Zic Zac Café

A good café is all about good timing: that perfect moment when you reserve the best seat in the house, disappearing unnoticeably into that one corner where you can truly enjoy people-watching while drawing yourself in that poetic lady-in-the-café photo. You order, like always, a strong dripped coffee with little condense milk, and some ice. When it comes, you, as slowly as possible, pour the satisfyingly concentrated liquid into your cup of ice, trying as best as you can to swipe that last bit of condense milk. You listen to the dripping sound the coffee maker makes, while breathing in the fully caffeinated air. Then, you take a sip, also as slowly as you can. Eyes closed, you savor your dose of caffeine for the day, losing yourself in the warmth from the coffee and perhaps the sunlight. The rush of caffeine finally occupies the top of your head, and slowly transfers down your whole body. You feel happy, realizing how that moment, which was already gone, is utterly surreal and truly well-spent.

It was at Zic Zac Café in Ha Giang (and another café near by it) that I realized how a great café doesn’t have to be a great place — it just has to be part of that perfect moment. In that vein, any café would do — as long as you are able to bury yourself, even just for one second, in that perfect moment.

1. Atmosphere

The best seat in the house is definitely the pretty porch by the hotel that our research team stayed in. When early sun hits through the morning chill, that tiny space is drenched in perfectly warm sunlight. I realised how perfect the little space was upon the morning when co Thuan and I talked about life, love and death by two cups of coffee at that very porch. After that, I didn’t even bother discovering the café’s interior. Being able to sit by that porch is all it takes for me to score this café’s atmosphere a 10

Atmosphere Score: 10

2. On the Menu

The only thing I ever ordered was “nâu đá” — and it’s always perfect. Dark, intense with a hint of fruity sweetness — never tart (what “real” coffee should be yet never my favourite) nor like dirt (what most coffee in Hanoi tastes like). There’s always just enough of the drink so as to leave one want more — yet rationally stop oneself to savour even the last few bits and yearn for more. Another plus to the menu is the pre-order warm tea (a very Hà Giang custom). The cleansing tea compliments the strong coffee very well. For that, I will score this place a 10 too.

On the Menu Score: 10

3. Others

The café could have utilized the perfect porch a little better by putting more effort into decorating the frame (from which the street could be seen). A flower vase, some wind chime, or other interesting décor. This place has a lot of potential (for being at the center of Ha Giang’s financial and administrative district) — thus it could be even more of a trade mark. Alternatively, it could be used as a surprisingly hip café for young Hagiangans to stroll around and have a good time at. The menu in that case could also include some more on-trend items that would definitely attract a wider range of customers.

But honestly, for me everything that the café is, is enough.

Other score: N/A

Summary Name: Zic Zac Cafe Address: 2 Yet Kieu, Ha Giang city, Ha Giang Key points: perfect for early morning coffee alone or with friends, quite and peaceful, great view of a clean and nice street, simple. Total Score: 20/20

Next stop: Smoothies and Juices, 30 Tran Hung Dao, Hanoi


Originally published at hanoicafereviewproject.wordpress.com on November 9, 2013.

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