Posts Tagged ‘Chinatown’


Double Happiness, Chinatown

Double Happiness is the quintessential Melbourne bar. Small, out of the way and quirky, this is the sort of place that you would walk past without batting an eye lid, but just try that asian inspired door at the top end of Chinatown and you are in for a surprise.

Propaganda at Double HappinessPresided over by a statuette of chairman Mao and state sponsored propaganda, the space consists of an open arrangement of low couches and the obligatory stools at the bar. Forget about boothes and intimate tables for 2, this open community style arrangement forces you into conversing with your fellow drinkers or provides for a jovial place for a larger group. Even the toilets take the community feel with 1 door between seat and smoking area, unisex toilets and one old laundry sink for your hands.

The asian theme permeates throughout the establishment, the cocktail list consists of contemporary cocktails with asian herbs and flavours. Coriander and ginger, lychee and cardamom mixed deliciously in a combination of smashes, sidecars and martinis. Apart from the strange question of  “How would you like your manhattan, sweet, dry or perfect?” the barman constructed a perfectly balanced cocktail with a perfect dose of sweet vermouth, the requested matuselum 12 year old and a healthy dose of maraschino juice (in the absence of liqueur) topped of with 2 cherries.

Subsequent visits have been met by nothing short of happiness from the barstaff to experiment. Reza (sp?) is the man that always seems to be there and most recently was happy to concoct a libation involving a secret Double Happiness recipe spice syrup, coriander, rye whiskey and vermouth which resulted in a very eastern style mint julep. Dangerously easy to suck down, but perhaps not quite ballsy enough. This collaborative effort with yours truly is what sets this bar apart and seems to be a regular occurence.

It seems that the personalised service isn’t restricted to me alone. Behind the bar there are a number of lockers, storing regular customer’s specially ordered bottles of this and that. I’m told they can and will get just about anything and keep it there just for you when you stumble in late at night for a rare single-malt tipple.

Everything about this bar is friendly, the staff don’t necessarily have the orthodox customer service manner yet it is friendly and welcoming. Their attitude is great, capping off what isn’t necessarily the most popular or trendiest bar in Melbourne. It is more like an old favourite, a comfortable place to go for a late night drink on your own or with friends. A place to sip on a great drink that’s not out of your price range but still made with all the care you deserve. Perhaps this is the communist way.

Seating at Double Happiness Toilets at Double Happiness Entrance to Double Happiness Chairman Mao at Double Happiness Propaganda at Double Happiness Seating Area at Double Happiness

Supper Inn, Celestial Ave

There are places in Melbourne that make you feel as though you are in another place, or another time and sometimes you stumble down an alley or a laneway and you could well be in both another place and another time. Walking down Celestial Ave, in the heart of Chinatown at any hour of the night or day is precisely one of those experiences. If it wasn’t for the multi-storey carpark towering over the street you would easily expect to see Woo, of Deadwood fame, sitting down beside of one of the stores with his pigs, and his whores. Yet, he isn’t there and in his place is an overflowing dumpster and an angry asian chef having a sneaky cigarette perhaps a beer.

Who can hold it against him though, when the Supper Inn advertises its opening hours until 2:30am and you would have to think that if there were people there wanting to order at half 2 the kitchen surely wouldn’t be closed. The food is great, it certainly isn’t the cheapest between the red gates of Chinatown but it doesn’t seem as jam packed with artificial flavours as other restaurants. $20 will net you the barbecued suckling pig which was very tastey, but quite a small portion and $18 will get a Szechuan Beef and a Sweet and Sour Pork. Of particular note was the sweet and sour pork which was not only extremely tasty but also a great sized portion. The menu consists of traditional style Chinese food, all sitting around this price range. It’s probably the best food in Australia that money can buy at 2 in the morning.

Working our table was an older chinese man who’s lack of conversation was refreshing, considering our conversation was hilarious to us, but almost certainly less so to him. He was happy to pour our cheap ‘Bulli Bulli’ Shiraz which was quite a surprise but nothing compared to how he wielded the spoons when he served us our special fried rice. This was something that has to be seen to believed, the spoons were snapping faster than a pitbull in a cattle yard and before we could say, “Cheers mate” our bowls were overflowing with rice.

Service with a smile and a nod.