A Saigon café that you can retreat into

The Hoa Dat café’s unassuming, quiet elegance is the right ambiance to enjoy a drink and listen to timeless music.

Hoa Dat cafe

On Huynh Tan Phat Street in District 7, the café is just a 15 minute drive away from the city center. The two-storied building has an area of 150 square meters with a parking basement. Customers visit the café, have a drink or a meal, listen to Trinh Cong Son’s music or Vietnamese bolero music – slow, romantic songs, and capture their memories with photos. The café opens from 6.30 a.m. to 10 p.m everyday.

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The owners of the café, Tran Viet Van and his wife Chien, were looking everywhere for a perfect spot to open the café when they stumbled on to this place. The former owner of the café, originally from Hue, transferred to Van the whole place, which is built like a typical brick house.

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The café interior is a simple and harmonious combination of wooden furniture, brick walls painted yellow and iron frames. The tables and chairs have two basic colors: orange and black. Every wooden piece is varnished. Van said, the elderly in the neighborhood enjoying meeting friends here to talk or to play chess.

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Van and Chien said they give priority to quality and taste of the drinks they sell, including coffee, tea, juices, smoothies and other blended drinks. This includes the famous egg coffee and egg matcha (Japanese green tea) from the north, coconut coffee and coconut chocolate. Prices range from VND20,000 to 35,000 ($0.85-1.50). The cafe also offers a lunch set at VND32,000 ($1.37).

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A manual coffee grinder stands in front of the bar.

“This type of machine is not easy to find in the market now,” said Van. When visitors come for coffee and take photos of this machine, he shows them how to grind coffee with it.

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Two Scottish tourists, Marian and Kenneth, praised the egg coffee brewed here.

Chien flew from Saigon to Hanoi to attend a month-long brewing class, Van said. The couple said they hoped that customers would like the typical “Hanoian” egg coffee served in the southern city.

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Some of the retro artifacts in the café include watches, irons, phones and cassette player cum radios.

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Bui Thi Lan Anh, who studied in Hanoi and stays in Saigon, said that though she did not usually drink coffee, she liked the smell of coffee here. She also loved the green side of the café. “Seeing the green buds rise in the sunshine after the rain near the  door frame, I feel relaxed, and it eases the pressure inside me,” she said.

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Van said that in the future, he would build a flower truss for customers to have a more beautiful setting to take photographs in the café.

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