I did a spot of time-travelling yesterday morning. Back to a sleepy, antique Hanoi of coffees sipped under the banyan tree, an ochre wall dappled by the midday rays coming through lush leafery, a newspaper seller in an army green pith helmet not really caring if he sold one or not. It was period drama, Merchant-Ivory Hanoi.
Except for the dull roar of Hanoi's constant 100cc motorcycle Grand Prix. I concentrate hard to edit the engines and horns out.
Cafe Lung is no glitzy, glassy air-conditioned glamour-puss, the likes of which are cropping up all over the capital. It's a wall on a footpath overlooking the summer shimmer of Thien Quang Lake, patronised by blokes with smokes reading the daily news, couples, groups of students - no specific demographic in particular. The jovial proprietor makes everyone feel welcome, his harsh-faced other half is wisely positioned at the drinks station, magnificently attired in yellow pyjamas, churning out the caffeine hits, spooning pulp out of passionfruit and doling out the ba so nam cigarettes.
My daily cafe den da (iced black coffee) comes in retro glassware, the heat melting the ice so quickly that the risk of overflow and a pissweak hit is nigh. If coffee dehydrates, then drinking it this way can't be half bad.
Under the shade of the banyan, there's a bamboo chair, a hand fan and a single coconut. In a Merchant-Ivory Hanoi, Helen Bonham-Carter, demure with parasol and bustle, is just out of shot.
One iced black coffee, one passionfruit juice - 12,000VND (USD75c, AUD$1.00)
70 Nguyen Du Street