Shanghai, known by the nickname Modu, holds a captivating history of being a city filled with enchantment and allure. The Chinese term “Mo” embodies the essence of magic and fascination, while “Du” represents the city and capital, thus creating the notion of “the magical city” or “City of Magic.” In the 1920s, Shanghai earned another moniker as the “City of Sins” due to its plethora of cabaret clubs and cocktail bars, becoming a playground for indulgence and liberation.
One of Perth’s best-kept secrets has taken inspiration from this era to bring the City of Sins to Perth.
A marriage of cultures
During the City of Sin era, one of the significant influences was the influx of Westerners into China and, more specifically, Shanghai — resulting in changes to the food and music in the city. This marriage of cultures helped to forge the City of Sin nickname, creating a city of magic and entertainment — the go-to destination to let loose and have a good time.
Modu Bar and Kitchen is the 2023 embodiment of the City of Sin era. It brings a little bit of magic and sin to the Perth CBD, making it the perfect spot for a long lunch, after-work drinks, or late-night cocktails with a side of some of the best Asian fusion food you’ll find anywhere.
Upon entering Modu, you’re immediately captivated by the mural on the wall before you. Hand-sprayed by talented local artist, Hope, the mural encapsulates the era’s energy and artistry, setting the tone for a memorable experience.
Every detail of the bar is meticulously crafted to transport you back in time. Designed by renowned architect Brian Ho from BHO Interiors, the interior reflects the era’s aesthetic with emerald green tiles adorning the bar, sumptuous velvet lounges, and elegant rattan chairs. The ambience evokes a sense of decadence and adventure, allowing you to immerse yourself in the spirit of Shanghai’s vibrant past.
There’s also a private dining room towards the back of the venue with the same consideration infused in its design. It has an extra touch of class to it and can be a completely private room, shut off from what’s happening in the rest of the restaurant, or partially opened up to allow the buzzing atmosphere in, creating the perfect blend of privacy and excitement.
It’s a room where you wouldn’t be surprised to witness a high-stakes game of poker or Pai Gow in action, dominos being pushed around, cards flying across the table, large stacks of chips, and signature cocktails in front of each person.
Late Night Cocktail Bar
Cocktails are at the heart of Modu — both the bar and the era which it’s drawn inspiration from. Their signature cocktails have been designed to merge the east and west to deliver an experience that you won’t find anywhere else in Perth.
One of the most unusual was the Tai-Pan Teapot. Before you even get to the point of tasting it, it’s enveloped in mystery and comes served in a cloud of “smoke.” Of course, it’s not actually smoke, but rather a serving of liquid nitrogen inside the teapot which causes the smoke effect to come pouring out of the spout.
When you get past the fascination of the smoke effect and have taken countless photos for your Instagram, you take a sip and find it a refreshing grapefruit-flavoured cocktail. This is one of many cocktails on the menu that you won’t see anywhere else. You’ll also notice a lot of the cocktails use baijiu — a traditional Chinese spirit also known as rice wine — one of the most consumed alcohols in the world due to its prevalence in China.
Asian Fusion Favourites
Just as Shanghai of the 1920s was a melting pot of cultures, Modu Bar and Kitchen seeks to marry different culinary traditions together. The menu showcases a fusion of flavours, blending traditional Chinese cuisine with Western influences.
The best way to experience Modu’s menu is by sharing several dishes with friends and they’ve made that simple with their “Feed Me Please” menu option. Sit down, order a couple of cocktails, and they’ll just start bringing out a selection of the Chef’s favourite dishes.
There were a few dishes we had as part of the “Feed Me Please” menu which excited us the most. Firstly the duck prosciutto which came out on the charcuterie board. I get quite excited about duck in general as it’s not always the easiest to prepare well, so I often avoid attempting it at home. To get not one, but two strong duck dishes served to us was quite the treat. The second was the Peking duck breast tacos — Modu’s slightly different take on duck pancakes. They also served a variation of the arancini ball, blending the classic balls with an Asian flavour — a squid and laksa arancini.
Finally, the coffee sirloin was the perfect dish to finish the feast. The Angus sirloin is cooked to medium-rare perfection. It’s steeped in coffee marinade for 24 hours, giving it a strong but balanced flavour and was served with chargrilled Chinese cabbage. Simply tender and divine.
Modu Bar & Kitchen
Where: 10 Sherwood Court, Perth
Open: Tuesday to Saturday
Full menu and bookings: modubarkitchen.com
This article was sponsored by Modu Bar & Kitchen. All images copyright So Perth.