Soul Beach $$
Soul Beach (Hon Bien) offers a relaxed atmosphere, a bevy of cocktails, and a live music experience akin to that of its sister business, Soul Kitchen. While Soul Kitchen looks after the end of the week, Soul Beach has live performance or DJs Mondays and Wednesdays.
Soul Kitchen, Hoi An’s live music icon, opened this new incarnation further south on An Bang Beach and early signs are very promising. An oasis at the end of the string of restaurants, Soul Beach features comfortable couches and lush grass amidst sandy surroundings. The well-equipped bar is meant for making vibrant cocktails, and large family-style tables invite sharing.
Deciding to try out the venue at night, when the beach is at its most enchanting, I was drawn in by the colorful lantern lights and the crowd. Although recently opened, it seems Soul Beach already has its admirers; it certainly hosted a steady stream of visitors on my visit.
To quench my thirst I ordered a Saigon Special, a rarity in these parts. My crispy wonton was served piping-hot, crunchy and delicious, topped by an excellent sauce made of tomato and pineapple. The cashew chicken that followed was moist, well-presented with colorful, artfully sliced vegetables, and accompanied by a clay pot of rice. While I will admit I was looking for a little more flavor, overall the food was competitive in price and quality.
Beer prices were on par with similar venues and included Saigon craft beer Platinum (50,000 VND) and the delectable-looking cocktails are pricey but not out of reach.
On stage, K. Bestia, a laid-back surfer type from America, crooned dreamy Jack Johnson and Bright Eyes covers, as well as some original tunes. The simple bamboo stage is set up for any kind of music, from folk to rock to DJ dance parties.
In addition to its casual venue layout, Soul Beach also offers the requisite beach-side pilapas and loungers for those who wish to relax and escape the sun, or stargaze.
While it may be another riff in a similar, windswept chorus, Soul Beach offers what it promises: an undemanding, low key haven where people can enjoy a meal, a drink (or four), and dance to their hearts’ content. Importantly, it is one of very few entertainment options early in the week.