(AKA The Market Terrace, Hoi An)
The Market Bar (or is it The Market Terrace? I ‘m not really sure) in Hoi An is what you might call a “local” from Hoi An Odyssey Hotel. It takes a paltry 11 minutes of walking to get there and is basically as close as you can get to the hotel while still being officially in Old Town. On it’s own, this would be a good thing, but it could, of course, be seriously let down if the place struggled to hold up its end of the quality bargain. Thankfully, for everyone involved, the Market Bar holds up its end, and then some. My only criticism of the Market Bar would be that people could easily walk past it without even realising it is there. And that would be a crying shame.
The Market Bar, Hoi An, is a wonderfully atmospheric rooftop bar and terrace (hence the naming confusion) with good food and even better drinks. It is not a huge place, boasting just a few sofas, a seated dining table and rows of balcony “bar seats” overlooking the street below, but what it lacks in size, it most certainly makes up for in character. It is a delightfully moody place with music to match. Whoever is in charge of the playlists is certainly in sync with my taste of bar music. While the music does change, it tends to be a fantastic blend of funky house beats, light jazz, and even some classic rock seamlessly thrown in. Last time I was in there, I even heard a couple of Disney classics. I’m not sure if it was planned, but it was done so well that it seemed to fit perfectly with the rest of the set.The music here might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I don’t think many people would walk away complaining about it.
The food in Market Bar is not extensive. It is not a huge menu, but once you know what they serve, you are quite happy to go back just for that. There is no secret that this place is aimed at westerners, and probably more at expats than tourists (that’s probably why it is so well hidden), and this is evident in the type of food. There is no Vietnamese food here, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give them a chance.
The Market Bar menu is kind of split into two halves: The first half is the menu of Phuong’s fish and chips, which offers both dine in and delivery menus of fish and chips, chicken and chips, sausage and chips, and possibly other things…with chips. I have to admit, the battered fish is fantastic, and as an Englishman, that is not said lightly. The fish is perfectly cooked, and meaty, which is great after trying some of the battered mush in other places, and the batter is light and crunchy. The chips, which I believe are double fried, are also good. Some people might find them a little oily because of the double frying, but the taste is well worth the added oil. More often than not, you will get a free miniature portion of the chips when you order a drink, and I challenge you not to buy more.
The second half of the menu is where things are taken up a notch. Between the cerviche and the meat and cheese platters, they have everything needed for a romantic meal of sharing and picking, even if you’re on your own or with a group of seven. My only criticism of the platters would be that the bread can be a little hit and miss at times. Sometimes it is perfectly fresh and fantastic, while other times, it can feel a a day or two old. It’s a small criticism, and when you have a chunk of brie and a slice of parma ham slapped on it, it no longer seems much of an issue, but I am trying to be fair here. There is one thing that makes any discussion of bread-freshness a completely non-point, though, and that is the baked Vietnamese camembert. The Market Bar baked Vietnamese camembert is a force unto itself and is something that should definitely not be missed. It’s not cheap to be fair, I think at time of writing it is about 200,000 VND ($8-ish), but it’s a whole bloody camembert. And it’s baked. And it is…well just trust me and try it. The only problem is that it demands a nice bottle of red to accompany it…or is that just me? I guarantee it won’t last long (the camembert not the wine).
Did I mention that they also do wine? Now don’t get me wrong, red wine is probably my favourite drink in the world, and while I always have a glass (or bottle) of red when I order the platters (it just seems right), where the Market Bar really shines, is their gin and tonics:
At the time of writing, the Market Bar, Hoi An, offers a happy hour on the drinks between 4 pm and 6 pm. This makes their San Miguel beers about 50,000 VND, but more importantly, their large selection of fish bowl gin and tonics are also only 50,000 VND. If you like gin and tonic then you simply have to visit the Market Bar. They have infusions and flavours that you will never have heard of, nevermind tried. From the simple “hint of negroni”, to “mint and chocolte nibs”, to “orange and hibiscus” and they’re just the ones I can remember. Trust me, they have a lot. Their choice of other drinks is a little more limited, but if you like gin and tonics you will be in second heaven. Even after happy hour the prices only go up to about 100,000 VND or something, and these aren’t called “fish bowls” for nothing, you could swim a small family of carp in these bad boys. (in case you didn’t know, they are called fish bowls because they are made in large “fish bowl” type red wine glasses). My favourite of the fish bowl gins is probably the orange and chocolate nibs, probably because I could chew on those little chocolate nuggest for days. It is a drink and a snack rolled into one. Be wary of the chilli gin though, it is not for the faint hearted and just a little too spicy for a drink in my opinion.
While the prices are not the cheapest in town, the location, food, drink, and service of the Market Bar make it a must-visit in Hoi An if you have the time. The service is impeccable, and the views of the streets below are wonderful for people watchers like myself. There are certainly few places in Hoi An, if anywhere, that have the atmosphere and ambience that Market Bar delivers.
This is one of my favourite places in Hoi An and one of my regular places. I feel lucky to have it so close to the hotel and I would advise you to at least give it a try, even if it’s just for a happy hour gin.
How to Get There
- Choose your method of getting to the bridge, and cross the bridge into Old Town
- Take the first left
- Look for a sign on your right just after the turn
- Face the market building on your right
- Go up the stairs on your right