Quietly nestled in one of the backstreets surrounding Tay Ho’s west lake, Dang Thai Mai is becoming one of the most prominent up and coming streets of the area. Although the district is known for being an expat stomping ground, the location has seen a plethora of both local and foreign businesses sprouting up at soaring rates within the past 25 years. The street offers something for all tastes, from lunchtime Vietnamese buffets, to craft beer fanatics, to jazz enthusiasts, here are some of the best hidden gems on the street.
The Garden Hanoi
Previously known as Vibes, three months ago a new ownership under Anna Page saw the venue reopen on Dang Thai Mai as The Garden. With big plans of revamping the spot in a new direction, it will cater to the more late night inebriated cretins of Tay Ho, with food served until 12am, with barbequed banh mi’s available after midnight to fuel more debauchery (The Garden often stays open till 5am). Although Anna describes the menu as being more towards the fast food spectrum, that doesn’t mean she wants to compromise on quality, and she sources local, fresh ingredients whenever possible. The vast, outdoor area is complete with a projector, pool table and DJ decks and Anna is keen to nurture the space as a relaxed and community-driven bar.
Location: Số 9 Dang Thai Mai, Tay Ho, Hanoi
Seeking to change the assumption of jazz bars being limited to only a select type of customer, Soul Bar aims to be Dang Thai Mai’s venue that is accessible to all, whether you’re a die hard blues fan or just seeking to have a relaxed drink and bob your head to some good music. In the lead up to its opening, co-owner Hien Hoang pre-emptively anticipated the potential for opening something like Soul Bar on Dang Thai Mai, as its eclectic mix of families, young foreigners and locals made it the perfect experiment for those seeking a different experience to the ubiquitous local bia hoi. With an impressive (and extremely affordable) cocktail list and a moodily lit floor, the venue has live music from Wednesdays to Saturdays spotlighting much of Hanoi’s up and coming talent.
Location: No 21, Lane 12 Đặng Thai Mai, Tay Hồ
Rapidly becoming a favourite amongst Dang Thai Mai residents, locally owned May Taste offers an extensive list of traditional Vietnamese dishes, along with a few western options and a number of their own specialities. Ingredients are home-grown in their own garden and if they are imported, owner Nguyen Ngoc Tram is determined to ensure they are organically sourced. Although Tram won’t reveal the secret of her famous sweet and spicy May sauce, other popular choices are their signature pasta with a creamy, vegetable sauce, inflated fried Pho and Hanoi’s special fish. The venue is littered with homey, traditional Vietnamese touches, such as Hoi An inspired lanterns and iconic vintage photography featuring some of Vietnam’s most beautiful cities.
Location: 18c Đặng Thai Mai, Tay Hồ
During the past year power duo Phan Nhu Long and Katie Taylor have been going from strength to strength with their asian fusion food venture. Blending influences that range from Vietnam, to Korea, to more western style food, their popup events around the city have earned them a brigade of fans, all desperate for a more permanent location to get their bao fix. Well it looks like good things come to those who wait, as the team will be opening their very own restaurant in a matter of weeks on Dang Thai Mai. The venue will be decked out in neon lighting with relaxed, tropical vibes and will have a big open plan industrial kitchen. Their ingredients will all be locally sourced, and everything will be made on the day to guarantee maximum freshness. Katie explains that above all they want it to be fun dining, with a touch of class. The bar will serve both prosecco and Nada beer, and much of the food served will be sharing based, meaning there will something for everyone to enjoy.
Quán Phở 3 Chị Em (The Three Sisters)
Aptly named after three co-owning sisters for over ten years, the restaurant is one of the longest standing places on the street. One of the trio, Nguyen Thi Ha, notes how the district has gotten increasingly crowded especially over the past five years, and the locale has attracted a mainly western crowd, despite offering solely Vietnamese food. The Three Sisters is most popular for its cheap and cheerful buffet-style lunch time menu, with staples such as spring rolls, fried fish and grilled eggplant bringing a surge of customers flocking to Dang Thai Mai from Tay Ho and beyond.
Location: 18 Đặng Thai Mai, Tây Hồ
Perhaps one of the most beautifully decorated venues on Dang Thai Mai is Chaouen Lounge. After co-owner Luis Coelho visited the Moroccan city of the same name, Chefchaouen, famous for its blue buildings, wool garments and woven blankets, he was inspired to open his own little blue pearl in the Vietnamese capital along with Phuong Qui Ngoc.
Boasting a quiet, secluded outdoor area complete with fairy lights, low-lying settees and brightly coloured pillows, the restaurant is the perfect hideaway to seek refuge from the heart-attack inducing lunacy of Hanoian traffic on any given day. Chaouen Lounge’s menu is heavily based on Mediterranean influences, specializing in dishes such as Turkish lamb cutlets, hummus platters and their popular signature dish, the Moroccan home-cooked tajine. Aside from their mouth-watering cuisine, customers can also enjoy a myriad of hand-crafted cocktails while puffing on a colourfully flavoured shisha. Chaouen Lounge is open 11:30am to 11:30 pm every day of the week except Tuesday.
Address: Số 8 Ngõ 12 Đặng Thai Mai, Tây Hồ
The Bottle Shop
As Vietnam’s craft beer scene is blowing up, the need for a one-stop shop for all of one’s brewing cravings is a necessary one. After a soft opening only a couple of weeks ago, The Bottle Shop also doubles as a mini bar with a couple of indoor and outdoor tables where you can sip on a cold beverage comfortably. There are also hopes of transforming the outdoor picnic area in the back of the venue into a place for social events such as outdoor cinema screenings and homey barbeques to bring the inhabitants of Dang Thai Mai together over beer and burgers. For the most part, the beer hub stocks local concoctions from some of the best Vietnamese brewers that are steadily gaining acclaim; Ibiero, Pasteur Street Brewing company and Fuzzy Logic are all staples in the shop.
Whiskey, Mystics and Men
For those itching for a late night whisky-fuelled and music filled venture look no further. Owner of the recently closed rock and roll venue The Doors, Le Quang’s newest project is a fitting addition to the bustling music scene in Tay Ho. With a rustic, Texas country feel and blazing neon signs, W2M is set on becoming a must stop in any music-lover’s tour of the capital’s list of growing bars. Having relocated from the Old Quarter to Dang Thai Mai, Le is determined to keep the music alive and in the process offers up a unique rock and roll experience in a city dominated by EDM and house.
Location: No 15, lane 12 Dang Thai Mai, Hanoi