Directions: 5 minutes walking from Hoan kiem lake to the north eastPhone: 0972887252
No. 98, To Ngoc Van Street, , Tây Hồ, Hanoi
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What to do when you set out to review a bar that’s owned by a friend? It’s a problem because my opinion will inevitably contain an inbuilt bias that I freely admit to. Perhaps, in that case, I shouldn’t be reviewing it at all, you may think, but look at it this way - reviewing a friend’s business is a lose-lose situation. Inevitably you don’t praise it enough to satisfy your friend and everyone else thinks you’re hyping the place in the pathetic hope of a free beer. It’s not pathetic to me, mind. I like free beer. It’s the best kind.
So why bother reviewing in order to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous Fails? Don’t need to do it, haven’t been asked to do it, been putting off doing it for some time. But ultimately I wanted to help the bar with friendly advice, and I also genuinely think it’s worth publicizing this relatively-new café’s existence (it’s only been open since January). Trust me, if I thought it was crap I’d probably just stay quiet.
So, is it an outstanding and essential new addition to the bar-scene of the Old Quarter? No, not really. That would be a big claim for an area that has more bars than Fort Knox. What it is, however, is a very pleasant, cool new place to hang out. It looks chic, without screaming ‘CHIC!’ at you. It’s the usual long, narrow room downstairs, with a long bar and two tables outside, plus two upper floors, both of a good size and with comfortable seating. There’s also a sizeable and very pleasant balcony area on the top floor. Pretty much standard price for drinks with, as mentioned in the previous review, decent happy hour prices. The staff are friendly and efficient – qualities never to be underrated in Hanoi – and the barman is ever-eager to show you his repertoire of magic tricks (I’m not big on magic but I admit he’s impressive, the things that guy can do with three bottle-tops would make your eyes water).
The music can sometimes tend towards loud techno-bollocks, depending who’s in control, but mostly it’s pretty eclectic and generally not overwhelming, ranging from the Police and ABBA to Goldfrapp to gabba-rave and beyond. And they’re amenable if you want them to change it, or you can play your own sounds if you’ve got your I-thing handy.
Aside from the usual local dishes – pho, pork ribs, spring rolls - the menu includes full English breakfast, bangers and mash, fish and chips/mash, Spaghetti Bolognese and hot dogs. There used to be another fantastic café here that did a very similar menu but I forget its name right now…. Anyway it’s good stuff, and is presented to a high standard. It looks great on the plate, which matters almost as much as the taste if you’re paying for it. I think so anyway, but then again I’m incredibly mean so maybe that’s clouding my judgement.
The amount of food you get for your money is pretty impressive too, this being one of those instances where size really does matter. The most expensive Western dish is the fish and chips at 95.000, which suits my mean streak. I’m a veggie however - had to rely on a friend to vouch for the tastiness of the bangers & mash - and so far there isn’t anything for me other than a (albeit delicious) veg-burger. The menu promises such forthcoming delights as veggie sausages but hasn’t yet delivered, so there’s your star deducted. Importantly, the bathroom is also clean and nicely decorated – the cleanliness of bathrooms usually being a pretty reliable indicator of a café’s general standards.
Regrets? I have a few. But then again, too few to mention….Okay, as I said sometimes the music’s dodgy and the vegetarians are still left mostly chewing grass. Also there are no hand-rails on the stairs – although that’s a not-uncommon peculiarity of many bars here - so heading downwards can require pressing yourself back against the wall for safety, especially after you’ve just had a couple of beers, two cocktails and that left-over glass of wine. Oh and the dartboard isn’t a proper English one, it’s some stupid Vietnamese design. That’s about it. I can’t honestly think of anything else. And I’ve tried. See what I mean? There’ll never be enough blood for you suckers. Lose-lose.
Main problem, I think, is that being on Hang Be they face plentiful competition from the plethora of other perfectly acceptable, but mostly indifferent, bars on that street and in the immediate vicinity. It needs some extra thing to draw more attention to itself. What that ‘thing’ might be I have no idea. Angry poets? Fey acoustic guitarists? Bulgarian Throat singers? Egg-and-spoon races? Vaudeville skits? See, this is why I never went into marketing, no good at it. But I wish them well, they definitely deserve to be noticed. Try Blah Blah, it won’t kill you. (Hey! Maybe that could be their slogan? Oh yeah I forgot - no good at marketing…). Okay, where’s my free beer?
Addendum: Since writing that last paragraph I learned that they’ve started putting on weekly magic shows every Wednesday. Grab yah? Not sure if that’s quite the U.S.P. they need but perhaps it’ll be an eye-watering start.
Try Blah Blah. You won’t leave traumatised.
Now THAT’S a marketing slogan!
A cheerful unpretentious bar which hosts a fun pub quiz on Fridays. Very friendly service, pleasingly wavy 70s wallpaper upstairs and plenty of those wonderful metal ashtrays where you press a button and the mess disappears in to the base of the device.
I didn't eat there so can't comment on the food, but they have Truc Bach beer so it's worth dropping in for that alone.
Recommended for Friday night fun.
I have lived in Hanoi for two years and me and my friend spent a lot of time here.
I thought the staff were really friendly and I thought the bar was a very welcoming place to be.
One day when my friend was there he mentioned to the staff that my camera was broken an asked if they knew where to get it fixed. One of the staff called Đỗ Cát Sy mentioned he was also a photographer and could help me get my camera fixed.
Đỗ Cát Sy is the owner of the bars cousin and by this point we knew the staff very well, so I gave him my camera to get fixed.
8 months later despite asking numerous times I have never seen my camera and have been offered no help from the owner.Despite the fact that it's her cousin who has stolen it.
I wouldn't advise anyone to drink in this bar as I feel the owner has little regard for her clientele.
I would never drink there ever again and I don't trust the owner at all after this.
If you are going to pass out in a bar in Hanoi this summer I'd recommend this one. Last summer I popped in for a beer, after moving house in the 40 degree heat, without having had any sustenance...Very silly man with bruised knees. The staff were incredibly concerned, gave me ginger tea, soup and wouldn't let me leave until I had fully recovered. Thank you very much to them.
The clientele is mostly western men. You know the kinda chaps...English teachers who do a couple of hours private work a day and sit in a nice cheap bar and chat the day away. Jolly nice fellas. Occasionally backpackers/travelers drop in and are always included in conversation with the regulars, if they so desire.
Food is kinda nice and they do have the veggie sausages now, if you must do that to yourself.
Beer is cheap and the spirits don't smell and taste like paraffin/ethanol like some other bars I could mention...actually I will mention one...Tet Bar.
The quiz on Friday evenings is well attended and organized. The English chap who comperes sets the sort of questions that even if you don't immediately know the answer, you can often make a fair stab at it. The rounds do get slower and slower as he and his competitors get more lubricated. There is a bottle of whiskey/tequila for the winner which is always shared with everyone.
The decor is fairly jolly and inoffensive. Staff are friendly and polite and if the music they are playing is Gangnam, or some such drivel, they will let you change it.
It's a very narrow bar but that's kinda nice as you are generally sitting within conversational range of most people. It's also a good spot to watch the endless chains of tourists pass by in their little red carriages surveying as if like minor royalty in exile. They are the ones on show etc...
I pop into Blah Blah once or twice a week, generally in the afternoons, which often stretches into evening followed by a kebab on the corner.
Anyway, a jolly good bar.
The previous reviewers are right on the money.
Blah Blah is a great little place to chill or escape the season's heat with a cold one. They have a nice selection of beers, drinks and snacks at reasonable prices.
The staff is fantastic. Because of the cafe's small size, you'll be made to feel right at home from your very first visit.
I can truly say that Blah Blah makes it easy for the place to become your favourite local.
And the folks there practice old style service with " Once a customer, always a friend".
5 Stars for the super staff at Blah Blah!
If you like Blah Blah...