Kura Kura is on the Sanlitun strip between Swire’s North Village and The Butcher Steakhouse. (If you somehow miss the sign, you will likely spot the bright interior though the arched doorway.) Some first impressions of this offshoot of seven-year-old whiskey and cocktail haven Ichikura*:
- Kura Kura is long and narrow and has a patio, a front room with space for fourteen patrons, including eight at a dogleg bar, and two rooms in back that can fit about a dozen customers each.
- The lighting and red chairs combine to make Kura Kura brighter than Ichikura (this extends to the glossy-red bathroom). Expect a simple design–save for the deja vu-invoking Lan-like chandeliers that hail from another (and former) Ichikura offshoot, Third Cellar–and a cozy feel. The place is open from lunch through 1 AM.
- The floor on spirits is RMB50, even for entry-level drops such as Johnnie Walker Red and Jim Beam (you can upgrade to Johnnie Walker Black for RMB5 more). While there is a decent array of single malts, there are fewer options than at Ichikura though the menu is a work in progress, says manager Koji Kuroki. (Price examples: Laphroig 10-year-old, Aberfeldy 12-year-old, and Bowmore 12-year-old are RMB80 each.)
- The cocktails start at RMB50. I tried a gin martini and found it a bit rough, though an acquaintance liked the one he got on another day. The Moscow Mule, made with ginger-infused vodka, and a Maitai ordered by a friend were fine. The beer is expensive: a bottle of Stella is RMB50.
- There is also a food menu. It appears the hot dog craze is not fully tapped as Kura Kura offers both regular and curry options (RMB28; RMB38 for a double dog). Other selections include burgers (RMB45), a range of curry rice options (from RMB38), and “homemade” desserts (from RMB15).
What ultimately made the visit worthwhile: the atmosphere. Like Ichikura, this is a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and I enjoyed relaxing and talking at the bar. Even better, this is a place where you can meet your neighbors: by closing time, we had chatted with the three other groups of patrons in Kura Kura.
* I still hold that Ichikura needs to open a place called Scratchikura. Simpsons fans, back me up on this!