Tongue Bui (or just “Tongue”), owner of popular Plateau club École Privée, is planning something a little different for his next project: the party promoter is opening a dim sum bar in Old Montreal this winter.
Named Jiao (short for jiaozi, a Chinese dumpling), the forthcoming haunt in the former Kitchen Galerie Poisson on Notre-Dame West will be neither restaurant nor club, says Tongue.
“Ever since I’ve hosted at Joverse I found I enjoy bar life more. I’m not a promoter where I’m going to book your table…I’m more of a one-on-one person where…I like having conversations with people and you get that vibe more at a bar than compared to a club where people are dancing.”
Tongue certainly has the ability to draw people in — he’s a 15-year nightlife fixture, known for running Tuesday nights at nearby Joverse, Sundays at La Voute, and various other parties.
With the switch towards Jiao, he says he’s hoping to fill a gap in the area, which features plenty of clubs and higher-end restaurants (not to mention the various tourist traps), but fewer casual bars with food in between.
“Right now it’s nightclubs or real restaurants where you’re committed to a two or three hour meal…there’s no real pre-game place where if you want to go out maybe between 9 p.m. and midnight...what’s missing in that corner is a place for people to pre-drink, have a quick meal, and socialize.”
On the bar side, cocktails with premium liquor and Chinese beers will figure prominently. For food, it’ll be a tightly-selected range of dim sum dishes, including classics and some twists — fittingly, Tongue appreciates more classic Chinese fare, but admits he’s not opposed to some decidedly North American deviations, like General Tao chicken — and it seems like Jiao will walk the line between them. (Precise details on the food are still in the works.)
“If you want dim sum you have to go to Chinatown and it’s typically Saturday or Sunday brunch time, and you can’t really get it other than those times, and it’s more traditional Chinese dishes.”
While Tongue mentions Jiao as something of a pre-drink spot, it may be there to help out those stumbling out of the club after 3 a.m. — plans also include a takeout window to sell late-night sandwiches or noodles.
The space will have around 50 to 60 seats and a wrap-around bar — Tongue is partnered with Oli Berkan, and Montreal design firm Atelier Lovasi is also working on the project; expect it to open sometime in the new year.
Correction: an earlier version of this article stated that Oli Berkan works with Atelier Lovasi; he does not.