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Hong Kong bar reviews

Bar review: La Bo La in Wan Chai – Vietnamese tapas bar has nice vibe but drinks need work

There’s a great drink for whisky lovers, a disappointing Negroni and a middling Miss Saigon. And while there is a decent wine list, there is only one beer available

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 May, 2016, 5:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 May, 2016, 5:27pm

The vibe: Vietnamese tapas bar La Bo La is on the corner of pedestrianised Lee Tung Avenue, on Queen’s Road East opposite the Hopewell Centre. Set back from the street, it benefits from a quiet outdoor space with a European feel to it. Indoors is simple and chic, with a vintage Superman cartoon projected on one wall (sans sound) adding a pleasantly quirky touch.

The drinks: the signature cocktails are Asian-themed, which as usual yielded mixed results. Star of the evening was the New Fashioned (HK$98, American whiskey, Islay single malt, sugar, LBL bitters, star anise, orange peel). This is a gorgeous cocktail for whisky lovers, rich and complex with the single malt adding a delicate smokiness.

Miss Saigon (HK$88, vodka infused with kaffir lime leaf , lychee, hibiscus sabdariffa, soda) was pleasantly refreshing, if a little light on the lime and heavy on the lychee. While hibiscus (no, we didn’t know what sabdariffa was either – it seems it’s the plant’s scientific name) can be used to make a drink, here its function was purely decorative. The Rhubarb and Strawberry Negroni (HK$88, gin, Campari, sweet vermouth, rhubarb bitters, fresh strawberries) turned out to be a disappointingly ordinary negroni – the rhubarb didn’t stand out and the slices of strawberry didn’t add anything.

As an alternative to go with your rice paper rolls, there’s an excellent wine list with plenty of choice by the glass as well as the bottle. However, it’s a pity that the only draught beer is the bland Estrella Damm from Spain (HK$55).

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A word of warning to the more fastidious reader that the only toilets are nearby public ones.

The verdict: a good addition to this lively area’s burgeoning array of bars, especially if you like to sit outside. Prices are fair and the Vietnamese eats are delicious.

La Bo La, Shops G02-03, Lee Tung Avenue, 200 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2871 1711.

Open: Monday to Thursday noon-midnight, Friday and Saturday noon-2am, Sunday 3pm-midnight.

Two nearby bars we’ve reviewed recently

Bar review: Deligator, Wan Chai – a slice of Havana in Hong Kong

Bar review: Back Bar, Wan Chai – a great escape from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong

Other places at Lee Tung Avenue we’ve written about recently

Restaurant review: Hei House, Wan Chai – unsatisfying Malaysian fusion fare

First impressions of global chain Le Pain Quotidien’s debut Hong Kong venture