Ching-a-Lings is the kind of chilled, unpretentious small bar where you can grab a couch with some good company and while away some very memorable hours.
Madeleine Watts
Published on August 30, 2011
Updated on June 16, 2021


I have been to Ching-a-Lings many a time, yet never can I remember precisely where it is. Despite its entrance being located on Oxford Street, Ching-a-Lings has an almost Harry Potter-esque ability to disguise its entrance from the eyes of the public. All I can ever remember is that it's kinda near an Indian restaurant. To avoid looking lost, I recommend counting the building numbers in a nonchalant manner from the opposite side of the street.

Ching-a-Lings was one of the first small bars to pop up a couple of years ago and it has stuck, because it's good and it's friendly. There's nothing that makes you feel like you're wearing the wrong shoes or sipping the wrong drink when you walk in. Most importantly, it's not ostentatious and there's no gimmick. That's why people love the place and keep coming back.

The whole thing is a little bit industrial, with a dark staircase you ascend only by following the shadows of the feet in front of you. You emerge upstairs to exposed brick walls, a recycled bar, people reposing on couches and a DJ pumping out some rather fine beats in the corner. You'll find more people hanging out on the deck, which is a little on the slender side. While there's nothing amazing out there, it's simple, well-designed and, as one of my friends has often pointed out, a very good spot to watch the bats fly over the city in summer.

One of the nicest things about Ching-a-Lings is that its drinks are unpretentious. Wine and beer are pretty standard, nothing special, but Ching-a-Lings is a chilled place and it all fits with the vibe. Because while it's great to have bars in Sydney that have three hundred types of wine and cocktails mixed from strawberry and pixie tears, it's also nice just to go somewhere and not have to stress about what you're ordering. You come with good company, pull up a couch or a bench outside, and while away a couple of hours while Oxford Street seethes and pulses below you.


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