Vegetarians in Vietnam: short-term trend or long-term lifestyle?

Meat dodging has never been more popular but does this lifestyle have legs in Vietnam?

Going vegetarian doesn’t have to mean a dull night out for the taste buds – modern culinary genius has made going meatless easier than ever.

*Opt for The Fresh Prince or Mr. Bean burgers next time you’re at Chops and you’ll see what we mean!*

Vegetarianism may be kicking off globally, and Vietnam’s been dipping its toe in the waters for quite some time, but will we ever see a true veggie boom here? 

Where it all began in Vietnam

Buddhism hit the streets in Vietnam in the third century BC and it still holds its spot as the top religion all these years later.

But that doesn’t mean Vietnam’s a fruit and veg fest just yet.

What’s surprising about the Vietnamese tendencies towards vegetarian diets is that it never found a way of sticking. 

Nguoi Lao Dong Newspaper reports that only 10% of Vietnam’s population regularly eats vegetarian meals.

It’s almost double that figure in Europe!

Ho Van Trang, former manager at ELLE Vietnam and full time animal lover says that vegetarianism has been more and more popular among young people in Vietnam.

“I don’t think there are many obstacles for people who really want to stick to this lifestyle because there are so many options these days,” she says. 

Meeting your meat

Student and long term vegetarian Ngoc Mai tells us that her moment of epiphany came when she saw her dad ‘catch a duck and turn it into lunch’.

While plastic packaging may hide the gory truth of meaty grub in western supermarkets, in Vietnam dinner tends to be a bit more on the doorstep. It’s not uncommon to meet your next meal clucking around outside of the bia hoi when you pull up.

A growing love for dogs, like the corgi, seems to have swept the nation too. Local dogs still find themselves nabbed from the streets and thrown on the barbie but the government has proclaimed the closure of Hanoi’s 1,000 dog meat restaurants by 2021.

Animals Asia say that rather than being a ‘cultural issue’ it’s just pretty cruel – ‘from transporting, confining to slaughtering them’.

They also point out that it’s ‘almost impossible’ to distinguish a dog raised in a farm for meat from those stolen from a family.

Leaf the kids alone

For years the global vegan and vegetarian revolution has been led by the kids.

One report says that 30% of British shoppers aged 18-24 are vegan or vegetarian, and according to Plant Based News students are ‘six times more likely to be vegan or vegetarian than their parents’.

So if anyone can give vegetarianism legs in Vietnam, it will be the young people. But it’s never easy to pick up a whole new diet or cut out life long favourites. 

Fortunately, pseudo-meat is a thing in Vietnam. You can find it all over in vegetarian restaurants and shops selling religious goods – it could be a sneaky way to wean yourself off the meaty tastes you crave. 

But if you don’t like the sound of fake meat either, websites such as Minimalist Baker or the Viet Vegan serve endless tasty recipes that don’t pretend to be something they’re not. 

And what about chomping down with your mates in somewhere like Chops? People get worried. They think that society will shun them. Fear not, it’s 2020: society’s got your back and more chefs are becoming increasingly aware of veggie trends.

We’ve got you covered and have been whipping up new and imaginative dishes. Next time you’re at Chops — vegetarian or not — opt for The Fresh Prince or Mr. Bean burgers.

All plants, but as you can see: still proper! 

? READ MORE:

PROUD MOMENT ALERT: OUR VERY OWN CRAFT BEER, CHOPS HOPS PALE ALE

INTRODUCING: THE SPANKING NEW BRUNCH MENU AT CHOPS

AROUND THE WORLD IN 8 BANGIN’ BURGERS 

IS IT OK TO…? THE CHOPS GUIDE TO GETTING PROPER MESSY

EXPLORE HANOI’S BEST STREET FOOD WITH CHOPS, DURTY BIRD AND THE FAT PIG

Chops R&D: crafting Hanoi’s proper burger experience

We’re having a whole heap of fun working on new burger specials and menu tweaks for 2020 that will keep Chops at the top of its game, says Richie Bardsley… 

We’ve just whacked up a whopping great kitchen in Hanoi’s West Lake and we’re really making the most of it. 

For us, the central kitchen means having everything in one place and keeping that Chops consistency – you know what you’re getting when you order a Chops burger, and that’s how we want to keep it.  

The new kitchen also means we can get messy experimenting on the daily. For you this means lots of exciting menu tweaks and specials in 2020. 

We import our lamb and wagyu beef from Australia but everything else on the Chops menu is sourced locally – once we have our hands on the goods, we run everything through Chops HQ, cook up a storm, taste it, tweak it and try again. 

Once we’re happy, our new items make it into our city-wide restaurants. Here’s some new noteworthy outputs from Chops R&D that you can find at our West Lake, Old Quarter or Ngoc Khanh burger joints.

1. Getting in a pickle

Our gherkin. What a hero addition to the Chops burger! 

Many a late night’s been spent at local markets asking for mot tram kilo dua chuot’, or 100kg of cucumbers, for our huge jars of homemade pickles. 

We’ve tweaked a few batches that are unlike any you’ll find in Hanoi – sour, satly, bitter, crunchy and ever so slightly fruity. Above all, they’re fresh, local and full of flavour. 

Look out for our gherkins in the latest addition to the snack menu: homemade garlic dill pickles…

2. Raising our bread game 

Same goes for our big fresh buns. 

We’ve always made them in house – twice daily! – but we’ve taken our bread game up a notch with the arrival of our central kitchen. 

Hopefully you’ll notice the new and improved Chops bun next time you stop by, and our crispy, flavoursome sourdough, too – try it with our silky scrambled eggs for breakfast. 

Fancy a bit of crumpet in the morning? We’ve even added those to the new brunch menu!

3. The Schmooze 

Something as naughty as this is a result of Chops’ vision to get you as messy as possible

This is a classic BBQ bacon cheeseburger that you smother with indulgent cheese sauce to keep things exciting.

It’s a special for now so get your Schmooze on while it’s still available.

4. Zorba The Greek

Image may contain: pizza and food

In something none of us saw coming, we’ve turned the freshest imported meats and local ingredients into a perfectly spiced lamb and beef souvlaki with tzatziki, lettuce and tomato, all rolled into a totally tearable Chops grilled pita, which is also fresh out of Chops R&D’s bread dept.  

5. Chops Hops 

We love a good collaboration at Chops.

In 2019 we challenged our good friends at Pasteur Street Brewery.

We asked them to create a craft beer that would compliment our menu, which since the start in 2015 has been all about pairing proper burgers with awesome beers.

What Pasteur Street came up with doesn’t disappoint. 

Chops Hops Pale Ale is light bodied and effervescent, featuring a mix of New Zealand and classic American dry hops – the perfect partner to any one of our proper burgers.

Come and cheers with us in 2020! 

Stay tuned for more Chops R&D stories coming soon and don’t forget to read:

CRAFT IN HANOI: FROM BIA TO BEER

AROUND THE WORLD IN 8 BANGIN’ BURGERS 

WHY CHOPS VIETNAM USES WAGYU BEEF FOR ITS PROPER BURGERS

IS IT OK TO…? THE CHOPS GUIDE TO GETTING PROPER MESSY

EXPLORE HANOI’S BEST STREET FOOD WITH CHOPS, DURTY BIRD AND THE FAT PIG

Explore Hanoi’s best street food with Chops, Durty Bird and The Fat Pig

Check out our head chef’s favourite places to grab some grub and earn yourself some free craft beer while you’re at it…

Forget about your go-to street food spots! The team at Chops, Durty Bird and The Fat Pig have got a new list of places to steal your heart and hunger pains. 

Give our whistle-stop tour of our favourite street eats a go by picking up a copy of the Caledonia passport in the Old Quarter Chops or Durty Bird on Hang Hanh. 

 

Inside, there’s a handy map pin-pointing our favourite places to munch on noodles with goose (bun ngan), the famous bun cha, pho but with a twist (pho bo sot vang), beef noodle salad from the south (bun bo nam bo) and sticky rice (xoi ga). 

But the fun doesn’t stop at exploring these legendary Vietnamese street food joints.

If you nab yourself a stamp from each of our restaurants — Chops, Durty Bird or The Fat Pig — you’ll get a free craft beer on us!

 

That’s one beer/one stamp offer – with three free beers available in total!

? Fancy a Bird Brew? On us.

? Pasteur Street? On us.

? 7 Bridges. On. Us.

All you’ve got to do is take your passport to participating restaurants (Chops Old Quarter, Durty Bird or The Fat Pig) to claim your stamp, and you’re winning.

So what are you waiting for? Grab yours and hit the streets with the Caledonia food passport to Hanoi’s Old Quarter. 

READ MORE’S NEEDED HERE: 

PAIRING MORE BURGERS AND BANGIN’ BEERS

CRAFT IN HANOI: FROM BIA TO BEER

AROUND THE WORLD IN 8 BANGIN’ BURGERS 

WHY CHOPS VIETNAM USES WAGYU BEEF FOR ITS PROPER BURGERS

IS IT OK TO…? THE CHOPS GUIDE TO GETTING PROPER MESSY

Is it OK to…? The Chops guide to getting proper messy

We might not be a five star restaurant but we do serve up five star burgers, so when it comes to manners, we know it’s all about having none…  

There are no rules to stuffing a proper Chops burger into your face. 

We’ve seen it all at our restaurants in Vietnam: hands, cutlery, chopsticks, upside-down, inside out, mayo in ears, lots of noise. Do as you please. Just make sure you’re not polite with it!

Here’s our quick guide to getting as messy as possible when chowing down on the best burgers in Hanoi.

Is it OK to talk with my mouth full?

No, absolutely not. We need you to shout! 

Shout as loud as you can for another Peroni with a mouth full of Mac Daddy or Fat Chips.  

Polite chat and chew is a fine art, not to be deployed at any Chops restaurant. Save that for boiled chicken and banh chung during Tet with the in-laws.  

Messy Tip: When shouting across your table, opt for words with as many syllables as possible and consonant digraphs such as “Ch”. We wanna see bits of wagyu properly fly. 

Is it OK to lick my fingers?

It’s a bit KFC, but yes, massively encouraged. 

Messy Tip:  In fact, don’t lick your fingers – that’s still a bit tame? Put your greasy tips into the mouth of the person directly opposite you. 

Is it OK to bite into someone else’s burger?

When eating with your friends, partners, work colleagues, bosses or strangers, it’s considered completely polite – and even normal – at Chops to offer a ‘bite for a bite’!

So go ahead: everyone in the group surrender your big tasty burger to the left to get through more of our bangin’ burger menu in one cheeky sitting.

Naughty! 

 

Messy Tip: In a nod to your school days, try the “two bite pass” game and hold the burger in your mouth until the next one comes around. You get really full and your eyes turn red too. 

Is it OK to belch? 

Does a bear crap in the woods? Well, no actually, in Vietnam the bear most likely poos in a cage. But yes – burp, for the love of beef! 

Burp as loud as you can and do it proudly. And while hiccups are most likely a sign that you’ve absolutely smashed your burger way too quickly, try keeping those bad boys to yourself. Somehow hiccups don’t feel very… Chops?


 Is it OK to put my elbows on the table?

Nope. And that’s not because it’s impolite but because your elbows act as a tripod to stabilise the munch. Nobody wants this. We want to see you all over the shop with your burger – especially if you’re four craft beers in. 

Messy Tip: Put your elbows by your sides, hands on your knees and keep the burger in the tray on the table. Now bob for it…

READ MORE’S NEEDED HERE: 

PAIRING MORE BURGERS AND BANGIN’ BEERS

CRAFT IN HANOI: FROM BIA TO BEER

AROUND THE WORLD IN 8 BANGIN’ BURGERS 

WHY CHOPS VIETNAM USES WAGYU BEEF FOR ITS PROPER BURGERS

We’re supporting Newborns Vietnam – here’s how you can too!

We’ve been slingin’ juicy burgers into hungry faces in Vietnam for a while now and feel like it’s time to give something back…

So we’re really happy to announce that Chops will donate 10,000VND to Newborns Vietnam every time you enjoy our flagship burger ‘The Chop’.

Chops and Newborns Vietnam raise 15 mil VND
The first donation to Newborns Vietnam from Chops at the launch event

But don’t stop with eating!

Newborns’ target is to raise $500,000 a year for training and to fund ambulances to bring sick babies safely to Hanoi – they need all the help they can get.

Here’s the other ways you can support the NGO in their mission to end preventable deaths among babies in Vietnam.

1. Become Ironman 70.3 

No excuses: you’ve got plenty of time to turn your patties into six packs for this super-athlete challenge.

Set a fundraising target, raise the Newborns flag, do a few (hundred) laps around West Lake and turn up. You got this – we believe in you.

Ironman 70.3 Vietnam for Newborns Vietnam
Work your buns at the Ironman 70.3 Vietnam 

2. Cycle a Difference

We highly recommend keeping an eye out for future Cycle a Difference races.

It’s 419 km over three days of cycling through the tough but spectacular and incredibly rewarding Central Highlands terrain. 

You can join as a company or personal team of two to four riders, and you’re asked to raise $6,000 per team.

3. Run with UPRACE

Utilising the wonders of modern tech, runners use the UPRACE app to track their distance and donate dong for every kilometre. Businesses can also be asked to match the amount raised by their runners or donate an amount per team. 

Last year this added up to some pretty serious cheddar. It raised a total of 4 billion VND!

Newborns Vietnam presents Uprace
Run at your own pace with Uprace

4. Bag yourself some merch

Newborns Vietnam teamed up with Regna, who donates 10% on their clothes.

Nab yourself fully customised team or individual sportswear to show the world you care. 

Run with Newborns Vietnam shirts

5. Spend cash for the kids

The Give as you live scheme gives couch dwellers a chance to get involved too.

You can raise free funds when shopping online with retailers such as Amazon. 

Give as you live Newborns Vietnam

6. Do it yourself

Good at organising a big ol’ booze up, flogging cakes or testing people’s general knowledge?

Why not put on your own fundraising event. You could do a quiz night, coffee morning, sell sweet treats at your office, or something far more imaginative.

7. Run the streets 

There’s still time to get involved in the Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City runs in December. If you want to run as a team, you’ll need to raise at least $2,000 for Newborns, but hey, the little ones can’t do it themselves, so get your running shoes on!

8. Destroy the Vietnam Mountain Marathon

It’s almost too late for this year’s scenic mega-run through Vietnam’s picturesque countryside. But keep it on your radar for the future. Supported by Topas Travel and Newborn’s partnership with the Lao Cai Provincial Health Department, this run lets you choose your distance – but remember, there are a few hills involved!

READ MORE: PAIRING MORE BURGERS AND BANGIN’ BEERS

READ MORE: CRAFT IN HANOI: FROM BIA TO BEER

READ MORE: AROUND THE WORLD IN 8 BANGIN’ BURGERS 

READ MORE: WHY CHOPS VIETNAM USES WAGYU BEEF FOR ITS PROPER BURGERS

Chops launches campaign to support Newborns Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam – Hanoi’s homegrown burger chain Chops has launched its “Eating for Newborns” campaign, which donates 10,000VND to the baby saving NGO Newborns Vietnam every time a customer orders “The Chop” burger. 

The project, which was launched with a visit to a local Hanoi maternity ward and a star-studded eating event, is an ongoing initiative by Chops to support the NGO in its mission to end all preventable deaths in Vietnam.

“Our goal is to raise $500,000 a year for training and this year we have a special appeal to fund ambulances to bring sick babies safely to Hanoi,” said Suzanna Lubran, Executive Director, Newborns Vietnam.

Suzanna Lubran, Executive Director, Newborns Vietnam with Chops founder Richie – celebrating the first of many donations

“We want to end preventable newborn deaths in Vietnam,” she added. “We work with public hospitals to provide specialist UK training to give every baby the best possible start in life and to improve the survival of babies that are born too soon, too sick and too small.”

Discussing his inspiration for this new initiative, Chops owner Richie Bardsley said: “I first found out about Newborns Vietnam because the charity cycling events. It got me thinking about how we could help at Chops. And now that I’m expecting a baby girl in 2020, it’s really something I can get behind!”

The launch event at Chops Ngoc Khanh was attended by the British Ambassador Gareth Ward, singer Ho Ngoc Ha and actor Kim Ly, the Newborns Vietnam team and Chops staff.

The British Ambassador Gareth Ward

“Chops is one of my favourite places to go with family for a weekend brunch,” said British Ambassador Gareth Ward. “And now I can combine the guilty pleasure of a tasty burger with a donation to Newborns Vietnam. It’s a great charity, which helps children from across Vietnam to survive despite a difficult start to life. These children will grow up to be happy and healthy in the future.”

Actor Kim Ly, another diner at the Chops’ charity event, commented: “It’s a great honour for me to be a small part of Newborns Vietnam. A fantastic organisation that sets out to create a great, fair start for every newborn child and their families.”

Actor Kim Ly and Ho Ngoc Ha graced the launch event

With previous ‘eating for a cause’ schemes raising up to £2 million, the Chops and Newborns combination hopes to make significant, life-saving improvements for Vietnam’s newborns. 

“This is an amazingly important effort, it is a first for Vietnam!” Suzanna added. “Eating is simple, enjoyable and fun, it is open to everyone, families and friends can enjoy a great meal and support a great cause. 85% of our funding comes from endurance sports with men and women from all walks of life taking on incredible challenges.”

The Chop burger
The Chop burger…

Richie added: “All people have to do is continue to enjoy our flagship burger “The Chop” as normal! We’ll do the rest by donating 10,000VND to Newborns Vietnam for every burger ordered.”

 

 

 

About Newborns Vietnam:
80% of Newborn deaths are preventable. Over 500 babies born every day in Vietnam need special care at birth and the hours thereafter. Newborns Vietnam is a UK registered charity dedicated to improving the survival chances of newborn infants and promoting the health of newborns and their mothers. Our ‘Eating for Newborns’ campaign donates funds for specialist UK training and life-saving equipment to improve the survival of babies that are born too soon, too sick and too small. Together, we can end preventable newborn deaths.

About Chops:
Chops is a gourmet burger restaurant with something for everyone across three locations in Hanoi. Since 2015 it’s been serving homemade burgers and indulgent sharing platters paired with local craft beers. Now, to help Newborns Vietnam reach its Countdown To Zero initiative, Chops is donating 10,000VND from every flagship burger it sells. Look out for “The Chop” burger on the menu and buy one to make your donation. 

 

Pairing More Burgers And Bangin’ Craft Beers

To celebrate our tasty new beer menu, we’ve paired four more burgers with Vietnam’s finest craft beers, and a tasty lager from overseas too…

When ogling the Chops menu, you may wonder how we decide what goes with what in our “goes well with” recommendations. 

Do we, perhaps, line up bottles of beer like pins and go bowling with our latest burger to see which beers remain standing? 

It’s more simple than that. After years of eating and drinking, we just know what works when it comes to meat, wheat and hops. Our beer and burger palettes are finely tuned to the art of burger and bevvie pairing, which you should enjoy as follows. 

1. To Brie Or Not To Brie Burger + Peroni

Badda bing! Big news: down at your local Chops, you can now grab a refreshing glass of Peroni.

And with this Italian lager, enjoy our signature beef patty (made up of wagyu and chuck, to create that tasty, tender, sirloin-like taste) with a healthy does of deep fried brie, a dollop of our in-house IPA chutney and the classic tomato, lettuce and tobacco onion combo that no Chops burger could be without.

The crisp, fruity and light Peroni really draws out the taste of the brie and IPA chutney, making this is an epic combo for a day in the sun. 

2. The Big Kahuna + Pasteur Street Passion Fruit Wheat Ale

Throwing pineapple on your plate is a divisive issue. We’ve witnessed four relationships end in our restaurant thanks to our Big Kahuna bad boy. 

We like to move with the times, though. And our beef patty, cheddar cheese and pineapple combination topped with mango chutney, lettuce, pickles, tomato, mayo, and tobacco onions is definitely the dash of Hawaian our menu needed.

We found the perfect partner for this sweet and savoury mash-up with the Pasteur Street Passion Fruit Wheat Ale.

The fresh passion fruit dominates what would otherwise be the mild flavours of the ale. The light body and crisp taste brings out the tang of the Big Kahuna, making an all-round sweet and bitter taste explosion to knock your lid off.

3.  Katsu Chicken + Pasteur Street Jasmine IPA

This is the only Japanese/American combo good enough to break up the Beatles.

A delightfully crispy Japanese-inspired breaded chicken burger, with a healthy serving of Chops’ slaw, tonkatsu BBQ sauce and Chops’ own mayo, paired with Paster Street’s IPA – synonymous with the Pacific Northwest of America, brewed with Vietnamese jasmine.

4. The Durty Bird + 7 Bridges Sunset Tangerine

We’ve taken Hanoi’s Durtiest poultry from our mates over at Durty Bird and stacked it up with a refreshing, fruity brew from 7 Bridges – perfect as a palate cleanser. 

Think crispy buttermilk chicken, succulent pulled pork, cheddar cheese, tangy BBQ sauce and spicy jalapenos paired with the cool and refreshing flavours of 7 Bridges Sunset Tangerine, with hints of tangerine and mango.

Result!

READ MORE: CRAFT IN HANOI: FROM BIA TO BEER

READ MORE: AROUND THE WORLD IN 8 BANGIN’ BURGERS 

READ MORE: WHY CHOPS VIETNAM USES WAGYU BEEF FOR ITS PROPER BURGERS

READ MORE: THE CHOPS GUIDE TO HANOI STREET FOOD

READ MORE: THE ULTIMATE OLD QUARTER BAR CRAWL TO CHOPS

The Ultimate Old Quarter Bar Crawl to Chops

Chops Old Quarter is now open until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays. To celebrate, we’ve put together the ultimate OQ bar crawl to get you nice and merry before ending your night with the perfect burger…

Down at the most bangin’ burger joint in town, we’ve managed to wangle ourselves a late-night license, letting us stay open way into the wee hours of the morning.

To celebrate, we’ve put together the ultimate pre-Chops bar crawl in Old Quarter. Just remember to hit us up when you reach your peak burger-munchie moment at the end of the night. 

Durty Bird

It’s always best to start your night off with a stomach liner – so why not try some world famous chicken? Back when Trump and Kim rolled into town, our mates over at DB hit the headlines with their signature Durty Donald and Kim Jung-Yum burgers. 

If you can stuff two burgers down your gullet in one night, by all means, give them a go before you hit us up later. 

For anyone not quite at the Chops level of burger appreciation, we’d recommend pairing a plate of their tasty wings with a can of Bird Brew – their very own craft beer tipple.

The Durty stop off: 37 Ngõ Hàng Hành, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội 10000

Polite & Co 

The first leg of your journey is pretty simple. Head just 30 seconds left of Durty Bird to Polite & Co., your second boozy stop. 

Cocktails in Hanoi
A winter cocktail at Polite & Co

This upscale cocktail venue has become one of Hanoi’s drinking institutions, with a extensive range of cocktails and extensive beer list. 

From the abstract art that lines the walls, to its ‘1920’s gentlemen’s club’ atmosphere, Polite & Co adds an enjoyable dash of pretension to what could descend into a philistine booze cruise. 

The swanky stop: 5b Ngõ Bảo Khánh, Hàng Trống, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

Ne Cocktail Bar

We’re taking the cocktail bar theme and running with it, but not literally. There has already been too much alcohol consumed for that. 

This is what you could look like at Ne Bar.

Ne are serious cocktail makers. And while it may take an age and a small fortune to finally get your drink, it will all be worth it. Fans of Hanoi’s famous pho should try Ne’s pho cocktail. It’s unphogettable. 

The cocktail stop: 3B Tống Duy Tân, Hàng Bông, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

Bee’Znees 

The secret spot

This vintage 1920s speakeasy is currently one of Hanoi’s best kept secrets. Like every good murder mystery, you’ll find the entrance hidden behind a bookcase. Just tug on the blue book, nhe. 

This spot his ideal for anyone already exhausted from the hubbub of Hanoi. In the comfort of a cosy fireplace and relaxing balcony setting, Bee’Znees serve up an extensive list of cocktails made with homemade ingredients. 

The secret stop: 163 Phùng Hưng, Cửa Đông, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

Tannin Wine Bar

When it comes to drinking in Vietnam, beer reigns king. Sadly, that means that wine lovers are a little hard-up. Until now. Fear not fans of fermented grapes, Tannin Wine Bar has what you desire!

A fancy tipple at Tanin

This small bar lures you in with its warm lighting and keeps you there with their expansive selection of international wines and nibbles.

With a wine list ranging from 100k to 360k, you’re sure to find something to get you sloshed before taking a left out the door towards Ma May.

The classy stop: 46 Hàng Vải, Hàng Bồ, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

Bia Hoi Corner 

No Old Quarter bar crawl could come to a close without a penultimate stop off at Bia Hoi Corner.

Where the night really begins. Source: Robert M

Bia Hoi Corner, or Ta Hien, is a right of passage for any drinker visiting Hanoi. It’s busy, the stools are tiny, and it flows with cheap beer and conversation with strangers.

Hitting the manic streets of Ta Hien, you’ll be met by tiny blue stool after tiny blue stool outside of a range of bars that appear to merge together. Don’t fret, just pick somewhere with enough space for yourself and your bar crawl crew and indicate to the closest person how many beers you would like.

Your only job after that is to drink. 

The corner stop: Tạ Hiện, Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

Chops 

Here it is, the final call on your tour. We hope you’ve enjoyed yourselves, please alight on the left and fill your faces with juicy burgers. 

We haven’t shuttled you here just to eat though. If you’ve sufficiently filled yourselves with the finest wines and cocktails that Old Quarter has to offer, we’re here to give you a selection of Vietnam’s best craft beers.

We’ve been serving up a range of local brews, along with our bangin’ burgers, since we opened up some four years ago. In that time, we’ve watched the scene explode.

While our range may vary depending on what’s seasonal, or which are the best brews around, you’ll be able to get a taste of what we’ve got on our craft beer menu.

Late-comers can enjoy anything from our triple cooked fries with homemade truffle mayo, to a mouthwatering, shirt soiling Philly Cheesesteak, with NZ sirloin steak, bell peppers, jalapenos, onions, Swiss cheese, and garlic mayo.

We also advise ending the night with 2-for-1 Hai Ba Trung lagers between 10PM and midnight, or a free Hai Ba Trung beer with any food menu item from 11PM to 1AM.

Call it our way of keeping the party going!

The Chops stop: 12 Hàng Bạc, Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội – open until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays, 12pm on other nights

READ MORE: CRAFT IN HANOI: FROM BIA TO BEER

READ MORE: AROUND THE WORLD IN 8 BANGIN’ BURGERS 

READ MORE: WHY CHOPS VIETNAM USES WAGYU BEEF FOR ITS PROPER BURGERS

READ MORE: THE CHOPS GUIDE TO HANOI STREET FOOD

Craft in Hanoi: From Bia to Beer

When we opened our first spot in 2015, finding craft beer in Hanoi was as hard as getting your hands on a proper burger. But all has changed: the capital’s craft beer scene has made a name for itself, and it’s just getting started… 

Whether consumed on a small stool with ice on the street, a generic lager from a bottle, or from a chilled glass in a taproom, Vietnam’s appetite for beer is insatiable. 

At Chops we’re all about championing local talent, that’s why we’ve got a rung of guest beer taps at every restaurant, showcasing local brewers. It’s the ideal choice for anyone hoping to try the best beer throughout the country, along with a bangin’ burger.

Now, we want to show the world-standard craft beer we’ve got on our doorstep.

Hanoi’s Bia History

While Saigon may have managed a head start on the craft beer market, the original product originated right here in Hanoi. Like with bread and mass illiteracy, the colonialist French can be thanked for beer in Vietnam. 

It all started back in 1890 with Alfred Hommel. His goal was to satisfy the beer desires of French and Vietnamese, alike.

After the French left the north following the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the Hommel Brewery became a treasured possession of the new government. It became the official Hanoi Beverage Company (Habeco), and would go on to create affordable beer for the masses including the well-known favourites of Hanoi, Truc Bach and the Hanoi’s evergreen bia hoi

Such beers have become a staple of most Hanoian diets, and it would be hard to imagine the city without them. 

Bia hoi by the glass, the first form of a Hanoian craft beer.
Bia hoi intertwined with Hanoi’s streets. Photo by Quynh Trang via Zing.

In an interview with the Saigoneer, Le Huy Van, creator of the iconic thick, bubbly, recycled bia hoi glass, affectionately explained what beer really means to Hanoi. “More often than not,” Huy explains:

“Hanoians love drinking beer, not because of its taste, but because they’re fond of the ambience of the pavement: hanging out with their best buddies shooting the breeze amidst a sweltering afternoon after finishing work.”

The New Beer of Hanoi

The challenge for craft brewers is translating this love from 7K a glass to 70k, and trying to explain the purpose of quality over quantity. 

There’s one Hanoi-based brewer that is changing the way locals think about craft beer; Cuong Nguyen, owner of C-Brewmaster, a Hanoi-based brewery that has extended his reach throughout the country.

Coang, owner and bremaster at C-Brewmaster.
Coang, owner and bremaster at C-Brewmaster discusses his life in beer.

He started in Vietnam in 2016, just a few months after Pasteur Street in Saigon, and has been present throughout Hanoi’s craft beer boom. 

“When I first started, people asked me what kind of beer it was,” Cuong tells us. “They were used to drinking yellow beers, and suddenly I was asking them to try something brown and hazy.”

The tests, however, proved a success, and Cuong took his first batch and headed to Ete, a small bar in Hanoi’s Ba Dinh district. He sold out in half an hour. Hanoi was clearly thirsty for craft beer.  

There were, however, still minds to be changed. Cuong explains that when he first opened up his outlet in Old Quarter, 90% of his customers were foreigners. “I had to stand there for eight months convincing people that craft beer was different from industry beer,” he tells us. 

But it worked. Cuong says that now around 70% of his customers are locals, with an ever-rising number of young people, who, he states, love the stuff. 

Now with seven Hanoi-based brewers with breweries and taprooms within the city limits, it is safe to say that Hanoi has successfully embraced the craft brew. We see it every day, a relative boom in the amount of people drinking it, and we couldn’t be happier.

Flavour Country

Coming from the opinion of restaurateurs, there is one thing that we are absolutely sure of, and that is that Hanoi is a city of flavours. Strong, punchy, sometimes stomach churning, but always distinct. 

Vietnamese flavours and ingredients at Chops Hanoi
A taste of local flavours with a western touch at Chops.

While its beer may not fill into all of the categories above, it certainly remains unique. Brian McDonald of Taste of Hanoi has been running craft beer tours of Hanoi since 2016, and has been on the ground throughout its drastic change.

Brian tells us that the flavours and essence of Hanoi’s craft beer makes it stand out from Saigon. “The breweries across Vietnam always try to be uniquely Vietnamese,” he explains.

“Be it the coffee beans, vanilla, apricots, or uniquely Hanoian ingredients like mulberry sour or pho beer at Furbrew.”

This is where Vietnam stands out in the craft beer crowd, the fresh, easily sourced ingredients available throughout the country. 

Alex Violette, co-owner of Pasteur Street Brewing Company on a brewery tour.
Alex Violette, co-owner of Pasteur Street, fitted with adequate merchandise.

Alex Violette, a born and raised American and Co-Owner of Pasteur Street in Saigon, tells us that you’ll find a lot of breweries in the states using tropical beer, but when they opened up their now iconic brewery in Vietnam, there were almost no breweries in the tropics! 

“We had to grind ourselves geographically,” Alex tells us. “It’s widely known that Vietnam has the best ingredients in the world, so we said to ourselves, let’s not just do a saison, let’s put black pepper and ginger in it.”

Alex and his team went on to lead the way in Saigon’s craft beer scene, with their pioneering Pasteur Street taproom with between 10 and 15 beers on draft at any time. Alex explains:

“It helps us tell the story of the beer about how you use local ingredients, about why you’re in Vietnam. We’re here for the food and drink, we’re here because you can grab some of the freshest dragon fruit in the world and go to Marou farmers to get your cacao.”

Alex continues to explain that it’s not just the availability of fresh ingredients that makes this beer uniquely Vietnamese, but his diverse team too.

“There are six people on our team,” he explains. “But only one of them is from the west. We’re always bouncing ideas off of each other. Many of the local guys come from major brewing companies, so they know the technical elements, but they’ve never had craft beer. When you combine their knowledge, their interest in craft beer and their experience with local ingredients, you get this creativity, where light bulbs are constantly going off.”

Hanoi’s Crafty Future

While Vietnam’s capital city may have been a little late to the scene, brewers within the country are in agreement, Hanoi’s crafty future is looking bright. 

Pasteur Street Hanoi, craft beer in their northern taproom
Pasteur Street’s Hanoi taproom explains the details of their operation.

From the opinion of a brewer in southern Vietnam, Patrick Davenport, owner of Fuzzy Logic, tells us that he’s excited to watch Hanoi’s craft beer scene develop, in part, because the Hanoi community appears to appreciate quality. “I think Hanoi has the potential to be bigger than Saigon,” Paul explains.

“I think Hanoi has its own character.

“The weather creates more seasonality than in Saigon. For example, heavier beers like stouts are a favourite in Hanoi in the winter. This is not the same in Saigon. In general, the Hanoi public seems to have a more developed palette.”

From where we sit, with our selection of craft beers, we’ve witnessed a boom in the scene. Opening up within a few months of Pasteur Street, we were the first people to convince Alex and the gang to send their beers all the way up here to Hanoi.

With the likes of Standing Bar, Three Blind Men and The Bottle Shop also dedicated to championing the supply and enjoyment of craft hops in Hanoi, we’re excited to see what’s next for beer in the capital city.

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