Nostalgic flavours

There are a host of coffee shops in HCMC whose décor remind guests of days long gone.

By Ngoc Linh on September 07,2017 02:50 PM

Nostalgic flavours

photos: NGOC LINH

THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF COFFEE SHOPS IN DIFFERENT STYLES IN HCMC, RANGING FROM LUXURY OUTLETS IN VILLAS AND HOTELS TO ONES WITH JUST A FEW STOOLS ON A FOOTPATH. ONE OF THE STYLES FOUND PROMOTES A SENSE OF NOSTALGIA, WITH COFFEE SHOPS FEATURING A 1970sAND 1980s ATMOSPHERE, WHICH ATTRACT CUSTOMERS INTERESTED IN RECALLING THE PAST WHILE SIPPING ON A COFFEE.

Café Lao Hac

299 Hoang Sa St., D.1

Café Lao Hac is in an old-style space with features such as an old sign, a narrow wooden staircase, and sets of old tables and chairs. Lao Hac (or Old Hac) is filled with old characters, reminding customers of a literary story about a character called Lao Hac written in 1943 by Nam Cao.

Old objects are elaborately arranged to give it a nice touch. The menu is an old brown file fixed on an old wooden backing board with the drinks written by hand. Nicknames from the countryside are used to describe popular beverages.

The tables and chairs are in different styles, with a chair, an armchair, a sofa or a bench to choose from. An old motorcycle and old bottles, jugs, jars, books, lamps, and cupboards with dried flowers combine to create a space that may remind guests of their grandparents’ home.

The owner tries to make good use of all the old items. Anything broken, like a door or chair, is fixed and made useful once more. The café has a panoramic view of Nhieu Loc Canal, which provides fresh air and a breeze. Lao Hac can be pretty crowded in the evening, when it also sells beer and soft drinks.

Nostalgic flavours

Nam Muoi Muoi Lam

29 Ngo Thoi Nhiem St., D3

Located among other coffee shops, the Nam Muoi Muoi Lam (Five, Ten, Fifteen - just like a children’s game) café nonetheless has special features that attract customers who want to experience nostalgic emotions from their childhood.

Such features can be seen right at the entrance, which is made from old wood and steel wires from a fence. Items of nostalgia include old tables and chairs, old rattan, and some dried sugarcane leaves and dried rice straw covering an old electrical lamp. On the balcony on the first floor is a bed of green vegetables and inside is old Vietnamese conical hats and a reed basket.

Customers will also see a stone grain grinder and a muscle-powered rice grain harvester commonly used in the past. Most things in the café will remind customers of wonderful experiences from former times. Old notebooks serve as menus, listing dishes and drinks and recalling days at school.

‘Nam Muoi Muoi Lam’ takes customers way back to their childhoods and is great for those born in the 1970s and 1980s, who will recall their childhood experiences when growing up with folk games, well before hi-tech electronic games.

Customers can enjoy dozens of popular healthy drinks made from sugarcane or artichoke. Its dishes are all popular family-style treats, and its music is also from days gone by.

Nostalgic flavours

‘Nha Minh 80S Sai Gon’

9/8 Truong Quyen St., D.3

The Nha Minh (My Home) 80S Sai Gon coffee shop has re-opened after a temporary closure for renovations but still reflects the lifestyles of Saigonese in the 1980s. It’s spacious and exposed to lots of sunlight and cool breezes. The furniture arrangement makes it look like a part of a house from the last century.

The area near the front door is interesting, with a wooden board bearing impressive Vietnamese words about Saigon in the past, like ‘Saigon has Chuong Duong Wharf, Independence Palace and Tu Do (Catinat) Street’. On a window sill is a bird cage and a few ornamental plants and an oil lamp. In the living room is an old TV, a cassette-tape recorder, and a few statuettes on a wooden cupboard. The music is also of the style popular among Saigonese in the 1980s.

Conversations heard can be from groups of friends or between customers and the staff. They are mostly low-key discussions full of friendliness and care, making it a relaxing spot.

Nostalgic flavours

‘Coffee Shop 81’

216B Nguyen Van Nguyen, D.1

Coffee Shop 81 is in an old house with a tiled roof and surrounded by tall buildings. Most striking at the entrance is perhaps the sign with old-style writing on the wooden door. The owner is an architect and very much interested in antiques, displaying his large collection within its four walls.

Among them are a black and white TV, an oil lantern, a sewing machine, a typewriter, and cassette tapes and vinyl records. A bookshelf is full of old books, while its furniture and other items like trays and lights are at least 30 years old.

Items on its tables and chairs in the middle of the coffee shop reflect traces of the lives of Saigonese people about half a century ago. They may include an old medical prescription, a business registration card, a tuition fee receipt, an award certificate, an ID card, a health examination application, or a household registration booklet, some of which are worn and torn but are carefully placed under glass on the table.

The old-style atmosphere is a great place to enjoy special drinks like coffee from a filter mug, iced tamarind jam, or dracontomelon jam, providing an unforgettable experience.

All Comments (0)

Other news

Where least expected

10AM, 06 September

Some of the best cafés in Hanoi are found in places where there couldn’t possibly be a café. We invite Ms Isabelle Sudron from Hanoi Hideaway to tell us more.

  • VnEconomy - Nhịp sống kinh tế Việt Nam và thế giới

Vietnam EconomicTimes © 2014. All right reserved

An electronic media of Vietnam Economic Times - Thoi bao Kinh te Viet Nam.

Other publications of the contents this website as well as their reproductions must be approved in writing by Vietnam Economic Times.

Editor-in-Chief: Professor Dao Nguyen Cat

Licence No 04/GP-PTTH&TTDT on April 23,2014

Head Office: 98 Hoang Quoc Viet, Cau Giay District, Hanoi

Tel: (84-24) 375 2050 / Fax: (84-24) 3755 2058

Email: info.theguide@tbkt.vn ; editortheguide@gmail.com