Get extra meals information and tales by signing up for our Deep Dish e-newsletter.

Lunar New Yr has all the time been one in all Lily Wang’s favourite holidays. She and her companion Joe Briglio are each bartenders, so in 2019 they determined to rejoice the Yr of the Pig by internet hosting a pop-up bar at Moon Palace, a restaurant in Chinatown owned by Wang’s dad and mom. “One thing simply clicked in my head that it might be enjoyable to have the ability to rejoice a really particular vacation and spend it with pals,” Wang says. 

4 years later, the custom of a festive Lunar New Yr occasion continues at 9 Bar, their common cocktail enterprise’s everlasting dwelling in a revamped Moon Palace, on Tuesday, January 24 beginning at 7:00 pm in collaboration with the acclaimed Filipino restaurant and bakery Kasama. (It’s walk-in solely.)

Meals might be supplied by Kasama’s Tim Flores and Genie Kwon, however Wang and Briglio’s cocktails will virtually be a meal in their very own proper. “We’re taking full dishes and type of turning them into our cocktail interpretations,” says Wang. Meaning a Tom Kha cocktail redolent with the herbs of the Thai coconut soup, or a Fried Sesame Ball drink that comes with all of the elements—crimson bean paste, rice, sesame—of the traditional Chinese language dessert, amongst others. 

“We all the time discover pop-ups or one-off occasions actually enjoyable as a result of we get to discover some completely different flavors and a few cocktail types that we don’t at the moment characteristic on our menu,” explains Briglio. 

Having a set menu continues to be a comparatively new characteristic for 9 Bar, which opened its brick-and-mortar dwelling final summer time. The pandemic pressured Wang and Briglio out of labor, in order that they—like so many different meals business employees—began in search of inventive methods to occupy themselves and proceed some form of work within the business. They got here up with the title 9 Bar for the pop-ups they’d been intermittently internet hosting, and ultimately hatched a plan to maneuver into Moon Palace, which Wang’s dad and mom have owned since 1995. 

9 Bar is Chinatown’s first cocktail bar, and neither Wang nor her dad and mom ever anticipated to see one within the neighborhood. However Wang and Briglio wished to contribute to the colourful eating tradition of the world and supply folks with a spot to maintain the night time going past their meal. “A lot of American tradition goes to seize a drink earlier than or after dinner, and it was so disappointing earlier than to listen to about how so many individuals would go to Chinatown, however then in the event that they wished to proceed their night time, they must depart the neighborhood,” Wang says. 

To make room for 9 Bar, Wang and Briglio shrunk Moon Palace right into a small takeout counter in entrance whereas reworking the eating room behind it right into a modish bar that’s hidden away like a speakeasy. Every area has its personal separate meals, though a few of Moon Palace’s sauces present up on the Chinese language-American bar meals of 9 Bar, just like the rooster wings and mapo sauce-drenched fries. The cocktails all characteristic some Asian affect, together with flavors comparable to sichuan peppercorn and ube, and liquors just like the Chinese language baijiu and Japanese whisky.

Wang’s mother nonetheless works the counter of what’s now referred to as Moon Palace Specific, and her dad can nonetheless be discovered within the kitchen, however “they’re not there each day, each second, like they used to,” says Wang. The eventual aim is for them to retire, however for now they proceed to be on the restaurant more often than not to supervise the brand new operation and ensure issues go properly. 

“Their entire life has been their restaurant,” says Wang. “I’m positive they have been very apprehensive to start with, however to see that it’s been common and profitable, I believe it surpassed their expectations.”

Given her dad and mom’ fixed presence on the restaurant, Wang spent a lot of her childhood at Moon Palace, although she grew up in Skokie. Now she’s again in the identical area as a proprietor, celebrating her favourite vacation with a particular occasion that hearkens again to the beginning of her personal enterprise. It looks as if an auspicious begin to the Yr of the Rabbit.