During the first summer of the pandemic, a fun pop-up emerged: Nine Bar, an homage to Japanese convenience stores. Lily Wang (Estereo) and Joe Briglio (Blind Barber) sold egg salad sandos, bottled highballs, and shrimp chips out of Moon Palace, Wang’s parents’ restaurant, and here and there around town. Two years later, her folks stepped back from full-service and revamped their place to give more space to an upgraded Nine Bar. In the front, Moon Palace Express offers favorites like xiao long bao and Shanghai fried rice cakes to go; in the back, Wang and Briglio run what they call an “Asian-ish cocktail bar.”

The duo sling drinks like Paradise Lost (1), a clarified coconut milk punch with cachaça and Rhine Hall mango brandy; Smoke & Mirrors (2), a white mezcal Negroni with orange-lemongrass tea; and Chu-Hai (3), with shochu, baijiu, Midori, and Calpico (a Japanese yogurt-based soft drink). “Chu-Hai is short for ‘shochu-highball,’ and it’s pretty widely found at Japanese convenience stores,” Wang says.

Elvis Mom, who handles the food, uses the chile-pork sauce from Moon Palace’s mapo tofu atop fries (4) and serves a grilled ginger-lemongrass chicken sandwich (5) that nods to his Cambodian heritage. The McKatsu (6), with tonkatsu, pickled radish, American cheese, Kewpie mayo, Chinese hot mustard, and Bull-Dog Sauce on a sesame bun, is a cross between a katsu sando and a Big Mac. “That’s a Lily creation,” Briglio says. “It instantly tastes both nostalgic and new.” With its community roots and fresh take on Asian flavors, you could say the same about Nine Bar. 216 W. Cermak Rd., Chinatown