A haven of trees, flowers and water streams is the perfect antidote to Ho Chi Minh City’s ongoing combination of high heat and humidity that has been bearing down on its residents almost from early morning until midnight for several days now.
The Du Mien coffee chain offers just that with two of its four coffee shops in the city. The owner said the aim is to “create romantic places with trees and flowers where people can relax.”
A stream of water flows through the Mien Dong Thao coffee shop
The Mien Dong Thao and Du Mien cafés, literally translated, Meadow Land and Traveling in the Dream, live up to the stated aim. They are not concrete buildings with air conditioners, but open, quiet and even melodious spaces, courtesy a good taste in music.
Mien Dong Thao welcomes its guests with a gate made of different-sized stone put together, covered by a frame of tigon plants with heart-shaped leaves and bunches pink flowers.
Behind the gate is a small path bordered by grass and small flowering plants that leads to a stream of clean and cool water. The stream is embellished with rocks and purple flowers.
Inside the coffee shop are separate open-sided wooden huts set up under the natural, cool shade cast by the canopy of big ngọc lan (Michelia) trees. It seems that greenery is everywhere – grass and flowers are on the path, the tables, walls and on the balcony.
“It feels like Da Lat every time I come here,” remarked one guest. (Da Lat is a hill-resort city in the central highlands province of Lam Dong, where the weather is always cool, and flowers and trees grow everywhere).
Instead of air conditioners, electric fans with water spray systems have been installed in Mien Dong Thao put around the place, which is spacious enough to seat around 500 people at a time.
The small waterfall in Du Mien Café
Many people come here and sit by themselves with their tablets or laptops to work. One such customer said, “it is so stressful to sit in a concrete office, and the natural landscape somehow arouses creativity.”
The stream of water separates the coffee shop into different areas. Guests can choose to have a seat under a large umbrella right next to the stream and listen to the water murmuring through the stones or go upstairs to sit in one of the wooden huts next to the stone walls overlaid with climbing plants and moss.
“I like this place because the view is so beautiful and romantic. And it is always cool without air conditioners, which makes it more natural. But there is one thing I do not like – it is usually too crowded,” said one girl who was there with a group of friends. “Maybe it is because there so many people who also love this place like us,” she added, smiling.
Apart from the crowd, a somewhat disappointing aspect at Mien Dong Thao was that the waiters were not very friendly and the service is quite low.
With a similar structure and design as Mien Dong Thao, the highlight of the Du Mien coffee shop is also its trees and flowers. It also has the open-sided huts, but does not have a stream of water flowing around. Instead, it has a small waterfall from where water runs down through rocks to a verdant mini-valley.
Several guests feel that the scenery is less beautiful and romantic here, but it has the advantage of being less crowded.
The menu of the two coffee shops are similar, offering different kinds of coffee, traditional Vietnamese as well as Western, and a variety of smoothies with local fruits. Customers can also indulge themselves with ice cream and French pastries.
The food and beverages are of good quality and reasonable priced at VND30,000-55,000 (US$1.4–2.4)
With its green, cool ambience and very decent breakfast, lunch and dinner options, not to mention coffee, tea and other beverages, these two verdant coffee shops give customers enough reasons to frequent them and linger awhile, enjoying a welcome respite from hot and stuffy Ho Chi Minh City.