Inspired by the neon-lit, bustling nightlife scene of Hong Kong in the 80s, Ni Hao Bar is a must-visit in Sydney’s CBD for a good night out. Come for the moreish food, stay for the drinks and party, this is one Chinatown venue that does it all.
We were lucky enough to be invited in for a private menu tasting to celebrate the end of lockdown, and we were totally blown away by how much of a vibe this unassuming restaurant is. Tucked away in the heritage-classified Civic Hotel building, as you ascend the stairs from Pitt Street to Ni Hao Bar you really do feel like you’re leaving Sydney behind.
Serving up twelve courses the evening we visited, we’re going to take on the hard task of talking about just a few favourites. The tuna tartare with hot and spicy chips was a light but exciting way to start the meal, followed by the saucy, cheesy goodness of a few cheeseburger spring rolls (perfect after a few of the soju teapot shots). The prawn toast was thick, juicy and topped with crunchy typhoon shelter crumbs, while the spanner crab noodles were slicked with XO sauce and sprinkled with pork cracking to add some extra texture.
If there’s one dish we can recommend from Ni Hao Bar, it’s the Wagyu Tri Tip MB 7+. Tender, served perfectly medium rare and plated with a half bulb of confit garlic, this steak was melt in your mouth buttery and seriously elevated with a squeeze from a garlic clove.
While you can order beer, wine and spirits here, it’s the shots and cocktails that really steal the show. Served with a side of drama, each cocktail on the menu is seriously fun and seriously delicious. The drink that really steals the show is the Siu Yam Yam, a unique take on a pornstar martini that fuses vanilla vodka, triple sec, pineapple, passionfruit, mango and the signature shot of sparkling together. Served in a Beauty and the Beast style display case filled with smoke, make sure you have your phone ready to ‘gram this cocktail as they present it to you.
It’s no secret lockdown has been particularly tough on the hospitality industry. Amongst this struggling industry though some have it a bit tougher than others. Sydney’s Chinatown lost some of its heavyweight champions to lockdown, and those who have managed to weather the pandemic’s assault are facing continued issues. Hard border closures have seen a loss of many of Australia’s overseas workers, resulting in a serious lack of hospitality staff available. Associations between the pandemic and Asia have also led to people avoiding Chinatown due to racist reasoning and misinformation found online.
It’s now more important than ever to visit your favourite yum cha restaurant or have a fun evening out at a vibey drinking spot like Ni Hao Bar. You can book in for dinner or drinks via their website here.