If you’re not too fussed about drink quality and you’re craving vibrant, comfortable spaces to break up the monotony of your weekly pilgrimage to Cong Ca Phe, there’s no going past Hoa 10 Gio.
Tucked away on Hang Voi behind Hoan Kiem Lake, this florist-cum-café is the ideal spot to camp out with your laptop and watch life buzz by on the streets below. The neighbourhood alone is worth the trip, with a charming array of modern cafés and boutiques interspersed with the odd pho ga stand spilling out onto the sidewalk.
As you pass through the florist on the first floor, you’ll get just a hint of the colour and vibrance that awaits upstairs. Indeed, style is something that Hoa 10 Gio does with ease and has done to great effect in three self-contained suites that boast trendy décor, comfy furnishings and powerful air conditioning to boot.
A World of Weird
After somewhere quiet to hit the books? Settle down with a cup of strong ca phe in the Vintage Library. Feeling chatty? Catch up with a friend under one of the miniature indoor gazebos in the floral-themed Secret Garden. Or if you’re just feeling plain “meh”, watch YouTube videos on your phone in the curiously-named Emotion Lounge.
Fortunately, Hoa 10 Gio’s impressive design credentials haven’t resulted in an exorbitant pricelist. And while the menu won’t exactly have you leaping to write a review on TripAdvisor, it will keep you satisfied as you while away the hours. The Vietnamese coffee is good and sensibly priced at VND28,000. The friendly staff can also work wonders with a tiny espresso machine, pumping a mean latté for VND45,000.
If you’ve hit your caffeine quota for the day, the pomelo-and-honey tea (VND25,000) is a delicious alternative and comes with a generous helping of real pomelo pulp. The same can be also said with the refreshing green tea and longan, for VND40,000.
Venture too far off the beaten track though and you’ll find yourself with a bland cup of soya bean powder with hot water, or the ca phe ha thanh (VND40,000) — which translates to “Hanoi special coffee”, but is actually an oily, bitter concoction of black coffee, condensed milk and butter.
But if you stick with the basics and don’t mind doing so, you’ll have yourself a relaxing and comfortable oasis to spend those hot summer days. — David Mann
Hoa 10 Gio is at 26 Hang Voi, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi