After completing one round of Truc Bach Lake (read my earlier post -> Truc Bach Lake, West Lake Hanoi and Bo Bia) on foot, we came to Highlands Coffee, a popular Vietnamese cafe chain. The 2-storey cafe was like a red boat docked at the pier – very eye-catching even from a distance.
Hubby said I should use this ‘artistic’ photo of his which he took with his phone, lol. We wouldn’t have been busy snapping away if there wasn’t a scenic view as amazing as what we had seen while here.
I recalled reading reviews on Tripadvisor – many had raved about the Highlands Coffee outlet that was near the Hoan Kiem Lake in the Old Quarter, that it was the best place to sip coffee and enjoy a good view of the lake. I beg to differ as I wasn’t super impressed with Hoan Kiem Lake. In fact, I thought Truc Bach Lake and the much bigger West Lake were so much more beautiful. We literally lost ourselves in an oasis of serenity, away from the hustle and bustle (as well as heavy traffic and air pollution) of the Old Quarter. If you’re looking for a cafe with a (real) view, fantastic atmosphere and laid-back vibes, this has got to be THE ONE in Hanoi.
The selection of cakes available at Highlands Coffee. Prices ranged from SGD1.20 to SGD1.80 which were very cheap but it was also because the cakes were much smaller in size compared to what we could get at patisseries or cafes here in Singapore. You can probably devour the whole slice in just 2-3 bites. Good thing is, if you’re here in a group, you can order a variety to try.
This was the first level of the cafe which was a little stuffy because the windows were all sealed up.
Go to the 2nd floor if you prefer open-air seating. The weather was extremely cool on that day and it was just so nice and breezy to sit out here.
I was just appreciating the ceiling fixtures while waiting for the husband to collect our order. You’ll be given a buzzer after you place order and make payment at the counter downstairs. Self-service.
We ordered their best-selling Phin Sua Da (29K VND for small) which was iced coffee with milk. Quite disappointing because it was like a weak and diluted coffee with too much condensed milk or sugar so all I tasted was just sweetness with no aroma.
The Pandan Cake (19K VND) had a weird bitterness to it though the aroma of pandan did stand out. Not recommended.
The Opera Cake (24K VND) was very, very dry. Not fantastic either.
I preferred the Caramel Cheese Cake (29K VND) though it wasn’t the best. It wasn’t heavy or dense and the texture was like a pudding. Cheese flavour was strong but the lovely caramel on top provided a great contrast. My only gripe was that the bottom biscuit base was too soggy.
By the way, there was this combo set promo where you can order the Phin Sua Da and a cake or banh mi for only 39K VND (just under SGD2.50). Great deal but I don’t think I will come back for their cakes.
Few days later, we came back here to rest our legs as we were out food hopping in the vicinity. Weather was sunny that day and we took a beautiful shot of the Truc Bach Lake from the 2nd floor of the cafe.
This time round, we had a Phin Den Da (iced black coffee, 29K VND for small) and Tropical Tea (49K VND).
The iced black coffee was a much stronger brew than the one we had earlier but it was also saccharine sweet as they had added sugar in. If you like yours without sugar, please let the staff know upon order.
I totally enjoyed the Tropical Tea that was so refreshing. It was like iced tea on the bottom with mango slush on top. It wasn’t very sweet (surprising!) and didn’t have any artificial flavour to it. There were even bits of fresh fruits in the tea. Nice!
We also ordered a Banh Mi Xiu Mai (19K VND) to try. The Xiu Mai were basically pork meatballs. Bread was crispy and fresh. Flavour wise, it was alright but definitely not as good as Banh Mi 25 or those we could randomly get off the streets.
This particular Highlands Coffee cafe didn’t score high points for its coffee or cakes but it’s worth coming here for a chill-out break especially when you need to rest your legs after long period of walking. The view was simply breath-taking. And you have to try their refreshing Tropical Tea which is like the taste of summer. Prices are reasonable and there’s free wifi too (password on receipt).
Highlands Coffee @ Truc Bach Lake
01-09 Thanh Nien, Ba Dinh
Tel: +84 4 37 15 1821
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/highlandscoffeevietnam