Back in the ’60s and ’70s Hong Kong was full of tiny, alleyway teahouses. They were known for serving dim sum, bubble tea and sweets and having bright colour schemes. Most of them are now gone but today a new one opens, not in Hong Kong but tucked into an alley in Barangaroo.
Bing’s is the name, the latest venue from Lotus Group’s gradual CBD takeover. “Now everyone's design is fashionable and all simple. Everyone has forgotten about old school; we wanted to bring back that feel,” says Chris Yan, Lotus’s executive chef. It’s very retro – designer Melissa Collinson (Madame Shanghai, Sake) has gone for a tea-cosy-style bright green and yellow floral pattern. The back wall, equally bright, is decorated with old images of Hong Kong celebrities and street scenes.
The menu has been taken in a different direction. “It's focused on modern Chinese, maybe a little bit of Japanese too. It’s all very casual,” says Yan. Everything is designed either as a takeaway-friendly option, mostly rice bowls and noodle soups; or as something you’d want to smash with a beer on Friday afternoon. Lemongrass-marinated fried pork chops and noodles come in a clean tomato broth; they serve one of the best fried rice dishes in the CBD; and there’s a sweet and sour beef noodle soup inspired partly by Shanghainese Dong Po pork and Johnathon Grace, an apprentice at Madame Shanghai. “He made some very nice beef. I said, ‘Where is the sweet from?’ ‘Tomato sauce.’ ‘I was like ‘what? You put tomato sauce in a Chinese recipe?’ but it was so nice.”
Unfortunately, drinks aren’t available as licensing issues have restricted the flow of beer until September. The snacks are there to eat though. They mainly consist of buns, either bao or brioche, filled with options like the crumbed fish and chilli jam; salt and pepper chicken and kimchi; or Yan’s favourite, braised beef brisket with crushed lemon aspen, coriander and white pepper.
When the licence comes through, expect bottled cocktails from Kate McGraw (Lotus’s chief cocktail engineer), wine on tap and bottles of Nomad beer. Until then you can order green bubble teas just like in Hong Kong.
Bing’s Bao & Beer
Shop 1, 9 Scotch Row, Barangaroo
(02) 9247 6868
Mon to Fri 11am–8.30pm