Thang Map, A laid-back spot for German beer and traffic-watching. By Michael Tatarski. Photos by Vinh Dao.
In an area of the city dominated by hostess bars, Thang Map offers a relaxed, open-air alternative with much better beer options than the usual Tiger or Heineken. Its two floors are compact but each has plenty of open space. Sitting upstairs, you can peer down at your fellow beer drinkers below, but a rather ferocious bull head mounted to the wall might scare off a few. If I had to use one word to describe the décor, though, it would be ‘wood’: the tables and chairs are wooden, and the trunk of a huge tree extends into one of the corners. I must say, it’s nice to see one business that actually decided to keep a tree instead of just cutting them all down.
Throughout the locale, music is kept at a reasonable volume, allowing people to actually talk to one another, and ranges from Top 40 pop to fuzzy guitar blues. Tables and chairs are also placed on the sidewalk, allowing one to enjoy a brew while watching the bustling traffic.
Indeed, the big draw at Thang Map is beer, and there is plenty to choose from. The aforementioned regulars are available, with Tiger bottles, draft and Heineken going for VND 35,000 to VND 55,000. You can also order a three-litre tower of Tiger for VND 290,000.
If you’re like me, though, the German beer is what you’ll be going for. Half-litre options include lager, wheat beer and dark wheat beer for VND 128,000; while the Radeberger pilsner and Schoefferhofer grapefruit each come in one-third litre glasses for VND 80,000. Because I had to drive, I wasn’t able to try all of these, but I can report that the lager is light (but not too light) and flavourful, a welcome relief from the usual watery brews we all love to hate.
Thang Map also features an impressive food menu of German standards, such as grilled sausage, soft pretzels and schnitzel. An intriguing special item for those with an especially large appetite is the half-metre anaconda sausage (VND 240,000). There are two happy hour deals as well: all-you-can-drink Tiger draft from 6pm to 11.30pm for VND 145,000, and all-you-can-eat barbecue from 6pm to 9pm for VND 190,000.
With good beer, an appealing food menu and a relaxed setting, Thang Map provides a bar experience different from many of the usual spots in District 1.