Heya! It’s a greeting. It’s a song by OutKast. It’s Japanese for room and it’s now the latest addition to the Valley, inspired by the street markets of South East Asia and the alleyways and bars of the Golden Gai in Shinjuku.
So says the literature accompanying the invite to the opening party of Fortitude Valley’s newest drinking den, restaurant and live music venue: Heya Bar, located at 367 Brunswick Street.
Aligning your venue with a platinum-selling pop single, the sublime street food of South East Asia and one of the coolest nightspots around might seem cocksure to some, but after briefly sampling the ambience at the newly-opened venue, this reviewer can confirm that the description of the feel and fare on offer is just about right on the money.
The basement-level venue is at once dark but inviting; with a range of seating areas, each with an ambience of their own. A bar extensively decorated with liquor bottles dangling from above and wallpaper made from vintage comics divides the pool tables and retro video games from the kitchen and live stage, with horseshoe-shaped booths dimly lit by candles inviting punters to sit down and not get up again for several hours.
A range of craft beers, cocktails, ciders and good ol’ Sapporo on tap go down equally as well as the house special; a frozen espresso martini slushie topped with a handsome dollop of cream. Street eats on the evening included sashimi of kingfish and tuna, duck and spiced honey rice paper rolls, mushroom and bacon gyoza, mini crab and corn chiko rolls (perhaps never before has South East Asian and Australian cuisine collided so wonderfully) and the expertly-executed mini cheeseburger spring rolls. I would love to be able to comment on the quality of music on show for the evening, but the high standard and frequency of food being delivered to my table meant I wasn’t moving anywhere for quite an extended period of time (bands who play here in the future – you have major competition here).
Heya Bar’s appeal doesn’t lie in a sense of novelty or peculiarity that’s going to wear off by the second or third visit like a lot of similar venues. Instead, there seems to be enough of a wealth of ideas on offer to make it a prospect for Brisbanites to enjoy for the long-term. Hurrah for Heya.