What could you put next to Happy Boy? It’s a question co-owner brothers Cameron and Jordan Votan thought about a lot. The answer is Snack Man, a small plate-centric wine and cocktail bar.
And while, when it opened, Snack Man seemed destined to become just a holding bar for Happy Boy during peak times, it quickly defied those expectations. It's a destination in its own right, and many former Happy Boy devotees have a new favourite.
The fit-out is dramatic: contrasting an open-glass facade with moody and dark interiors inside. Granite, concrete and leather surfaces are stark and handsome. There are around 80 seats downstairs, with a small 15-seat upstairs space. While Happy Boy’s food revolves around the wok or barbeque, Snack Man centres on the snacks found across China and the Chinese diaspora. Each dish on the menu is listed with the region from where it originates.
There’s cha siu bao (barbeque chicken in a crisp or steamed bun) from Guangdong; la zi ji (crispy chicken ribs) from Shanghai; and su chai jiao (mushroom dumplings) from Yunnan. In early-2019, the full menu will come on-stream, featuring lots of different dumplings, buns, grilled sticks, noodles and other snacks. A number of desserts are also on offer.
Wines by the glass are offered in a similar way to Happy Boy, using a projected screen above the bar. Here, though, the focus is on European producers as opposed to Happy Boy’s dedication to local drops. Cocktails are more creative than the average, courtesy of a centrifuge machine (used to make clear flavour-enhanced liquids) and a Kitchen Aid used to make liquid nitrogen ice-cream. Classics are available on request though.