For a long time since the Tiki revolution came bounding back into the world in a rum inspired burst of fresh juice goodness I have been bemoaning the fact that in Australia we have had just three Tiki Bars, two in Perth and one in Melbourne.
It seemed to me to be criminal that I was being denied my rum infused polynesian fix in the largest city in the country. Well finally that day has arrived and I recently headed out to check out this new venue called Kongs Jungle Lounge.
Armed with a portable mic I went in search of a Tiki head outside a basement bar in trendy Bondi Junction.
At last it was here and as I descended the steps to the Tiki bar I was filled with anticipation and trepidation.
There was a fear that after all my jetseting visiting tiki bars across the world that I would be bitterly disappointed and it would be completely and utterly bombsville.
But alas I was not disheartened,entering the bar I was greeted with the sounds of Martin Denny from the DJ both just located under the stairs.
The lighting was just perfect and the atmosphere simply the mezz.
There were gorgeous beetles making the scene and the venue had a really nice fun feel to it.
Squinting across the gently lit room I was trying to pick out the man behind it all, Sean Finlay, I had trouble tracking him down so naturally I had to ask some of the pretty babies if they knew him. Not surprisingly they didn't, but what the hey, I got some phone numbers for the collection (Kooper never misses an opportunity). Eventually I found him and sat down over a Mai Tai for a rap about the venue and his inspirations.
Not surprisingly his background is firmly entrenched in the Tiki and Custom car culture as is the case of many people. He was quick to credit the people behind the venture who have made it a big success in just three weeks of opening.
Head chef Adam Dundas Taylor takes a big bow in Finlay’s mind as Adam cooks up what he calls “Poly-asian” food, which takes its inspiration from places like Nobu and Hugos.
And at Kongs, food isn’t just something to break up the flavours of Passion Caipirinhas and Marama Rum Punches. Kongs calls its fare “Poly-asian diner style food”, an amalgamation of diverse kinds of deliciousness crafted by Adam Dundas Taylor of Nobu and Hugos fame. Think Japanese potato salad with mustard miso and pickled ginger, and dumplings filled not with fatty minced pork but with shitake, tofu, garlic and yuzu. But the island life isn’t about picking at appetizers — it’s about beer battered barra burgers with house made sweet chilli, and it’s about crispy pork belly with watermelon and pomegranate salad.
The cocktail menu has modern, but respectful versions of favorites like Kongs Mai Tai, Marama Rum Punch, Beachbum Berry’s Miehana, and more.
Sean is an experience club owner with twenty years under the belt and it is this experience along with his tiki background that helped him design the place with longevity in mind. Things like Seagrass matting was flown in from New Zealand along with artwork that was sourced from across the world.
When it comes to drinks one always has to ask about the house specialty of Tiki bar and the one they worked on for hours is called Kongs Jungle Juice, well Jungle Juice it is as after sipping the drink I found I had an overwhelming urge to rip off my shirt and beat my chest, but that's another story.
Tiki mugs are always and interesting point of difference and I was pleased to hear that my good buddy from the North Coast Captain Pharaoh has been blasting out a special Kongs Tiki mug. This is a wonderful thing as they are employing a local to create their signature mug which I think is a nice touch.
I guess my only issue is that the pad is so very new that it needs to be warn in a little bit, as it's always the the venues that have been around for a while that really have the right feel.
Apart from that it is a fantastic Tiki Bar and one that I am proud to take my friends to visit and also my international friends who drop by from time to time.
You can find Kongs Jungle Lounge and 110 Spring Street in Bondi Junction in Sydney.