Monday, 25 August 2014
While I was entering the world of French art-house films, pretending to understand and like pretentious 60s glossy toss - bonjour, Alain Resnais' Last Year At Marienbad! - my unsophisticated classmates were happy to Enter The Dragon. Confession: I have never watched a Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee film. Ever. My grasp of this popular niche genre - cue howls of derision - is limited to Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting (http://tinyurl.com/6sdvpkt ), a 1974 UK/ US chart-topper by Jamaican cod-karate chopper Carl Douglas whose interest in Chinese culture, I imagine, nowadays extends to Char Siu Chow Mein, a portion of number 14 and free prawn crackers and a Coke from Der Kung Fu Kottage in his adopted Hamburg. Squirrelled away off Gray's Inn Road, is PimpShuei - a 'one-of-a-kind dive bar with a 70's-80's chop-socky vibe.' I drop in more out of curiosity than in expectation. Set in a basement rented off the 'sensational dinning (sic) experience' that is hot stone steak house, Rango's, above, the enthusiastic new lessees have turned what, as The Blue Bar, was billed as a 'classy yet casual cocktail lounge', into a New York hustler-style hangout that grooves to Blaxplotation flick soundtracks à la Cleopatra Jones. All martial arts murals, tawdry Guangzhou geegaws, retro arcade games, Kung fu film posters, a cinema-sized projection screen, and converted ghetto-blasters showing sock-it-to-him Shaolin nonsense on their inset tellys, the Look is Cantonese Kelly Hoppen karate choppin' kitsch. Tsingtao, Asahi and a rudimentary wine selection apart, the focus is on cocktails. Cheery Chinese co-owner 'Slash' says these will eventually number two dozen but tonight, days after its launch, there are only four on offer. Wong Island and Bangkok Dangerous discounted, my Pat mojito - Kraken rum, aloe vera juice, lemongrass and maraschino - is tangy and fair at £8. The chum's gimlet - not exactly the most taxing of off-menu calls - is competently executed. Amateurish and raw perhaps, but put together (on the cheap) with soul and passion, PimpShuei feels a lot more authentic than the corny karate kid pulp shown on its screens.
58 Mount Pleasant WC1X 0AY https://www.facebook.com/pimpshuei