Marine theme at Aqua

By Aubrey Buckingham (Shanghai Daily)
Updated: 2006-10-26 11:06

The luxurious new Aqua Bar provides an opportunity to drink with the fishes at Six Bund.

Just look at the world around you, right here on the ocean floor, such wonderful things surround you, what more are you looking for? Under the sea, under the sea, darling it's better down where it's wetter." - from "The Little Mermaid."

Visitors to the new 80-seat Aqua bar at Six Bund may not find juvenile merfolk or singing crustaceans, but there are still plenty of underwater delights for aquamarine lovers.

The bar, which shares an entrance with the swanky Sun Japanese restaurant, greets visitors with a baby shark enclosure and an overhead pool of water.

The dimly-lit bar is even more impressive, with a small fish tank along the walkway leading to the room and an 11-meter-long aquarium inside.

Nearly 400 fish can be seen darting about inside the tank, which is comparable to some tourist attractions. Watching the fish swim about carelessly while partaking in a cold beverage was thoroughly relaxing.

The setting presented the perfect opportunity to recount an ancient tale. A disciple of Confucianism and a disciple of Lao Tze's Taoist teachings were standing at a pond observing the fish below. The Taoist, referring to the teachings based on the text of the Dao De Jing, wished aloud that he could be like a fish, swimming about without a care in the world. The Confucianist chided his counterpart, stating "You are not a fish, how do you know how a fish feels?"

The reply came instantly. "You are not me, how do you know that I do not know how a fish feels," stated the Taoist cheekily.

The moral of this tale is that fish are often the source of relaxation, and having a large-scale aquarium in the bar is truly a masterstroke. Other elements, however, do not come together as well.

For starters, the Bund location offers a typically good view of the Pudong waterfront. However, the window panes were positively filthy from years of weathering. While city guidelines state that the facade of Bund buildings may not be altered, surely the glass could have been replaced or given an industrial cleaning treatment.

Also, the cocktails were too sweet and whimsical for the serious drinker. At 48 yuan (US$6), the prices were reasonable given the location, but even the target market of female drinkers complained that the concoctions were unappealing.

The "Shanghai Lady" came heavily recommended, and the mixture of lychee liquor and Seven-Up gave the impression of a female still keen on Hello-Kitty. Even the banana martini was described by one magazine writer as "just like drinking pudding."

Having said that, however, the other drinks on offer are much more suitable. There were 13 kinds of sake, ranging from 50 yuan for a 180-milliliter bottle of house pour to 2,200 yuan for the 1.8-liter bottle of the Kubota Manju.

Shochu was also served at the bar. Fans of the distilled liquor can order a glass for 40 yuan or a whole bottle for 300 yuan. Anyone preferring to mix the beverage with green tea can do so for 48 yuan.

Last but not least, a selection of Suntory whisky was also on the menu. Fans of the film "Lost in Translation" can do their best Bill Murray impression when ordering a glass of the Old whisky (30 yuan), Royal (40 yuan), Yamazaki (50 yuan) or Hibiki (70 yuan).

The interior is nicely designed, with neo-classical Oriental beds in the corner, and nice, comfy chairs. The bar counter is also well designed for the staff behind it, giving them space to twist and shake as they strut their stuff.

Address: 2/F, 6 Zhongshan Road E1
Tel: 021-63392779