By James Durston (CNN GO)
The slick and the sublime clash head-on in Hanoi — here’s a quick look at four of the city’s most Twitter-able spots. For something a little bit different or a little bit special, book yourself in at one of these local Hanoi hot spots.
Restaurant Bobby Chinn
Restaurateur, TLC food and travel show host, and chef extraordinaire, Bobby Chinn is a global hybrid, and this is evident in his acclaimed pan-Pacific fusion cuisine.
His opulent restaurant is located in his own home on Ho Tay (West Lake), one of the most fashionable sections of Hanoi. His digs feature a popular downstairs bar and lounge, an extensive contemporary art collection, silk drapes — red or yellow — and excellent service.
RBC is the sort of place you can come for romantic fine dining, business lunches (private boardrooms available), or party till late with the man himself. Egyptian shisha (water pipes) are optional but highly recommended.
Restaurant Bobby Chinn, 77 Xuan Dieu Street, Tay Ho District; tel: +84 (04) 3719 2460;www.bobbychinn.com
Mai Gallery was the first private gallery in Hanoi, opened in 1993, and has become regarded as one of the best places in the country to discover talented new Vietnamese artists.
Names such as Dang Xuan Hoa, Nguyen Quan and Tran Quang Minh have appeared on the walls of the three 110-square-meter halls, and international names have made some appearances too.
Mai Gallery was established by poet and reputed intellect Duong Tuong and his daughter, Tran Phuong Mai, now runs it.
If you’re here to buy, paintings range from US$300 pieces from relatively unknown artists to US$5,000 works from one of the “Gang of Five” — a group of artists who were the first to gain recognition internationally in the 1990s.
Mai Gallery, 113 Hang Bong St., Hanoi, Vietnam; +84 (04) 3938 0568; www.maigallery-vietnam.com; email@example.com
If you’re looking for succulent beef tenderloin that falls away from the bone with the first stab of your fork; if you’re looking for tuna cooked to pinkish perfection and laid lovingly over a bed of sea-salty paella; if you’re looking for chocolate desserts that linger on your tongue for hours; if you’re looking for staff who are so helpful and charming you start smiling before you’ve even taken a bite; if you’re looking for a restaurant that you’ll pay more for, but that’s worth every dong, you need to go to La Badiane.
French chef Benjamin Rascalou is a master of his art, and a man obsessed with detail. The dishes can take a little longer than you might expect to arrive, but that’s because Rascalou cooks it like he would for his own family.
Those in the know followed him from his last restaurant to La Badiane, and more keep coming. Don’t miss a chance to eat here.
La Badiane, 10 Nam Ngu, Cua Nam, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi; +84 (04) 3942 4509; firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rooftop Bar & Restaurant
According to its Facebook page, The Rooftop Bar & Restaurant on the 19th floor of Hanoi’s Pacific Place building is “where the beautiful people meet.”
But ignore the cheap hubris, because this place really is a great one for lifting yourself away from Hanoi’s dusty street persona. It’s cool, it’s clean, and it gives one of the best views of Hanoi from its rooftop terrace in the sky.
With two DJs each night, two cocktail bars, a chilled-out lounge, monthly promotions such as jazz nights and that great rooftop, this is about as New York as it gets in Vietnam’s capital.
Set lunches also available on the roof for VND 75,000 (US$3.70).
Hanoi Youth Hostel – No.5 Luong Ngoc Quyen Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam
Hotline: (+84) 972004080