When you enter the bottom floor of the Syrena Centre on Xuan Dieu, you may notice something different. No, I’m not referring to the sales executives promoting half-off gym memberships or the abundance of burly winter coats.


Rather, I am referring to the brand new Annam Café. The Annam Gourmet grocery store that was once in its place has shifted across the alley, replaced with a spanking new café complete with a working kitchen upstairs, a barista station and plenty of seating downstairs.


The new café presents itself as a trendy, deli-style alternative to the Highlands branch directly opposite. For one, the décor is bright and fresh — the floors are layered with checkered black and white tiles, the shelves are stocked with imported gourmet goods (including gluten-free and organic produce), and the cafeteria-style furniture provides an eye-catching temptation for weary shoppers.


The menus are presented on trendy wooden butcher’s blocks, promising the allure of antipasto platters heaped with cured meats, a wide range of foreign cheeses and light lunch options. For VND170,000 you can tuck into an Italian panini filled with sun-dried tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, Parma ham, olive oil and basil leaves. Or for those seeking heartier fare, you may be tempted by the café’s beef lasagna (VND180,000) or the smoked salmon salad (VND185,000).


If your budget is tight, head over to the deli fridges attached to the barista station and feast your eyes on a colourful selection of desserts, sourced directly from the city’s top patisseries and bakeries and ready to accompany your afternoon coffee. I particularly recommend ditching the sugar sachet for a Top Chef vanilla macaron (VND15,000) if you’re craving something sweet.


A Break from the Norm


Your latte doesn’t exactly arrive in your standard, run-of-the-mill coffee mug, either. Instead, we were presented with deconstructed lattes artfully poured into in chic Bodum glasses. A bowl of madeleines, a shot of water and sugar cubes accompany the coffee on a sleek timber tray, adding a nice a personal touch.


The coffee is brewed to high standards, as you’d expect from a gourmet deli, and the lattes, while a little bit pricey at VND70,000, are worth the money if you have time to stay and soak up the venue’s cool vibe and tasty gourmet treats.


The lack of an outside space is a disadvantage because sometimes you don’t want to have your coffee inside a busy shopping mall. But that aside, this may be the ideal place for you to drop your shopping bags, put your feet up and tuck into some cheese from the Tyrolean Alps.


Annam Café is at Syrena Tower, 51 Xuan Dieu, Tay Ho, Hanoi 

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