Bar review: Mod Bar in Central needs to get its act together
Slow service, missing ingredients and some curious menu items make for a hit-and-miss experience at Mod Bar. And don't even talk about the decor.
The vibe: Mod Bar occupies the ground floor of sister establishment the Tycoon Tann restaurant (and confusingly, Tycoon Tann is the only name over the entrance) and shares its upmarket faux antique Chinese style. The decor has lots of dark wood including a whole wall designed like a traditional medicine cabinet and feels more like a restaurant than a bar – bars should be vibrant, this is sombre. The space is narrow and there are only bar stools – we perched uncomfortably on these seats with no backs, the furniture is not calculated to make you linger.
The drinks: there are three drink lists. The “Yum Cha” happy hour from 3pm to 9pm offers good value beers and wines including Baron de Rothschild Champagne at HK$75 per glass. From the Summer Coolers list we tried the Sloe Gin Negroni (HK$120) – pleasant though overly sweet.
The Tycoon Tann signature cocktails feature Chinese ingredients and elaborate presentations. Captain’s Duty – rum with taro syrup (HK$110), served in a bowl with a block of ice in the middle and a soup spoon, looked and tasted like a faintly alcoholic Chinese dessert. Suan La Tang – gin with lemon grass, lime, coconut juice and spices (HK$110), served the same way, was intensely spicy but the lime was missing. We tried to order Red Lotus, the bar’s take on a Bloody Mary, only to be told they were out of tomato juice (they were also out of the draught beer we wanted). Biting back the impulse to suggest they nip out to the supermarket and get some (how can you run out of tomato juice in Hong Kong?), we switched to the Tycoonin (Chinese yellow wine, cranberry juice and dried plum, HK$105). Murky liquid lurking under an egg-white topping, it looked and tasted like mouldy mushroom and we asked to have it changed, which was done without charge.
We replaced it with another Suan La Tang – a different colour from the first, it tasted different too: apparently the bartender had remembered the lime the second time. Waiting time for our orders were inordinately long and they never arrived at the same time, despite there being very few customers and plenty of staff.
The verdict: Mod Bar will have to get its act together fast if it’s going to compete with the many top-notch bars in the neighbourhood. Signature drinks and service need major improvement – comfier seats wouldn’t hurt either.
Mod Bar, 74 Wellington Street, Central. Tel: 3125 3228. Open: 11.30am-2am (Friday and Saturday until 3am)