Oishi! This late-night bar brings Tokyo cool to the Valley with street food, cocktails and pinball
Just try visiting Tokyo and not feel in awe of the sheer number and variety of bars and izakaya tucked away in its backstreets. Brisbane’s Andrew Baturo (the Gresham) has brought a piece of it to the Valley by opening Heya Bar on Brunswick Street.
Heya recreates the energy and appeal of Shinjuku and Southeast Asia’s hawker markets within this former newspaper printery. Japanese posters, stencil art, lanterns and even the odd pushbike punctuate the basement space to create a cluster of intimate spaces and secret bars. As you descend the stairs, there’s Bar 80’s, with its neon sign and even brighter cocktails – like the tangy blue Turtle Destruction Wave spiked with yuzu sake, or the summery melon-and-ginger delight of the Kaiju Attack.
Hidden beyond the pool tables and pinball machines, the Yama Bar offers low-key refuge for pondering your choice of Japanese craft beer.
With all this boozy goodness on offer, you’ll want to consult the ‘street eats’ menu. Karaage popcorn chicken is a safe bet, but it’s the sticky pork ribs with chilli plum glaze that has us coming back for more – falling off the bone, it's a tender and spicy foil for the fruity malt of a Yona Yona Ale.
The shaker fries with dashi and vinegar and are the surprise packet of the menu, while the cheeseburger spring roll with smoky hickory mayo is a winning riff on east-meets-west: beef, bacon and cheese inside a delicate, crisp spring roll wrapper and deep fried to golden, crowned with a tiny pickle. It’s the kind of bar snack you wish you’d met years ago.
Heya offers a multi-layered wonderland of good times. It’s an outrageously fun bar to get lost in. In Japan they have a word for the kind of enjoyment that comes from delicious food and drinks –‘oishi’ – and that just about sums up the experience here.
|Venue name:||Heya Bar|
367 Brunswick St
|Opening hours:||Mon-Wed 6pm-midnight; Thu-Sat 6pm-3am|