The Smoking Panda
Upstairs, 5-7 Park Street, Sydney (02) 9266 3100 thesmokingpanda.com.au
We’re very distracted by the jellyfish propelling themselves slowly around their circular tank. This is not just because we’ve had too many cocktails. Against the Panda’s dark and moody vibes—somewhere between late-night LA hideout and retro Chinatown—the illuminated fishtank and its hypnotic inhabitants are glowing bright blue. The commitment to an East-meets-West theme is evident everywhere, from the décor to the food. I imagine it’s one of the few places you can have both San Choy Bau ($5) and a Corn Dog & Onion Rings ($15). From a huge and varied cocktail list, I try the Smoked Whiskey Sour ($18). Billows of impressive cherry smoke aside, it’s smooth and tangy, but my hand creeps across the bar to steal my date’s amazing Hot Smokin’ Mexican Jerk ($17). Made with smoked tequila, capsicum and chipotle, and garnished with crispy bacon, it’s the best of The Smoking Panda: inventive, spicy, and surprising.