"Lane 160" invites customers to leave their worries behind and step back into Hanoi in the last century.
In an alleyway off Bui Dinh Tuy Street in Saigon's Binh Thanh District, a coffee shop transports customers back to the 1980s in Hanoi with remarkable authenticity.
"Eighty percent of the café‘s interiors reflect the architectural characteristics of my family in Hanoi in the 1980s. We collected some more antique items to bring the nostalgia and calmness of Hanoi to parkling Sai Gon," said Huong Ly, one of the founders of Lane 160.
The café is designed to resemble an alley with several houses and yards, and it does it with a great degree of success.
"When we opened the café, we decided to do it for passion, just to create a place for everyone to rest and recharge their energies for the day," Ly said.
The handwritten signboard hung in front of the gate says: “Please leave your worries outside the threshold, we only have peace inside.”
The café has a green space, and the owners say they are growing typical northern plants there.
The traditional Hanoi house façade with yellow-painted walls, wooden door, and fish scales roof tiles have been reproduced authentically.
Owners say designing and constructing the café to look like Hanoi in the eighties, complete with narrow staircases, loudspeakers and other features took six months.
Old photos of Hanoi, harking back to the time of tramcars are hung on the walls and the loudspeaker plays famous songs about Hanoi.
Egg coffee, a Hanoi specialty, is listed on the menu at VND30,000 ($1.28). Green tea and sunflower seeds are also served.
The jars of dracontomelons and apricots soaked in sugar are placed on a shelf in the café. The fruit has been brought from northern provinces; the apricot, in particular, has been soaked for 7-8 years.
In a small corner, old printed newspapers and food stamps under the subsidy period in Hanoi in the 1980s are displayed.
"This is my third visit to this café. I have not been to Hanoi yet, but I feel that the city is very pretty and peaceful, judging by the ambience presented in this cafe," said Nguyen Duc Tin (R), a university student in HCMC
A room in the café is decorated with artificial peach blossoms, a flower that denotes the arrival of spring and the advent of Tet, the Lunar New Year, in the capital city. The tablecloth patterns also go back to in time.
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