Taking over the space that was once the home of Brunswick Social and Lucid Laundry, Heya is the new cool kid on the Valley block.
A melting pot of the colours, flavours and sounds of the street markets of South East Asia and the alleyways and bars of the Golden Gai in Shinjuku, Heya promises a fun night out.
This heady combination of delicious food, banging beats and excellent positioning almost guarantees success, and the early going is good — since the launch last week, the place fills fast each night.
“The concept started to take root after we saw the layout in the space that was the Brunswick Social,” says co-owner Andrew Baturo. “It is a totally unique space, considering it used to house the printing presses for the old Sun Newspaper.”
The ambience is reminiscent of a retro drinking den in ’70s NYC, and there are pockets of seating to choose from. Located below street level, Heya is a subterranean space for lovers of Asian fare, liquor and loud music. Look out for the wallpaper made from vintage comics and watch the light dance on the liquor bottles hanging above the bar. The venue is set up with a stage to accommodate live music plus there are pool tables, video games and booths lit by candles.
“There is a long concrete ‘road’ that runs the length of the venue that reminded us of the street markets of Hong Kong or Thailand,” Baturo says. “The industrial ceiling was a mess of pipes and cables and beams that had been added to over the years. This feature was reminiscent of the ad hoc nature of building in South East Asian precincts.
“Slowly, the idea of doing a venue that was based on the street markets of South East Asia started to take hold. Alongside this was the appeal of doing a Pan Asian Street Food menu that was quirky, fun and very different. We had the basis of our idea but it still needed something to ‘fill it out’ as the venue is such a large space. A quick trip to Tokyo, Shanghai and Hong Kong gave us the missing piece of the puzzle.”
“On a recommendation from Matty Hewitt (GM of Gresham and Heya), we visited the Golden Gai precinct in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Golden Gai is a labyrinth of lanes and alleyways that hides approximately 300 tiny bars in a very compact, safe bar precinct. Each bar was individually owned and operated yet could only seat from six to 10 guests at any given time. We fell in love with the energy and charisma of this crazy bar precinct.
“That trip provided us with the inspiration to make Heya a bar and entertainment precinct within a venue — live music, pool tables, pinball machines, street kitchens, alleys and hidden bars.
“The vibe is always busy, like a street market. There is also the anticipation of discovery and not quite knowing what is about to happen. Its about noise and smells and lights and nooks — it appeals to all the senses, often at the same time. It’s about conversation and fun and the unexpected.”
The street fare is simple yet sumptuous, and the drinks list broadly appealing. Make sure you sample one of the house-made specials — a frozen concoction to delight the senses. Could you be tempted to try an espresso martini slushie garnished with a delicious dollop of cream? We can’t imagine many would say no to that number.
Make sure you click through the gallery above to see all the photos!
Heya is located at Shop 11 367 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley. For more information, check out our dining guide.
Have you been to Heya yet? Let us know in the comments below!