Vietnam probably has the most mature coffee culture in all of South East Asia, when we were in Hanoi earlier this year, we definitely took advantage of visiting some of the more quaint cafes in this capital city.
Hanoi House Cafe, Hanoi
Our second cafe stop was probably named by someone who’s not overly imaginative, calling it Hanoi House. The first cafe was Gardenista.
St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Hanoi
Well, it is located in Hanoi, but more specifically, right across from the beautiful St. Joseph’s Cathedral, which was constructed way back in 1886 as one of the first structures built by the French colonial government. The church was closed down after Viet Minh took over North Vietnam, and wasn’t reopened until closed down until Christmas Eve of 1990, which… is already almost 30 years ago… (how time flies!)
It is open for public and for mass, and we were lucky to get in and have a peek on a Sunday morning.
Vietnamese Coffee, thick and aromatic
The cafe itself is situated on the first floor of a shop lot which also happened to have some permanent inhabitants. Interior itself smells of antiquity, while also being rather cozy. If you’re lucky, grab a seat by the balcony and you’ll have a great not-quite bird-eye’s view of this small segment of the city.
a lovely place to unwind
We had the standard hot coffee with condensed milk (32,000 vnd, equal to RM 5.70 at time of writing), and like with many other places in Hanoi, they’re thick, aromatic, and has an effect of lifting your eyelids immediately. I love it.
If you want to live a little, they serve alcohol too, but I thought it was perhaps inappropriate with mom around, and the fact that it was 11 in the morning.
When in Hanoi, one has to of course, go to the many many cafes dotted around the city that embraces the coffee culture unlike any other South East Asian countries. While the traditional drip coffee is still king around here, there are increasingly more and more fancy modern cafes as the economic status of the country progresses.
Gardenista, French Quarter Hanoi
While walking around the Hoan Kiem Lake Park, a place anyone would surely visit while at Hanoi, we took a rest as this beautiful cafe that is Gardenista for a spot of coffee and a bit of rest after a long walk around the lake.
black coffee, extra milk coffee, coconut ice cream coffee
The cafe itself is almost half green house & half cafe, with plenty of plants both on the floor, the counter, and even hanging from the ceiling. The interior is separated into three distinct areas, with another outdoor section to boot. I think this place can easily house over a hundred caffeinated souls.
ambiance is as important as taste when it comes to cafe
We tried their standard long black, extra milk coffee that’s got a bit more milk than your usual latte, and my favorite – the coconut ice cream coffee. These were pretty good coffee, but I do think that the ambiance is what anyone is really here for. Would love to revisit and spend an afternoon with a good book (nay.. phone and data plan).
My first Nespresso experience was actually at my car mechanic’s office, with the owner raving nonstop about this little machine and how capable and simple it is to brew up a cup of proper coffee in seconds.
He then proceeded to show me an assortment of coffee capsules and asked me to choose one. At the time, I’ve only heard about Ethiopian and Indonesian coffee, and had zero clue on tasting notes and the nuances of each origin, so I basically just picked one at random.
I can’t remember which coffee I ended up with, but I remember it had a thick foam and was very aromatic.
Well, as it turns out, the foam is “crema“, and forms naturally during the coffee-brewing process, if the temperature and pressure is just right. And that is exactly what this little machine is capable of doing so, since it’s equipped with a 19-bar pressure pump; the ideal power for making espresso.
For coffee drinkers, which is most of us, this little gadget makes for an essential item in any kitchen or pantry.
This Chinese New Year, having a Nespresso machine to serve proper coffee for family members both near and far is something that I look forward to. This also perfect for my family’s switch to mainly sugar-free drinks over the years.
You can now get an Essenza Mini with RM88 off, plus another RM88 coffee credit that can go towards more capsules.
The most compact machine doesn’t take up much real estate on your kitchen counter, and yet packs a punch in every perfect cup of coffee with perfect crema.
Indulge in milk coffee with the Nespresso Aeroccino
Of course, we also got to sample Nespresso coffee of different origins in the form of espresso, lungo, and even milk coffee.
The Nespresso boutique at The Gardens Mall also has various merchandise on display. There’s even the nifty little Nespresso Aeroccino that allows you to make a great cup of cappuccino or latte right at home or the office!
Continuing with our food exploit at Avenue K, the mall that’s connected by KLCC via underground LRT station, we sampled the food offered by Tokyo Pastry, a Japanese themed restaurant that offers mostly Western menu inspired by Japanese style cooking, or is it?
Update 11/12/2018 – This place has since closed down
Tokyo Pastry, Avenue K
Situated at the mezzanine floor, the restaurant got its cue from European style bakeries in Japan, with the menu that has very little resemblance to traditional Japanese cuisine that we are familiar with.
The restaurant is often quite busy over lunch time on working days, but if you want to enjoy a quiet meal here, the best time is during dinner or over the weekends, when the mall isn’t swarmed by office crowd.
salmon salad, spicy mushroom spaghetti, Tokyo burger, pan seared chicken
We started with their salmon salad (RM 22), pretty generous amount of gravlax wrapping chopped mango & greens make for a rather healthy start of a meal, or a meal in itself if you want something light. This is probably the go-to healthy choice for the dieting hipsters, but I do quite like it.
Spicy mushroom spaghetti (RM 19) is a pretty straight forward pasta dish with a few types of mushroom in a spaghetti that comes with a bit of a kick, mainly for the pepper used.
Tokyo burger (RM 20) comes with that green tea infused bun that looks a bit radio active but tasted rather good with its generous slab of chicken cooked with teriyaki sauce. There’s a small side of salad and fries too.
If you want more protein in your meal, the pan seared chicken (RM 23) may just do the trick. A big slab of chicken seared with chef’s homemade sauce, plus some vegetable and potato. Simple and pretty satisfying.
matcha mitsu, Japanese cheese cake, tiramisu crepe
Granted, I didn’t have the chance to to try the pastries above, however, as the name suggests, Tokyo pastry pride themselves in their cakes and crepe, the matcha mitsu (RM 16), Japanese cheese cake (RM 13.95), and tiramisu crepe (RM 14.95) all looked the part and I trust that they are up to the challenge in taste department.
raspberry lychee soda, latte, espresso & milk
Tokyo pastry also serve up more than competent coffee. The latte and espresso with a side of milk that I tried were as good as any. For a bit more refreshing taste, the raspberry lychee soda should suffice as well.
To be perfectly honest, I’m not exactly the go-to person you’d expect when it comes to the latest reviews of the hottest or the most hipster-ish cafe. In fact, I almost actively not review cafes, mostly because every other bloggers do it, and I’m more the bak kut teh and street food kinda guy.
Seraph Awaken, Klang
Well, sometimes those paths crossed, like how we ended up at one of the more interesting cafes in all of Klang Valley, right here at bak kut teh country, by the name of Seraph Awaken.
Seraph Awaken is located right across from Teck Teh, the oldest bkt joint in all of Malaysia. Like most shops around the old Klang train station area, this place has an ambiance that takes you back to the 80s, I was trying to find a radiofusion box on the wall, but alas, there wasn’t one.
ice drip coffee
What they have though, is a good selection of hand brew coffee with a good selection of beans sourced from around the globe. There are beans from Honduras, Ethiopia, India, El Savador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Columbia priced at RM 12-18 per cup.
Alternatively, there’s machine brew coffee like where you’d find anywhere – espresso, latte, americano, cappuccino, etc from RM 7-11.
coffee cube latte
The most popular choices here are those from their signature series – hibiscus coffee, Roselle coffee, coffee cube latte, and ice drip coffee.
For the afternoon, I tried their coffee cube latte, a glass of ice cubes made from coffee with a serving of chilled milk. The result is a an iced latte experience that can only be enjoyed slowly, which is quite fitting for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
hand brewed Columbian
If you’re looking for an afternoon of coffee that’s not of your usual espresso variety, head over to Klang and give this place a visit.