Hanoi's retro cafes bring the past back to the future

By Nguyen Chi   May 26, 2016 | 12:21 am PT
The exotic land of the past, especially Vietnam's subsidy period when everything was drip-fed by the government, seems to be an endless inspiration for youngsters craving a taste of a time they have only heard of. But now the memories of a centralized economy have been encapsulated through the appearance of retro style cafes in Hanoi.

This year marks 30 years since the end of Vietnam’s subsidy period. A marriage that lasts that long is celebrated with a Pearl Wedding anniversary. The subsidy period doesn’t require an anniversary to be remembered. Most subsidy themed cafes have been accepted for what they are, especially in Hanoi, the capital. Many customers have no recollections of that time, mainly because they weren't even born then, but for some reason, the millennials still have a certain attachment to these cafes.

Canteen 109


Canteen 109 is located at the Ministry of Public Security’s dormitories opposite Alley 198, Xa Dan Street. The cafe has recently become the hottest chill out spot for Hanoian youngsters. The name says it all: Canteen 109 looks exactly like canteens did during the subsidy period, with its steel sheet roof, yellow walls and green doors. 


Xoan Cafe


Emerging as a new interesting place for Hanoi’s youngsters recently, Xoan still manages to attract a large number of customers despite its location outside the center of the city. Weekends here seem to be a tranquil experience, judging by the check-in photos on Instagram, that all point to a time lost where life flowed slowly.


Cong Cafe

Ảnh: IG mphgtrn

One of most successful Vietnamese cafe chains, Cong's name is synonymous with a retro experience in today's busy world. Every Cong Cafe in the city boasts a different design without derailing from the military-green color that has helped it brand awareness to the same level as Starbucks among Hanoi’s youth. Almost always an instant success wherever they open, the chain has a broad loyal clientele and covers a large area of Hanoi.

Ảnh: IG Hanguyn

Nha Kho 247


Nha Kho 247 (translates as warehouse, and you know what 247 means). With its warehouse design in mind and a nostalgic feel, the owners at Nha Kho have managed to keep the original vibe alive through the use of retro-style posters dating back to the war with a space that intrigues the young and moves the elderly.


Xi Nghiep


‘Xi Nghiep’ (Factory) at A60, TT11 Van Quan, Ha Dong, was one of the first cafes in the capital to move back in time. Narrow and sophisticated, Xi Nghiep even has an entire motorbike hanging on the wall. It takes effort to find Xi Nghiep, but it's worth it for the chance to immerse yourself in the ambience of a different era.


Bao Cap Cafe


Bao Cap (Subsidy) Cafe at 1 Alley 189, Giang Vo Street, tells customers what to expect through its name, and delivers with a decor that takes you back to the days of rationing.


Nha San


Nha San (Stilt House) immediately evokes images of the countryside and ethnic minority houses, but finding one in a rapidly developing city? Yes, there is one at Alley 462 on Buoi Street that offers various spaces ranging from the countryside to the subsidy period.

According to the owner, the cafe is a real Muong stilt house brought here from the mountainous province of Hoa Binh in 1993.


Source: Ngoisao.net

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