Have you ever thought, “I’d really like to sing Disney tunes while chomping on duck hearts and swigging craft beer”? Well, you’re in luck. Heroes, the three-level venue from the crew behind Fancy Hanks, has all your sing-along, South East Asian street food and rooftop cocktail needs covered. To get to this promised land, search out the lift tucked at the back of a nitro ice cream shop on Bourke Street. There, a friendly security guard acts as a gatekeeper and offers the low-down on what’s above.
Level one holds a private karaoke room, with warehouse windows looking out over the street, curtains of silver tinsel, your lyrics projected on the wall, and, conveniently, the venue’s only toilets. You’ll need a crew of ten to book it, and it’s $40 per head (which includes a $30 bar tab), so plan ahead if you want to sing.
On level two, the grills are fired up to char you some skewers that range from duck heart to chicken or eggplant. Order and pay at the kitchen bar, then find a perch on one of the high tables clustered beneath a canopy of Chinese New Year decorations. The disco ball sending slow shimmers across walls plastered with Asian kitsch gives the room a John Hughes prom-scene tinge.
The food choices are generally small, meat-focused and simple – ideal for snacking, less so a full meal. A plate of Szechuan brisket cubes has none of the signature heat or aromatic spice that cuisine is known for. Better to go for the seafood sambal. Today it’s stingray, grilled then slathered in an aromatic paste and served with a lime and fermented shrimp sauce.
Beer ranges from easy Asian lagers on tap to Wolf of the Willows India Saison in the bottle – hoppier and less sour than a traditional saison, and yeastier and fuller than a standard IPA. The Adelaide hills rosé on tap is zippy and smashable, and a chenin from WA does what you want it to, creamy and unchallenging.
On the rooftop, rainbow plastic furniture and coloured fluoro tubes reflecting off high white walls give the space the air of an adult crèche. A riff on the Singapore Sling has all the requisite ingredients for tropical fun, but they don’t quite gel (too much herbal Benedictine, not enough balancing lime). A warm drink of apple pie moonshine and chai on the other hand is earthy and comforting, and a delicious rye whisky and Campari number comes garnished cleverly with incense for a slow-burning aroma.
Overall, Heroes feels a little confused. But it’s a fun confusion, and if you can score a booking for that karaoke room you and your crew are in for a great night. Grab a drink to loosen your pipes up, top up the tanks with meat-on-sticks, and live your life like a hero.