Legend has it, or maybe folklore that Uncle Ming was a notorious figure from Shanghai who swapped life as a sweet potato vendor for a policeman collecting protection money from opium dens. He became so powerful that he left China three years ago to settle in a subterranean Sydney bar.
Uncle Ming’s, Sydney
Uncle Ming’s is located along York Street and upon entering the underground venue, you’re transported to a world away from the hubbub of the CBD.
The venue is bathed in red lights and the fitout stays in theme and adds a touch of kitsch including a Sing a Ling music box in one corner. Gone is the incense-haze that overwhelmed the senses particularly when you’re sipping on well-crafted cocktails and some of the finest Japanese whiskies.
Uncle Ming’s Cocktails
Uncle Ming’s has recently introduced a new menu with a Japanese whisky focus ranging from whisky and apple juice to more complex drinks. The cocktails bear quirky names such as Stormy in Saigon and Ming Sling and they’re based on classics with the Uncle Ming touch.
Start with the Karuta Kicker ($18), a twist on the classic Blood and Sand. The drink is made with Hibiki Harmony Japanese Whisky, Johnnie Walker Black, plum brandy and blood orange, shaken to deliver an easy drinking fruity cocktail for a newcomer to whisky.
The Blushing Dragon ($19) brings Don Julio Tequila with Campari, lime juice and agave topped with blood orange. The tall drink has a lovely fresh and citrusy flavour with the tequila lingering at then end with a dry finish.
Fu Man Chu
Fu Man Chu ($19) is a take on the Boulevardier and well worth ordering. The drink has beautiful aromas from the smoked cinnamon and brings to the palate a perfectly balanced combination of Bourbon, Campari and sweet vermouth with a spicy and earthy note.
Uncle’s Old Fashioned
Uncle’s Old Fashioned ($20) is one of the favourites. Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve, Pedro Ximenez, black walnut bitters and orange bitters make up the drink which is neither stirred nor shaken, but rested in a shaker on ice and water to chill without any dilution. The drink is served on in a super-chilled brandy glass with an ice sphere which again minimises dilution. The drinks is well balanced with only a touch of sweetness from the PX sherry and lingers beautifully with the Yamazaki and nuttiness from the walnut bitters.
Flamed Shanghai Roller
Whether you’re sitting at the bar or in one of the cosy corners, the next drink being flamed will catch your eye.
Shanghai Roller ($21) comes with two options, smooth (Johnnie Walker Blue) or smoky (Laphroaig). The latter uses Hakushu Japanese Whisky, Laphroaig, honey and lemon, flamed and thrown and served in a brandy balloon. The drink combines the delicate and light smoke notes of the Hakushu on the front palate, leads onto sweetness and finishes with the smoky medicinal notes of Laphroaig. This drink is the perfect sipper at the end of the end.
Bruce Lee Cocktail
You’ll also find a selection of sharing cocktails for 3 to 4 people served from Chinese tea ware such as the Bruce Lee ($39) made with vodka, pomegranate, lime and ginger.
Uncle Mings Four Floors
And if you need a cleansing ale in between cocktails, the Uncle Mings Four Floors ($12) is a sessionable unpasteurised brew, all natural with a toasted caramel flavour that doesn’t hint at its 7.3% ABV.
Uncle Ming’s Food Menu
L- R Classic Pork Dumplings and Prawn Gow Gee
Should you feel peckish, a concise and tempting food menu is on offer served from a tiny kitchen that resembles a Chinese laundry.
The Classic Pork Dumplings ($9, 4 per steamer) are a must as are the Prawn Gow Gee ($9, 5 per steamer) served with a creamy sesame sauce, sriracha or chili and lime and soy.
BBQ Pork Bun
BBQ Pork Bun ($5 each) with original dumpling sauce takes you taste buds to Chinatown,
L – R Crab Claws, Tempura Prawn
while the Crab Claws ($12, 4 per plate), an Uncle Ming’s specialty will tempt you to order another. Pick it up by the claw and bite into delicious crumbed and fried crabmeat balls.
Tempura Prawns ($10, 4 per plate) are served traditional Japanese style with mayo.
Japanese and Taiwanese Whiskies
Uncle Ming’s carries a good range of Japanese whisky and it’s best to ask the bartenders as you may find some gems on the back bar such as Yamazaki 18, Corn Base Rare Nikka and the award-winning Kavalan Solist Vinho finish from Taiwan.
Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu Port Pipe and Wine Wood Reserve Whiskies
Ichiro’s Malt Chichibu Port Pipe and Wine Wood Reserve Whiskies are highly recommended. The port pipe finish is bottled at cask strength 54.5 % ABV and while it might initially assault the senses with its high ABV and oaky nose, the palate is surprisingly smooth and lush with ripe fruit and berries.
Come down the stairs and into the welcoming world of Uncle Ming’s. Be it for drinks after work, a range of tempting cocktails over buzzing conversations or top whiskies on the shelf, this is a great bar to unwind and lose track of time among engaging bartenders and friendly patrons. And don’t forget to thank Uncle Ming on your way out.
Photography © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved. Contact us if you wish to purchase any photographs.
Lower Ground, 55 York Street
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