Hanoi. All that history. There’s something whimsical about the city too. Maybe it’s the tree-lined streets. Or the changing of the seasons. And now the city has a bar and restaurant scene as blistering as Hanoi’s hot summer, and as cool as December in the capital.
Đọc bài viết bằng Tiếng Việt
Find a space kerbside and while away an hour or two waxing poetic over a coffee or beer – the way Hanoians like to do. Then embark on an eating and drinking safari through the city, alighting on some of the coolest bars and restaurants in Vietnam.
For this list we’ve focused on our favorites: hip spaces for a creative cocktail, and design-conscious restaurants doing casual fine dining. And it’s completely (in)complete because we know we’ve missed a noteworthy place or two as we put this list together (we’ll keep adding and updating it later – promise).
Where To Drink In Hanoi
The Haflington (9A Hang Ma, Hoan Kiem) is a revelation. Down a nondescript alley, and up a short flight of stairs, The Haflington is all period opulence in what appears to be a homage to London’s Natural History Museum – there’s a stuffed peacock as you enter and a fossilized dinosaur hanging above the bar in the attic. And the perfectly-balanced drinks don’t stray far from the classics, as you’d expect from The Haflington’s dapper, old-school attired bartenders.
At the creatively adventurous Use Bar (55 Hue Street, Hoan Kiem), the concept centers around sustainability. There’s a space with lounge chairs that appear to have been designed by Jeff Koons. And there’s a counter-bar with a suspended tree branch above it. And the bartending team employs the kinds of ingredients that usually get thrown away, jackfruit fibers and coconut shells. Happily, they set their sustainable bar philosophy into making drinks like their signature Mystic Jungle that’s made with truffle and saffron and a special herbal liqueur. The complex floral and earthy flavors reveal themselves differently with each sip, giving the feeling that you’re going deeper into the forest.
At 3PIAS Clubhouse (30 Bat Su, Hoan Kiem) the name references the piaster, the currency of French Indochina. This part of town used to be commercial street and home to a large Chinese community, and 3PIAS Clubhouse aims to revive the community and connection through wines and cocktails. It all feels like an opium dream, with DJs and a smoke-breathing dragon. And the house cocktails are as full of surprises as stepping through the entrance, with a Guava Smash that includes Song Cai Floral Gin and blue cheese, and their Tiny Flowers with gin, sakura vermouth and sandalwood.
Akio Lounge is part of Capella Hanoi’s understated, subterranean Koki House Of Senses where you can also find Hibana, the teppanyaki restaurant run by Chef Yoshida. Akio sticks to the concept of exploring Japanese flavors with a menu that deep dives into Japanese cities and culture. Their Nikko cocktail, for example, is a fresh, springtime cocktail, with Sakura Gin, shiso cordial, yuzu, pear, lemon, cream, egg white, and orange flower water that nods to Nikko’s significance as the latest place for cherry blossom to bloom in the country. Akio is a perfect date spot or convivial lounge to catch up with friends, which also has the largest collection of sake, shochu and Japanese whiskies in the country.
Few places sum up Hanoi’s homespun whimsy as well as Lang Thang (8B Lac Chinh, Truc Bach). Even the name means to wander thoughtfully, and on one of those sojourns, Lang Thang would make the perfect pit stop, whether huddled on chairs on the pavement outside, or in the artsy single-room bar area filled with ramshackle furniture where they serve on-point but affordable classic cocktails.
Close by is Standing Bar (170 Tran Vu, Truc Bach) another fun and affordable place, only here the focus is on craft beer – they proudly proclaim themselves to be Hanoi’s number one free house. And scanning the 19 taps, you’re inclined to believe them. There’s some tasty small tapas plates and a music room upstairs with regular hops fuelled vinyl sessions with views out and across to the lake.
Even writing this, it feels like someone is about to tap us on the shoulder and tell us to keep quiet. That’s because at the “out-of-nowhere social club” Longer Than A Summer (beside St Joseph Cathedral) low-volume chatter mixes and weaves together with the jazz records playing on the stereo. It’s sonorous and soothing. Boisterous voices destroy the balance – as the staff are quick to tell you, with a little whisper of warning in the ear. But Longer Than A Summer is such a special place – for artists and introverts – down an alley right beside St Joseph’s Cathedral, that it’s worth keeping the noise down for the duration of your stay.
We remember disappearing through the door to the modernist cocktail bar Kuusi (2C Quang Trung) for the first time. It immediately brought back childhood memories of The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe and Mr. Benn. That’s because it’s wooden and windowless. And Moodtherapist Richard McDonough looks like a mythical character too with his long beard. There’s definitely some alchemy to discover too. Each drink in the five cocktail tasting menu leads guests on a kind of culinary journey – not surprising, since Richard first began playing around with molecular gastronomy before setting out to apply the same ideas to his drinks. T.U.N.G Dining upstairs offers a food pairing. And if you exceed the five-drink set, there’s another secret menu to dive drunkenly into. You can happily begin or end a night at T.U.N.G Dining, but Kuusi is a destination in itself, even though Richard is a rare sight these days as he works on other projects.
Tach Spaces seems to morph and grow with each visit. There’s a vibrant social cafe space in the center. Next to that now is a grill restaurant. And upstairs, it’s party time with a compact indoor club, with a revolving roster of the country’s favorite underground DJs, and a large terrace outside. And it’s reassuring to see Hanoi stick to its creative inclinations with an artsy venue like Tach Spaces right on downtown Hai Ba Trung.
The Doozy (48 Trang Tien) formula is simple: energetic team, modern cocktails, and good vibes. It might even have been the first place in the capital to get the balance right – the DJ is vibing away while the bartenders busy themselves and the volume amps up as the night wears on. And, intriguingly, Doozy Hanoi is right above an opticians store so beware the security guard giving you the side-eye as you stumble down the stairs.
21 GAM (26 Truong Han Sieu, Hoan Kiem) is the place to go in Hanoi when you’ve got no place to go. But, although 21 GAM is often the last raucous stop of the night, it’s a soul-enriching experience any time of the evening – the neon on the wall even says so, ‘follow your soul’ it says, ‘it knows the way.’ The decor adds to the positive energy of the place, roof tiles, exposed brickwork and a long, inviting bar in the middle.
A list of places to drink in Hanoi wouldn’t be complete without Polite & Co. (5B Ngo Bao Khanh) – the original Hanoi ‘speakeasy.’ Inside this gentleman’s club-inspired cocktail bar, there is the atmosphere of a pub, especially as the evening wears on…only the cocktails are far better than your average boozer.
I&I Cocktail Castle (11 Trang Thi, Hoan Kiem) is 15 meters down a magical alley, which gave Pham Tien Tiep and team the idea to create a Hanoi cocktail bar as a fairytale castle. There’s even an old well to sit beside as you sip a cocktail and stare up at the stars through the glass roof and imagine what part you play in this fairytale…and how it’s going to end.
Before all that came Nê.Cocktailbar (3B Tong Duy Tan, Hoan Kiem). There, Pham Tien Tiep serves his pho cocktail, he first concocted at the grande dame of Hanoi hotels, The Metropole, and just like that Vietnam’s cocktail bar scene was truly born. Still, that wasn’t so long ago – Nê.Cocktailbar threw open its doors in 2017. Perfect timing to mirror that changing tastes of cocktail savvy, increasingly affluent Hanoians. Staying with the same team, there’s also the atmospheric Attic Cocktail & Wine Lab (46 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem), a mix of bespoke cocktail bar and wine cellar, with a glorious skylight and sofas to disappear into, the more inebriated you get. Or try Nê.Boong-ke (12 Cua Dong, Hoan Kiem), something of a younger sister to the original Nê. Inside Nê.Boong-ke feels like a European dive bar with tar-stained walls and a quirky low-ceilinged mezzanine to watch the buzz of the counter from as the team continue to serve their drinks that feel like home to anyone from around here.
With anyone with a bar and a bartender proclaiming themselves a speakeasy, Bee’Znees (163 Phung Hung, Hoan Kiem) at least did justice to the name with its entrance hidden behind a bookcase, and the illicit vibes emanating from inside. And that was the concept created by the Bee’Znees team, to be part artsy cocktail bar and part time traveling machine, whisking guests back to the 1920s when rough-edged bathtub gin was sweetened with honey and the Bees Knees cocktail was born.
Gallery Bespoke Cocktail Bar (95 Phung Hung, Hoan Kiem) is all atmosphere too. The wall facing the bar is packed with portraits of icons like Bob Marley and Che Guevera hanging above a welcoming wall-length sofa. Perfect for a romantic date – especially when the jazz band strikes up at the end of the room. Close by, in this compact space is the glimmering bar, with the typically dapper bartenders and shelves of shimmering spirits.
Another characterful speakeasy, and perhaps the chicest of all is Kumquat Tree (1 Nguyen Khac Can, Hoan Kiem) with its red door. But, just like finding such a gem of a bar along this sleepy tree-lined street, inside are contradictions too. This place is a classy cocktail bar with some moreish drinks made with modern techniques and Insta-ready presentation. But it’s also a party place, with DJs and live music, and energy (and noise) levels that turn up as the night wears on. Just make sure you message in advance to get your foot in that iconic door.
At Tadioto (24B Tong Dan Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi), Dalat-born former radio broadcaster and writer, and Hanoi’s artsy icon and intellectual Nguyen Qui Duc has been succinctly distilling the capital’s poetic energy into a space for “thinkers and drinkers” since 2007. That simple claim understates the charm of Tadioto and its ahead-of-its-time design. The name means “let’s take the car” but whichever way you get there, make sure you get to this hip halfway house for an evening out.
Where To Eat In Hanoi
Incredibly, T.U.N.G Dining (2C Quang Trung, Hoan Kiem) already feels like a Hanoian fine dining institution. But T.U.N.G Dining only opened at the end of 2018. Back then, we asked whether the restaurant offered Vietnam’s most exciting culinary experience. In the few years in between, lots of industry experts have concurred, like Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants ranking it at #98 in 2021. Chef Hoang Tung, who was also chosen in Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2022, for his ground-breaking cuisine at a restaurant, eschews an a la carte menu completely in favor of a tasting menu of 18 courses or more. It’s bold and brilliant and worth a trip in the hope Hoang Tung has kept his deconstructed pho on the menu.
While concept restaurants can be so kitschy, the team at A Bản Mountain Dew (76 Tran Phu, Ba Dinh) nailed it. Their love of ethnic northern cuisine comes through in every dish. And there’s a heartfelt homage to the culture of the north of the country – dishes licked with smoke like you’d get around the hearth in a H’Mong kitchen and decor inspired by ethnic upside down houses. For the anthropologist in you, the menu is broken into sections representing different ethnic groups. And the countryside-style wine flows freely, to wash down dishes like A Bản Mountain Dew’s fried bugs.
Quang Dung has been busy. In the space of a few years, he’s gone from T.U.N.G Dining to Habakuk to Chapter Dining & Grill (12C Chan Cam, Hoan Kiem). Chapter is a place where he says he finally feels at home. It’s right there in the name, signifying what he feels is an important new chapter in his culinary career. The menu is broken into chapters too, like a good story. And in his seasonally shifting menus he explores local ingredients, especially ones sourced in the north. To them he uses dazzling technique to balance flavors in dishes so Instagram-worthy they should probably have their own account. It’s so primal and provocative – butter candles and deboned chicken feet – you’d be comfortable enjoying this story over and over.
First came Gia (61 Van Mieu, Dong Da District) and then Gout De Gia (12 Le Phung Hieu, Hoan Kiem) forming a beautiful little family, which coincidentally is also where the name Gia came from – ‘gia đình’ means family in Vietnamese. At the former, Gia, modern cooking techniques meet local flavors and ingredients led by one of the country’s most exciting young female chefs, Sam Tran. The tasting menu changes with the seasons – Hanoi, after all, has them unlike Saigon – and key ingredients are listed in pairs, Iberico pork and green banana, lamb and lemongrass, leaving lots of room to imagine what’s coming before it arrives. At Gout De Gia, the focus is on wines – especially organic, biodynamic and natural wines paired with elevated bistro-style cuisine like confit duck spring rolls, and whipped tofu and eggplant. But, as you’d expect from Long Tran and team, the ambience is equally elegant.
Etēsia • kitchen counter + wines (14B Lo Su, Hoan Kiem) might be the most coveted counter in town. The cuisine, for one, is a rarity in the capital – contemporary European cuisine like candied Iberico pork cheeks, frogs legs and sweet breads, with lots of local elements and decadent touches like truffle shavings and scoops of caviar. And, as the name suggests, at Etēsia • kitchen counter + wines there’s a epic wine list of over 350 bottles featuring lots of natural wines. And it’s also a relative of Polite & Co. in case you needed more validation for a visit.
There’s nothing coy about the big flavors Chef George Bloomfield serves at KHÓI Restaurant (67 Tran Hung Dao, Hoan Kiem). The chef, who spent his formative years in kitchens in Tokyo, infuses his smokey, flame-licked cuisine with lots of Japanese touches. You can watch him do it in the open kitchen downstairs, before ascending to the chic dining rooms above. And true to the boldness of the cuisine and concept, there’s only one steak dish on the menu, their signature 45 Days Dry Aged Tuwinga Boneless Rib. But that leaves you space to explore the small plates of sake-brined black chicken and wasabi-marinated baby octopus.
At Capella Hanoi’s The Hudson Rooms (11 Le Phung Hieu, Hoan Kiem) they’re reviving New York’s glory years, when Fulton Fish Market was in full swing and Grand Central Terminal shook to the splenetic outbursts of departing steam trains. There’s seriously chic art deco design and stunning, marble-swathed countertops. Plus, there’s The Hudson Room’s cocktail menu themed after the train lines departing the station, and overflowing seafood towers and fun oyster luges.
Staying at the same location, is Hibana (11 Le Phung Hieu, Hoan Kiem), part of the Capella Hanoi’s basement Koki House Of Senses space. In Tokyo, Junichi Yoshida famously got teppanyaki its first Michelin Star. And, watching Junichi Yoshida or one of the team from Ishigaki Yoshida – the Roppongi restaurant where it happened – carefully maneuver the cut of rare Kitauchi beef from Ishigaki Island, Okinawa, across the hot plate, you understand why.
With dreamy views across Ho Tay lake from the upstairs dining room in this yellow villa, and Dragoncello’s (201 Ve Ho Xuan La Tay Ho) exquisite risottos pumped up with butter and parmigiano and hearty seafood soups, there’s few better places in Hanoi to while away a languorous lunch. And if you’re still not satisfied, grab Dragoncello’s takeout from the ground floor deli.
Inside, the popcorn chicken pops almost as much as the joyous flash of bold red color that is the front of the casual Asian eatery and bar, Tora Tora (21 Hang Hom, Hoan Khiem). Aside from the juicy, aromatic chicken, there’s melt-in-the-mouth wagyu steak with Tora Tora green sauce and beef tagliata with Chinese Sichuan peppercorns and a Japanese yakiniku sauce all washed down with a curated assortment of sake and shochu, and some surprisingly good cocktails like their signature Sakura Blossom.
A glass is placed inside the masu and sake is poured into the glass until it’s overflowing to signify generosity and kindness towards the guest. That kind of spirit inspired the modern Japanese restaurant Masu (60B Ly Thuong Kiet) and its name, obviously. It’s such an endearingly heartfelt ode to the country of its inspiration – even the design mixes Japanese ‘machiya’ townhouse elements with traditional Vietnamese homes – that it’s hard not to fall in love with Masu at first sight. But, let’s face it, you could hate on anyone who doesn’t feed you well no matter how good they look. Fortunately, Masu serves reinterpreted Japanese staples full of signature twists that are as respectful of the source material as the decor.
Sure, we like to eat at the vanguard of modern Vietnamese cuisine. But sometimes only a good steak will do. One like they serve at La Bête Steakhouse (Ngo 431 – Au Co, Hanoi). It’s a place where, La Bête Steakhouse say, they’re “all about dry-aging.” That’s not to say they’re closed off to other ideas. Depending on the day you might get an elevated seafood combination of 14-day dry-aged hamachi with smoked Norwegian salmon or a 35-day dry-aged wild boar. And it’s all served in a sophisticated dining room where paintings of cows look down upon you admonishingly.
Named after old Korean inns, is Jumarc (23C Hai Ba Trung). At this very modern reimagining, founders Sukmoo Koo, Matthew Lim, and Chef Joonhyuk Chi (from Labri Bistro) have created a sophisticated, minimal space and added lots of art. There’s regular shows hung on the walls, which gives you something to talk about if the conversation ever flags. Unlikely, considering Jumarc Hanoi’s focus is on beverages (and inebriation) as much as their small plates of modern Korean-influenced cuisine. “Start with a glass of Albariños, which pairs well with Korean food, and continue with some soju and gamja jeon, our potato pancake, and jokbal, pig’s feet with our signature seasoning,” they recommend.
Speaking of Labri – Oriental Neo Bistro (2nd Floor, 113 Bui Thi Xuan), over there in the chic upstairs space Joonhyuk Chi aims for something more elevated, with regular events like caviar dinners and wine dinners hosted beneath swaying chandeliers.