Hey, guys thank you for taking the time to answer some of our questions today. Can you give our readers, who might not already know, a little idea about what exactly Horse Bazaar is?
Horse Bazaar is the only venue in Australia (I would say) that offers Izakaya style food, Japanese infused drink (cocktail classic and local craft beer as well) and live music venue with panoramic projections mapping, It is quirky without trying….lol
Was it always your ambition to make it a bar/restaurant/music venue? It’s such a fantastic concept, was it born as that, or did it evolve into what it is?
Horse Bazaar was owned by some creative people in town originally. We took over the business almost 6years ago and the opportunity came up naturally and it seemed so right. we are still so lucky to have such creative support and community around us to be what Horse Bazaar should be.
What did you guys do before Horse Bazaar? Do you come from a cooking background, a music background or a bar/nightclub background?
I (Taka) used to work for the original owner of Horse Bazaar in 2009 and started kitchen there. I was a DJ back in the day and I was at Horse Bazaar playing music when the owner was looking for someone who can set up and work as a chef there.
I took the opportunity and I started with serving panini and cheese board, etc with the owner’s request and no one was ordering anything then….. I suggested to the owners to let me try what I do which was Japanese food and slowly we built up the crowd.
Fumi was working as a sake sommelier at the Japanese sake bar and he heard about Horse Bazaar doing some crazy things like “all you can eat & drink” for $25….. we met each other in Melbourne visiting each other’s bar.
Also, Fumi used to be a vocalist for a punk band in Japan and released CDs and toured around Japan as well that music was a big part of our life.
What’s the story behind the name?
Hardware lane is on land formerly occupied by Kirk’s Horse Bazaar, a horse and livery trading centre built in 1840 by James Bowie Kirk and the original owners of Horse Bazaar used to live in one of the warehouses that used to be for Horses and they brought in some of the things from the warehouse when they first built the bar.
I was born in the year of Horse and famous for Horses where I am from in Northern Japan that I definitely felt the strong connection.
Not only do you do food, drinks and music. You also have a massage night! How did that come about?
I came up with this idea when I was still working for the original owner starting to serve Japanese food for the first time at this venue.
There wasn’t social media and not much budget for the professional marketing team then that I thought I have to do something crazy but fun that people would hear about us and know that we started serving food. I was drinking with some of our friends and one of our friends were massage therapist that she was more than happy to come and do massage for our customers! Then I am like why not serving dumplings if they come to get a massage! Why not!?
Do you have a favourite artist performance since you opened the venue? Was there anyone musician who really blew your mind live?
There are so many and it is impossible to pick one. We have been doing local/international/old school/upcoming artists and everyone brings in such different energy to the venue and we are really appreciated that it has been such a great vibe all the time. I will give big shout out to the D.I.Y HiFi sound system that custom made our sound system that only exist 2 sets of these speakers!! And also our bookers/publicists, This much talent who is now booking all the artists.
What dish would you recommend to someone coming to Horse Bazaar for the first time?
You will be surprised how small our kitchen is… it was an office before setting up as a kitchen and the original owner was cleaver picking small Japanese people like us to work there…lol. we are so limited in what we can do but we try our best to home make everything. I think the most famous thing is JFC (Japanese Fried Chicken) that can be addictive and it is only $1 per piece…!
Did the two of you expect the concept to be such a wild success in the city?
we don’t know if I call it a success but we worked so hard and we didn’t give up and just believed that what we do is the right thing… The City of Melbourne changed dramatically past 5 years and we are really appreciated that we still got such love from everyone around us.
It might be normal nowadays for having such mixed media in one bar but I am glad that we didn’t turn Horse Bazaar into another Asian restaurant… because Melbourne needs more of a live music venue that serves good drinks and decent food!
Do you feel Melbourne is exactly the perfect location for Horse Bazaar? It seems to just suit the city so much.
Most definitely. It was different if it was in Sydney or Queensland for sure.
I think Japanese people live in Melbourne is little different from them in other states or city as well that we are Japanese but feel most comfortable and share the same value as Melburnians I think…
What are the plans for Horse Bazaar in 2019?
We would love to be the venue that doesn’t change for our regulars who have been here for many years but still challenge to be interesting for new customers as well.
We are opening up a new bar “Tamura, Sake, Records & Jazzy Kitchen” in Fitzroy early Feb and it is focused on more of authentic Japanese style bar with music selected especially for us by some of famous Japanese DJs/Producers. We are hoping that we can create a bridge between Melbourne and Japan and brings in more interesting things.
Horse Bazaar would focus on more of the music side of the venue but still in good balance with food and drink quality as well and love to come up with more of crazy nights that you would never hear of!!!
Final question to finish up on. Irish, Scotch, Bourbon or Japanese Whiskey?
Thank you so much for having us here!!