Sometime between midday and half one, two pigs on a motorbike turn from Hang Be Street into Hang Bac. They're dead. Their snouts or hooves hit the tarmac if their xe om (motorbike taxi driver) turns too sharply. It's really crap luck for those two porkers.
Cafe Nang is the perfect location to pig watch. It's not bad for people, either. It's on a T-intersection in the old quarter with colossal potential for major pile-ups. At any given moment of the day, a tossed salad of silver cyclos, standard issue Honda dreams, tall and robust tourists with twisted maps, and battered conical hats and baskets are hurtling towards one another. It beggars belief that nothing serious ever happens.
The brew here is consistently tops! The kind faced granny who runs the ship - an institution in Hanoi since 1960 - does not miss a beat. A true matriarch of Vietnamese business, she is hands-on at every stage. She doesn't nick off shopping on expensive motorbikes or fart about with text messages.
Co Oi's (Auntie's) hands grind beans, portion the ground coffee into stained relic drippers, empty ashtrays, sweep the debris in the gutter outside and, as one would expect, handle every last dong that walks in the door. Her husband, Mr Nang, departed this earth 20 years ago and, with many a hand from the family, she has continued to steer this boat straight ever since, even while the bombs were dropping.
As a cafe proprietor myself in a previous incarnation, my theory is that coffee making cannot be perfected by just anyone. The first qualification is that one must drink coffee in order to develop the passion for the craft of making one. The lack of technology and the preference for ice here does simplify the process but this devoted woman and her staff turn out a consistently good product on every visit. This coffee cave packs them in from early morn till about 10pm.
The Essential Details: (there ain't much else here)
- Cafe Den Da (Iced Black Coffee, always with sugar) - 4000VND
- Cafe Nau Da (Iced Coffee with condensed milk, who needs sugar?) - 5000VND
- Chanh Leo Da (Iced Passion Fruit Juice, a bonza summer sip!) - 4000VND
Time your caffeine hit for the pig run!
Cafe Nang, So 6 Hang Bac
Thanks to Tu's Interpreting