Bar review: Honeycomb Hi-Fi
A new home for music lovers – and wannabes – inside a Japanese izakaya speakeasy…
The first thing you should know about Honeycomb Hi-Fi – an intimate speakeasy-style venue tucked away from the madness of Business Bay – is that it’s been created by VKD hospitality, the cool cats behind Miss Lily’s and Indochine. This should tell you about the kind of calibre to expect when you walk through the door.
The second thing you need to know is that to actually walk through the door, you’ll need to find it first, which is located behind the wall of a cosy vinyl record shop inside the Pullman Hotel. Since Dubai loves a clandestine entrance, Honeycomb Hi-Fi is a hive of activity even at 8pm on a weekday.
After the short transition from the storefront, a set of curtains open to reveal the main area known as The Listening Room. A bespoke sound system immediately commands the ears, whilst the warm lighting brings a honey hue to the perforated wooden wall panels. Honeycomb Hi-Fi’s modern Japanese sensibility, and the acoustic foam-covered ceilings reaffirm that this is an audio-centric dining and drinks experience that exudes cool. The owners are self-confessed music lovers, so expect a rotation of DJs serving an audio feast that changes almost nightly. Guests can expect anything on the turntables, from electronic to jazz. For novices like us, it’s a musication with half the evening spent Shazaming.
Onto the food and drink and it’s pretty difficult to mess up ordering here. Aside from the range of wines, sake and Japanese craft beer, its artisanal cocktail menu is too appealing to ignore. The Manga Rita (Dhs75) with tequila, umeshu, pineapple vinegar and chili rim was a spicy revelation that packs a punch. Meanwhile, the Nashiso (Dhs80) offers a longer, more refreshing option with gin and shochu stirred in a sweet pear and shisho cordial.
The casual Japanese food menu has been curated by chef Matt Abergel of Hong Kong’s Yardbird and Ronin fame, who’ll be buzzing between Dubai and his home base in Asia every couple of months. The small sharing plates offered are based on eclectic Izakaya favourites – be sure to order the mochi stuffed crispy wings (Dhs62) – it’s dark enough in Honeycomb Hi-Fi to gnaw your way to the bone. Another standout is the thick scallop sui mai (Dhs85) topped with a nasal-cleansing drizzle of kizami wasabi. And then there’s the sticky duck tsukune (Dhs28 per skewer) that practically melts in the mouth. Trust us when we say your taste buds will be singing louder than Fat Freddy’s Drop’s seven-piece ensemble – our newfound favourite band.
Verdict: Everything about this place is elaborate and stimulating, yet totally accessible, which is really what you want out of a great bar, right?
Pullman Hotel Downtown, Sun to Thur 8pm to 2am, Fri and Sat 8pm to 3am, Mon closed. Tel: (0)4 412 6666. @honeycombhifi