Samu, as it will be called, will occupy “a small cube” of space inside the restaurant and will operate during lunch and dinner service. It’ll offer Bax’s version of chanoyu – Japanese tea ceremony. “I want to bring true matcha and some of the joys of chanoyu into people’s busy lives,” says Bax. “Fix their head and heart – at least for five minutes.”
In Japan, tea ceremonies are considered a spiritual and transformative practice. Formal events can last for hours. Less formal gatherings are quicker and include tea and sweets. Matcha – considered the highest quality tea in Japan – is almost always used, although occasionally sencha tea is used instead.
At Samu, Bax will offer true, ceremonial-grade Japanese matcha tea (which he says is “world’s apart” from the stuff we normally drink here) and a Japanese sweet, or wagashi. But although he’s taking cues from traditional practices, Bax’s version will be anything but.
“It will be different, that’s all I can say,” he says, mysteriously. “I don’t know of anything like it in the world.”
Bax is no stranger to high-concept operations. His tiny, standing-room-only Bar Americano is inspired by Italian aperitivo and espresso culture. Bar Exuberante – small, windowless and reminiscent of a hotel lobby bar – has a new, hidden waiting room attached, named Cock Alley for the fighting cock paintings that line its walls. It’s tiny and holds six to eight people.
Bax was also behind the much-loved, world-famous Der Raum cocktail bar, which closed suddenly in 2012.
What was once the rum-focused, shabby dive bar Bar Economico (which opened on the site of Der Raum) is being converted into a creative test lab.
Samu will run from July 18 to August 1, 2016.
180 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
(03) 9650 8688