Wan Chai. Alcohol. Cue images of drunken louts, ill-fitting suits and streetside cries of ‘hey honey, come in for a beer’. But, as we all know, there’s so much more to this district. Wan Chai has been moving away from its horny adolescence and into the green fields of legitimacy. And newly-opened Dijiboutii might just tip the scales.
This neat little spot is tucked down an unassuming back-alley on Landale Street and upon entering on a Wednesday evening, we’re warmly greeted by a cheery Italian who treats us like an old friend – handshakes and shoulder pats ahoy. It’s genuine, friendly and a strong precursor for the service. The décor takes on a kind of ‘safari in a cosy living room’ guise but the most appealing aspect is the venue’s open nature, with the whole front going alfresco.
The drinks are no slouch either. We start with the Montego Fever ($110), a precarious balancing act of prominent flavours, neatly sporting dark rum, chai tea and peach jam. Watching the bartender at work, he mixes with a level of concentration that makes us think he’s trying to make the glass explode with his mind. The proof is in the pudding, though, with the rum laying the boozy foundations for the gingery cinnamon wash of the tea, punctuated by a lovely fruity finish. Winner. Next up, the formidably sizeable Make a Wish ($260) is a veritable orgy of gin, juices and purees. Though we’re usually wary of novelty sized ‘shareable’ drinks, this goes down a treat with care given to the actual flavours as opposed to pure volume being the only concern.
Djiboutii shows – judging by the hearty numbers at the bar and scattered around outside on a weeknight – that quality service, a cool space and the word of mouth by happy customers who clearly only have good things to say, can elevate a venue above any Wan Chai-related zeitgeists. So, ‘hey honey, come in for a beer’.
2 Landale St, Wan Chai