Hanoi’s Café Society
In a city that runs on coffee, where to find the perfect cuppa. Story and photographs by NANA CHEN
Published on Apr 1, 2010
+ THE GREEN TANGERINE
Tucked inside a quiet alley in the Old Quarter, this popular expat hangout is housed in a 1920’s two-story townhouse with a gracious courtyard for outdoor seating. Inside, proprietor Stephane Yuin has beautifully restored the interiors, adding period touches such as a display of an antique cookbook and old-fashioned lamps. French chef Benjamin Rascalou heads the kitchen, which whips up elegant Gallic fare, winning out-of-town fans like Jane Birkin and Jacques Chirac. Using only the mocha bean, which is traditionally grown in Yemen, the café is famed for its strong, smoky espresso. Want milk? The latte and cappuccino also satisfy any coffee cravings.
48 Hang Be Street, +844 825-1286
+ LE CAFÉ DES ARTS
Just around the corner from scenic Hoan Kiem Lake, this spacious French-run coffeehouse doubles as an art gallery and a venue for live jazz performances that bring in the city’s creative class. Rattan furniture, tiled floors and a long bar on the first floor lend it a gently nostalgic ambience. On clear days, find a table on the roof terrace; it’s a perfect spot for people watching. Bracing European coffee drinks are a sure bet here, though the menu also lists creative desserts that would tempt any sweet tooth. Dive into Nuong’s Dream, ice cream with crushed macaroons draped with a sticky dark chocolate sauce—all underneath a cap of spun sugar.
11b Ngo Bao Khanh Street, +844 828 7207
+ MOCA CAFÉ
Opened by an American and a Vietnamese more than a decade ago, this bohemian establishment was one of the early pioneers on now-bustling Nha Tho Street. Housed in an old French building, the café retains much of the original brickwork, while Dutch-Javanese lamps and wooden armchairs make up the atmospheric interiors. With 16 types of coffee drinks and seven different kinds of coffee, Moca has the most extensive Java menu in town. So zealous are the owners in their pursuit of the perfect brew that they roast their own beans on the premises, bags of which are also available for purchase.
14–16 Nha Tho Street, +844 825 6334
+ PARIS DELI BOULANGERIE ET CAFÉ
Walk through the curtained wooden doors, and be greeted with the smell of coffee mingled with freshly baked pastries. Locals and visitors alike pack this café’s two locations for its wide selection of salads, sandwiches and pastries. Both locales evoke their namesake, with photos of the City of Lights hanging on the walls, but we prefer the Nha Tho café, which boasts a small courtyard and wrought-iron balcony. Espressos and lattes here pack a punch. But the pastries are the true stars. Pair a cup of strong, black coffee with an apple tart, chocolate-dipped cream puff or croissant for a blissful breakfast.
13 Nha Tho Street; +844 928-6697; 6 Chu Trinh Street, +844 934 5269 70
+ LITTLE HANOI
A brisk walk from Hoan Kiem Lake, this tiny spot offers a full range of tasty treats and drinks, making it a standout on a street crowded with cafés. Unlike Hanoi’s classic cafés, the owners here use native materials such as bamboo to give the café a more indigenous flavor. Nestled near a busy intersection, it’s also the perfect spot to watch life go by. Mocha beans from Vietnam’s highlands—which were introduced by the French in the 19th century—are used to make Little Hanoi’s coffee drinks.
21 Hang Gai Street, +844 828 8333