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Friday, 11 November 2011

Funky Asia, Shoreditch (NOW CLOSED)

A gay display of pastel pendant lamps dangling in a picture window signals this new cocktail lounge-cum-pan-Asian diner. Inside, the theme - Shoreditch loft meets Suzie Wong - goes woefully wong in places: random jumble and horribly mismatched furnishings vie for attention with vintage retread stools that should be donated to a museum or consigned to a skip. My eye is drawn to bizarre fade-to-grey serge staff uniforms seemingly seamed up on a Singer  by a London College of Fashion fresher circa similarly cod-Asian Aneka's Japanese Boy (take a trip down Memory lane here ). It's a measure of the resident, mostly Italian, mixologists' sunny nature that they haven't revolted at being forced into revolting clobber. The brave souls dispense passable cocktails at an ugly bar that, lit paraffin blue, also recalls shonky 1980s design. Still, £6.50 per cocktail is a retro detail I do dig. We try shochu and green tea-infused Shibuya and Takeshita street, a cucumber and sake vodkatini - cucumber traditionally combined with wasabi paste as a Shogun-era cure for those too bunged-up to Takeshita. Soi Cowboy, a Bulldog gin and basil martini said to be a tribute to a Bangkok red-light porn star of yore, is no fluffer at £7 while both lemongrass, lychee, sake and grapefruit combo, 798 District, and Shanghai bund have Harajuku girl appeal. There’s a fair selection of wines, lad lagers, sushi rolls and oriental street food, none of which I try. I've got other fish to have fried elsewhere and reviewers whose opinion I'm inclined to trust have roundly panned the pan-Asian grub. Alerted to the presence of a 'crazy barman called Ginger', I'm keen to encounter what sounds like a colourful character but "she" is now in the kitchen and won't come out.' Mortified to be caught in those (Steve) strange uniforms, no doubt.  I'll be back to reappraise sweet FA and hopefully catch sight of the retiring Ginger. Thankfully, it's directly across the street from a regular haunt of mine, that equally heroically eccentric watering hole, The Commercial Tavern. 
159 Commercial Street, E1 6BJ 7247 0072  

Check more late summer 2011 openings in the Autumn edition of Square Meal magazine.