Nostalgia is growing in Hanoi these days.
With foreign cultural influences getting stronger in Vietnam, many residents in the capital city still want to live in the past, when life was hard but simple, if not poetic.
An array of restaurants and cafés around the country is tapping on that demand, luring customers with turn-back-time decoration themes.
In Hanoi, thoi bao cap, or the subsidy era in 1976-1986, has inspired lots of new shops.
During the time Vietnam almost stopped doing business with the West. Most products were made locally and consumers were given coupons to buy things, from food to appliances.
If you want to know what it was like to live in Hanoi in that era, visit one of the following cafés.
1. Xe Co (Old bike)
The name is undoubtedly inspired by the fact that more than 100 bicycles and motorbikes are displayed around the shop, which is located at No.11-13 Hang Bun Street in Ba Dinh District.
The vehicles as well as many other displayed items like clocks, TV sets and furniture were all dated to the subsidy era.
Some of the items can be seen easily, the bicycles hung on the ceiling for instance, while others are hidden like wooden stands of old sewing machines being converted into tables.
With prices ranging VND25,000-60,000, the café is quite popular among Vietnamese architects, antique collectors and foreign tourists.
2. Nha San (Stilt house)
At this café, the subsidy era is just one of many themes, even though its owner dedicates a whole corner to showcasing many items like rotary dial telephones, cameras and motorbikes.
If you love to explore Vietnam's cultural diversity, the coffee shop which looks like a stilt house is totally worth visiting.
Its second floor, which was reassembled from an actual ancient stilt house of Muong people, is a popular venue of talks on music, books and arts.
Another plus point for Nha San is that it often plays popular Vietnamese songs written before 1975.
The café is located at No. 462 alley off Buoi Street, Ba Dinh District. Prices range from VND20,000-45,000.
3. Xi Nghiep (Factory)
Compared to the other two cafés, the display at Xi Nghiep, a 80-square-meter shop in Ha Dong District's Van Quan urban area, is a little bit underwhelming.
But maybe that's the point.
The bar looks so much like a canteen counter where workers received coffee and food at their factories during the historic era.
Then, there are old books and lamps lined on shelves among many things like a typewriter and a speaker. Paintings hung on the walls also carry the same old style.
Drinks at Xi Nghiep are quite cheap, around VND20,000 on average.
Original Vietnamese story can be found here