After opening the doors to a buzzworthy dumpling shop in Vancouver’s Chinatown neighbourhood in July, the team behind BLND TGER recently announced the launch of an interesting new concept inspired by the false storefronts and secret passwords of Shanghai and Hong Kong’s prohibition-era cocktail scene.
Located in a hidden space tucked behind a false freezer at the BLND TGER dumpling shop, the speakeasy Laowai aims to celebrate the intrigue and glamour of a vintage hidden lounge while providing guests with a contemporary modern-day cocktail experience.
“Shanghai in the inter-War era was one of the most progressive and multicultural cities in the world,” says owner Lewis Hart. “In the 1920s and ’30s, the city’s nightlife hummed with a dynamic mix of the stylish and the seedy, with establishments welcoming to both locals and ‘laowai,’ or ‘old outsiders.’”
The list of libations on offer at Laowai showcases 12 unique cocktails designed by celebrated bar manager Alex Black. Each of the cocktails are inspired by a historical figure and feature ingredients almost entirely sourced from neighbouring Chinatown businesses. Laowai’s culinary program is headed by chef Phong Vo, whose menu features an array of BLND TGER dumplings along with larger share plates such as a slow-roasted pork belly bourbon char sui, sweet and sour ling cod, and wok-fried cumin lamb leg.
Laowai is open Tuesdays through Sundays beginning at 5 p.m. and does not take reservations. BLND TGER guests can order the “Number 7” during Laowai’s hours of operation to obtain a seat at the hidden lounge.