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Bang Bang to Unleash Late-Night Thai-Inspired Drinking Food on NE Fremont

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Chef Adam Kaplan and the owners of Aalto Lounge are taking over the former Hoda's space.

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The sleepy Beaumont neighborhood is shaping up to be Portland's next late-night hot spot.

By early February, chef Adam Kaplan, along with Aalto Lounge owners Kate and Alex Wood, will launch Bang Bang, a restaurant and bar focused on bowls of Thai curries and drinking snacks in the former Hoda's space.

Open until midnight during the week and 2 a.m. on weekends, Bang Bang joins Johanna Ware's well-established Barwares, and Batter, Griddle and Drinkery, the upcoming pancake and cocktail house set to open later this month, as the latest NE Fremont outpost aiming to feed the city's cocktail-swilling night owls.

Though the menu will focus on Thai flavors and the name has a familiar staccato ring to it, don't expect Bang Bang to be some sort of Pok Pok cover song. "It's not by any stretch authentic Thai food or street food," says Kaplan.

Case in point: the sandwiches, which will only be available after 10 p.m. "We'll have one that's like a Philly cheesesteak, with spicy red curry cheese sauce, roast pork, curry eggplant spread, and pickled greens on a hoagie. It's late-night drinking food."

Kaplan, who was the chef at Genoa (before it closed the first time in 2008) as well as the Uptown Billiards Club and an instructor at In Good Taste, says the rest of the menu's salads, snacks, wings, and skewers will be grounded in Southeast Asian flavors from Thailand and Vietnam.  The curries will be classics like red, green, panang, and massaman (no Indian curries Kaplan insists), all made from scratch and served over composed bowls of rice and vegetables.

"I'm really excited about the jungle curry," he says. "It's like a deeper version of a red curry — charred shallot, charred ginger, and charred garlic, with roasted chicken and lobster stocks. I'll serve it with wild mushrooms and squid ink noodles also made from scratch, but I'm not sure of the proteins I'll put in it yet."

With the exception of the squid ink noodles, most items will be gluten-free and he'll always have one vegan curry on the menu.

A Philadelphia native, Kaplan says he's always loved Asian food and has spent time in Japan. But it was a dinner with Andy Ricker and David Thompson during the first Feast food festival that set his cooking on a new path. "It changed my outlook on Asian food. Since that day I've been teaching myself Thai food."

For the past three years, he's cooked Thai-style curries for Indie Chefs Week, "and gotten a good response."

Kate Woods, who oversees the bar program at Aalto Lounge, will direct the bar at Bang Bang. She's aiming for well-thought-out, food-friendly drinks that aren't theme-y. "We're trying to stay away from the over-the-top, ‘everything has to have lemongrass in it kind of menu,' " Kaplan says. "We just want to make really good drinks and have a nice wine selection."

The restaurant has 36 seats, including 10 at the bar, plus another 12 outside when the weather is warm. Kate's husband Alex is in charge of the décor, which will veer toward modern. In fact, he and Kaplan are doing a lot of the work themselves.

Bang Bang will serve dinner only, starting at 5 p.m., with happy hour starting at 10 p.m. The only day they're closed is Tuesday. "We want to appeal to the service industry by staying open Sunday and Monday," says Kaplan.

Bang Bang, 4727 NE Fremont Ave., Portland

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