Terrible Beauty (in the former Table 35/Ama Ama space) is likely to open before month’s end.

54 Replies to "West Seattle restaurants: Bang Bar sets Friday opening for its 'Modern Thai' cuisine"

  • J.S. June 5, 2011 (6:32 pm)

    “We believe our menu is on par with the finest hotels serving Thai food anywhere in the world.”

    That’s awesome! But as much as we esteem our area, this is a West Seattle neighborhood… Not a fine hotel. The menu looks nice, but I’m not sure if I’ll be visiting anytime soon because of the steep prices. :-(

  • Ohno! June 5, 2011 (7:35 pm)

    No. No. No. Please tell me that these guys are not going to try to elevate the pallets of people in West Seattle as if they are dining at the Blue Elephant in Paris?! Just looking at the photos (and the menu), tells me that people will try it once because WSites are like that, but that’s it. I don’t understand why, why, why these places open and attempt to go so far out of the AREA’S TARGET MARKET that they will eventually out-do themselves and sadly fail! The best Thai in WS is Buddha Ruska; for a reason. Their prices are not overly expensive, the food and service are just plain GOOD with no fanfare, foo foo, over the top plate presentation, go away hungry experience. I wish Bang2 all the best and all the luck—welcome. But, I’m sad to say, I think they just may need it. ☹

  • onceachef June 5, 2011 (7:38 pm)

    If you just eat to “get full” then there are plenty of places in WS to do that. Menus and prices are all about “value”…using top-notch ingredients, creating fresh in-house products and using organics is not cheap….if BB lives up to their promises you’ll be getting a good value for the money. This might possibly be “THE” Thai destination spot in the entire Seattle area…it’s good for WS if it is.

  • HappilyWaiting June 5, 2011 (7:43 pm)

    Best of luck.

  • Pete Tutak June 5, 2011 (7:46 pm)

    “We believe our menu is on par with the finest hotels serving Thai food anywhere in the world. We are calling it ‘Modern Thai’ and are trying to raise the bar.”


    I would suggest one go to Buddha Ruksa, and find out how the bar has already been raised, at a price that can be afforded.

  • Michael Waldo June 5, 2011 (7:49 pm)

    The prices seem a bit high to me too. I second the idea that we are not a fancy hotel, we are West Seattle. Chicken curry for $18? If anyone remembers the Thai Thai restaurant on 16th SW, it will be reopening soon. It used to have the best Thai food around. It has been closed for a long time because Sam the owner and host was fighting cancer. He recently passed, but his wife is in the kitchen, as she always was, and plans to carry on.

  • SpeakLoud June 5, 2011 (8:17 pm)

    Oh thanks so much for the Thai Thai update-I LOVE that place and talked to Sam just before he left-I figured it must not have gone so well since they have been closed for almost a year-love to his family….and if you chat with them perhaps a remodel would help them with their dine in business-I would even come and help remove that disgusting carpet myself! Ohhhh can’t wait for their yellow curry-THE BEST.

  • Traveller June 5, 2011 (8:43 pm)

    Thank you for the update on Thai Thai. I lived just a few blocks away and loved that place. I was saddened the first time I went by and saw they were closed. Sam will be missed, however, I am glad to hear they are re-opening.

  • ZippyDogs June 5, 2011 (8:55 pm)

    We are looking forward to eating at Bang Thai. Welcome to West Seattle! It is nice to have a fancy Thai place right here in West Seattle. No need to drive over the bridge.The prices don’t scare me – especially if the food is good. I am willing to pay for good food. Unfortunately the last 3 times we have been to Buddha Ruksa the service has been horrible. Perhaps a little competition is needed in West Seattle. West Seattle is changing and change is good!

  • JenS June 5, 2011 (9:03 pm)

    I wish them all the best! I think pricier restaurants can make it in West Seattle – thinking Spring Hill, Fresh Bistro, Blackboard Bistro, etc. – if they offer something wonderful that can’t easily be gotten elsewhere for less. I LOVE Budda Ruksa but this menu really seems different and interesting, plus the whole locally-sourced/organic/sustainable niche is a premium that people seem more and more willing to pay for. We’ll definitely try them.

  • Paul June 5, 2011 (9:23 pm)

    Im sorry but the name of this place cracks me up

  • onceachef June 5, 2011 (9:25 pm)

    I eat at Buddha Ruksa ALL THE TIME and their food is very good…but it never looks like what I see in these pictures for Bang Bar (which, visually anyway, raises the bar again)…eating is a large percentage of using the visual presentation (hence the adage, “you first eat with your eyes”)…who knows what will happen but maybe the naysayers should give them a chance…go to happy hour someday and have a few cheap bites and see if there’s any difference from other Thai restaurants in WS.

  • datamuse June 5, 2011 (9:43 pm)

    I have not been too impressed with Buddha Ruska and usually go to Fremont for Thai food…will give this place a try.

  • out for a walk June 5, 2011 (10:00 pm)

    I have not been that impressed with Buddha Ruska either. Best of wishes to Bang Bar. Love having choices here in West Seattle.

  • dawsonct June 5, 2011 (10:37 pm)

    Paul, I’m certain you can find words in a number of languages other than your native one, that sound funny and will crack you up.
    For the more mature audience, in Thai, the word ‘bang’ means town or village.

    For those who feel the prices are too steep, you can get a lot of McNuggets and burgers off the dollar menu for $15.
    I know a lot of you think “good” means huge quantities. For you, there is Claimjumper, Cheesecake Factory, Hooters, any number of National chain feeding-trough style restaurants. Buon gusto.
    Don’t take offense that we don’t view food through the same lens as you folks though, okay?

  • Nice Person June 6, 2011 (12:03 am)

    Change is good. I am so glad to see this new Thai place and can’t wait for Friday. Like others, BudhaRustica has not suited me. I don’t find the prices offensive on their menu, available on their website, if the food is good. I’m a bit tired of the comfort foodies invading WS, as I prefer serious ethnic food… So welcome to WS Bang Bar – swateekai (don’t know the proper spelling).

  • cjboffoli June 6, 2011 (12:13 am)

    Great coverage Hutch! The menu looks very compelling. Though I’m a bit concerned that the plating looks a bit overly “80’s haute” in comparison to more contemporary offerings I’ve been experiencing lately at top Bangkok restaurants like Nahm and Bo.lan. Still, I’m anxious to try it and I wish them luck!

  • Paul June 6, 2011 (6:28 am)

    Good luck! As someone who is currently unimpressed with Thai food in West Seattle, I think the menu looks great and I’m not scared by the prices. Thai places around Seattle all seem the same, so I’m craving some modern/fusion Thai. Can’t wait to visit next weekend!

  • Common June 6, 2011 (8:41 am)

    Do not assume that those of us who find this restaurant’s prices “too high” are uncultured, only looking for large portions, and don’t care about the quality of our food. Those that feel high restaurant prices are automatically synonymous with quality ingredients and cuisine clearly are more interested in appearances.

    I have witnessed other Seattle neighborhoods with lively cultures gentrify so much that only the very wealthy can afford to support the businesses in their own neighborhood. The Junction area is dangerously close to experiencing this and I would suggest anyone that wants to know what living in such a neighborhood is like should try moving to Ballard for a year.

  • Jiggers June 6, 2011 (10:02 am)

    I second that Common..Quality over quantity. There also has to be value in the menu because that’s what you look for is value.

  • Lulu June 6, 2011 (10:13 am)

    Great concept, but in the midst of a recession… Hmm. I, too, am looking forward to another Thai restaurant in West Seattle as I have found the Thai options here underwhelming. But $18 for curry and $16 for pad thai? I’m thinking I’ll stick with their lunch and happy hour menu until the economy turns around.

  • datamuse June 6, 2011 (10:28 am)

    Common, if Bang Thai was replacing Buddha Ruska then I’d take your point, but I wonder how much overlap in their patronage there’ll really be. I definitely understand wanting to be frugal, but on the other hand, I don’t see where it’s written in stone that Thai food (or any other kind for that matter) has to be cheap. Let’s give the place a chance before declaring it doomed, eh?
    It’s good to hear that Thai Thai isn’t gone forever, I hadn’t had a chance to try the place yet.

  • Love Thai food June 6, 2011 (10:55 am)

    Lets give every business owner who is trying to add to our community the benefit of the doubt and opportunity to succeed without dissing them before they even open and folks have tried their menu !

    Welcome Bang Bar to West Seattle !

  • East Coast Cynic June 6, 2011 (12:31 pm)

    Geez, we are seriously oversaturated in this city with Thai food. I wish we had some really good Chinese around these West Seattle parts-don’t tell me about the Yen Wor. I’ve heard that this place in Burien is really good–Red Szechuan? But with a glaring need for some quality Chinese, no restauranteur has shown zero interest in filling the void?

  • SarahScoot June 6, 2011 (12:36 pm)

    Bang Bar is priced higher than its apparent competition in West Seattle, but it may turn out that its actual competition is Spring Hill, not Buddha Ruksa*. That changes the game a bit. I plan to watch reviews for a few months to gauge the general consensus on Bang Bar, then possibly try it (a plan that aligns well with the current household plan of buying a house; we shouldn’t be rushing out to spend $24 per entree anyway!).

    *Note it’s Buddha RUKSA; “K” before “S.” Pronounced “rook-sah.” The name is not Buddha RUSKA (“russ-kah”).

  • waikikii June 6, 2011 (12:44 pm)

    Good Thai food doesn’t have to be expensive. Expensive Thai food doesn’t mean that it is good. I’m done with these overpriced, trendy, barely there portions, and generally disappointing meals as of late with this economy. I’ll pass.

  • Dunno June 6, 2011 (1:41 pm)

    Hey Daw, good to know. When I saw the name I thought here comes another bar meat market.

  • canele June 6, 2011 (2:12 pm)

    My two cents…. I’ll reserve judgment on the prices until I’ve tasted the food. My rule of thumb for restaurants is price-to-performance. I think West Seattle needs more ethnic restaurants that serve good, fresh food with bright, authentic flavors. I hope Bang Bar is that kind of place. And, I wouldn’t cry if a good Korean restaurant opened here.

  • datamuse June 6, 2011 (3:20 pm)

    EC Cynic, this city IS oversaturated with Thai food, but most of it isn’t very good in my experience.

    Agree with you on Chinese food, though. I want to try that place down in Burien; otherwise, when I want Chinese I go to the ID. (Or, preferably, San Francisco or Vancouver.)

  • Brett June 6, 2011 (3:56 pm)

    I can’t wait for Bang Bar to open. I’ll also echo datamuse and say that Buddah Ruksa is over-ratted (not bad mind you, just not as good as the hype). In fact I thought Tom Yum Koong was superior in terms of their food….if not their decor. The best Thai I’ve had in Seattle (that’s still open) though is Tawon Thai in Fremont. Ohh and to those who say Seattle is over-served with Thai food, I say that, for me, that isn’t possible. :o)

  • datamuse June 6, 2011 (4:36 pm)

    I like Tawon Thai too, though Kaosamai Thai, which is across and up the street, is my favorite.

  • Carrie Ann June 6, 2011 (5:11 pm)

    I just returned from living in Beijing for 6 months, and I’d actually love to see a great authentic-style Chinese restaurant in West Seattle. Already missing some of the dishes we grew to enjoy while there. I’m a fan of Buddha Ruksa and a couple dishes at Pailin, but plan to give Bang Bar a try, because I love Thai cuisine and am all about supporting local businesses. Best of luck to them!

  • anonyme June 6, 2011 (5:12 pm)

    My favorite is Tup Tim Thai on lower Queen Anne.

    While I’m sure there is a niche for a restaurant like Bang Bar, I question whether this is either the time or the location.

    BTW, a paucity of funds (hardly a character defect in these times) does not automatically place a diner in the “trough feeder” category. Comments like this are ignorant and inflammatory.

  • twicksea June 6, 2011 (5:55 pm)

    I am willing to pay more for quality, especially organic. I welcome creative Thai food. And it’s too soon to pass judgement on a place that isn’t even open yet. But given that they plan to charge more for say, a housemade ice cream dessert, than places like Canlis or Cafe Juanita, which seem to be considered “very expensive” by most folks, that seems worrisome to me for their future viability in the West Seattle junction, in the economy we’re living in. I guess we’ll see.

  • Paul June 6, 2011 (6:08 pm)

    Pailin works for me just fine and lee’s asian..sorry I can not afford to try Bang Bar

  • TC55 June 6, 2011 (6:30 pm)

    I was surprised by the comments regarding those of us who want huge portions, that Claim Jumper would be a better option for us. Claim Jumper’s huge portions are not served family style (they should be because if their size) and most traditional Thai meals are prepared family style and that is what my turnoff is with Bangbar. There is no way a table of 4 could share the lamb satay pictured above. You would have to order 2 just for a small table to share. My family is Thai and we eat Thai food quiet often, but Bangbar will most likely have to be reserved for “date night” instead of “gathering with friends night”. We will probably give them a try during happy hour so we can sample several dishes.

  • ZenZin June 6, 2011 (10:59 pm)

    I was at their ‘get acquainted’ party this evening and have to say the food prepared for us this evening was rather remarkable. Sure, the prices may be ‘upscale’, but the quality/price ratio is quite high. I not only welcome Bangbar, I plan on visiting them often when they’re officially open to the public. I have never had scallops that tasted this good. And the mango cardamon creme brulee is superb. My best wishes to Kay and Aom. Bruce.

    • WSB June 6, 2011 (11:25 pm)

      We’ll be putting up a story and some pix shortly – correspondent “Hutch,” who’s been working the Bang Bar story since Tom Yum Koong closed, was there too. – TR

  • dawsonct June 7, 2011 (1:36 am)

    I wonder if people in Chicago look at the prices at Frontera Grill and say, “man, I can’t believe they are trying to charge that much for Mexican food!”
    That Rick Bayless, what a fool! He’ll NEVER succeed!

  • Sgt. Hartman June 7, 2011 (10:06 am)

    I too welcome a new Thai option in West Seattle. I look forward to trying Bang Bar and wish them all the success in the world. However, as good as the food might be, I’m concerned they may have priced themselves right out of a steady stream of customers, especially in this economy.

    Even if it’s great Thai food, it’s clearly not a place I can afford to eat as often as I like to eat great Thai food, which means Bang Bar will be sharing my business with their less expensive competitors.

  • Kayleigh June 7, 2011 (2:49 pm)

    Would rather have a Rick Bayless creation here, as I am burnt out on Asian food in general, expensive or cheap.
    I hope all who can’t afford Bang Bar are now put in their inferior, McNugget-grubbing, trough-eating place. Jeez, how rude.

  • Tuesday June 7, 2011 (9:06 pm)

    That’s the beautiful thing about a free market (well a kinda free market)… time will tell whether the prices are too high (or to too low!) We get to vote with our wallets. And there’s no rule saying prices can’t come down if people in West Seattle decide that’s not what they’re willing to pay. I say thank goodness you can charge whatever you want! I hope they make a gazillion dollars and spend it all over the place.

  • dawsonct June 8, 2011 (12:58 am)

    “Asian food” is quite the broad term, more so even than “Mexican food.”

    Obviously, K, you didn’t get the point I was making. Jeez, how purblind.

  • Joe Z June 10, 2011 (9:43 pm)

    I’m just excited to go to a place called bang bar.

  • WS Suzanne June 11, 2011 (7:09 pm)

    I hope they have a happy hour so I can try a lot of their offerings. Don’t see one on their website. But the food sure sounds fantastic. The late hours are a refreshing change. I’m really looking forward to going soon, and wish them great success in that space.

  • grr June 15, 2011 (7:25 pm)

    I agree with the price concern. There are a number of WS places that I would LOVE to frequent more often but are too expensive (Spring Hill, Jax, Fresh) comes to mind)…

    It’s a mentality thing that ‘price equals quality”. and I think its just wrong. I suspect that BangBar’s food WILL be exquisite. SOOO..WHY NOT make the prices more reasonable so that it could be PACKED every single night???

    Surely a packed house will spend that extra $$$ on desserts/bar drinks, etc. I’m sure we’ll give them a shot at least once..but that may be it if the prices don’t change.
    And I love Buddah Ruksa :)

  • Joe June 17, 2011 (9:58 am)

    I went the other night with my wife and wrote a pretty extensive review for them. Overall the food was very high quality but also very expensive. Service was good and the atmosphere is great. They have a fantastic drink menu but the food selection was pretty slim and hopefully it expands. The desert menu also left something to be desired. If I could get there for Happy Hour then the food and drinks would be a great value.

    Overall I would say its more of a special occasion kind of place and not a lets drop by for a quick bite to eat. Because of that I would say its a once every few months kind of place to eat. The end result was $90 for 3 drinks, 2 entrees and an appetizer. A little more than I like to spend for 2 people going out even with drinks.

  • Long Camper June 17, 2011 (10:10 pm)

    Ate there tonight. Lousy experience. Bland flavor, poor service, dishes came 7 minutes apart from one another. Won’t be back.

  • SD June 19, 2011 (8:21 pm)

    My partner and I had a delightful dinner at Bang Bar on Friday night, 6/17. The calamari appetizer was lightly breaded and the dipping sauce was a surprising and tasty twist. I had the crispy cod, which was excellent! Crispy on the outside, and moist and flaky on the inside. My partner had the duck noodles. The duck was perfectly done and the noodles were a nice accompaniment. We tried several of their specialty cocktails, and all were delicious. We ate at the bar, and service was excellent. Our only complaint was that our entrees came out about 5 minutes apart, which seemed to be a common problem that evening. Overall, a great dining experience, and we will definitely be back.

  • ZippyDogs June 23, 2011 (10:38 pm)

    Dinner tonight – 6/23/11 – food and service was fantastic.

  • grr June 26, 2011 (8:55 pm)

    Dinner 6/26. SPECTACULAR. Worth every dime.

  • Cooperdog June 26, 2011 (8:56 pm)

    We were anxious to try BB, great appreciation for Thai food. What an expensive and disappointing experience on every level! Other than Green Curry Chicken (I have never seen a chicken that small – maybe a Game Hen?) which had a nice bite to it, 3 other dishes were flavorless or surprisingly deep fried. No sauces. Pad Thai was tasteless noodles and shrimp. The service was extremely disjointed, drinks took forever, we shared family style but were only given tiny appetizer plates to eat from. No serving spoons for dishes. One round of drinks for 3, 2 appetizers, 2 entrees for $85.00. When asked, we said the food lacked taste in general. We were told as of July 1, a new chef from Thailand will be arriving and they will serve more traditional Thai food. At these prices? I will never go back – Buddha Rushka still my fave!

  • grr July 9, 2011 (9:06 am)

    Went by last night..only serving a limited menu because of the street fair, but I took a peek at their NEW menu (not up on the website yet). Still some of the same high end dishes (the duck is spectacular), but certaiinly some more ‘competitive’ priced ‘traditional’ Thai dishes.

    Looking forward to trying some of them out. Give credit to a business that listens to their customers. I think they’ll work out all the small service issues eventually. I’m pretty lenient about that. The place is nice. The food is good.. let’s see what happens.

  • West Seattle Joe July 22, 2011 (10:15 pm)

    Ugh. Sad to say, but this place needs a lot of refinement on most aspects of what it does.

    Where to start? OK, the screetchy fake friendly high-pitched waitresses who haphazardly touch you as though you’re an old friend? Not quaint or elegant or charming. Big turn off.

    Design. It seems in adopting “new” the owners have adopted America’s penchant for form over function. Circa 1982. Mishapen, oversized plates that don’t fit on the table. Every dish the waitresses and manager brought out they needed our help to rearrange the table.

    And speaking of service, C-. They don’t clear plates, they don’t bring obvious condiments. It is just, simply, badly done. The concept is nice. And what they are aiming for is good. But for what they charge there was nothing about it that would make me go back. Maybe in 6 months they’ll have worked out the kinks.

    Then again, most Americans are so clueless that if a place charges more than it should and has interesting cocktails they will think it’s great (there’s a reason “restaurants” like McD’s and its ilk originated in this country). Luckily much better options are in the area.

Sorry, comment time is over.