Prawn toasties, flash fried eggplant 70’s style Hong Kong retro restaurant Ni Hao launches new menu

Mmmm prawn toasts. A wave of nostalgia runs over you. First you smell that cripsy, nutty sesame layer, bite into the sweetness of juicy prawns and the final crunch of fried bread. Oh my! Hold our arteries! So naughty, yet yet so deliciously nice.

As chefs get more adventurous, sometimes there is something indulgent, comforting and even exciting about classics that rarely get back onto menus. Ni Hao launched in 2021. From the outside, The Civic Hotel isn’t somewhere we would make a beeline to, the last time we visited was seven years ago when it was a Thai restaurant. Fast forward to today and the space is transformed as we head upstairs, going back in time and to another continent. To Hong Kong.

The space is buzzing, it’s moody, sexy with black and gold chairs, dark floors with red hues and low lighting. The music is pumping so loud it’s hard to even hear the welcome as we arrive, but maybe that encourages couples to move just a bit closer as they sip on large jugs of happy hour cocktails from colourful teapots.

It is a Cantonese inspired menu, but with modern touches. We start with a bao bun stuffed with a slab of crumbed Pork Katsu with XO Mayo. It’s topped with pickled onion and coriander which cuts through the richness. We share and ‘mmm’ with a touch of a eye roll of happiness. So. Good. The crispy eggplant is twice cooked with a savoury miso dressing and a sweet soy glaze. It’s a delicious balance. The wontons are a superior version with sweet prawn stuffing and a fiery Sichuan dressing. The perfect partner to a cold Asahi. The prawn toast isa masterpiece. It’s topped with chilli flakes, garlic, black bean, hot and spicy potato chip. The Southern Australian Hiramasa Kingfish is a clean dish thanks to light soy sauce flavoured with wasabi and lime.

Mains of stir fry pork belly take us back to the Hawker districts of Hong Kong. Nicely rendered pieces of belly are tossed with crunchy garlic shoots, the Vongole and Abalone Ramen is more like a stir fry with a rich shellfish sauce. It’s a delicately flavoured dish and would be better served earlier than following a big punchy pork belly! Wagyu lovers have a good range to select from, though we didn’t order any this visit.

Murals of Bruce Lee and Donnie Yen supervise our dining experience whilst the waving golden cats look on if you decide to retire to the long bar area. Ni Hao offers up slices of the Orient in bite size chunks with cocktails, snacks with a wedge of nostalgia worth returning back to.

Ni Hao Bar, Level 1 , 388 Pitt Street Sydney Top Floor of the Civic Hotel
Hours – Wed- Thurs 5pm-12pm, Friday 5pm-1am, Saturday 5am-2am

About the author

Karen’s corporate job back in the UK had included entertaining clients in some of the best restaurants. This ultimately sparked a curiosity 'Just how do they do that?' (she confesses she was brought up on meat and vegetables, so this was all very exciting). Currently a Mr & Mrs Smith 'Tastemaker', she’s flashpacked around the world, learning about wine, experiencing different cultures and cuisines and had a two- year love affair with it all. Originally from England, she finally settled in Australia and continues to be besotted by food, wine and travel preferring to focus on the luxury end of town (thread count does matter).


The vibe is like going back in time to the 70's and to another continent- to Hong Kong. The space is buzzing, moody, sexy with black and gold chairs, dark floors with red hues and low lighting. The music is pumping as couples and groups of friends share large jugs of happy hour cocktails from colourful teapots. The outside bar has sections of an old movie theatre with lights and overhead daisy chains of fake hanging peking ducks!

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