Find Your New Favorite Speakeasy in The Unlikeliest Of Places at Ci Yuntang Traditional Massage

There’s a certain satisfaction in enjoying a drink in a speakeasy. Perhaps it’s a sense that it’s well earned after a long search. Maybe it’s that tiny bit of smugness knowing you are having what most others do not know about. Whatever the underlining psychology, it’s a feeling I undeniably get when sipping on my Kyoto Spa cocktail in the bar at Ci Yuntang Traditional Massage.

Like all memorable nights at a speakeasy, my evening begins with a search. After exiting from the subway station at Taoyuan, I make my way along the main road following the map on my phone. Reaching the corner of a crossroads, the map tells me I am near my destination. A young Ukrainian man, who introduces himself as a bartender at the speakeasy, asks if I am looking for the speakeasy. He leads me from the street and through a shop front of an old massage parlor.

I pass through the massage parlor façade onto the floor of a traditional Chinese restaurant. Low round wooden tables are dotted around while overhead there are lanterns hanging. Off to the side, there is an open kitchen where a chef is busy preparing dinner.

As I look around the restaurant, the Ukrainian bartender heads to a shelf full of different sized and shaped ornamental vases. He pulls gently on one in particular. The wall begins to slowly slide. There is a cheeky grin on his face as he says to me, “This way”.

The speakeasy boasts a strong industrial look with long wooden benches running down the middle, exposed foundations along the walls, and iron wrought railings surrounding the bar. The place is soaked in neon from the violet lights that illuminate the bar from below to the burning messages scrawled across the walls such as ‘When life gives you lemonade, add vodka’ and ‘Trust me, you can dance’.

It seems like the sort of joint where you would expect a pop-up party to be held. The kind you only find out through a friend of a friend and you have the password written on the back of your hand.

Before I have a chance to take in my surroundings, I am invited upstairs. Here, the bar more closely resembles a private member’s club or a luxury hotel bar. The long wooden benches are replaced with leather sofas and the neon lights have been swapped out for classic light fixtures on the wall. The bar here is a much more open affair, with cozy armchairs to sit in while the bartender makes your drink in front of you.

It’s the kind of spot you would take your clients after a business dinner or even somewhere to go enjoy a fine bottle of Single Malt after a long day at the office.

Between the downstairs and upstairs, Ci Yuntang Traditional Massage must be one of the most stylish bars in the city. Between the attention to the smallest detail and the well-thought-out layout, the whole place is class.

If it is a whiskey you are after, then Ci Yuntang Traditional Massage is bound to have something for you. From renowned Islay whiskies such as Caol Ila and Laphroaig, to the finest imports of the Highland in Dalmore and the Lowlands in Auchentoshan. There is quite simply an embarrassment of riches when it comes to whiskies hailing from Speyside with connoisseurs being able to choose from Balvenie and Singleton Dufftown.

Yet, it is their range of cocktails that Ci Yuntang Traditional Massage keep bringing back the clients looking for the speakeasy time after time. The name of each concoction is associated with the massage parlor the bar is called after. From the mysteriously named Sakura Bath to the intriguing sounding Massage Of The Tongue, the only thing more original than their names is the mix of ingredients that the bartender has incorporated into the drink.

All the cocktails on the menu are worth at least one try, but if pushed for a personal favorite, I would be torn between the Da Bao Jian, Sakura Bath, and SZ Bay Sunbath.

The Da Bao Jian rounds up a cast of roguish ingredients including Seaweed Talisker, Caramel Sale, Egg White, and Ardbeg 10 Years. Together, they make one dastardly fine cocktail. The Sakura Bath is a different animal altogether, which utilizes Tequila, Sakura Syrup, and Cherry Tonic to make the sort of drink you won’t forget fast. Finally, it’s the SZ Bay Sunbath. With Dark Rum, Cinnamon Whisky, and Coffee Liqueur, it’s not hard to see why this dark and broody concoction attracts a lot of attention.

If after a few cocktails or whiskies, you feel like trying your hand at something else, Ci Yuntang Traditional Massage also offers beer pong. The speakeasy boasts tables that utilize the latest beer pong technology. Great for those with a competitive streak or just friends who like a fun excuse to drink more.

Check out beer pong action from Ci Yuntang Traditional Massage

So whether you are trying to get into the most exclusive party in town or if you are just looking to sit down with a cocktail or two with a work colleague, Ci Yuntang Traditional Massage is a speakeasy worth finding.

Place:慈云堂传统推拿 Ciyuntang Traditional Massage

Address: 南山区桃园路1号西海明珠花园119商铺  3011-16 Nanhai Dadao, Nanshan District

Metro:  Taoyuan, Line Luobao

Business Hours: 7pm-2am Mon-Fri, 7pm-3am Sat-Sun

Price: RMB35-98 per drink

Mr. 吾Five Bites – Don’t Judge A Hotdog Restaurant By It’s Entrance

Written by Eddy

Nothing beats a good hotdog. There are those who talk about ribeye steaks from Australia or the freshest oysters from France, but give me a New York style hotdog any day of the week over them.

The challenge in China, however, can be finding one. The photos on a menu can often be very different from what arrives on your plate and even when your order looks like what you expect it to, it can still taste like something entirely different.

I had actually passed Mr. 吾Five Bites at Coastal City a few times before I finally went in. The restaurant was busy with local customers and the hotdogs they were eating looked like the real deal, but I had been hurt before and I didn’t want to give myself false hope. I needn’t have had any doubts.

It’s clear from the restaurant that there is a deep love of hotdogs at play here, from the traditional hot dog stand to the extensive menu of different hot dogs. Mr. Five Bites is also a clear ode to the city of New York, which can be seen in the pop art wallpaper and the bright color signage. The bustling young crowd sat outside only serve to add to The Big Apple vibe. It didn’t surprise me one bit when I later discover the owner used to live in New York.

Passing an eye over the menu, however, you quickly realize this is no place merely looking to imitate the classics. There is plenty of fusion and creativity going on here. Check out Tokyo Hot, mixing sole fish tempura, wasabi mayonnaise and teriyaki sauce with a hotdog. You can also give Crawfish Dog a whirl with its spicy crawfish and scallion, or the alluringly named Miss Hong Kong, which boasts scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, and a cheeky sprinkling of corn cereal.

The tastes are always rotating and I’m told that Mr. Five Bites have showcased over 80 signature dogs over the years. This relentless reinvention can be accredited to their Food Director, Sky. Sky cut his culinary teeth as a chef on The Bund in Shanghai before later coming to Shenzhen to work at Shark. He uses his experience to cram in as much originality into each hotdog bun as he can.

Sky’s abilities, however, are not limited to just hotdogs. Mr. 吾Five Bites serves plenty of other dishes too. There is the hearty Five Bites All Day Breakfast, a selection of pastas including Spaghetti Arrabiata, and six types of French fries.

But in the end, I have to admit that I’m a sucker for a classic. Sowhen the time comes, I order the classic New York style Five Bites hotdog along with a nice, cold bottle of Corona. After my first bite and a swig of my beer, I’m in no doubt that these guys are the real deal. And it’s while I am sitting back to enjoy my snack and beverage that something catches my eye.

A waiter approaches the door to go inside the staff-only area of the restaurant. He takes a quick look around to check if anyone is looking and then enters a code into the keypad. The door opens and the waiter quickly enters before the door shuts behind. Unbeknownst to him, this eagle-eyed writer was watching. I quickly follow behind and enter the same code. The door opens…

In one moment I am sat outside at a hotdog restaurant, the next I am transported to a speakeasy bar. The lighting is dark, but a video that stretches across three walls offers enough illumination to see the lounge seating surrounding glass tables loaded with vintage whiskeys, and the long bar stocked with enough spirits to make all manner of cocktails.

The bar is lively. Young couples huddle together at the corner tables while in the middle of the bar are groups of people in suits who look like they’ve come from a business dinner.

The soundtrack for the evening is hip-hop, the West Coast variety. While the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Tyler The Creator keep the night moving along, I take up a seat at the bar. I’m greeted by the bartender, Jean, and when I ask what’s good, a mischievous smile creeps on to her face.

There are plenty of endlessly inventive cocktails including the aptly named Cloudy Day In Shenzhen, made from osmanthus-infused tequila, blue cuarcao, lemon juice, homemade raisin-nut syrup, and even some cotton candy. If you are feeling like a walk on the wild side, why not try Kiss By The Green Devil. This deceptively potent concoction mixes absinthe with lavender syrup, lemon juice, and egg white. For something a little different, there is always the Breakfast Martini, which combines bacon-infused bourbon whiskey with olive juice, white vermouth, and original bitter.

The night goes by nice and slow. Just the way it ought to. No moment outstays it’s welcome. Every conversation is savored. I enjoy some cocktails, some solid beats, and most of all, good company. Not too bad of a night considering all I came in for was a hotdog…

If you are interested to know the secret code at Mr.吾 Five Bites,  just mention Shenzhen Party for the latest password.

Meanwhile, the top 20 Wechat reposters can enjoy a special promotional voucher that gives the holder 2 free beers at Mr. 吾Five Bites only if share this post at your Wechat moment. We will also randomly pick 2 lucky winners to win a cash coupon to the value of RMB300

Scan our Wechat QR to join the contest now!

 

Average Spending per Head:

Restaurant:60rmb

Bar: 100rmb

Business Hours:10am-2am

Address: No. 288, 2/F, Coastal City, Nanshan, Shenzhen (深圳市南山区海岸城购物中心2楼天台广场288)

Tel: 0755-86559701

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