This "official" one is at the railway station. As the whole place is smoke-free, it is quite comfortable, albeit totally empty. I think the train users have other things on their minds than coffee. Perhaps it gets busy when the train comes in. The coffee is so-so.
A brand-new tiny "official" cafe in the heart of the tourist district. The coffee wasn't great, the prices are the same as elsewhere, and there is little to attact me to this place.
This one is new since my last visit. It is an "official" one, quite similar to the others, with a non-smoking floor. Quite near the tourist areas. There is no point drinking anything but the coffee as everything is expensive. I got a card and now have a few other new ones to check out.
It struck me that I never wrote up this pearl of a Trung Nguyên café, even though I've been going there for ages. Loan pointed it out to me a long time ago. Darren rated the phê dá "not bad", as I recall.
The main attraction of this place is that it has the pentafecta [*]: good coffee, food, electricity, wifi, and is not too smokey indoors. I have to say that I prefer the cà phê sữa đá number 5 they serve me at 603 or 346 Nguyễn Trãi. The food is quite OK and not too expensive, and the courtyard is pleasantly shady. The parking bloke seems to be in a perpetual good mood.
[*] penta- (5) plus perfecta, cf trifecta.
Fellow-and-soon-to-be-ex-AYAD Yen steered me to this seedy old man's café quite near my usual and increasingly dear 603. While ancient, I wasn't calcified enough to last long at this place. They only serve the one type of Trung Nguyên coffee, which is a bit punk.
Chị Lan (my AYAD In-Country Manager) took us to this café on our first morning in Hồ Chí Minh City, way back in July 2007. It's a friend of Cà Phê Thềm Xưa. I went there today with Loan. We played a few games of Carcassonne (which I'd given her for her birthday) and chatted about xe ba bánh.
Well, somewhere in Hồ Chí Minh City a contract quietly expired and the Trung Nguyên at 1 Trần Hưng Đạo in District 1 is no more. The love heart on the front door and Trung Nguyên paraphernalia have been removed.
I now reside at 603 Trần Hưng Đạo, on the edge of District 1. Unfortunately they don't do food.
Trung Nguyên: Corner of Hồng Bàng and Đồ Ngọc Thạnh, District 5.Sat, Mar 01, 2008./AYAD/HCMC/Cafes | Link
A small corner-café in the west of District 5 (aka Chợ Lớn and Chinatown). Nothing especially remarkable, except for being on a big fat noisy road.
An "official" one, right opposite the markets, near the church, on the corner of Trần Quốc Toản. I tried coming here before but it was closed for renovations. Quite a pleasant space, somewhat like the downtown one on Hồ Tùng Mậu.
Yet another franchise café on the backroad to the top end of Hai Bà Trưng. Quite comfortable, but small and not especially anything. It has a friend, presumably run by the same people, at 112 Trần Quốc Thảo, also in District 3.
I'd been meaning to go here for ages, and had my chance to have a lazy early-Saturday afternoon visit with Tigôn. This one's a bit weird, a small open garden courtyard-café completely ringed by a building. It's quite pleasant.
There's another one down the road, out the front of a hotel, that apparently I haven't written up...
By the way, make sure to go to number 10, southwest of Cao Thắng. This number 10 is a mechanic.
Had a brief stop at this sort-of garden café on the way to dropping Loan off at the (old, now domestic-only) airport. It's on a side-street off the main drag going to the airport, and hence is quite pleasant.
Another "official" Trung Nguyên café. Very comfortable, very down-town inner city. Custom-made for the shoppers on the nearby Nguyễn Huệ and Đồng Khởi streets.
A fairly pleasant vertical place on the corner of Trần Hưng Đạo and Nguyễn Văn Cừ on the border of Districts 1 and 5. It feels a bit unfinished; the indoor water feature needs to be repaired. There's no food but you can buy some of the Trung Nguyên trinkets, this being another of the "official" ones.
My first visit to the feted "garden café" with Tigôn. It's expensive (the whole area is expensive, being next to the Diamond Department Store and all), but quite pleasant. Motorbike parking is a bit limited. This one is a bit "official", but I'm not really sure what that means; I thought Trung Nguyên was a franchise.
A fancy place just near Mike's apartment building, which is clearly marked on this map (the orange-red thing on the far right). Very comfortable and not too smokey for an indoors joint.
Trung Nguyên, 272B Xô Viết Nghệ Tĩnh, District Bình Thạnh.Sat, Nov 24, 2007./AYAD/HCMC/Cafes | Link
On the north-western corner of the monster roundabout at the intersection of Điện Biên Phủ and Xô Viết Nghệ Tĩnh (the big fat highway heading north of Hồ Chí Minh City). There's a massive Trung Nguyên sign out the front, but it's otherwise unimpressive.
A large night-clubby kind of place, with big comfy couches and that special kind of dinginess, quite close to the airport. I went there with Loan after visiting the v-heart project.
Trung Nguyên, 114 Lý Tự Trọng (corner of Thủ Khoa Huân), D1.Wed, Nov 07, 2007./AYAD/HCMC/Cafes | Link
Just up the road from Bến Thành Market, cunningly concealed on a corner facing away from the traffic streaming down both one-way streets. This one's a cosy little "brown café" that wouldn't be out of place in Amsterdam.