I once saw a girl eating spaghetti dangerously close to the dancefloor at three in the morning. That was shortly before the bar ran out of draft beer and I ran out of cigarettes and the music was banging so hard that the DJ blew out the speakers. (Arguably the best party of the year, if you ask my friend Jeff.) And though in theory, these factors should have culminated in a two-star Yelp review for you, my darling pizza bar, in practice, they only endeared me even more.
Maybe it’s the way you make me feel. Safe, like I have descended into a womb of warm techno music. There’s nothing to fear here, because pizza is near. Literally, it’s right there. Right at the end of a majestic spiral staircase from Paolo & Chi above, there is a gigantic, hot pizza oven, and obviously it follows, there is a gigantic line of partiers waiting for pizza.
Or maybe it’s the way you find me on the dancefloor, sweaty and smiling. I turn and there you are, vegetarian pizza (VND125,000) shining in hand like a beacon in the dark of the club. It is truly glorious. (This is not a metaphor — Chi herself actually fought through the crowd to deliver my pizza to me on the dancefloor once.)
Maybe its the sexy French owners pouring Carlsberg drafts (VND35,000) and mixing up Cuba Libres (VND60,000) behind the bar. Cesar Aubry and Baptiste Gilloz opened Le Soleil in collaboration with Paolo & Chi last November, and have since fostered the best kind of symbiotic relationship. “We are two different entities, but under the same roof, working beside each other like a family,” says Baptiste.
And it does feel like we’re family, Le Soleil. On Saturday nights, when everything else in Tay Ho is dead and boring, you’re there for me. And you listen when I tell you what I need. It’s like that time Baptiste was partying after hours, 8am in God-knows-where, and some guy started DJing trance on YouTube. Everyone loved it, so the next weekend, a trance party was born.
“We were really expecting 15 people,” says Baptiste. “But I don’t know how many came… It was packed as hell, I’d never seen this before, and we were all dancing through the night.”
But most of all, I love the way that you feel like the best kind of secret. Every time I mingle at the bar, happy revelers turn to me beaming with joy at their newest discovery.
“I’ve never been here before. I’ve just heard about it!” they say excitedly.
Oh Le Soleil, Hanoi’s mystical pizza bar, I am forever yours. — Jesse Meadows
Le Soleil + Paolo & Chi is at 284 Nghi Tam, Tay Ho, Hanoi or online at paoloandchi.com and facebook.com/lesoleilpaoloandchi