If you’re going to theme a small bar then you have to go whole hog if you want it to be great rather than just kitschy. Thankfully, that’s exactly what Uncle Ming’s Bar has done.
Hidden away on York Street (just a few minutes from Mojo Record Bar and Stitch), this Chinese-themed subterranean bar is so hidden away that, like any good opium den, you’d never find it without instructions.
The first thing that hits you on entry is the smell of incense, followed by the sight of red walls pasted with countless photos of Asian glamour girls. All the décor here, from the wooden lattices on the bar counter to the Chinese lamps and cushions, has a retro Asian theme. Even the sinks in the bathrooms are made from old woks.
I’m not normally that interested in bar food but, as a dumpling die-hard, I was curious to see how good Uncle Ming’s dumplings are – and I have to say, I’m impressed (my friend and I order both the pork and chive ones as well as the scallop gow gee). In fact, the pork and chive dumplings are almost as good as the ones I often get at the Chinese Noodle Shop in Chinatown.
We’re less impressed with the cocktail we get, though. Uncle Ming’s serves cocktails in Chinese tea pots for $35, and while this is good value considering the number of glasses you get out of it, our Bruce Lee pot (sloe gin, vodka, peach syrup, ginger beer) is too sweet. Having said that, by the time we finished the pot we both felt far more kindly toward the drink and felt that it even began to taste a bit like peach tea. However, that could be the sloe gin talking.
Next time I’m here I’ll try one of Uncle Ming’s many Japanese whiskeys instead – and I will definitely come back here soon because, aside from my minor gripe about the cocktail, this is an awesome bar. From the friendly service to the rat pack-influenced music (Sinatra and Chinese décor go surprisingly well together), this is a warm, atmospheric and enticing drinking and dumpling den.
Uncle Ming’s Bar, lower ground floor, 49 York Street, Sydney (Enter through the stairwell at 55 York Street – as if you are entering the Roman Daniels Suit Shop). Open from Monday to Saturday, 4pm – midnight. See the Uncle Ming’s Bar website
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