Cong Caphe creates something unique, breaking the familiar Hanoi mold.
Forty years after the Viet Cong declared victory in the Vietnam War, Hanoi’s most popular cafe uses communism as a nostalgic theme to draw affluent young consumers.
Built to resemble a cement bunker and decorated with 1970s propaganda posters and old typewriters and radios, Cong Caphe-“Communist Cafe” in Vietnamese-evokes the postwar era known as “bao cap” before the market reforms of the late 1980s. With 14 branches in the Vietnamese capital, Cong Caphe’s success has inspired dozens of imitators. The chain is now expanding into central Vietnam, with a branch in Danang and another to come in Hoian. It is even eyeing the possibility of overseas franchises in Singapore and Myanmar.
“We’re thinking about the communist theme in a funny way,” said CEO Nguyen Khanh Ly. “It’s not serious or political. We’re building a brand to spread around the world.”
The khaki and army green tones inside are surprisingly welcoming (and balanced with bold floral prints), while the interior is dressed in relics from the Vietnam-American War – this includes old propaganda posters, black and white photographs, and vintage furniture.
The menu is quite diverse, though most locals tend to flock here for the ca phe cot dua – coffee with coconut frozen yogurt. Also worth a try is the ca phe sua chua (with yogurt), or the ca phe sua da (iced with condensed milk). They serve a variety of juices and beers, as well as some small snack items (peanuts, sunflower seeds, noodles, etc.). The original Cong Caphe can be found at 152 D Trieu Viet Vuong, though the specious three-story location in the Old Quarter (on Nguyen Huu Huan) has a lovely open balcony to enjoy the chaos of Hanoi from above.