Something a bit different
While Hanoi’s Old Quarter is a hotbed of backpacker-friendly drinking joints, if you’re interested in live music, looking for somewhere to dance, or prefer a more laidback vibe, try heading to Xuan Dieu.
88 Lounge opened in 2013 and is an impressive four-storey space boasting exposed concrete and brick, artworks and regal striped furniture. The focus is on wine — with bottles adorning the walls — but the menu also offers an array of imported beers, such as Duval and Leffe. Seating is varied, from comfy sofas to dining style, and the views are all good. It’s a popular spot, so it does get busy, particularly at the weekend or when they’re hosting an event.
Tay Tap, further up next to Al Fresco’s, is spread over three floors, including a small roof terrace with good views of the lake. It can be quite rowdy in the evenings and often puts on live music. It’s open from 16:00 until late. The Light is a small place back towards Saint Honore and attracts a younger crowd than Tay Tap.
You’ll need to step down off the main road to reach Red River Tea Rooms — turn left on the corner by Exotissimo, towards the Sheraton Hotel, and then turn immediately right, following the lake (it’s near Dieu’s Cuisine). Cold beer and keen service await although it’s usually quieter than places like Tay Tap and 88 Lounge. It’s got a good food model though: you can order in from one of the nearby restaurants.
Up near the turning to Lane 31 is House of Son Tinh, part of the Highway 4 group. Although often quiet, its back room houses a huge screen and it’s known for showing big sports events and football matches and they also put on occasional comedy nights and other events. It’s one of our favourite places to sit for a few streetside beers and, of course, serves Son Tinh liquor by the glass, bottle or in a cocktail. A branch of Highway 4 is upstairs but food can also be served in the bar.
Near the other end of the street is Madake, which hosts DJs most weekends as well as occasional events during the week. Upstairs is a bar area, also home to a Thai restaurant, and down some rickety steps is a courtyard area and a small inside room where the bands and DJs play. It’s not classy, but if you like your music and want a late night spot, it’s a good bet. Hanoi Rock City, another music venue, is around the corner on To Ngoc Van and also on this street is the re-opened Daluva which, although more restaurant in set-up, is a good spot for a drink. Check out the one-litre tankards of local microbrew Goldmalt. It takes a strongman to lift one of those.
We’ve often considered a bar crawl along Xuan Dieu and To Ngoc Van but have yet to convert our thoughts into actions. If you give it a go, let us know. Most of the places mentioned stay open past midnight, although it’s not unknown for the police to venture out of Old Quarter and shut places down.
88 Lounge 88 Xuan Dieu T: (04) 3718 8029 www.88group.vn
Daluva 33 To Ngoc Van T: (04) 3718 5831
Hanoi Rock City 27/52 To Ngoc Van T: (01633) 166 170
House of Son Tinh 31 Xuan Dieu T: (04) 3718 6377 highway4.com
Madake 81 Xuan Dieu T: (04) 6276 6665
Red River Tea Room 25 Duong Ven Ho Tay (small road running parallel to Xuan Dieu, alongside the lake) redrivertearoom.com
Tay Tap 100A Xuan Dieu T: (04) 3718 6917
The Light Bar 44A Xuan Dieu T: (0914) 119 150
By Sarah Turner
Last updated on 17th September, 2014.