The café is a project of love by Harry Potter fan Thiet Hoang Van. “It can be very difficult for Vietnamese people to travel to London or Canada, where other Harry Potter cafes exist,” he says. “I wanted to give Vietnamese people an opportunity to experience it in Hanoi.”
His friends and family helped him put together the café, which has now been open for five months, the culmination of a dream he had ever since finishing the last book. “I fell in love with the books because I felt they reflected what I was going through in life. I also liked that it wasn’t about skin colour or war. The books are about peace and adventure,” says Van.
Aside from the standard coffee, tea and fruit juices, Always Café offers five Harry Potter drink specials, such as butter beer — a mix of cream soda and butter cream served in a frosty mug with whipped cream and cashews on top. There is a Felix Felicis club soda, with blue curacao, strawberry and spicy syrup and an Amoretentia club soda with strawberry, lemon syrup and red wine, all starting at VND40,000.
If you are feeling hungry they also sell spaghetti Bolognese for VND38,000 and cheesy French fries for VND35,000.
Once a Potter, Always a Potter
Always Café also throws monthly Harry Potter themed parties, where you can even win a sweater by downing seven butter beers. They also sometimes team up with fanatics from Ho Chi Minh City for large cosplay events. You can keep up with the Potterheads on Always Café’s Facebook page.
Van is excited about the future, as an upcoming spinoff from the Harry Potter series titled Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them will hit theatres this November. He is certain that will drum up some business, but it is not just about the new stuff coming out.
“The novels don’t die,” he says. “I want to give young kids that may have never read the books an opportunity to fall in love with Harry Potter the way I did.”
If you have never read the books, the entire collection is available both in long book form and short comic-book variations in the back. They are mostly in Vietnamese but you can find a couple of titles in English. If you are more into vampires or werewolves, Twilight is also available.
The café is open daily from 10am to 10pm. “We tend to be busiest on the weekends with mostly teenagers,” says Khanh Ha, a waitress at the café.
If you feel like channeling your inner wizard head on over 8B Hang Tre, Hoan Kiem in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. If you are lucky you may even run into Vietnam’s very own Harry Potter