Tucked away underneath the Ho Won Restaurant lies a tropical Vietnamese speakeasy. Don’t let the beaten exterior, the worn-down staircase and the old sewing machine in the window deter you from exploring what’s at the bottom of those stairs. Owner-operators Nhi Tran and Tanner Ennis have curated an eclectic and fun cocktail menu here in the heart of Chinatown, while also dishing up some of the city’s best Vietnamese street food. Classic Tiki drinks are made lively by the addition of Asian flavours like pandan, lychee and kaffir lime. Start the evening with the Pandan Pain Killer, a mix of Plantation dark rum with pandan, coconut cream, pineapple and orange juices, and a hit of nutmeg, and end it with a Morning in Hanoi mix of coffee-infused Tito’s, cold brew, Kahlúa, condensed milk, coconut, banana and pineapple. In the meantime, there are savoury delights to indulge in, from nem chua (cured pork with garlic and chilis) to bowls of bánh xèo with a shell so crispy, you can hear it crunch from across the room. You’ll wonder how you landed in Saigon without stepping on a plane.
115 2 Ave. S.E., 403-457-7765, paperlantern.ca, @paperlanternyyc