A Shanghai-style basement bar harbouring custard buns and punch bowl cocktails.
If you peek through the velvet curtains on Hardware Lane and adventure down the stairs, you'll find cocktail and dim sum hotspot Golden Monkey. Owners Adam Ong and Michael Chen have managed to blend Shanghai 1920s nightspot with moody opium den and make it work with Melbourne's nightlife. Successfully, evidently, as the venue's been open since 2005.
It has a hint of mystery, romance and decadence — moody red lights illuminate the entrance, and folding shades provide an intimate space for booths and couches. It's open Thursday through Saturday and each night features a musical twist, from live bands performing R&B and soul, to DJs capturing the essence of Melbourne's nightlife on a weekend.
You can expect cocktails from three menus – see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil – which cover everything from old-time favourites to in-house specialties. If you're feeling extra thirsty, order your group a punch bowl. The Concubine's Last Kiss, for example, features tequila, Pimms, Aperol, peach sencha and will comfortably quench four people for $58.
There are snacks, too, like signature steamed soup dumplings, barbecue pork bao and custard buns, which are brought down from the kitchen upstairs at the adjoining East China Trading Company.
Images: Julia Sansone.