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99 Taixing Lu
Located dead central and on the ground floor of Taixing Lu hub Zhong Plaza, cocktail bar Starling is the most obvious centrepiece of this breezy new bar and restaurant complex. 

‘There are so many Japanese-style bars and speakeasies,’ says Theo Watt, co-founder of industry magazine DRiNK and one of Starling’s partners. ‘Here, the decor suggests a slice of paradise, to remind people what it’s like to go back in Asia to Raffles Hotel and places like that. It’s not supposed to be snub-nosed, we want it to remind people of going on holiday a few years ago, remind them of fun times.’ A casual setting, with its huge retro fans overhead and cold-blast cocktails, the early signs are that Starling could become the perfect summer haunt.

The Tom Yum Colada (68RMB during soft opening) is a deliciously fresh drink that sums up Starling’s breezy but sleek style. A southeast Asia-style twist on the pina colada with a hit of spice, this cocktail was first concocted by Beijing barman Quinn Johnson.

The drinks list is still being finalised, but the pineapple Old Fashioned (80RMB during soft opening) gave a further hint at the pedigree of drinks on offer, with quality execution from top notch barman Jerry Chen, formerly of Yuan and winner of Time Out's 2012 Cocktail Shakedown

Food-wise, there is a focus on southeast Asia, with tom yum offerings, plus fish cakes, crispy prawns and spring rolls set to feature, courtesy of partner Brian Tan, who helms popular Shanghai dessert chain hoF.

By Jamie Fullerton

Venue name: Starling
Opening hours: 6pm-1am Tue-Thur, 6pm-2am Fri-Sun
Metro: Nanjing Xi Lu
English address: Zhong Plaza, 99 Taixing Lu, near Wujiang Lu, Jingan district
Chinese address: 静安区泰兴路99号, 近吴江路