Bringing a steaming Vietnamese menu to a cool corner of Auckland, Café Hanoi has certainly been making headlines.
A family-run establishment, it was designed by Cheshire Architects. Key to the aesthetic is Cheshire’s so-called “humble-special” ageing process employed on the walls, a sort of pho-distress if you will. (A little Vietnamese joke for you there. I’m here all week, try the skewered prawns.)
How is it possible to make somewhere look so knackered and so nice at the same time? The trick here is to make everything else luxurious, from the finish of the floor to the fabric of the seats. The single room main dining area has been split to give a different focus, giving both singletons and large parties a comfortable space to chow down.
A trip to the loo is more like a journey into the heart of darkness. A shared stairwell features only sporadic lighting and crumbling walls flank the corridor to the traps. Cheshire say that because the owners have little control over this part of the building “if it was going to be bad, let’s make it exhilaratingly bad”. But fear not, I’ve been to some bad toilets in Vietnam. This doesn’t come close.