Located behind the Opera House on Hai Ba Trung, this bar has provided a much-needed departure from rooftop cocktail bars and chic clubs, a down-to-earth place to experience local musicians with a billion-dong view and decently priced drinks.
What makes Piu Piu stand apart is that it is not just a bar, but also a community space; since April the events have ranged from weeknight networking, language practice, comedy nights and spoken-word performance, to heavy sweat hip-hop shows and drum ’n bass in the soundproofed, second-floor fridge stage.
This means that anyone can come and find something they love at Piu Piu, because not every night consists solely of drink and dance, though you can guarantee that most weekend nights will end that way. Each of the bar’s three floors offer a different style of music and relaxation; the first floor is for live music, the second floor for insane dancing, and the third floor disco, soul, and good conversations over delicious drinks.
A Beautiful Friendship
Thibault Guincet and Lee Lam have been friends for the past 15 years and dreamt of running their own space together for the past 10 years; now they get to live out that dream in Saigon. Their passion lies in creating a space where anyone can feel comfortable partying, and helping to develop the local musical talents garner a following and a regular venue.
“We’ve been approached by artists we host to create a Piu Piu mixtape,” says Lee, “and we want to stay involved in helping to develop the local music scene as much as possible.”
Piu Piu has partnered with the already successful My Chicken Run for food and snacks, with the menu prices starting at VND20,000 for popcorn and VND45,000 for fries with bigger menu items such as meals and burgers costing VND200,000. Though Piu Piu doesn’t yet have table service, they are renovating their first-floor space to include an open kitchen/diner-style area for people to come and fulfil their late night food cravings in between DJ sets and socialising.
Thibault, who has had past experience as a Parisian cocktail specialist, is the brains behind the drinks that get the crowd going on a Saturday night. One current favourite of my own is the Ginger Margarita (VND130,000) served up in a martini glass with a sprinkle of pepper to complement the fruity passionfruit. There are hints of some more complex flavours to the drink, the tequila dominates the palate while the elderflower and lemongrass tickle the taste buds.
One of the new additions to the menu is the Bourbeezy (VND150,000), Thibault’s take on a traditional southern mint julep, served up ice-cold in a copper mug, and adorned with mint and lime. Even with the slightly silly name, this drink goes down deliciously on a steamy Saigon day. Containing homemade saffron syrup, almond liquor and bourbon, this was just what I needed to quench my thirst on a Friday afternoon.
With such a packed social calendar and the amount of developments going on, it’s hard to imagine what else the Piu Piu team are dreaming up next, however there are many plans on the horizon for the venue. Lee and Thibault can envision a Piu Piu Out festival one day, and even dream of opening more locations beyond Saigon.
Piu Piu is at 97 Hai Ba Trung, Q1, HCMC. For more information click on facebook.com/piupiusaigon
Photos by Mike Palumbo