1. Coffee With a View | 5 p.m. A�
Hanoia��s infamous rush hours are best taken in from on high. At the edge of the Old Quarter, a narrow passageway at the back of a store displaying kitschy paintings leads to Ca Phe Pho Co. Occupying most of a picturesquely decrepit former merchanta��s mansion, the cafe is known for its egg coffee, a strong local brew capped with a sort of sweetened condensed milk zabaglione (100,000 dong for two, or $5, at 20,400 dong to the dollar). Place your order downstairs (the menu also lists smoothies, shakes, sundaes and beer) before climbing three flights to a terrace with a sweeping view over thousands of motorbikes on their circumambulation around Hoan Kiem Lake.
2. Nostalgic Dining | 7:30 p.m.A�
Vietnam has been awash in a sort of wistfulness for bao cap, the lean years preceding doi moi, the governmenta��s economic reform measures initiated in 1986. At State-Run Food Shop No. 37 (dinner for two, 485,000 dong; reservations recommended), that nostalgia is embodied in whitewashed walls hung with battered enamel lunch pails and a transistor radio emitting crackly period tunes. Dinersa�� orders are written on reproduction ration coupons. Luckily, austerity is not on the menu, which leans to northern home-style dishes, which youa��d have a difficult time finding outside, well, homes. Highlights include salty-sour pickled mustard greens stir-fried with fat-limned strips of pork, and a tomato and pineapple-packed canh chua (sweet and sour soup) with tiny local clams. a�?Fried ricea�? is a surprise: an upturned hollow dome of crispy browned rice to crack into pieces and dip into mam tep, a pungent marriage of shrimp paste and minced pork.
3. Music, Dancing | 10 p.m. A�
Opened on a quiet side street in the Hai Ba Trung District by the music promotion company behind Hanoia��s annual Asean Music Festival, CAMA ATK (door charges vary, cocktails from 150,000 dong) hosts international bands and D.J.s and, unusually for bars in Hanoi, segregates smokers. It also has a menu of crafty cocktails like an old-fashioned made with bourbon hickory a�� smoked right behind the bar. In West Lake, Madake is set in a white-painted brick loftlike structure and hosts everything from karaoke nights to swing dancing. Live music happens until the wee hours in a somewhat dungeonesque space downstairs.