5 coffee shops hidden inside old Hanoi apartment blocks

By Khanh Tran, Hoang Phong   July 8, 2021 | 12:07 am PT
Housed in some of Hanoi's oldest apartment blocks, these coffee shops may be hard to find for first-timers but ideal for meetups.

Xiu Cafe

Photo by VnExpress/Khanh Tran.

Photo by VnExpress/Khanh Tran.

This cafe attracts young Hanoians thanks to its Japanese style. Right from the first step into the shop, visitors will be impressed by a small garden paved with stones and lots of green trees.

The space inside was renovated from the first floor of the old apartment building. Simple wooden tables and chairs are not suitable for working but the cafe is a perfect place to chat with friends. It is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

The menu includes Vietnamese coffee, Italian coffee, yogurt and tea that cost from VND29,000-65,000 ($1.74-2.82).

Address: 103 B5 Nghia Tan Street, Cau Giay District.

Cu Xa cafe

Photo courtesy of Cu Xa Cafe.

Photo courtesy of Cu Xa Cafe.

Cu Xa Cafe takes its name from the now largely forgotten word for subsidy period apartment blocks, better known as khu tap the. Situated on the second floor of the Khuong Thuong apartment block built in the 1970s to house the families of government clerks, the cafe is a popular address for Hanoians seeking to rekindle childhood memories.

Inside, the cafe feels as if it has two different styles. To the left, there are bright yellow walls, tiled floors and some strategically-placed clutter. To the right, there is a balcony made of plain, gray concrete, with colorful lanterns hanging from the ceiling and walls lined with green plants.

Photo courtesy of Cu Xa Cafe.

Photo courtesy of Cu Xa Cafe.

The cafe overlooks busy Ton That Tung Street and a large school, so it can on occasion resound with the noise of motorbike horns or chattering teenagers.

The menu includes coffee, tea, instant noodles, jellies, gummy bears, candy and chips with prices from VND20,000-35,000.

Cu Xa Cafe is open from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Address: Block A11, Khuong Thuong Apartments, Ton That Tung Street, Dong Da District.



Photo by VnExpress/Duong Bao Trang.

Nestled in a small apartment block in Nui Truc Alley of Ba Dinh District, Brik is a coffee shop specializing in craft brewing. The small interior creates a cozy atmosphere for guests with decorative tones of mainly light brown and white. Because it is located on the first floor near the stairs to the dormitory, guests can park their motorbikes right next to the shop and enjoy coffee while watching the quiet surroundings.

The menu features mainly hand-made and machine-brewed coffee besides teas, juices and cocoa with prices from VND35,000 to 80,000. The cafe is open from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Address: Opposite No.59 Nui Truc Alley, Ba Dinh District.


Photo by VnExpress/Ha Thanh.

Photo by VnExpress/Ha Thanh.

Zum is located on the first floor of an old apartment block in a small alley in Dong Da District. To the left of the entrance is a counter walled by old wooden shutters. It also carries subsidy era artifacts like the television set.

Many decorations in the cafe are a throwback including peacock blanket covers, black and white TV, radio, and desk fans. Some of the indispensable subsidy period artifacts like a Vietnamese soldier’s hat, a conical hat, a water canteen, and a phonograph are also part of the decor.

Besides the usual beverages of tea, coffee, smoothies and juices, the cafe serves some unique dishes including Thi No porridge, Mrs. Dau’s and Ba Kien rice, named after major characters in famous, old short stories.
A cup of coffee costs VND25,000. The shop opens 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily.

Address: 110 C6 Vu Ngoc Phan Street, Dong Da District.

Loading T

Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Trang.

Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Trang.

Occupying the second floor of an old French-built apartment at 8 Chan Cam Street in Hoan Kiem District, Loading T is a not-to-be-missed address featured on CNN in 2017. At first glance, the facade does not stand out, and is easy to miss, but once you climb the mossy stairs and enter, you will discover a completely different space.

The cafe is adorned with period features, including patterned floor tiles, exposed original brickwork, and towering window shutters that allow light to stream in on a sunny day. Loading T was set up by Hoang Tuan Son and his wife Nguyen Hong Trang in 2014.

The menu includes egg coffee, tea, smoothies and cakes that cost from VND20,000 to VND45,000.

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