For a moment in time, Cruise Bar’s Level One Bar space was that Tanqueray Pop up Bar and we popped in and had a couple of bites and checked out the sights of the Sydney Opera House all alit with colours and stardust. It was cold outside and Lvl 1 Cruisebar was a welcome revisit to one of Sydney’s best bar spots – with that view. This spot was always the Yin/Yang to Opera Bar – one gets you the view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the other the Opera House. Everybody wins.
When we hear that Cruise Bar is back for good, we pop back in for drinks (and then dinner) and we spot some familiar faces – Ian (ex papagedes) and bar manager Marco Oscar Oshiro Giron (say that quickly) runs the bar here and its now a more sophisticated and surprise, Asian themed bar with restaurant to boot. Junk Lounge sits on level one of Cruise Bar and is darker more mature with nary a burst of chinoserie red in sight. Also a familiar face – the woman in their mural who we pondered about – where have we seen you before missy – its the artist’s signature artwork (It’s this place here). With it harbourside location; the name Junk Lounge is appropo – (The junk in its name referencing Chinese junk ships of old); ships and maritime, travellers and international
Junk Lounge is dimly lit, packed by about 7pm and once the curious mumsy 80s pop segued into electro funk – a wholely appealing affair. There’s plenty of nooks and corners to stow away in and a large central dining table to the side. Junk Lounge is as much of a chinese restaurant as it is a modern cocktail lounge.
A dazzling array of chinese/japanese/malaysian eats – from chicken drumsticks, satays, grilled prawns, japanese pancakes to spring rolls (vietnamese) and tuna tataki – the eastern influences are very much on the forefront. The verdict on the small eats was that they were robust and delicious. And we were pleased that you can pop over to this end of town and get some good eating chinese food and the kitchen opens late too. Its a win win. Chicken drumstick dishes batter made them puff up into big circular balls – there’s some interesting cookery/technique here.
Getting into the mains – Chicken Rice and Softshell crab with greens – Chicken Rice main was substantial and there was plenty here – we were concerned about the $32 price on the dish but there was plenty of food and you’ll easily share this. And its great with a nice tasty soup. A rather great rendition of this dish and if we were craving Hainanese Chicken Rice and we’re at the Rocks? We’ll make out way into Junk Lounge. Easy. The other dish came; after a couple of drinks and we ate it wondering what the protein was. The softshell crab had been stirfried with the greens making them somewhat soft and gluggy “mystery protein” – easily remedied by putting the crab on top of the greens. And you’ll see them and be impressed by the sight of pipping hot deep fried soft shell crab. Otherwise, it was pretty tasty and a largish serve.
RON’S WELL-GROUNDED (pour-over ritual) | 30 Ron Zacapa 23Yr, Dark Rum, 40% Vedrenne Crème De Cacao Blanc, France, 25%Ground Coffee, Orange Bitters, Grapefruit Bitters, Mint
A bit of a showy drink and one of their pricer ones on the menu – the Ron’s was darkly flavoursome and very boozy number. Sit at bar when you order this.
There’s a large selection of eastern named but western styled tasting cocktails here curated by Marco – and we gotta say – there were some particular highlights. Shiso Fresh and the Aloe Geisha were beautifully balanced and nuanced and drinks we’d endlessly return to. The latter is a very almost summer drink that combos sake and rum. Really gorgeous.
Here’s the thing. Junk Lounge was great. Food was banging and nothing beats asian with a view and then there’s the delicious and extensive cocktail list. Its good to have Cruise bar back properly. Check in.