28th October 2022
Music takes the limelight at Houma, a listening bar in Gunawarman that takes its cues from Japanese jazz cafés, luring diners with plant-based cocktails and comfort dishes into its homey abode.

For those with an alert set of ears, stepping into Houma and away from the buzzing traffic of Gunawarman can be a bit surprising. Like unclogging one’s ears after a flight, comers might feel their hearing sense suddenly becoming more attuned and sensitive to the diverse sound frequencies packed into the surroundings, no matter where they are within the room. 

There’s a reason behind that. The room had been measured, set up and insulated to keep sounds from rolling off and bouncing in an undesirable manner. This dedication to sound engineering embodies Houma’s identity as a listening bar, inspired by Japan’s jazu kissa or jazz cafés, where music takes the limelight instead of fading into the background. And the effect is more pronounced as the evening comes and ‘Houmsic’ is on the schedule, when a live DJ or music performance from the city’s jazz communities would take over the dining room.

“The name Houma is taken from a city in Louisiana, which is dubbed as the state of jazz in the US. But it’s also a play on the word ‘home’. We want people to feel at home here,” said a representative of Houma.

Just like a well-inhabited living room, scattered here and there are childhood memorabilia like a set of Speed Racer merch and old gaming consoles as well as hobby items, ranging from a saxophone to motorbike parts—all collected from the five co-founders’ personal repertoire. On top of the decor, the different personalities behind the bar are also reflected through Houma’s signature plant-based cocktails.

Sweet like the white chocolate-infused Pretty Daisy or complexly bitter like the bourbon-based Cassadore, each cocktail is light and not too boozy, going along well with the range of dishes on offer, like the addictingly snackable Deep Fried Sweet & Sour Cauliflower, the crowd-pulling Charsiu Dry Ramen and the ever-popular Purin (pudding). Also taking inspiration from Japan, they are each dominated by comforting flavours that are easy on the appetite

In addition to sound, there’s a strong focus on comfort at Houma, which is executed through different music-listening experiences. Those looking for a solitary night with a Quincy Jones vinyl will delight over the listening corner, couples and friends can leisurely chat over drinks and tune in to the live music, while others can be spotted finishing up the day’s work on their laptops. Whichever it is, there seems to be an unspoken rule here that at Houma, anyone can enjoy the listening bar any way they like.