In Short: Say hello to Ni Hao Bar. It lures you in with the promise of imaginative cocktails and then you stay on for delicious bites. A nice warmth with a great vibe. Ask for a Siu Yam Yam and for nibbles have some of the Prawn Toast.
Ni Hao Bar evokes the feel of Asian nightlife, specifically what one would have experienced in the 90s or early noughties in Hong Kong. Sitting atop the Civic Hotel, this space is dark and moody with a well stocked display of spirits and liqueurs along with a kaleidoscope of colours streaming from behind the bar in the form of spectacular looking cocktails. The Coco and Vine team have endeavoured to go into the city as much as possible, and given that some stalwarts of Chinatown have closed, ventures like Ni Hao Bar encourages all of us to return with its oriental infused sharing plates that go so well with a beer or cocktail.
On our visit, there was a huge spread of dishes that were wheeled out. Below you will find highlights of the experience. Spring rolls are a staple starter yet at Ni Hao Bar takes it in a different yet exciting direction with a Cheeseburger Spring Roll. A mashup of crispy pastry with the beefy, cheesy flavour of a burger. It’s a familiar with an exciting texture that definitely works for me.
Continuing with reimagined classics was a Prawn Toast, Typhoon Shelter Crumbs and Lemon Gel. There is a nice touch of heat with unmistakable flavour of prawns. The lemon gel cuts through the fried textures. It’s a striking red, and definitely the equal of the traditional prawn toast.
Moving on from the small bites, we see the chefs bring out the big hitters. A Spanner Crab Noodle. XO and Pork Crackling just looks divine. That spanner crab is sweet and delicious and then there is the noodles that just firm enough and coated with the XO sauce that just fills the palate with that umami flavour. Pork crackling completes the dish, the only danger here is consuming it too quick and not leaving a morsel for anyone else.
Continuing with the eye candy was a Crispy Chicken. Shandong Black Vingar and White Pepper. It glistens as it is placed on the table and even after 6 dishes that preceded there was little hesitation from everyone to dig in and claim their piece. Moist, with a crisped up skin it is packed with flavour. The black vinegar imparts a smoky flavour and along with soy there is a nice balance of sweet and acidic flavours. An assured crowd pleaser.
I couldn’t write about Ni Hao Bar without making reference to one of their spectacular cocktails. The head turner during my visit was titled Siu Yam Yam. It’s filled with tropical flavors of mango, passionfruit and lime. The alcohol component is a premium grain spirit which imparts a truly unique flavour with notes of aniseed and curiously soy sauce. It’s that mix of sweet and salty flavour that plays with the mind and palate but is ultimately quite addictive.
Ni Hao bar is a welcome addition to the southern end of the Sydney CBD. Escape to the top of Civic Hotel and into a world of great drinks and delicious Asian classics with a contemporary touch.
*Coco and Vine dined as guests of Millennium Communications, Ni Hao Bar and Ettason. However, all opinions and photos are our own.