One of the great things about living in a city like Hanoi is that when the summer heat rolls in, as it inevitably does, there is no shortage of places to take refuge.
Stepping into The Gioi Donut from Hai Ba Trung is surprising; from bustlingly chaotic to brightly psychedelic. Glossy photos of donuts festoon the wallpaper, Chinese lanterns glow and toppings galore — some hitherto unimaginable — cover the goodies. Posters tell the history of donuts.
“The idea of just wandering off to a cafe with a notebook and writing and seeing where that takes me for awhile is just bliss” — J.K. Rowling
“If life gives you lemons, make some kind of fruity juice.” — Conan O'Brien
Lemons not so much, but pretty much every other fruit you can imagine is put to good use at the District 7 smoothie staple, Ninja Juice.
The Le Thanh Ton/Hai Ba Trung area in the heart of District 1 has some of the best restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City. It’s already known as Saigon’s unofficial ‘Little Tokyo’ — and popular international eateries like 4P’s, Le Jardin and Le Bouchon also call these streets home.
When I spoke to Hien, the owner, on the phone, one of his first comments was about the name. “Tranquility,” he says. “It’s hard for Vietnamese to pronounce.”
No other coffee shops could spark such enthusiasm like Café Bet, a group of undefined small coffee stalls in the park on Han Thuyen in District 1. My workmates shrieked with excitement when I asked, “Is Bet still going?” Just a few minutes later, passionate conversations sparked up about best spots to sit — or even more controversial topics, like what to do when the authorities visit.