The Red Pavilion will be rolling out immersive experiences revolving around Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine Center Opens in Brooklyn and It’s Cool AF

A Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) tea house by day and a vintage Hong Kong club by night, The Red Pavilion is something to check out if you love new experiences

4 0
Sammi Sowerby RADII Tatler
8:31 AM HKT, Tue January 31, 2023 2 mins read

Looking like the steamy setting of a Wong Kar-wai film, The Red Pavilion (红馆) in Brooklyn, New York, was engulfed in smoke and flooded with sultry mood lighting on the night of its soft opening for family and friends on January 20, 2023.

The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) center cum performance and events space, which is going for “a playful Asian pulp noir aesthetic,” opened to the hypnotic riffs of a live jazz band and a gravity-defying show by a pair of aerial artists.

The Red Pavilion opening night jazz band

the red pavilion soft opening guests

the red pavilion soft opening aerial artists

The ringmistresses of this racy circus are chef Zoey Gong, who happily flits among the crowd, handing out hors d’oeuvres of her own making, and Shien Lee, famed for founding cabaret club Dances of Vice.

Together, the TCM food therapist and self-dubbed ‘fantasy architect,’ who respectively hail from Shanghai and Taiwan, spent 16 months working on The Red Pavilion, a one-of-a-kind emporium that certainly cannot be accused of plagiarism — we challenge you to point out a similar predecessor.

“While other TCM centers offer treatments and a zen clinical space, The Red Pavilion is colorful, kitschy, fun, and event-focused,” beams Gong. It will be a TCM tea house by day and a vintage Hong Kong club by night.”

“You can think of The Red Pavilion as a combination of a TCM center, a Chinese restaurant, and a cabaret nightclub.”

The Red Pavilion carves out new niches in both the TCM and nightlife industries. After all, how many clubs serve complimentary broth or tea just before closing at 3 or 4 AM? All the better for patrons to rest and recover from a late night of partying — if this isn’t a reflection of the Chinese punk health movement, we don’t know what is.

Shien Lee, cabaret queen and co-founder of The Red Pavilion

Shien Lee, cabaret queen and co-founder of The Red Pavilion

Zoey Gong serving a TCM dish of matsutake skewers

Zoey Gong serving a TCM dish of matsutake skewers

A TCM-laced libration at The Red Pavilion

A TCM-laced libration at The Red Pavilion

One of Gong’s main motives for founding The Red Pavilion is to spread the gospel of TCM food healing, which has not achieved the same sort of visibility as acupuncture, massage, and qigong in the West.

“Other TCM centers in the States rarely include TCM food therapy because it is not taught here,” she says. “The Red Pavilion will heavily focus on food therapy: people can learn about [TCM foods], taste it, and bring it home. We offer pick up or delivery for things like herbal bone broths, congee, and desserts.”

The Red Pavilion Brooklyn stylish guests

Stylish guests at The Red Pavilion’s private opening party

The Red Pavilion Bushwick Brooklyn nightclub

Not your usual TCM center, The Red Pavilion is complete with a bar and a DJ booth

Hong Kong tea parlor meets Shanghai jazz club

Hong Kong tea parlor meets Shanghai jazz club

Parked in Bushwick, an industrial and ethnically diverse neighborhood in Brooklyn, The Red Pavilion shares the same ZIP code as techno nightclubs, concrete factories, and many Asian businesses. As members of Asian communities are wont to do, some of Gong and Lee’s neighbors were quick to give them a warm welcome.

“We got some antique decorations from a 15-year-old store in Manhattan, and its Asian owners, who are ready to retire this year, told us that their warehouse is really close by The Red Pavilion, [and] actually stopped by,” smiles Gong.

“There are plenty of Asian restaurants very close by, such as Tong, Dock Asian Eatery, and The Monkey King. However, there is definitely a lack of wellness and art spaces dedicated to AAPI cultures.”

In this sense, The Red Pavilion will nicely fill a niche in the market — it is the first creative center of its kind to provide representation to AAPI artists and the broader BIPOC community via events that are equal parts educational and entertaining. The venue’s robust roundup of events ranges from a ‘Perfume Garden’-themed Valentine’s Day dinner to ‘Cha Cha Yum Cha’ brunches every Sunday — youth-led occasions that are likely to appeal to other youth.

A labor of love, The Red Pavilion posed a steep learning curve for its founders, who also poured their personal savings into the project for lack of external investors. The best way to support the pair is by patronizing their new venture, of course. Browse their upcoming events and make your bookings!

Follow @theredpavilionbk on Instagram to stay up to date on its happenings.

All images courtesy of The Red Pavilion

Join the Conversation
Write comment

We assure you, this page will eventually load