19c Ngoc Ha
This is a classic beer garden located behind the Mausoleum. Perfect for late sunny afternoons, or through a summery evening. It's well-shaded and there's plenty of whirring-fans for the hot and sweaty types.
If Hanoi had it's very own Oktoberfest it should be here because it's outdoors, they have really tasty sausages, mustard, loads of bia, there's an appropriate atmosphere of collective drunkenness and someone drinking there is bound to own a BMW, as it's a fairly well-to-do crowd in terms of bia hoi establishments – or so I'm told.
Working against the Oktoberfest comparison, beer-drinking frauen are few and far between, glasses are the standard flimsy bia hoi type so boisterous clinking is not recommended and it's clearly not Munich, though it's worth pointing out it will also cost you approximately VND20 million less to get absolutely legless here then if you were actually at the real Oktoberfest.
Viet Ha variety, which is a personal favourite. It's always cold but the beer-pouring happens from afar so make sue you're shipping in the rounds as staff seem to forget the smaller orders for one or two bia if you're in a large group. It's always packed, except presumably in the depths of winter, so staff are generally on the ball.
Mostly good quality. Your usual range of bia hoi fare and, in case I haven't mentioned it already, truly exceptional sausages, which are served with Dijon mustard and bread (I usually decline the staff's advice to have sugar and butter with the bread). The muc chien bo (battered squid served with lime, chilli and salt) is too chewy and greasy for my good self. There's also a baked ham dish (names escapes me) that's served with a wasabi-based dip that's a bit of a winner. And there's also really, really good sausages.
As mentioned above, a well-to-do bunch. Lots of tennis shorts and expensive motorbikes in the bike-park. A complete absence of thuoc lao and faded tattoos. In my vast experience and without the use of statistics, I would say you are 278 per cent less likely to get random invitations to skull bia here than most bia hoi joints in the centre of Hanoi.
Large, rectangular, lots of options for where you go, though a bit splashy, so stand off ever so slightly and veer to the left or right. Can't speak for the ladies' facilities but I'm willing to lay money on the table that they're a cut above the rest. The very fact that separate ladies toilets exist is a good sign for mixed crowds.
I can't tell you enough how good the sausages are.
Posted by Yorkie Pittsop – Pittstop Works
19c Ngoc Ha is one of Hanoi's old dames in the bia hoi family. Nesteled in the backyard of the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum in a nice garden setting with impressive forest giants the place serves one of Hanoi's best-quality brew.
Reason for this might be the fact that the place is managed by Bac Ho's ever-thirsty personal guard and frequently visited by members of Vietnam's security apparatus. However, it's location in a "security area" (as signs announce) is cause for an early closing time (22.00).
Food is good. Staff (female) in old-style white State canteen outfit but unfortunately rather useless.
Posted by Son Tay - Son Tinh Liquor