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Golden Gai to open in Soho

The new Italian and Japanese-inspired bar from the team behind Dalston's Angelina

On Friday 04 December, the team behind cult Dalston restaurant Angelina will bring a taste of Tokyo and Verona to Soho’s D’Arblay Street with the launch of Golden Gai, a contemporary, playful cocktail and wine bar with a Japanese and Italian twist and a stand-out, concise menu of dishes designed with drinking in mind.

Born from a tiny six-seater cocktail bar at Angelina, Golden Gai will bring the spirit of West Shinjuku to Soho in ode to Tokyo’s eponymous district of alleyways, famous for their tiny bars. The lively night-time cocktail bar will showcase unique and punchy combinations of Italian and Japanese ingredients and techniques within both the cocktail and food menus, enjoyed late into the evening in the dimly-lit bar.

Innovative cocktails crafted by specialist head bartender Wilson Salemos (who will be heading up the new venture) are worthy of a visit in their own right; the smokey Itameshi combines Vin Santo, Montanaro Rosso, whisky and fish dashi; and an indulgent matcha Japanese-Irish coffee, the Ceremonial Sour, mixes Yama matcha with matcha Kit Kat, double cream and coffee. For Golden Gai, Salemos has specially developed a wine milk punch, made using waste white wine mixed with milk and filtered until clear yet still retaining a subtle milk flavour. On display in Milk & Melograno, the cocktail mixes pomegranate punch with grappa, sake and rum for a heady tipple.

Cocktails sit alongside an imaginative, varied and accessible wine list of handpicked Italian bottles. The list presents a huge number of Italian varietals and offers the opportunity to revisit a classic label or discover a new favourite, always at great value. Golden Gai will also have a mini off-license bottle shop of special one-off wine varieties that you won’t be able to find anywhere else, available for customers and passer-bys to takeaway.

Food comes from Joshua Owens-Baigler and his team at Angelina, with a regularly-changing menu of Italian Japanese dishes designed specifically with drinking in mind. The menu features an Italian cheese board with unique Japanese additions such as aged tofu with Moromi-miso, alongside antipasti, crudo and riffs on Angelina’s signature plates, including chicken karaage and otoro (tuna) with lardo. For an indulgent twist on a sandwich, the menu also features piadine (a staple in Emilia Romagna of folded flatbreads with melted Italian cheese), with toppings such as caviar and fresh truffle.

With 40 social distancing covers (65 without), Golden Gai will bring a lively night-time bar to Soho, perfect for a pre-dinner cocktail or leisurely dinner with drinks. The space will be submerged with greenery, including fig trees inspired by Angelina, hanging plants adorning the ceilings and fresh greenery chosen by the team themselves each week at Covent Garden flower market. The greenery will be complemented by counter tops made from marble slabs and Japanese-style polycarbonate awnings and interiors, creating a dimly-lit moody and intimate atmosphere for which their Japanese namesakes renowned.

Golden Gai began as a tiny and intimate six-seater cocktail bar at Angelina, but as social distancing guidelines made the space untenable, Salemos and Angelina co-owners Joshua Owens-Baigler and Amar Takhar sought to reimagine the concept as a brand new, standalone venue in the West End. The new venture will be headed up by Salemos, head bartender at Angelina since its launch in 2019, alongside his partner and fellow bartender at Angelina, Zaneta Leszczynska.

Of the launch, Salemos said: “I met Josh & Amar 7 years ago as guests visiting ECC, and it was the beginning of a great friendship. They share a passion for cocktails, interesting flavour combinations and warm hospitality. Working at Angelina has been a fantastic experience and I’m excited to continue the collaboration!”

Owens-Baigler added: “When Amar and I went looking for food inspirations in Tokyo, we found it in abundance but we also accidentally stumbled across the Golden Gai. It was the most unexpected night of debauchery, karaoke, delicious nibbles, tipples and fun that could only be improved with Wilson’s cocktails. So that’s what we are trying to do!”