What to expect from the region's first listening bar
Words by Aneesha Rai in The Lifestyle · May 12th, 2023
Developed by Creative Director and Partner of VKD Hospitality- Serge Becker and his two partners Varun Khemaney and Khalil Dahmash, Honeycomb Hi-Fi is the region's first listening bar. Bringing to life a vinyl record store, a high - fidelity sound system designed by Devon Turnbull, warm and minimal interiors designed for quality acoustics, and an izakaya kitchen, the concept brings to life a unique proposition for Dubai's diners and music enthusiasts. Drawing locally and homegrown for curation, the partners have worked with Flipside Records from Al Serkal Avenue for the curation of its records.
Upon entering Honeycomb Hi-Fi, one will find themselves in "The Listening Room," which is revealed after passing through a set of Noren curtains following the record storefront. The vinyl library and bespoke sound system immediately catch one's attention while the warm interior lighting gives the perforated wooden wall panels a honey hue, which is where the establishment gets its name from due to its resemblance to a honeycomb. The contemporary feel of the room is balanced with nostalgic elements like the retro Bruno Rey barstools and Tobia Scarpa-inspired chairs. The Takumi-style carpets and clean lines suggest Honeycomb Hi-Fi's modern Japanese sensibility, while the acoustic foam-covered ceilings reaffirm its audio-centric focus.
Behind the bar, one will find a neon light in the form of "Muji," the Honeycomb Mascot bee, giving a face to the establishment's name. "The Gallery" is a smaller elevated space off the main room, offering a different level of intimacy and the option of hiding behind subtle shutters. This space will host rotating art exhibitions that showcase global music cultures throughout the ages. For the launch, Honeycomb Hi-Fi collaborated with photographer Bill Bernstein to display a selection of images from the artist's seminal exploration of New York City nightlife in the late '70s. A Honeycomb special edition of his book "Last Dance" and two limited edition posters were available for purchase at the HC Record and Book shop.
Outside on the terrace, one will find "The Garden," which features an industrial materiality with a nod to Japan and its legendary green bamboo gardens. At the end of the terrace stands a floating plywood bar, where guests can enjoy the open air and waterside views of the canal through the dramatic bamboo cage grid.
But the interiors are, of course, not the only draw; the acoustic experience is. To foster the love of music, Honeycomb Hi-Fi sought out the finest ears and advisors from around the world to create the Middle East's first listening bar, with a focus on optimal acoustics.
At the heart of the venue are bespoke Ojas speakers created by Devon Turnbull, a leader in his field who has built sound systems for renowned artists such as Mark Ronson, Virgil Abloh, and Supreme, and even collaborated with Brian Eno on a sound installation. This is the first and only Devon Turnbull Ojas installation in the Middle East.
The rotation of DJs and music curators at Honeycomb Hi-Fi will serve a moving audio feast, with guests able to expect a diverse range of genres on the turntables, from electronic to jazz, soul, and world music. The weekly sounds program is being built with contributors from some of the best DJs and notable vinyl collectors in the region, ensuring a constantly evolving and exciting music experience for all who visit.
Foodies will not be left disappointed either - the menu is inspired by a Japanese izakaya designed in partnership with Chef Matt Abergel. The menu is divided into cold/raw, hot, binchotan grill, and rice/noodles sections, with each binchotan grill item priced per skewer and most portions sized for sharing. Service is friendly, approachable, and in true izakaya style; swift. When it comes to their cocktails, classic Japanese staples shine with a modern twist, such as the whisky highball or shochu sour.