The Red Pavilion, an all-new Chinese teahouse and apothecary by day that turns into an Asian neo-noir nightclub by night, opened its doors early this month. Guests at The Red Pavilion can expect an immersive experience of theater, cabaret showcases, wellness workshops, live music performances and intimate dance parties. On Sundays, dim sum brunches will be offered, and those looking for a true old Shanghai experience can listen to live jazz and blues from the Red Pavilion Jazz Band on Fridays. We talked with Shien Lee and Zoey Gong, founders of The Red Pavilion, about what visitors can expect.
“The Red Pavilion is driven by a mission to provide a space to elevate artists and build community through shared experiences around food, the arts and culture,” Shien Lee told us. “I’ve led a career as an event producer and talent manager for the past 16 years, and Red Pavilion was created in service of my lifelong passion for creating immersive environments that inspire audiences and allow performing artists to shine. Following the rise of Asian hate crimes over the pandemic, I was particularly motivated to build a platform to amplify Asian voices and visibility to strengthen and heal our communities.”
The transformative space allows the venue to host events and experiences of all kinds. “The aesthetic design of the venue is very much influenced by my love of classic cinema and vintage style,” Lee explained. “You’ll find elements of art deco and mid-century modern in the furnishings and fixtures and hints of film noir and German expressionism in the lighting design, but with a distinctly haute, modern flair. Many people who see the space instantly think of the neo-noir movie Blade Runner because of the retro-futuristic ambiance that comes through the Chinese neon sign and antique details, especially when the haze machine is turned on.”
“At The Red Pavilion, guests can expect immersive theater and cabaret showcases, wellness workshops, alchemical sound journeys, live music and intimate dance parties,” Lee told us of the venue’s entertainment options. “Kicking off the weekend right on Friday nights, patrons can enjoy live entertainment from the transportive Red Pavilion Jazz Band, where sounds of Old Shanghai combined with live Chinese and American jazz and blues fill the room. On Sundays, The Red Pavilion offers their signature Cha Cha Yum Cha Dim Sum Brunch featuring a dim sum-inspired tapas menu.” For those who can’t make it out to Brooklyn to enjoy the full experience of The Red Pavilion, meal sets and online workshops are available so everyone can experience The Red Pavilion. With such a unique blend of offerings and experiences, The Red Pavilion promises to be a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
The cuisine at The Red Pavilion is full of unexpected delights. “Most items on the teahouse menu are difficult to find anywhere else in NYC. In terms of beverage, I sourced premium loose-leaf teas directly from small farms in China,” Zoey Gong explained. “Our herbal tea program is also very special since most of our herbs are sourced from China directly – each variety is functional and delicious at the same time. For example, our lily bulbs come from small villages in Gan Su in collaboration with an NGO that funds college education for local girls through these lily bulbs. In terms of food, I particularly love the snow fungus stew and herbal bone broth. Both are cooked for at least four hours to really extract all the goodness from the whole ingredients and herbs, offering our guests both flavor and health benefits.”
If you’re unfamiliar with Eastern healing and medicine, a visit to The Red Pavilion is a fantastic way to foray into Chinese medicine. “The menu is centered around traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) cuisine. I want to include traditional healing foods like snow fungus stew and black sesame paste that I grew up eating,” Gong told us. “I also want to showcase TCM herbs on the menu—from congee to bone broth; these items are cooked in seasonal herbs for medicinal purposes. For example, in winter, I use warming and immunity-boosting herbs like astragalus, cinnamon, and shiso leaves; in summer, I use anti-inflammatory herbs like Ophiopogon root, prunella and lotus leaf. In addition to traditional dishes, I also created some fusion foods like black sesame latte and deviled tea eggs to cater to a wider audience and to make TCM food therapy more accessible to all. Overall, I find the menu is not too extensive or “too serious.” I want the vibe of the teahouse to be welcoming, conversational and comfortable for the body and soul.”