Hidden down a small alleyway in a quiet area of Hồ Chí Minh City’s café centre, Phú Nhuận District, the unassuming entrance to Du Miên Café opens out into a huge multi-levelled area, with a variety of chairs to choose from – including wooden, wicker, and upholstered – in both covered and uncovered areas.
After choosing a seat and getting comfortable, the next thing that will strike you is a large man-made waterfall in one corner, the focal point of the café. Some may consider this feature to be a bit kitschy and gaudy – indeed, it may be, but if you’re of that opinion then you probably shouldn’t be going to garden café’s, given the inordinate amount of lower key ones throughout the city. I like it, but I like garden cafés.
So, the café is lovely, and serves a variety of coffee, shakes, food and ice cream. My experience there was ruined, though, because I was unable to get stuck into the good book I brought. This was because the music – superficial Vietnamese and Western pop – is not only awful, but also constantly blasts itself out way too loudly. The simple sound of the café’s waterfall would have sufficed as background noise.