When people ask me where to go for baked desserts — commonly understood to mean cakes, slices, macaroons and general deliciousness — I usually rattle off the same list.

Amid a growing litany of modern coffee houses and fancy-schmancy artisan cafes, one of Vietnam’s first cafes is still going strong. Café Duy Tri, which originally opened on Mai Hac De in Hanoi's Hai Ba Trung District in 1936, continues to be one of the most popular coffee shops in the capital today.

One of the amazing things about Hanoi is that even after you’ve been living here for a couple of years and begin to feel like you know everything, someone can show you a hidden gem that’s been under your nose the entire time.

Okay, so it’s not really a café, but more like an open workshop space. Bike diagrams dot the walls, and there’s a real gearhead feel.

When you enter the bottom floor of the Syrena Centre on Xuan Dieu, you may notice something different. No, I’m not referring to the sales executives promoting half-off gym memberships or the abundance of burly winter coats.

It’s not often that the ‘World Building of the Year’ goes so unheralded in its own city. Yet that’s the situation of The Chapel — local firm a21 studio’s thusly-recognised café, facing the river in the eastern reaches of Binh Chanh.

Touting itself as Vietnam’s first speciality coffee bar, The Workshop takes Saigon’s favourite tipple to new heights, blending science, art and passion in pursuit of the ultimate brew.

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