Area 41 is Hanoi’s newest epic multi-part venue comprising of a bike workshop built upon a converted swimming pool, Caveman Custom Cycles, a rock & roll style bar, Gasoline Alley, and Bangers – a barbecue style kitchen serving up all kinds of meaty indulgences. If that wasn’t enough testosterone in Tay Ho, the recently opened branch of 1984 Tattoo Studio is within spitting distance of the biker bar, fully completing the barracks of bad-assery.
Spearheading the ambitious project is Paul Mullet – owner of Hanoi Sandwich House and all round biker extraordinaire. Mullet had always dreamed of owning a low-key bike shop with some sort of cafe next to it, and after a year working his small side-project with a couple of friends, he made the decision to make his vision come to life. “As soon as I found the space I saw it as my very own concrete playground. I was drawn to the high-ceilings and the warehouse vibe it had. It was a bit of a case of go big or go home.”
Entering Area 41 is an experience in itself: there’s no place quite like it in the city, not only because of its sheer size, but for its pure originality. Packed to the brim with enough of old-school classic motorcycles to set any bike enthusiasts tongues wagging, the distinctly slick black theme to the decor, coupled with the sheer scale of the place can only be described as the man-cave that dreams are made of. The upper level of the venue overlooking the bike shop hosts the low-lit tenebrous bar, complete with classic high-rise stools and a couple of pool tables – you’d be forgiven for mistaking Area 41 as a set straight out of Sons of Anarchy.
Just across the judiciously named Gasoline Alley bar, cooking up a storm in the kitchen is Dan Snedden, the man behind Bangers. Snedden has bags of experience in the meat industry already. His own home-business Oink started when he arrived to the city a couple of years ago.
“When I first got to Hanoi I noticed there weren’t any decent sausages around, and being from the UK it was a little disappointing. Food has always been a passion of mine so I dove into the challenge of making my own and selling them to family and friends.” Although still providing Oink customers with home-deliveries of his assortment of meats, he now he spends most of his time behind the fiery grill at Bangers.
The menu includes a variety of original pork sausages and sandwiches, but Snedden is hoping to eventually expand into all possible meaty avenues: from burgers to bangers and mash to hot dogs. As Snedden slides over one of his deliciously overflowing sausage creations he mentions that the food can seem a little rough around the edges simply because of the hand-made element. Perfection isn’t the goal here however – authenticity is. Bangers home-smoke their own bacon in a lengthy curation process that can take up to two weeks from start to finish, and gives Snedden more control in experimenting with new flavours with his meats.
The kitchen is fully exposed, and exemplifies Snedden and Mullet’s desire to have a shared space with both the venues and the public. The open-plan layout adds a certain transparency to the whole process. Customers can watch with watering mouths as their food is made before their very eyes, right from the early stages of the hand-cured bacon – which hangs gloriously in the background – to witnessing first-hand the satiating slow and steady sizzle of the sausages on the grill.
Area 41 may be Hanoi’s answer to a Hells Angels hangout, but this a far more family friendly venue. Mullet is resolute on creating a space that doesn’t simply reduce the biker scene to a world dominated by heavily tattooed and bearded bros. “Above everything else what we want to be known for is our community. This is a place where everyone is welcome. People can hang out here and ultimately get introduced to the biker world, no matter their background in it.” This all-inclusive spirit is the heart of Area 41, and is aptly echoed in the gargantuan graffiti slogan etched into the walls: “It doesn’t matter what you ride, it only matters that you ride.”
Buy the ticket and take the ride on over to Area 41 at Ngo 41 Tay Ho Street, Hanoi.