I went to Contempio last night for the finale of the Spanish Tapas Tour but arrived late, couldn’t get a glass, and felt like the last thing I needed after one of my busiest weeks in memory was to squeeze through crowds all night. This venue – based in a temple complex – is impressive and I will write more about it later. But on this night I needed to chill out. So I headed next door to Zajia.
This place has been open for about a month and feels a bit like a workshop converted to a bar. The décor includes gray and orange brick, sloped ceilings with exposed beams, a loft area, and an eclectic collection of chairs, tables and items that range from flower pots to a mannequin. Images are beamed onto a misshaped white screen that dangles from the ceiling.
Most importantly, it offers a relaxed vibe. I plunked down, popped open my laptop to check some emails, and had a Leffe Blonde (RMB35) and a plate of beef and celery dumplings that Xiao Bo, one of three co-owners, says are made by his aunt. That took the blood pressure down a few notches.
By the way, Zejia also offers cocktails and about a dozen whiskeys, starting at RMB35 for the Talisker ten-year-old and Caol Ila 12-year-old.