It’s been a big year for cafes in Hanoi, with high-end operators turning out in force to tantalise the taste buds of Vietnam’s style-conscious professionals.  This month, we followed the well-heeled crowd to the epicenter of this upscale cafe revolution — Hoan Kiem District.

With the opening of Starbucks last month, a Highlands located nearby and respected hangout Tadioto next door, Cosa Nostra has carved a stylish niche among a fierce batch of competitors.


Location has been a key ingredient behind this success. The venue oozes prestige with high-hitting neighbours like the American Ambassador, The Press Club and the Sofitel Metropole.


The location also boasts picturesque views of Co Tan Flower Garden, which acts as an effective sound buffer from the chaotic traffic of the Opera House roundabout.


Inside, patrons relax in trendy chesterfield couches complemented by designer lampshades and dark timber furniture. Polished stainless steel air ducts and abstract wooden sculptures also hang from 12-foot high ceilings, while the building’s pastel yellow foundations add a rustic element to the design.
Caffeine lovers can expect a decent selection of coffees, including a passable cappuccino (VND49,000) and caphe sua da (VND35,000). While the latte (VND49,000) was a bit on the milky side, the catchy beats and trendy ambiance were more than enough to make me stay.


Somewhat bewilderingly, takeaway coffee is not offered here, which may divert the lunchtime coffee runs to the nearby franchises. This may also be a con for customers (like myself) who are put off by the occasional clouds of cigarette smoke wafting across the room.


Bottles and Good Eats



The café is as much an after-work cocktail and shisha venue as it is a coffee-hangout — a clever strategy that has been employed by many trend-savvy café owners in Vietnam. A centralised bar is stocked with top-shelf spirits used to make a handsome selection of cocktails.


The cost of hard liquor might make the frugal-minded a little hot under the collar, but the selection is immense. Those fancying a snifter of scotch may even be tempted by the 18-year-old Glenlivet (VND3,350,000) or even some Royal Salute at a cheeky VND4,450,000 a bottle. But if weather permits, head upstairs to the shaded terrace to enjoy some sun and sangria (VND499,000 per jug).


Cosa Nostra also serves up a comprehensive selection of in-house dining options. Local fare is well represented and reasonably priced, with offerings ranging from the southern noodle speciality bun thit nuong (VND49,000) to banh mi op la (baguette with pate) for VND40,000. Bar snacks range from humble cold cuts (VND149,000) to fried chicken (VND89,000), while more substantial splurges, like spaghetti bolognese (VND105,000) and foie gras (VND390,000), are also available. — David Mann


Cosa Nostra is at 24 Tong Dan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi

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