Saint Honore for cakes, Nguyen Son Bakery for some kind of mousse-filled thingy and the always reliable Joma for muffins and slices.
But every now and then I find it’s good to go somewhere new where you won’t be recognised while you binge eat your weight in matcha cream cannolis. To that end, D’Alice, quietly tucked away in the French Quarter on Trieu Viet Vuong, is a revelation. The quirky interior design provides a fresh and welcoming space for you to while away the afternoons with a friend, a laptop or a gigantic slice of New York-style cheesecake (VND70,000).
The impressive range of desserts are freshly baked and come served with generous scoops of homemade sorbet or freshly piped meringue. Popular choices include the brownie cheese (a hybrid of brownie and cheesecake for VND35,000), warm salted caramel cookies (VND15,000 each) and a deliciously light coconut panna cotta (VND25,000). You’ll also find yourself tempted by an exotic range of handmade cream cannolis, eclairs and macaroons lining the shelves in the glass fridge on your way in.
At first glance, you’ll think you’ve accidentally walked into a ridiculously expensive branch of Laduree or some fancy high tea establishment. And with good reason, because it appears no expense has been spared in furnishing the café. Downstairs, you’ll find a cosy yet spacious working space with plenty of seating at a central wooden table and some plush chairs to snuggle into. Upstairs, is a mosaic of designer chesterfield couches, cute coffee tables and eccentric light fixtures suspended over small groups huddled around plates of red velvet cake (VND79,000) and salted caramel macchiatos (VND60,000).
But don’t let that fool you, because the prices, albeit a bit more than your standard run-of-the-mill bakery, are extremely fair. All teas are served with honey, lemon and fresh milk and start at a reasonable VND55,000. At the sweeter end of the spectrum, the signature hot chocolate (VND70,000) comes with optional add-ons such as hazelnut whipped cream and almonds, or a “blowtorched marshmallow” for the ultimate sugar high. For coffee-lovers, we recommend the delicious salted caramel macchiato (VND60,000) or the formidable café latte (VND50,000).
The ambiance is quiet and relaxed, making it an ideal place to catch up with a friend or surf the web on your iThingy. The staff are professional and polite, each donning crème-coloured aprons that give the place an added air of sophistication. Admittedly, the prices are a bit more than what you’d pay at Joma or Nguyen Son, but for the occasional (or weekly) splurge, it’s worth every penny. — David Mann
D’Alice is at 89 Trieu Viet Vuong, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi