Melbourne is a lively city renowned for its ever-changing laneways full of hidden cafes and bars. So it’s only natural for QT Melbourne, the city’s newest hotel to create their very own laneway getaway. Tucked into Portland Lane, just around the corner from the main entrance of the hotel lobby, Hot Sauce is a brand new laneway bar that combines stylish signature cocktails with the delicious flavours of Japanese and Korean street food.
With a live in-house DJ playing a mix of late 90’s hip-hop, R&B, and K-pop music, the dimly lit 60-seater bar has a unique and fun atmosphere that’s reflected in their playful menu. Designed by QT Melbourne’s Creative Food Director Rob Marhcetti and Executive Chef Paul Easson, Hot Sauce’s food menu features a small selection of dishes divided into three different categories; “Steam & Stuff Me Baos”, “Robata Yakitori Sticks”, and “Street Food”.
The “Steam & Stuff Me Baos” come with a choice of four different fillings; fried chicken, beef, pork belly, or non-GM tofu. We tried the Pork Belly Bao ($14) with pickled mustard greens, hoisin, hot sauce, and peanuts. As a lover of spicy food, I was slightly disappointed with the lack of hot sauce in the dish. The tangy flavour of the hot sauce was there, but the familiar lip-numbing heat was not. However, the dish was redeemed by its great combination of contrasting textures provided by the crunchy peanuts and the soft and fluffy white bao, making it a nice light starter to your after-work drinks.
The menu also includes five different types of “Robata Yakitori Sticks”, including the Spiced Wagyu Tri Tip Beef Burger Balls ($18) drizzled with yakitori sauce and served with a small bowl of hot mustard. The different spices used to flavour the wagyu beef perfectly complemented the yakitori sauce and the strong kick of the hot mustard. However, I couldn’t ignore the overwhelming taste of charcoal in the meatballs.
The highlight of the menu came from the “Street food” category, in the form of a Special cup of caramel fried chicken ‘n’ chili ($24). Served in a specially designed cup imported from Korea, the sweet and spicy fried chicken, sprinkled with black sesame and finely chopped spring onion, sits atop a generous serving of Japanese whiskey and Capi smoked cola. It’s a completely unique, fun and addictive dish that is very much worth the price. The tender caramel chicken’s sweet and spicy flavour is perfectly complemented by the Capi smoked cola and Japanese whiskey combination, easily accessed through a pair of straws snuggly tucked into a side partitioning of the special cup. Who knew whiskey could be so much fun?
As for the drinks, the bar offers a wide range of all the necessary liquor to qualify as a proper Melbourne laneway bar, as well as a selection of imported sake, umeshu, shochu, and soju. In addition, there’s also a list of nine different signature cocktails such as The Stingy Priest ($18) with Zubrowka, Kashigura shochu, apple cider shrub, cinnamon sugar, lemon juice, honey water, and rhubarb. The Stingy Priest is a mildly sweet cocktail that’s served with a humble theatrical twist in the form of a burning cinnamon stick. However, if you prefer your cocktails crisp and refreshing, then try the She’s Electric ($19) made with Martell VS Cognac, Shiraz, Bombay Sapphire gin, Dolin Rouge, Averna, and grapefruit bitters, all stirred with a cinnamon quill.
Whether you love a good musical beat with your after-work drinks or love to have a nibble with your late-night cocktails, Hot Sauce is definitely worth checking out. When you do go to check it all out, be sure to grab yourself a special cup of caramel fried chicken ‘n’ chili, it’s the kind of snack that’ll make a regular out of you.
Address: 8 Portland Lane, Melbourne, VIC, 3000
Hours: 4:30pm – 2am from Monday – Saturday
Contact: (03) 8636 8800
Feature image was supplied all other images taken by Zaya Altangerel for the AU review.