The latest venue from the Indochine and Miss Lily’s team is a sure-fire hit.
First things first, I am an unabashed fan of the VKD Hospitality Group concepts. So, when I heard the team behind the FACT Award-winning Indochine and Miss Lily’s had opened a new venue, I made an immediate beeline for Honeycomb Hi-Fi.
Located on the second floor of Pullman Dubai Downtown in bustling Business Bay, Honeycomb Hi-Fi offers a departure from the norm. What I (wrongly) assumed to be a casual izakaya come bar transpired to be the region’s first listening room.
The venue is a little challenging to locate due to a lack of signage, but that is the point. What appears to be a vinyl record store featuring classic albums – think Kendrick Lamar, Nirvana, Miles Davis and Nina Simone – is actually a front for the intimate venue tucked discreetly behind a moveable wall.
So far, so speakeasy, but as I pass through a narrow soundproofed passage into Honeycomb Hi-Fi’s central listening room, I’m met with a disarming space where the real magic happens. Like the other VKD Hospitality Group concepts, Honeycomb Hi-Fi is a restaurant anchored around music. Here, turntables sit next to the mixologists working the bar. Drinks are concocted as records are spun, and a soundtrack intrinsic to the venue naturally complements the crowd of creatives. The pitch-perfect acoustics throughout the venue comes from the only Devon Turnbull Ojas speaker installation in the Middle East. For those who don’t know, Turnball has built speaker systems for Mark Ronson and the late Virgil Abloh.
Aside from the alluring soundtrack, Honeycomb Hi-Fi’s food and beverage menu is a real draw. The casual Japanese menu from chef Matt Abergel (of Hong Kong’s Yardbird and Ronin) is inspired by a traditional sharing style izakaya. Presented in individual portions, the concise menu is broken into five sections – cold and raw, hot, binchotan grill, rice and noodles and dessert.
Highlight dishes are the shio konbu tomato udon (AED 74), a cold noodle dish that effortlessly fuses Mediterranean and Japanese sensibilities into one memorable plate. Elsewhere the robust lamb gyoza (AED 72), carefully wrapped and served with lao gan ma sauce, and the scallop siu mai (AED 85), which may appear dainty but feature a fiery (and much appreciated) hit of wasabi are FACT recommended.
I’d suggest trying a selection of skewers from the binchotan grill, which include quail, squid, okra and wagyu variations. My preference, however, is the dry-aged duck breast with yuzu honey (AED 30), resulting in an undeniably moreish bite. When it comes to dessert, the chocolate kinako marquise (AED 48) is a textural marvel of mascarpone and chocolate sorbet that will satiate the palate of even the most avid chocolate lovers.
With a small garden terrace expected to open imminently and an elevated space off the main dining room showcasing rotating art exhibitions, Honeycomb Hi-Fi has successfully created a small and intimate venue that is not only a neighbourhood hub for Dubai’s creatives but has become the talk of the town.
Music reigns supreme in a venue where warm lighting brings a honey-coloured hue to the perforated wooden wall panels that resemble a honeycomb. Varun Khemaney and Khalil Dahmash of VKD Hospitality Group have created another buzz-worthy venue, resulting in an impressive trifecta of Dubai concepts offering dining experiences anchored around music. As my evening segues between the lyricism of Talib Kwali, Erykah Badu and Mos Def, I know my initial trip to the region’s first listening bar will certainly not be my last.