The quintessential Vietnam experience in Danang: Live seafood and lager beers in the open air at Quan Be Man
There is a word in Vietnamese, nhau, that describes the act of getting together, drinking beer or spirits, and eating. To nhau is to partake in an age-old Vietnamese tradition where men gather to primarily socialize and drink, and secondarily eat foods that are mostly small bar bites, often exotic (think goat, snails, duck tongues, chicken tails (aka butts). Now in modern times, women also nhau, although not as frequently—go to any nhau establishment, and you’ll mostly find groups of men.
I’m always one to break tradition, so I personally love to nhau. Maybe it’s still frowned upon by some, but to me, it’s all about the time spent together with friends and family, the conversations you have, supplemented by a round (or many) of drinks and shareable plates. If this is the essence of nhau, then I’ve been doing this since college. I even nhau with my dad.
Now that I’ve explained what the art of nhau is, I’ll tell you where’s the perfect place to do it. Quan Be Man is an open-air seafood restaurant where short tables and tiny chairs still out onto the sidewalk, lager beers are sold by the bottle or bucket, and live seafood is cooked to order. If you don’t speak Vietnamese, gesturing at a live crab or the water spinach (aka morning glory) on someone else’s table is a perfectly acceptable way to order. Of course, each seafood can be prepared in a multitude of ways, so you may end up with the right protein but not the cooking method you’d been hoping for. But it’s okay—it’s good to try new things.
Lena T., my food guide for Danang, took us here for dinner, and we absolutely loved it. If you ask people what they picture the social aspect of Vietnam to be like, many will describe gathering at a coffeeshop by day and a drinking establishment by night, perching on tables and stools low to the ground, foods like noodle soups or fresh seafood ordered and served quickly, the balmy air settling in a damp layer on the brow. It is with this image that made Quan Be Man a delightful Vietnam experience.
Danang is a beach town, so the seafood is supposed to be uber fresh. Thank goodness we had Lena who could see and speak Vietnamese to order for us. We had jumbo head-on prawns, clams, congee, sautéed water spinach, and more. We drank a local Danang beer (one of which had added citrus—“easier for the women to drink,” Lena said) and Tiger beer from Singapore. We had plenty to eat and drink, and when the bill came, I think it was around $60 USD for the four of us.
I always say the best things in life are food, drinks, friends, and experiences. If you come to Danang, or anywhere in Vietnam for that matter, seek out a live seafood restaurant like Quan Be Man. I can’t guarantee they’re all equal, but it’s an experience to be had.
Quan Be Man
13 DuongHoang Sa
Phone: +84 90 520-7848