Like many of Hanoi’s concealed sanctuaries, blink and you’ll easily miss the turnoff for Ngo 210 as you busily scan the passing signs in between oncoming motorcycles. But as you head further away from the Mausoleum and hang a left off Doi Can, you will find one of Hanoi’s latest hidden treasures, café Xi Nghiep.

Down a Binh Thanh back alley, the writing was on the wall.

And so the scripture read: “Thy kingdom come.” No wait, it read ‘Kingdom’ — but was preceded by ‘Toilet’?

In Hanoi, when a place is good, word spreads fast. For a couple of weeks, I’d been hearing from Vietnamese friends about a new art space-turned-café that had opened in the outlying ward of Vinh Phuc. The café, supposedly one of Hanoi’s best kept secrets, was notoriously difficult to find.

HiPencil was one of those good ideas that started in University, thought up by a group of seniors staying up late to make claymation videos about the adventures of a pencil, a robot maid and a host of other characters — some humanesque and others not so much. (Think Gumby, creepy pace and all.)

It’s been a big year for cafes in Hanoi, with high-end operators turning out in force to tantalise the taste buds of Vietnam’s style-conscious professionals.  This month, we followed the well-heeled crowd to the epicenter of this upscale cafe revolution — Hoan Kiem District.

Stepping into M2C, 'Modern Meets Culture’, you might be surprised by the collision of trendsetter aesthetics.

For many Tay Ho-ans, walking along the lake’s southern perimeter can be a constant reminder of a paradox of choice: so many cafés to choose from, all of them the same.

Page 6 of 7

Online Partners

Top