Incest. Cannibalism. Paedophilia. Now they’re taboos. But don’t expect these sorts of dark practices at Arbuthnot Road’s newest bar and lounge of the same name. In fact, don’t expect it to be dark or depraved at all. A bright, exciting visual experience awaits, along with a debonair touch of style. Really not a taboo at all – until you find out the price of the drinks, that is.
When we hit up the venue on a Friday night, we’re greeted by a rather intimidating doorman who sits behind a desk with the bar and lounge closed off behind him. There’s an instant feeling that you’re not meant to be here unless you’re a VIP or very good at sweet-talking doormen. Having not made any reservations (the bar is walk-in, after all) we approach the dude with trepidation and, after a short grilling, he pushes a button and a sliding door opens to reveal a long alleyway leading down to Taboo’s main floor. An entrance with a little intrigue and a lot of elitism.
The décor alone at Taboo is worth the visit. The ground floor lounge area is long, narrow and almost completely covered in white. The quirky, surrealist surrounds provide plenty of conversation starters (it could be a good place for a nervous first date). Among some of the items we find attached upside down to the ceiling are a grand piano (white, of course) and a fireplace mantle complete with tools like pokers and irons. It’s an impressive sight.
After settling down on one of the (white) benches, we make our selections from an extensive list of cocktails. There’s a wide variety of classics and signature cocktails here – too many, in fact. But the friendly staff help us choose – however the tipples we end up with are unremarkable and way overpriced. The French Kiss ($150) is a green champagne cocktail that’s on the tart side, while the Ginger Vanilla Daiquiri ($130) is a frozen concoction that’s served in a tall tumbler instead of a proper daiquiri glass and is without any of the prominent flavours or notes we expect. Spelling mistake aside, the Mapple Syrup Caipiriniha ($130), is again mediocre but forgettable. Considering the price we pay for these bevs, we had hoped for more attention to detail.
After finishing our so-so drinks in the lounge, we wander down a steep staircase lined in plush black velvet to peek into the basement club space, also decked out all in black for an instant contrast to upstairs. On busy evenings, this becomes a bumping club space with bar patrons breaking it down on the narrow dancefloor to electronic music from Taboo’s resident DJs. But most intriguing to us is the shower stall just behind the DJ booth. While we’re unfortunately unable to witness it in action, we’re told that a woman performs a ‘show’ in the shower every Friday and Saturday night. We’re not sure quite how taboo that show actually is but we would most definitely like to check it out…
While our drinks are underwhelming, Taboo’s kooky décor and the dual lounge/club concept which offers a place to chat with friends and a space for dancing under one roof may encourage a repeat visit. At least, we’ll be back to check out the shower show. If the doorman lets us in again, that is. Andrea Yu
16 Arbuthnot Rd, Central, 9643 6571; taboo.com.hk.