The entrance to the café is through a dilapidated alley sporting those familiar worn-yellow walls and a crumbling floor that means you have to be careful not to twist an ankle on the way up.
A smart balance of modern and classic design, everything in here has been selected by owner and fashion designer Bui Linh. The dominant colours of the interior are black and white, interrupted by green plants sitting on the surface of tables, and hanging in glass balls from the ceiling.
The space is flooded with natural light. Bare brick walls climb to heavy wooden ceiling beams making it feel reminiscent of an old renovated barn house. Black-and-white photos mounted on the walls add to the classical atmosphere, while tree trunks recycled into tables and the abundance of plants and tea lights give the room a sense of naturalism.
Everything in Ocafé is designed in detail, right down to the way the handle on the mugs fits into your fingers. Even the air conditioning units have been painted brown to blend in with the wooden beams. None of it is accidental, yet none of it feels micro-managed.
The space is divided by a hollow wall into two comfortable sections, and outside are two separate balconies overlooking fruit sellers and busy electric cables on Hang Buom, an appropriate setting for a private date in a busy atmosphere.
Pick up a menu and you’re greeted with professional-quality photographs of the food and drinks. The breakfast menu is a simple four options including the American breakfast — bacon and egg — or a banh mi for VND65,000 and chicken or beef noodles for VND60,000. Soup is served in creamy mushroom, chicken corn or pumpkin flavours for VND45,000.
The main courses consist mainly of rice dishes with chicken, beef or pork and cost VND65,000 to VND100,000. Some Italian classics such as spaghetti Bolognaise and spaghetti carbonara are also available for VND68,000.
Coffee comes as standard — single espresso for VND35,000, latte and cappuccino for VND50,000, and a Vietnamese coffee with egg for VND50,000. The real icing on the cake are the milkshakes, served in a glass jar and topped with all sorts of treats. They come in five flavours; mint-white chocolate, Oreo, chocolate banana, cookies cream and Nutella. They cost VND85,000 a pop. We recommend you order a side of Gelato ice cream on the side.
Ocafé is a contemporary spot, ideal for a lunch date, or just as a place to enjoy quality food and drinks while not leaving the centre of town and not stretching your wallet too far.
Ocafé is located at 59 Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. Opening hours are 7am to 10.30pm daily
Photos by Teigue John Blokpoel