Nguyen Huu Huan is a street full of cafes that I drive along almost every day. It's weird that I've never ever stopped in at any of these cafes to give them a try. But today my favorite cafe was way too busy and a friend recommended that I should taste the coffee at Cafe Hanh which is just a minute around the corner. As it was the weekend, they were busy as well but we landed a spot at the corner where two people had just left. On a bright and hot sunny day, we were lucky to be under the shade of a big old banyan tree.
Cafe culture in Hanoi is way different compared to the south, not necessarily in terms of the quality or quantity, but just about the atmosphere; the people spreading along the footpath, chatting and enjoying their coffee, no matter how busy or dangerous the street is. Having coffee in these kinds of locations is a great way to observe the happenings in the old quarter of Hanoi.
I love looking at the different ways people serve and even drink coffee in the old quarter. No matter if you are rich, famous or poor, everyone sits at the same kind of low tables and chairs. Most cafes in the old quarter use plastic chairs and tables because its very easy to collect them up especially when the police are patroling. Businesses are not supposed to take up the footpath with their goods or chairs and tables so when the police come, it's quite amusing. The customers stand up with their coffees while the staff move these plastic chairs so they will not be confiscated. Of course, it's back to normal after 5 minutes when the police have disappeared.
That's quite a normal part of Hanoi nowadays though I'm sure tourists get really confused if they experience it. But it's something that tourists shouldn't miss - sitting in the old quarter for half an hour, watching the craziness.
Don't forget to say, khong duong (no sugar) or it duong (only a little sugar) because black coffee comes with the sugar already in it. For white coffee, sweet condensed milk is always used. Yum!
51 Nguyễn Hữu Huân
Hoan Kiem - Hanoi
Labels: Cafes, Ha Noi, The North