Cozy yet full of exuberance, Bin Bin Long is like a brightened-up version of a London pub. As soon as you walk through the doors, the vocalist (and restaurant owner) of the live jazz-pop trio greets you with a warm welcome, and you’ll be seated by friendly waiting staff. Much of Bin Bin Long’s charm hinges around this feeling of belonging which, it must be said, lingers in the memory a lot longer than the signature “Vietnamix” (that’s Thai-inspired Vietnamese) food.
The Thai spicy salads such as star-fruit and moo yor sausage (B180) and corn salad (B125) taste pretty much the same as you’ll find at any typical Bangkok somtam stall: acidic, a little sweet and incredibly spicy—be sure to have a drink on hand, like the lychee soda (B95).
The traditional Vietnamese fare is a little more interesting. Despite an overly sweet palm-sugar-based sauce, the naem nueng set (B180) is fresh and flavorsome, as is the banh canh (B125). Known in Thai as guayjub yuan, this delicate dish of transparent noodles in broth has a hearty consistency, thickening as the starch from the noodles dissolves.
The menu also has some European touches, such as the tomato soup (B150) which bears a striking resemblance to Chef Boyardee spaghetti sauce, only fresher, made with chopped tomatoes and dill, and served on top of chiffonaded greens—a recommended dish for weight-watchers.
Overall, Bin Bin Long’s untraditional offerings may disappoint Vietnamese connoisseurs, but the warm Friday and Saturday night atmosphere does make up for it. There is no frustration over long waits between courses thanks to the showmanship and friendliness of the performers, who welcome anyone to come and jam with them. It’s no bad thing when your evening ends in a karaoke session, right?