Plug in the guitars and set up the drums, I have found a spot in Hanoi that makes me feel groovy.
Bar owners, take note, because there IS good service to be had in town, and it is guaranteed to keep the business of people like me.
As you know, I've been making the rounds in Hanoi and so far, I've been rather unimpressed with the service I have encountered.
At the suggestion of some readers, I decided the next random place on my list would be the Hanoi Blues Club.
I had no idea what to expect as I made my way inside the Club with two friends. My search has been slightly disheartening in many ways, so we fully expected to go in, have a beer or two, and leave disappointed as usual. How wrong we were.
Upon entering, I could see plenty of lounge style seating, most of which was occupied. I noticed a pool table (always a good thing) and there was a band playing. We only caught the last seconds of the band's first set and decided to sit down right at the bar. The place had some nice decorations, pictures of Jimi Hendrix, the Stones and so on. The bar itself was blue, fitting for a blues club. There were about 6 stools open so we settled in and ordered a few Corona's. The Corona's came with lime, salt, and a smile.
There were only 3 servers working but they were taking care of the packed house without a hint of being overwhelmed. After a few minutes, something amazing happened. One of the women behind the bar asked us for our names. I was caught a little off-guard by the question. It was the first time in Hanoi I had experienced this simple gesture which can completely win a customer over. This is the type of simple thing that I'm looking for. The next thing I knew, all three workers were having a conversation with us and making us feel wanted, making us feel glad to be there, and making us want to stay. Such simple gestures make the difference when it comes to service. Whenever our drinks were empty, another one was on its way. No waiting, begging, or hoping somebody would notice, they just did. Ah...the littlest things can be so refreshing.
The crowd was chill and most people were there for the music. As the band started their second set, we listened intently as finding live music in Hanoi is atop our list of things we must do.
I love music and watching bands perform is a favourite activity for my friends and I. We love it, we live for it. I have to admit, I set my expectations rather low for music after 4 plus years in Asia, this is only to avoid the possibility of feeling disappointed when I see a band. Far too many times in Asia I've witnessed horrific bands playing cheesy cover-songs, usually of the love-song variety, and reading the words right off the stand. The result is often worse than what 10 drunk guys could perform at a karaoke.
The band we were watching was called the "White Eagles" and they were impressive. The lead singer has strong vocals and the band plays in a professional manner. These guys were good. The crowd was in tune with what they were playing, most people nodding along, tapping their feet, and a surprising number of people singing as well. My friends and I both looked at each other with pleasant surprise to hear these guys sing the blues. Their sound was genuine, and I would have never guessed they were Vietnamese if I didn't see them with my own eyes. They sounded like something you might find walking down the streets in America.
The Hanoi Blu