If you blink on To Ngoc Van, you might miss The Kneipe, which only has a tiny black-and-white sign and some motorbikes outside letting you know it’s there. It’s that easy to miss.
Yet despite being late on a Monday, the Kneipe, which is German for “pub”, is in fact fairly lively. The bar staff welcome you with big smiles, and you may or may not see a table or two full of German men sipping beers and discussing whatever it is people discuss in German at night. You will probably get a large helping of wonderfully spicy peanuts in what looks like a glass shark fin container set in front of you. And you will get a beautiful waitress distracting you from reading the extensive menu, which contains a great list of cocktails and single malts as well as some nice German beer.
What the Doctor Ordered
You will also be distracted by the amusing signs on the walls. “Bier ist gut... Sagt der Arzt!” says one of a winking doctor, which roughly translates as “Beer is good... for your heart!” Probably. More signs in the toilets let patrons know that this is a light-hearted and humorous establishment. “How do you like your beer served?” asks one, with pictures of a pint protecting the modesty of various female body parts. “Casual sex: because formal sex involves too many thank-you notes!” exclaims another, banking on the assumption that people still write thank-you notes, which they do not.
In one corner you will see an empty stage lying forlorn, strewn with microphone stands attesting to the fun that was had on a previous occasion (live music happens on Friday and Saturday nights, according to the beautiful waitress. I am nodding and looking at her perfect teeth). Two flat-screen TVs show sport of some kind, but in all likelihood not many people will be watching —The Kneipe is a place for good conversations.
If you order a caipirinha (VND110,000), you will have to spend a few minutes stirring it to dissolve the gigantic sugar granules (someone should tell them about simple syrup), although it’s still quite tasty and refreshing. A good option is the imported Hofbrau Weissbier (VND95,000), crisp and cloudy in its tall glass. The bar is made of scrubbed wood, lending warmth and freshness to the atmosphere, and the middle-aged German men seem to be having a nice, quiet evening. So are we. So is everyone. If you go, you might, too. — Kate Robinson
The Kneipe is located at 52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi