Wednesday, August 21, 2013

On theme at Uncle Ming's Bar

When Uncle Ming's first opened about a year ago, I felt it was one of Sydney's only truly themed small bars - almost of a Melbourne ilk. With its evocative Chinese fitout from yesteryear and fantastic underground space on York Street, it's now joined by the likes of The Lobo Plantation on Clarence Street as some of the city's great themed bars.

Hiding inconspicuously next to a brightly-lit shirt store down a short flight of stairs, Uncle Ming's reminds me of sub ground level eateries in Japanese subways, but it's decked out in a kitsch, not tacky, old-world Chinese style.

The back bar at Uncle Ming's, York Street, Sydney
Drinkers are welcomed into the dark space by the smell of incense, fittings evoking the 'Oriental' and black and white framed photographs from another era. There's seating for all group sizes and period Chinese music playing lightly through the noise of the crowd.

At the back bar, sitting watch, are porcelain statues of various imperials and even a jolly, fat-bellied Buddha, converted into lamps. Chinese teapots line a ledge above the bar, for pots of cocktails that were made popular at World Bar so very many years ago.

Pearl River beer (left) and Ocean Kujukuri Pale Ale (right)
Uncle Ming's has an impressive beer selection that traverses most of northern Asia. The Chinese Pearl River beer is light in flavour, like a lot of beers from the mainland, making for very easy drinking. The Japanese Ocean Kujukuri Pale Ale is more to my taste with fruit notes and a subtle hops flavour.

Meanwhile, the cans of Japanese imported Kirin beer seemed to be the most popular with the beer-swilling suits on a Friday night.

The kitchen at Uncle Ming's
A small list of steamed dumplings and buns comprises the bar menu, steamed to order in a little kitchen at the end of the venue where steam puffs up through a round window.

Steamed scallop dumplings
The steamed translucent skins of the scallop dumplings were a little soggy but decent overall while the fluffy steamed bun filled with roast duck was an uncommon variation with a lot more dough than filling.

The bar
But you're not at Uncle Ming's for the food. It's an atmospheric space with nostalgically fun drinking experiences, and which doesn't take itself or its theme too seriously. On themes, we could all learn a thing from Uncle Ming.

Uncle Ming's on Urbanspoon


Missy Piggy said...

Looks great. I love this kinda place but the incense would kill my asthma so I'll just admire from afar via your post!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

It's fun there I agree! The dumplings weren't bad and I found the teapot cocktails sweet and strong :)

Amy zhong said...

i love the fitout, but m not a drinker so if the food isnt amazing ill probs wont be there, thx for the review tho!

happyeverafterbride said...

I was there recently too! I did snob over the dumplings, but the concept is good and people did have a good time so they must be doing something right.

Tina said...

Hi Miss Piggy - Aw, the incense is not overly pervasive so hopefully you'd be OK.

Hi Lorraine - Yup, girly cocktails and beers for the boys, for sure!

Hi Amy - It's a bar first and foremost, so yes, the focus is the drinks.

Hi happyeverafterbride - Yeah, fun concept that's not common in Sydney yet.


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