A ‘room for the reception and entertainment of visitors’ is exactly what Tran Linh had in mind when she opened and named her café the Lissom Parlour, where her interior design studies in Australia are put to good use in creating the elegant interior of the parlour and its beautifully crafted cakes. Employing dark tones for its wall and furniture together with soft lighting, the Lissom Parlour goes against the trend of ubiquitous design coffee houses in town, hoping its classy and quiet vibe will appeal to a more mature and sophisticated clientele.
Coffee and a Slice
Originally planned to be a ‘bespoke cake studio’, the Lissom Parlour’s cakes live up to its aspirations. While some cakes are only made to order due to their finicky nature, there are plenty to choose from the regular menu, from Black Forest gateau and coconut cake to tiramisu and New York cheesecake. One of the most ordered cakes, also my favourite, is the sublime espresso roll cake (VND65,000 / slice). Its perfect texture is not something you can only find here, but the generous topping of caramelised almonds that perfectly balances the creamy mocha frosting is a clear example of Linh’s refined taste and the meticulous efforts that set the Lissom Parlour apart from its peers.
Like most cafés in town, the Lissom Parlour offers both Vietnamese and Italian-style coffee. VND65,000 for a black coffee (ca phe den) or VND80,000 for a cappuccino is definitely much more than what you typically pay for your caffeine fix in Hanoi, reflecting the higher end the shop positions itself in. As a tea person, I am fascinated by the extensive selection of tea from Jasmine Gold to Vanilla Rooibos from the renowned German luxury brand Ronnefeldt that is also supplied to international hotels, including Burj Al Arab in Dubai. I ordered my usual cup of Earl Grey (VND75,000) and was presented with a small tray of a tea cup, a small pot of orange and honey jam to go with the bergamot-flavoured tea, and a cute mini cupcake on the house.
Something For Everyone
There are multiple seating options to suit different needs; high tables for computer users, round coffee tables naturally lit with a skylight for a good read during the day, and a raised area at the back where you can relax on a comfy sofa and cushions or catch up with friends. The whole café is strictly non-smoking (except for a few seats outdoors) and thus scores even more points with people suffering, like me, from allergies to cigarette smoke.
To beat the summer heat, the Lissom Parlour has created an additional summer drinks menu (VND80,000). My favourite is Cocoberry which, as its name suggests, is an exquisitely presented and equally tasty concoction of coconut juice and the mulberry fruits that are only in season for three to four weeks in April. When I expressed my impatience to wait until next year, Linh assured me that she has preserved enough mulberries to quench our thirst all summer.
Everything at the Lissom Parlour exudes class and elegance. Its free pandan tea is unquestionably way tastier than the plain water or lacklustre iced tea served up in most cafés. Its presentable and well-mannered staff speak volumes about the high standards it holds itself to.
Every trip to the Lissom Parlour is an occasion for me to slow down and savour the finer things in life. The whole experience will set you back two to three times more than your average coffee expenses. But there is nothing average about this gem in the café scene of Hanoi. And it’s worth every dong.
Lissom Parlour is at 68 Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi