Urbanist Hanoi

Ngõ Nooks: Come for the Coffee, Stay for the Aesthetic

Apparently, the owners of Chon want people to find their café. However, you wouldn’t assume as much when attempting to navigate the narrow, snaking alleyways that lead to their joint. You’ll find a door-sized opening off of Nha Chung Street, yet there are no signs for Chon at all. The only indication of what the rat warren might lead to are bold, red declarations promising a hot bowl of phở. 

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Ngõ Nooks: Immerse Yourself in the Traditional Architecture of Cafe Nha San

Nestled deep in a dead-end street reached through a warren of alleyways from an almost impossible-to-see entrance is an ancient-looking building. This stunning traditional Vietnamese stilt-house is one of the few remaining structures of its kind in the capital, and houses one of Hanoi’s most inimitable cafes.

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Ngõ Nooks: Vintage Sound Systems and Birds of Prey Coexist in Café Nhac Xua

A quaint melody drifts out of Nhac Xua and over to one side of West Lake, where café owner Nguyen Duy Binh and I sit. The calming, classical, Vietnamese-style guitar-driven music, is soothing.

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Ngõ Nooks: De Tam Café Adds a Contemporary Touch to a Familiar Retro Aesthetic

As soon as you walk into De Tam’s leafy entrance courtyard, a familiar vintage theme becomes apparent. An entire wall is covered in shelves containing over 100 film cameras and lenses, while record players and old radios adorn almost every table inside. Yet the stylish, at times contemporary, approach to décor prevents this new haunt from feeling like another contrived addition to an already over-saturated aesthetic.  

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Ngõ Nooks: Take a Ride on Ha Dong’s Hipster Bus Café

When you initially spot the café, it’s hard to tell exactly what it is — it isn’t hurtling towards you at 50 miles per hour and doesn’t have helmet shrapnel from its previous victims stuck to its grill. Instead, one of Hanoi’s newest cafés sits in its own peaceful oasis in a desolate parking lot in Ha Dong, far from the city center, yet still surrounded by the ruckus of traffic.

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Ngõ Nooks: Cu Xa, the Cafe That Awakens Your Childhood Self

“Where is home?” is a question that at some point has probably nagged everyone who feels caught between worlds. To the owner of a retro cafe in Hanoi’s southern Dong Da District, it’s Cu Xa.

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Ngõ Nooks: At Tropical Forest, Coworkers and Plants Thrive in a Unique Ecosystem

Tropical Forest isn’t one of those adorable coffee shops you find hidden away in one of Hanoi’s many pokey alleyways. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – its large glass presence resembles a giant terrarium full of trees and plants. Only two years old, it comes across as a metaphor for a new, modern Hanoi that rejects the small, family-run business and embraces modern trends.

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Ngõ Nooks: Reng Reng, a Welcome as Cold as the Coffee at Hanoi's Most Idiosyncratic Cafe

Reng Reng isn’t a friendly coffee shop.

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Ngõ Nooks: Old Hanoi Aesthetics and Durian Milk-Tea at Cafe Minh

Whether a grey-eyed morning or a long-tailed dusk, it makes little difference in Café Minh. The windows, opaque from a history of cigarettes and road dust, barely let in any light. The groan of motorbikes outside, rising and falling as rush hour ebbs and flows, is the main indicator of time. 

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Ngõ Nooks: Craft Beer and Deep Conversation in a Cargo Ship Container

From Pasteur Street to Standing Bar, the capital hides a plethora of hop spots, but its newest entrant might be the most unique.

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Ngõ Nooks: Duy Tri - One of Hanoi’s Original Cafes

Modern-day Hanoi is a labyrinth of new developments, with some areas already feeling the effects of gentrification. That certainly wasn't the case back in 1936, when Café Duy Tri first opened its doors.

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