Note: The Bar Kinugawa is now closed.
Perched above the more frequented outlets such as Metal Box, Sevencups and Boat Noodle, as well as the Damansara Performing Arts Centre, this quiet establishment on the first floor – look for its next door neighbour, Cat in the Box café – is a hidden gem and one of Empire Damansara’s best kept secrets.
The Bar – no, really, that’s the name of the bar – offers patrons an authentic Japanese drinking experience, a vision that co-owners Chin and Osamu Kinugawa (who is also the bartender) shared when they took inspiration from the bar culture in Tokyo prior to setting up. Don’t expect intricate decor or flashy contemporary drinks; as its minimalist name indicates, simple yet classic is the rule here.
The interior design has a sharpness to it, all clean cut lines and sleek shininess. Step up on the raised platform to sit at the bar, where your slightly elevated position allows you to watch your drink being prepared. The mixologist will then place the various bottles of liquor he has used on the countertop after completing your drink; it’s a practice of ingredient transparency.
You don’t have to decipher fancy titles to order a drink as the menu sticks to the basics. The martini (RM43) of double gin and Vermont is dry and strong, so be prepared as it packs quite a punch. For something lighter, order a daiquiri (RM38) or the Moscow Mule (RM33), a concoction of vodka, homemade ginger ale and lime.
Bar bites here are a catch: imported seafood from Hokkaido that are smoked in-house by Osamu using sakura wood chips before being chilled for at least 24 hours to allow the smoke to seep into the meat. We recommend a set of smoked octopus, scallop, edamame and cream cheese (RM48), though you can also get them separately (one for RM18, two for RM28 and three for RM38).