When I pulled up to An Café on a swelteringly hot afternoon, I had no idea that the rustic, tropically-styled, Indochine restaurant had evolved as much as it has. Since the development finished in March 2016, An Café is now home to Anupa Eco-Boutique, Diabolo Furniture Store and Asian Hideaways Photo Gallery, providing not just an appealing, leafy destination to have a meal or ca phe sua da, but also a retail experience.
Serving up beautifully presented, authentic Vietnamese cuisine, food prices at An Café are kind on the wallet. The motif pulsing through the entire space is Vietnam — whether it is the food prepared, the images in the art gallery, or the products available to buy.
“What we are offering is not just made in Vietnam,” remarks Anupa Horvil, the designer and face behind fashion accessories boutique, Anupa. “We’re about paying attention to all the details and keeping it authentic.”
The Anupa brand has existed for a decade, with a full-blown retail outlet on Dong Du in District 1 and a pop-up shop around District 2, but it has finally found a Thao Dien home at An Café. The shop is filled with classic, elegant pieces that make up the Anupa Collection — one-of-a-kind leather accessories, jewellery, linen dresses — as well as the sandals of Simone Irani, Pepite-a-moi children’s clothing, and Chichi World linen clothing for men and women. This is wearable art all created with a love of Vietnam.
“There is so much high-quality production in [this country] right now,” explains Anupa. “We are all about keeping our shop stocked with quality designs you won’t find anywhere else.”
A key element of the change is the atmosphere. Here it is relaxed and comfortable. This is reflected in the clientele, many of who are working or meeting; some are just enjoying their afternoon.
“Many customers comment on the oasis-like relaxing atmosphere, food quality and originality of the space,” says Wieger Otter, co-owner of An Café. “We had too much land initially and it has been great working with these wonderful businesses to create a unique space for District 2.”
On the horizon are a host of events at An Café including wine tastings, seafood evenings and live music, as well as other ideas still in the works. Anupa, for example, will host monthly events by hand picking designers exclusive to her District 2 store. In April it will be Cashmere Crush, a clothing line made from fine cashmere suitable for the tropical climate. And expect the space to mature beyond its initial new look.
An Café is no longer just an attractive restaurant and café with open air seating, colonial-style ceiling fans, tropical flora and local cuisine made with quality ingredients. It has expanded, grown up, and added something called ‘lifestyle’. A place to go to escape the chaos of Saigon, now you can get a shopping experience thrown in as well.