The name hails from the colonial era, when the French used to call the country ‘An Nam’.
The owners of the café are Japanese, and most of the guests that visit it are travellers from Japan, seeking a slice of home while abroad. This heritage is present in the design of the building; the glass entrance gives a sense of modernity, and from inside is the perfect vantage point for watching the world buzz past while taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the area.
The space inside is rather simple, and yet there’s a lot to grab your attention. The walls are home to guest photo exhibitions, and there are several displays of jewellery, souvenirs and rusk crackers to browse through.
An Nam Parlour collaborates with a number of local craftsmen who produce these distinctive gifts, and two warehouses that produce rusk cookies from bread. The rusks come in cinnamon, coriander, coffee and butter sugar, and mango flavours, the recipes for which are made by the staff at the café. A box of An Nam rusks costs VND105,000.
They also sell handmade ceramics from Bat Trang Village, located around 10km from the city centre. The village has been making ceramics since the 15th century and most of the residents still make a living in this trade.
The plentiful bounty of products available at An Nam Parlour makes it well worth a visit even if you don’t plan on staying for a drink. Its still and relaxing atmosphere means that it’s also a good place to get some work done, and its centrality in town makes it an ideal spot to take a break while on the clock.
Coffee is served in two forms; Vietnamese-style coffee is VND50,000 and uses beans from Lam Dong Province in the Central Highlands. Arabica coffee is VND60,000 for a large cup, and uses beans from Son La Province in the northwest. Ca phe trung — egg coffee — is VND68,000.
Tea is served by the pot, and flavours include lotus tea for VND100,000, homemade ginger tea for VND60,000 and jasmine, hibiscus and oolong flavours come in at VND40,000.
If you’re feeling peckish, then you’ll want to look over the Vietnamese desserts on the menu. The special An Nam fruits che, a mix of blended fruit, yoghurt and condensed milk, is VND80,000. A pot of coconut jelly is VND50,000, and a fresh mango pudding is VND50,000.
In all, An Nam Parlour is an ideal spot to meet a friend for a drink and dessert, but its delicate atmosphere means it isn’t the best spot for large groups, so bear that in mind when you’re making plans.
If you’re not looking for a new café to frequent, then it’s still worth a visit to browse through the selection of handmade crafts and jewellery, or pick up a box of delicious rusks.
An Nam Parlour is located at 24 Hang Vai, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Photos by Teague John Blompoel