There is a certain zen moment that I like about Vietnamese coffee. The time I wait for the coffee to brew and drip from the phin (a small Vietnamese brewing device) to my is a quiet still moment I savor every morning. I like the unhurried air it brings. There’s also the yin and yang combination from the ironically smooth yet strong coffee and the creamy sweet layer of condensed milk. Their perfect blend is just a satisfying reward for that short wait. More than the coffee, I also appreciate the surrounding of the cafe which adds to the experience of drinking coffee. That’s why in Hanoi, Cafe Pho Co, was a delightful find, tucked deep within rustic buildings past the souvenir shops fronting the streets. Ancient walls, a charming cat, unique coffee with egg and views one can get lost in moments.
It was easy to miss Cafe Pho Co by Hang Gai St in Hanoi if you don’t know what you are looking for. Good thing we have a local guide with us to point the way. We went inside a narrow alleyway behind some shirt and souvenir shops to find this empty block space within a building. A fat cat, a real-life Garfield, immediately took our attention at the entrance and then the bonzais, the elaborate decorations on the walls that feels so ancient already. I can imagine Hanoi, the houses way back early 1900s to be like this. A Vietnamese lady took our orders before we could go upstairs. And the narrow stairs we climbed, almost fragile in its age. A family shrine was at the mid-level then a spiral staircase leading to the top floor. There were already people there but very few, who we may have disturbed as they were enjoying the view of Hoan Kiem Lake. Only monobloc chairs and folding tables was there but it gave us a good perspective of Hanoi in its evening light.
Egg Coffee and More
I already enjoy Vietnamese coffee so I was excited to try the Caphe Trung or the Egg Coffee (VND 20,000/ US$2). It looks quite like a foamy latte except that the top is made from egg white. It was amazing how creamy and foamy it was almost like a melted ice cream. Best to mix it up with the espresso at the bottom. A tad sweeter than I like but its quite a quirky-twist for a coffee. Quite an experience to try. I also tried their regular iced coffee and it was okay. Some of my companions though didn’t like it but I guess its a matter of preference. We did enjoy the fruit shakes (VND 14,000) as well, especially the avocado shake I had.
Cafe Pho Co service is on the laid-back side so expect the service to be slow. I didn’t have problem with that because like a traditional Vietnamese Coffee, it’s worth the time to wait for the brew. Besides, its best to take in the ancient atmosphere of this old home or simply watch the busy city down below.
Cafe Pho Co
Tai 11 Hang Gai (nha trong) St
Contact: (+8404) 39.288153
Our familiarization tour of Hanoi was sponsored by Cebu Pacific Air. Cebu Pacific Air flies from Manila to Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam thrice weekly every Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturday, leaving Manila at 10:20PM and arriving in Hanoi at 12:30am. Return flights will leave Hanoi for Manila at 1am every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and arrive in Manila at 5:15am. For bookings and inquiries, guests can go to www.cebupacificair.com, or call the reservation hotlines (02) 7020–888 or (032) 230–8888. The latest seat sales and promos can also be found on CEB’s official Twitter and Facebook pages. All photos on this post are taken with a Nikon D7100. Check out Nikon.ph for more details.