Emerging from a year that has left many of us feeling weary and fatigued, now more than ever are Hong Kongers seeking a sense of shelter and solace. Tonight, we officially unveil our new no-frills dive bar, The Last Resort: a neighbourhood watering hole meant to be a safe haven in SoHo for the world-weary to rest their heads, relax and refuel.
Stripped of pretensions, The Last Resort serves as a welcome antidote to trendy cocktail bars, with simple, good-time libations executed with a lot of care. The nostalgic menu is priced from $40-50 and features the very best version of your favorite college drink; the one you vaguely remember throwing back six of before your song started playing and you just had to dance on the bar.
The friendly faces behind the bar include Black Sheep Restaurants duo JJ Quintero, formerly Manager of Fukuro and 28 Hong Kong in Singapore, along with Ashim Rai who ran the bar programme at BELON, joined by Tracy Villegas formerly Bar Manager of The Pontiac. Pick your poison and trust this team of experienced barkeeps to keep the rounds coming, whether it is a Whiskey Apple, Bourbon Coke, or Vodka Cranberry. The Rum Sour blends smoky-sweet notes, while the classic Margarita and Long Island Iced Tea go heavy on the spirits. A variety of beers on tap and wallet-friendly wines ($40 per glass) round out the short but sweet selection of dive bar staples.
To temper long nights of boozing, Executive Chef of Ho Lee Fook, Fukuro and Le Garçon Saigon, Chef Jowett Yu unveils his perfected recipe for fried chicken, featuring a blend of 12 different spices and chillies. Chef Yu’s battered bird delivers shatteringly crisp skin and juicy, tender meat, using three-yellow chicken from the New Territories famed for its depth of flavour. The dish goes hand-in-hand with a side of golden-fried potato wedges dipped in sour cream and sweet chilli sauce. For Chef Jow, the fried chicken recipes are an ode to his past. “Growing up in Vancouver, I would attend Chinese school on Sundays, and while all my friends could get up late and watch cartoons all morning, I would be heading off to class. To make me feel better, my Mom would stop by this fried chicken joint called Church’s and grab a 10-pack from the drive-through on the way home. The ‘Original’ recipe comes from my memory of those conciliatory Saturday lunches. There’s a lot of comfort in fried chicken”.
In envisioning The Last Resort, our founders Syed Asim Hussain and Christopher Mark were inspired by the type of gritty, no-nonsense dive bars characteristic of rural small-town drinking, cheap and cheery roadside pit stops, and the informal back alley pubs that often formed the backdrop of Mark’s formative years.
“This particular project was spurred by nostalgia, symbolic of a sort of coming home for much of the team who have strong ties to Canada,” says Mark. The Last Resort team have taken the hallmarks of Canadian hospitality to heart, where guests are never far from a friendly face, a shoulder to lean on or an ear to confide in, and good-natured jostling around the bar combined with generous hospitality inform the spirit behind every service.
With over 15 restaurants in SoHo neighbourhood, we hope that with the opening of The Last Resort, we can give a little back to a community that has become like family. “We have been part of SoHo for so long now, it has become our home and we really wanted to open something that was made for us, for our teams, our friends and our peers,” says Mark. “The bar is meant to be a haven after long days or nights, in some cases long weeks and months, where those in the neighbourhood, those working in the industry can find a little respite.”