Danang. Even as the bright lights of the flashy Danang International Fireworks Festival series fade, it still keeps its shine. And, no wonder, considering new bars and restaurants in the central Vietnamese beach city like these.
Đọc bài viết bằng Tiếng Việt
There’s Danang’s fire breathing Dragon Bridge, the lush green Son Tra Peninsula, up above Bana Hills and its Golden Hands Bridge, and it’s all bookended on both sides by the royal majesty of Hue and the Ancient Town of Hoi An. Onto that the city has sprinkled a whole host of attention seeking events besides the fireworks shows. There’s marathons and yoga festivals, music on the beach and street dance parties and much more. But, and we’ll be honest for a moment, we’re here to eat and drink.
And who, when the sun has set on the Golden Hands Bridge, and when the last clubs have been slid back into the bag at the Montgomerie Links, isn’t?
So, here’s seven of the hottest new places in Danang (and out as far as Hoi An) to eat and drink when the dreamy day is done.
East West Brewing Co.
We’ve been fans of East West Brewing Co. since the opening of their Saigon taproom in early 2017. That’s because this Vietnamese craft beer company was one of the first – and definitely the most successful – at tailoring craft brews to the Vietnamese palate. Their packed-out Saigon taproom is ample evidence of that.
And now, East West Brewing Co. and its refreshing craft beers are available in beachfront Danang. So, picture the endless flow of motorbikes in Saigon transformed into couples walking down the beach and the occasional splash of waves rolling onto the sand.
“Expect the same craft beer selection,” founder Loc The Truong tells us. “And that means our best-selling beers like our Far East IPA – a hoppy, fruity and naturally bitter house-made craft beer. Or try our Saigon Rosé, which has cereal, raspberry, honey and citrus notes,” Loc adds. They’ve switched up the food menu, though, to match the Danang mood. “Quality ingredients and the freshest seafood!” he adds proudly, while looking around at his cavernous, new Danang beachfront craft beer hall.
In Short: Craft brews by the beach.
Where: 1A Vo Nguyen Giap, Son Tra, Danang
Under The Sea
The depths of the sea are still the great unknown. There’s the idea that we even know outer space more than the depths of the oceans – which can’t be true, as the limits of space haven’t been discovered whereas the ocean’s bottom has. But still, the sea is deep – physically and metaphorically – which, in a very roundabout way, brings us to Under The Sea, Danang.
In the basement of LIVIE Da Nang Style, in what used to be a spa – no surprise as they’re everywhere in Danang – is Under The Sea, a bar and grill focussed on “whisky, gin, tequila, and soju, served alongside Korean, Western and Thai dishes.” All this, instead of another spa, is a fair exchange.
And sure, Under The Sea is eclectic. But then so is Danang. Get used to it.
Our friends at Mongtasia have turned the subterranean depths into a superbly immersive open-kitchen concept. “Everything’s on show,” the team promises. And, besides the cuisine cooked before your eyes, there’s works by local artists on the walls. But the most breathtaking element must be the fishes swimming around in the ceiling.
“I think we have around 30 right now, swimming around up there,” the Under The Sea team tells us.
In Short: “Under the sea, that’s where it’s better, under the sea,”
Where: 29 Do The Chap, Son Tra, Danang
Sure, we’re veering away from the homebase of Danang here, but with a bar upstairs that’s as good as Mezcal, we’re all ears (and mouths) when the same team announces a new Hoi An taqueria downstairs. Enter Masa Taqueria.
First of all, Masa Taqueria would be, at the least, a handy signpost for Mezcal Coctelerla – which, we admit, we couldn’t find on the first visit.
We’re glad we persisted. Upstairs there’s a surprisingly bountiful selection of bottles of tequilas and mezcals. And so, just as they did upstairs, Iain and his wife, Alison, conjured up a vibe so rustic you could almost smell the smoke coming off the pile of mezcal pineapples, down here, Mexican radio crackles, the chefs, in the open kitchen, press tacos and fill them ‘al pastor’ and the tables are adorned with jars of La Costeña spicy sauce, and pickled onions.
Alison reminds us that there’s air-con too, should the spice become too much – and, no surprise, it already has.
They’re unique here, in Hoi An, Alison thinks, because their masa harina (corn flour) and chilis are all-Mexico imports with the purpose of retaining the authenticity for their dishes. “And we’re proud of our homemade Mexican corn tortillas too,” Alison rightfully smiles. “Then after take the hidden staircase up Mezcal Cocteleria, the first agave cocktail bar in Vietnam!”
In Short: Mezcals upstairs and now tacos downstairs.
Where: 38 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoi An
Makara is another fitting venue for the Central beach city – a Cham culture-inspired tiki bar. And Makara is part of an up-and-coming cocktail scene in Danang and Hoi An. “There’s obvious similarities to California and the West Coast,” founder Mark Boone, who’s from California, tells us. So, opening a tiki bar just made sense too. The first ever Tiki Bar, Don The Beachcomber, opened in Hollywood in 1933 after all. Then there’s the legendary Trader Vic’s, opened by Victor Bergeron in Oakland, California, three years later.
90 years later, tiki bars are as popular as ever. And they’re synonymous with rum-based cocktails – like Zombies and Mai Tais – served in fun ceramic glasses. Cut back to Danang, where the Makara was the guardian god of Champa temples. “And now, Makara watches over our guests,” Mark smiles about his immersive “story-driven cocktail bar.” And besides their rum-centric menu, there’s a list of non-alcoholic cocktails, called Innocent Dreams.
Drinks aside, Makara is atmospheric, with alcoves, with ancient artifacts that glow. There’s terracotta and stone sculptures, custom rattan and wooden furniture, and bespoke silk lighting. “They say ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ – well, it took a village to make this bar too,” Mark laughs.
In short: Tiki bar culture meets Cham history.
Address: 162a Nguyen Chi Thanh, Phuoc Ninh Ward, Hai Chau District
Danang, with its tightly knit backstreets and wide-open beachfront promenades, was made for wandering. The original gypsies were like that – nomadic wanderers who hailed from the Punjab region of northern India. But, at Danang’s The Gypsy, the idea is the opposite – to stop roving around and enjoy the cool rooftop breeze and elevated (pun intended) cuisine.
“We know this city,” Zacharie Ben and Oliver Corti of Le Comptoir agree. “And there’s no great rooftop restaurant in Danang!”
So, they set about remedying that on the top floor of the New Orient Hotel. “It only took around five months to create,” Zacharie smiles.
“Come on. Imagine yourself up here, cocktail in hand, with these views,” Olivier rightfully sighs.
The food’s, obviously, extremely good too. It’s made with fresh, seasonal ingredients, and the kind of savvy, well-balanced culinary philosophy that has made Oliver Corti’s Le Comptoir such a perennial hit.
But, over here at the Gypsy Danang, he tells us, he’s gone for a rawer, more authentic style of Mediterranean cuisine. That’s mostly thanks to the team, he adds, modestly. “The crew really is made up of chefs and staff from diverse cultures,” Zacharie agrees. “And together, they offer a special experience.”
He has a point. Danang’s The Gypsy is a place to stay put, for a little while at least.
In short: Ignore your gypsy nature and halt your nomadic ways at this rooftop refuge.
Address: 10th floor, 20 Dong Da, Thuan Phuoc ward, Hai Chau District
Vấn Cocktail Bar
Vấn, or ‘question,’ coffee bar is more of a solution than a conundrum. Think about it. “Where should I hang out?” Well, if you want cocktails served in bamboo vessels and tea cups, and themed after Hoi An’s ancient town or the aromatic mót drink, or even a balcony to watch the buzz from, then it’s Vấn Cocktail Bar.
“But really, the name is meant to inspire curiosity in our guests. We are kind of mysterious,” the Vấn Cocktail Bar team adds. “And once they’re here, with our convivial staff and atmospheric interior, we think they will come back, again and again.”
Those drinks are a big draw too. “So, the Hoi An Ancient Town cocktail has the light scent of sticky rice, and the sizzle of pepper syrup. And, our mót, true to the refreshing herbal drink that’s sold in the old streets of Hoi An, has lemon and lemongrass, licorice, cinnamon and a little fenugreek.” They do lots of infusions too. “Around 90% of our base spirits – whiskey, tequila, vodka, rum and gin – are infused with fruit and other flavors,” the Vấn Cocktail Bar team reminds us.
In short: Vấn Cocktail Bar is the answer to the question of “Where should I hang out tonight?”
Address: 3rd Floor, 180-183 Nguyen Chi Thanh, Danang
Danang’s EAZY D is the kind of hip hop-driven venue the city’s been missing. Picture legends like Lil Wuyn or Andre Right Hand or Low G hopping on stage, and the DJ dropping banger after banger when the set ends. Fittingly, for Danang – Vietnam’s flashy Central beach city – the references at EAZY D come from Miami, only dazzling LEDs replace 1980s neon to create what the team (and guests) call “the ultimate clubbing space.”
Considerately, even caters to introverts. “There’s standing tables, opposite the DJ, where you can come through and maintain your personal space,” the EAZY D crew tells us. But, still, you can gather a crew too, and pop bottles of Luc Belaire Luxe.
In short: The ultimate Danang clubbing space.
Address: 72-74 Hung Vuong, Hai Chau District, Danang