If you walk down Le Thanh Ton from Ton Duc Thang and make your first right onto Chu Manh Trinh, though, the vibe changes. As you leave the sushi restaurants behind you, street vendors start lining the sidewalks, selling dried goods, fruits, vegetables and open-air meat and seafood. Men and women sit on plastic chairs, drinking tra da and eating com tam. And in an alley at the end of the road, sitting between small shack houses, there is a hip little coffee shop. This is 84 City.
84 City opened in June 2012, and when we say it’s hip, what we really mean is hip hop. The café was opened by the owners of 84 Production, brother/sister team Vietmax and Ai My. Vietmax is a street dancer, and walking into the café you can see his love for hip hop culture. The walls of 84 City are decorated with big paintings of brightly-coloured graffiti art, with different hues of grey, blue, and red looping and swirling amid the furniture. Vietmax and artist Dan Nguyen did the art together, and both specialise in street art.
Beyond the Street Art
Walk into 84 City, and usually it’s pretty empty. This allows for plenty of seating options, though, including two comfortable red couches. The music that they play is a mix between R&B, hip hop, pop, and acoustic remixes of popular songs.
Coffee at 84 City starts at VND29,000 for Vietnamese coffee, and goes up to VND45,000 for cappuccinos and espressos. Tea starts at VND35,000 a pot, and other speciality drinks, like milk shakes and fresh fruit juice, range from VND40,000 to VND45,000. If you’re having an especially rough day you can also opt for shooters or classic cocktails (think margaritas, Jäger bombs and screwdrivers) for VND70,000 each. They also sell some food, including sushi, springs rolls, noodles with veggies, and braised pork with sticky rice.
Besides food and drinks, 84 City also sells lifestyle, through clothes and other merchandise. Their main focus is on local street wear brands, like Peace United, a clothing label homegrown in Vietnam. In the future, they plan on expanding their sales to include merchandise with a more traditional Vietnamese style.
So if you’re looking to find out how Vietnamese coffee and street culture can collide, head to 84 City. If you hear Rihanna when you walk in, you know you’re in the right place. — Margaret Smith
84 City is at Hem 36 Chu Manh Trinh, Q1. For more info, head to facebook.com/84city