This sexy slip of a bar next to Tokyo Tina delivers Japanese-accented drinks and snacks into the small hours
Thundercat has slinked onto the southside bar scene with more of a polite purr than a growl. Up until now, the space adjoining Tokyo Tina has acted as a bar/holding pen for the mod-Japanese eatery, keeping diners lubricated while they wait for a table. Now, after 10pm on Thursday through to Saturday nights, this wood-panelled, mural-lined room morphs into a late-night supper club: shutters are unfurled to separate the two zones, the lighting dims and the menu diminishes from the full kitchen offering to a handful of booze-friendly snacks.
Taking its cue from the intimacy of Golden Gai’s finest (those gritty Tokyo bars that house around six patrons at once), seating is at a premium here. There’s a handful of stools along the bar, a trio of perches in the front window and a narrow shelf running along one wall where you can rest your drink (but alas not your feet).
While there's entertainment aplenty overseeing the drunken stumbles and tumbles on Chapel Street, the best seats in the house are watching the bar staff at work. Under the dappled neon glow of a giant disco ball, the boys bounce along to hip hop tunes as they whip out frosted martini glasses and hand-cut chunks of ice.
From a list of intriguing cocktails with an Asian bent, go for the eponymous Thundercat Martini. A perfumed yet potent assembly of vodka, smooth junmai sake, sharp plum bitters, orange blossom water and the vinegary warmth of pickled ginger, this boozy beauty is served in a petite martini glass, and is all too easy to knock back in a few sips.
For something that’ll last a little longer, scoot on over to the ‘carbonated’ section. Here, the Paloma gets a Japanese makeover with the addition of green tea umeshu (plum wine) delivering a floral delicacy and sweet-sour edge to the pink grapefruit and tequila staple.
Party-starting shots served in a plume of liquid nitrogen are also up for grabs, along with Yuzuperdoopers, a frozen tube of Umenoyado Yuzushu Sake that screams summer fun times.
Whisky is a big deal, too, with a commendable, largely Japanese selection that spans $10 Suntory Kakubin right up to 25-year-old Glenmorangie, at a cool $40 a pop.
We’ve long been fans of Tina’s ample buns, and now you can get your fill into the small hours, with sticky bulgogi beef, crunchy pork belly and avocado bao on the truncated menu. You’ll also find edamame, chicken ribs, and a platter of ‘Tokyo Meats’ loaded with salami, roasted pork neck, beef tataki, pickles and wonton crisps. You'd be hard pressed to find better snacks at 1am.
At this stage, Thundercat still feels like an undiscovered gem, a secret bar hiding in plain sight. With such a strong drink and food offering, though, it won’t stay that way for long.
|Venue name:||Thundercat Supper Club|
66A Chapel St
|Opening hours:||Thu-Sat 10pm-1am|
|Transport:||Nearby stations: Windsor|