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Ngõ Nooks: The 'Tiny' Cafe That Contains Multitudes

Hidden down a quiet alley opposite the B-52 Victory Museum on Đội Cấn in Ba Đình District is the gateway to Tiny Cafe. Make sure you look carefully, as the sign is easily missed, and this isn’t somewhere you’ll want to miss out on.

Even once you have made it through the gateway, you might question yourself. The yard, with motorbikes, push bikes and tweeting birds aplenty, lies underneath a nhà sàn. Further beyond, you will spot a gap in the wall and an open door to welcome you to the bar area. Here, friendly staff gather in the homey surroundings.

Let’s be clear: this cafe isn’t as tiny as the name suggests; there are different rooms to choose from, so once you have ordered, you’ll have a decision to make. As there are two halves, make sure you check out both areas, each with a different ambiance of calm.

If you are looking for somewhere full of curiosities, then I suggest the space within the main building. A scattering of tables lay tucked in the high-ceiling room that features a variety of quirky knick-knacks including two huge vintage speakers, a trumpet perched atop an amp, a chandelier created from a boat’s steering wheel, and the books. So many books! Shelves and shelves and even a separate room full of dusty volumes are waiting for you to leaf through. Those crumbling yellow walls that Vietnam is famous for act as a backdrop to the densely decorated room, and the exposed brick flooring and wooden furniture maintain a sense of tradition in keeping with the vintage treasures.

Venturing back into the yard, a flight of stairs will take you up into the nhà sàn. This bare-wood building houses the second main room of the cafe, and the vibe in here is completely different. Of course, there are more books, but the room seems minimal in comparison to the other, albeit still offering plenty of historic art works and handicrafts. Textiles, tools and decorations from ethnic minorities hang from the walls and a gentle breeze blows through the window. The tree leaves rustle as you sip your coffee.

And what of the drinks? Tiny Cafe’s menu is broad, offering tempting ice blends such as refreshing coconut and mango, or delicious apple and caramel smoothies. Traditional Vietnamese and Chinese milk coffees are available, alongside a range of teas to suit everyone’s palate.

What’s more, you can enjoy live piano music in the stilt house every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from 8:30pm to 10:15pm. You can’t ask for much more than soothing tunes, delicious drinks, and a tranquil setting to end a busy day in the city, and at this time of year, when the temperatures are cool, the music notes will surely dance in the breeze.

The combination of Tiny Cafe’s traditional treasures that cover each and every surface around the coffee shop and its proximity to the nearby B-52 Victory Museum will delight those intrigued by Vietnam’s history. And if history isn’t quite your cup of tea, then perhaps one of the fruity options on Tiny’s menu will be.

Tiny Cafe Đội Cấn has been open for three years. Now with five cafes dotted around Hanoi, there is bound to be a Tiny Cafe that suits your taste. Recent additions include converted post offices, aptly named Tiny Post, at 11 Nguyễn Tri Phương and 77 Ngõ 67 Phùng Khoang.

You can find this Tiny Cafe at 10 Ngõ 154, Đội Cấn, Ba Đình, and it's open from 8am until 10:30pm.

This article was first published on Urbanist Hanoi in October 2020.

To sum up:

Taste: 4/5
Price: 5/5
Atmosphere: 4/5
Friendliness: 4/5
Location: 4.5/5

If Niobe isn’t in a coffee shop, she’s probably thinking about one. She visits different cafes in search of inspiration for the one she's creating in her mind.

Tiny Cafe

10 Ngõ 154, Đội Cấn, Ba Đình

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