Honeycomb Hi-Fi Launches in Dubai as the Region’s First Listening Bar

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VKD Hospitality, the Team Behind Miss Lily’s and Indochine, Create a Homegrown Original by Blending Music, Design and Japanese F&B

The Dubai audiophile community has been growing in numbers and stature in recent times, and with the launch of Honeycomb Hi-Fi, they may finally find a home-away from-home.

Located at the Pullman Hotel in Business Bay, Honeycomb Hi-Fi brings to life a legitimate record store, a High-Fidelity sound system, warm and minimal interiors designed for quality acoustics, and an izakaya kitchen to round out their vision. It is the first listening bar to open in the Middle East.

Honeycomb Hi-Fi has become a passion project that has taken the team on a creative expedition. VKD Hospitality Group’s Creative Director Serge Becker designed and conceptualized this restaurant alongside his partners Varun Khemaney and Khalil Dahmash. Additionally, Hong Kong-based Canadian chef of Yardbird and Ronin, Matt Abergel, curated the Honeycomb food offering. The team’s journey gathered pace by collaborating with Flip Side Records to curate a vinyl program to get the best out of their commissioned Ojas speakers by Devon Turnbull.

VKD Hospitality partner Varun Khemaney says, “Many creative minds have come together to collaborate and create this concept. We are excited to show our appreciation for music and design in a new way for the local community and introduce a space that we felt was very much needed in this city.”

VKD Hospitality partner Khalil Dahmash says, “Honeycomb Hifi is about sharing; whether that’s sharing food, drinks, or music.  We really wanted to create an original concept that is inclusive and allows like-minded people to feel at home.”

RECORDS, BOOKS & MORE –

Following a swift elevator ride to the second floor of the Pullman Hotel, guests will initially be unsure if they have arrived at the right location, as an authentic vinyl record store is all that seems to be present. It is here that the Flip Side Record crew from Al Serkal avenue have curated a great showcase of vinyl collectables and classics to browse or purchase. Aside from vinyls, there are also music-related books, magazines and Honeycomb Hi-Fi merchandise for sale.

INTERIORS & VIBE – 

After the short transition from the record storefront, a set of Noren curtains open to reveal the main area known as “The Listening Room.” The bespoke sound system and vinyl library immediately command the eyes (and the ears) whilst the warm interior lighting brings a honey hue to the perforated wooden wall panels resembling a honeycomb – hence the name. The intimate contemporary feel is balanced with nostalgic touches like the retro Bruno Rey barstools and Tobia Scarpa-inspired chairs. The Takumi-style carpets and clean lines tell you about Honeycomb Hi-Fi’s modern Japanese sensibility, and the acoustic foam-covered ceilings reaffirm that this is an audio-centric dining and drinks experience. Adorning the wall behind the bar is “Muji” the Honeycomb Mascot bee in the form of a neon light, giving a face to the name.

“The Gallery” is a smaller elevated space off the main room that creates its own level of intimacy with the option of hiding behind the subtle shutters. The Gallery will showcase rotating art exhibitions featuring global music cultures through the ages. For the launch, the VKD Hospitality team have collaborated with photographer Bill Bernstein to display a selection of images from the artist’s seminal exploration of New York City nightlife of the late 70’s. A Honeycomb special edition of his book “Last Dance” and two limited edition posters are available for sale at the HC Record and Book shop.

Outside on the terrace, the space called “The Garden” has a low-key industrial materiality with a nod to Japan and its legendary green Bamboo gardens. A floating plywood bar stands elevated at the end of the terrace, where guests can enjoy the open air and waterside views of the canal through the dramatic bamboo cage grid.

Across the venue, VKD Creative Director and Partner Serge Becker curated the look and feel with his fellow partners Varun Khemaney and Khalil Dahmash. With their choices, the trio made it clear that this project is a labor of love that was years in gestation.

HIGH FIDELITY SOUND–

Music and clarity of sound are of utmost importance to building the Honeycomb Hi-Fi community. As self-confessed music lovers, the team scoured the globe for the finest ears and advisors to help create the ongoing living culture of the Middle East’s first listening bar. The room was designed for optimal acoustics within the confines of a restaurant.

At the beating heart of the venue are the bespoke Ojas speakers created by Devon Turnbull. A leader in his field, Devon has built sound systems for the likes of Mark Ronson, Virgil Abloh and Supreme and collaborated with Brian Eno on a sound installation. It is the first and only Devon Turnbull Ojas installation in the Middle East.

The rotation of DJs and music curators will be serving a moving audio feast. Guests can expect anything on the turntables, from electronic to jazz, to soul, to world music. The weekly sounds program is being built with contributors of some of the best DJ’s and notable vinyl collectors in the region.

DINING / SERVICE –

Honeycomb Hi-Fi promises a casual Japanese menu inspired by a traditional izakaya. The team has partnered with Chef Matt Abergel to design the selections. Matt’s experience working with Japanese flavours, ingredients, and cooking techniques is present throughout Honeycomb Hi-Fi’s menu. It encourages sharing across every category; the menu is broken down into cold/raw, hot, binchotan grill and rice/noodles sections. Each binchotan grill item is priced per skewer, and most portions are not large, allowing guests to explore a variety of dishes to share. In true izakaya style, service is friendly, swift, and approachable.

Signature dishes include:

Scallop Siu Mai with Hokkaido scallop and kizami wasabi

Mochi Stuffed Wings with yuzu chilli salt and green sauce

DRINKS / BAR –

VKD Hospitality group has worked with their team of talented bartenders to create a seemingly simple but sophisticated range of cocktails. The drinks program is crisp, balanced, and not too fussy. Classic Japanese staples like the whisky highball or sochu sour are presented with a modern twist and can work in isolation or be sipped to cleanse or dry the palate between bites.

Signature cocktails include:

Quartett – malt whiskey, umeshu, green apple, green tea

Manga Rita – tequila, umeshu, pineapple vinegar, sudachi, chilli

About Honeycomb HI-Fi:

Launched in October 2022, Honeycomb Hi-Fi is the first listening bar to open in the Middle East. Located at the Pullman Hotel Downtown in Business Bay, the original new concept was created by Managing Partners Varun Khemaney, Khalil Dahmash and Creative Director, Serge Becker of VKD Hospitality Group. Honeycomb Hi-Fi brings to life a legitimate record store, a High-Fidelity sound system, warm and minimal interiors designed for quality acoustics, and an izakaya kitchen to round out their vision. Honeycomb is the first venue in the Middle East to feature a custom-built Ojas speaker system by Devon Turnbull. The rotation of DJs and music curators will be serving a moving audio feast. Guests can expect anything on the turntables, from electronic to jazz, to soul, to world music and film scores. The weekly sounds program is being built with contributors of some of the best DJ’s and notable vinyl collectors in the region.

The venue blends a love of design, high fidelity sounds with quality drinks and Japanese bar food to create a listening room that serves Dubai’s audiophile community, foodies, and cocktail lovers alike. Award-winning chef Matt Abergel of Yardbird / Ronin Hong Kong fame has created a traditional menu incorporating modern expressions of izakaya dishes, including a selection of cold/raw, hot, binchotan grill, rice, and noodle dishes.

Behind the bar, Honeycomb Hi-Fi serves up sophisticated twists of classic Japanese cocktails supported by craft Japanese beers with an impressive range of sake and shochu labels also on offer.

“The Gallery” is a smaller elevated space off the main room that creates its own level of intimacy. The room will showcase rotating art exhibitions featuring global music cultures through the ages.

Outside on the terrace, the space called “The Garden” has a low-key industrial materiality with a nod to Japan and its legendary green Bamboo gardens. A floating plywood bar stands elevated at the end of the terrace, where guests can enjoy the open air and waterside views of the canal through the dramatic bamboo cage grid.

In Honeycomb Hifi’s record and book store, guests can buy vinyl records as well as browse music-related books, magazines and Honeycomb Hi-Fi merchandise.