Food in Vietnam Hanoi: Cafe Nola

Travel Period: 21 Sep – 28 Sep 2014

{PREVIOUS: Vietnam Hanoi: Walk Around Hoan Kiem Lake}

Hanoi Day 3 Itinerary –

Cafe Nola

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Can you spot the “Cafe Nola” Red Signboard in between two shops?

We got to know about Cafe Nola from the good reviews from the Web and it sure was a very unique place compared to the other eateries we had patronised in Hanoi. To start off, we had a difficult time locating the entrance, even though we were already standing at the address we had written down. At first, we were disappointed as we thought that the café had already closed down or moved away. It was only after closer examination that we noticed there was a signboard, in front of the narrow alley leading to the café.

.Surroundings.

Upon walking through the alley, we felt we were transported to another place with its dimly lit ambiance and unique furnishing.

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This was also the first time we had walked beyond the storefront of Hanoi’s ‘Tunnel Houses’ into the so-called living quarters of the locals, which had now been cleverly converted into a café. It felt kinda eerie walking through the long alley walkway under the plastic bottle lights, without knowing what was in front of us.

As we turned a corner, a Knight was standing there guarding the entrance. The waiter gestured us to move up a spiral staircase…wow… as the actual Cafe is upstairs.

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As we were guided by a waiter upwards floor by floor, we managed to get a nice tour of the entire café, and every floor is unique in its own way. There were floors with sofa and casual seating where visitors could read and relax while having some refreshments and snacks, and there were floors with dim, romantic lighting for dining.

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In the end, we chose to dine at the top floor of the café where we had quite a good view of the surroundings. It was open air but there were fans around to help keep us cool. It felt like we were in a forest with the greenery surrounding us.

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The unique Hanging Umbrella decor which provide some shade during the day

Soft music played in the background while we ate and we were seated next to an open window on the highest floor, with slight breeze blowing in occasionally. There were nothing to be seen though except the backyard walls and roofs of other buildings. Still, it felt very relaxed to be there in the company of each other, after a long day of sight-seeing.

We were the only family around while other diners were couples. Some were seated behind a secluded spot and talking in such low voices that we didn’t even know they were there until after we were seated for some time.

Initially, when we chose the window seat, I was afraid they wouldn’t let us sit right next to a couple engaged in small talk because we had a child with us. The waiter didn’t mind though (Well, he did brought us to the brightly lit rooms on the lower levels at first).

The service was great, although the food did take a while to come. Dar didn’t disturb anyone as he quietly drew on his art journal (he always does this while travelling) while both of us chatted in low voices.

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.Food.

We ordered Fried Rice for ourselves, Spring Rolls to share and Fish and Chips for Dar. For drinks, we ordered beer, apple juice and a mix of orange and apple juice for each of us. The pricing was more costly compared to what you would get from local coffee shops but we understand this is a café and we were here for the ambience.

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The “Fried Rice with Chicken” was nice, and it was a good change from the Pho and Bun Cha Vietnamese cuisine we had eaten over the past few days. The servings were quite generous as well. The only disappointing dish was the “Fish and Chip” which is not cooked the usual way we are used to (too oily and batter covering too thick). Dar couldn’t finish too because the portions were so huge and we didn’t find it tasty enough to eat more after our fried rice. So in the end, we still enjoyed more of “Chinese/Vietnamese style food” in this Western Cafe. *grin.

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  • Venue: Cafe Nola
    Add: 89 May May Street
    Costs: Fried Rice with Chicken – 75k, Fish and Chips – 85K , Beer Larue – 30K, Apple Juice – 45k, Apple/Orange Juice – 45K, Spring Rolls -26K  — Total: 381,000 VND ( ~17.46 USD / ~23.5 SGD )

{NEXT: Ho Chi Minh’s House}