After achieving great success as one of Hangzhou’s trendier cocktail bars, Aurora decided to close is doors and undergo a complete overall. What has emerged from the fog is something barely recognisable, and as you walk into the newly decorated premises you can notice remnants of the old. What was once the centrally located bar counter is now stacked high with an array of sauces, while every table has been fitted with a large hotplate. Aurora is now in the hotpot business.
Aurora has taken a slight change in direction with this new move, and now serves authentic Sichuan-style hotpot to get you in its doors even earlier. What makes the hotpot at Aurora’s great is that most of the ingredients(as well as staff) aren’t locally sourced. Beef and Lamb dishes use large chunks of imported meat, and the vegetables are brought in from the parts of the country that have the largest, freshest ingredients. Even the kitchen staff are flown in from Sichuan itself to make sure nothing is compromised when it comes to creating an authentic flavour.
While the menu here is not the longest I have seen in a hotpot restaurant, it still contains all the crowd favourites you would want for your meal. We opted for the half spicy, half mild split pot (78RMB), but be warned - the spicy side here is no joke and is to be treated with respect. A couple of stand out dishes were their Mushroom Platter (菌菇拼盘 88RMB) with four types of mushrooms brought in from Hunan and the Fresh Snowflake Beef (辣鲜生雪花肥牛 86RMB), a generously sized dish of imported meat. Including drinks (Tiger Beer 18RMB a mug!), expect to pay between 100 and 150RMB per person.
After dinner, head upstairs where you can still experience what Aurora did so well for so long. A speak easy vibe of dark corners and deep, comfortable seating reminiscent of what once was. A long list of expertly made cocktails (Old Fashioned 80RMB) and whiskeys (Glenfiddich 12yo 60RMB) with taste tips included for the unfamiliar. If you are lucky enough to be during the weekend you will hear some smooth tunes from their resident singer Elizabeth, whose first set starts at 9:30pm.
Aurora’s cocktail lounge is open from 7:00pm to 2:00am, while their hotpot restaurant opens at 5:00pm. Hotpot menu in Chinese, bar menu in English. Smoking is permitted upstairs.