Cuc Gach Quan
Cuc Gach Quan is a Vietnamese restaurant that operates out of an architect’s home office. It ticks all the right boxes for concept, design and environment. Once you step through the door, you might mistake it for a country cottage. Many go as far as to say that it looks like a guesthouse in Bavaria, the ideal place to stay after a hard day’s hiking in the Alps. However, the setting is in fact a maze of separate spaces. After breezing through the front of the house you will reach a lounge room, which is illuminated by natural sunlight that streams through massive windows. The decor features junk shop finds and nostalgic treasures – a long wooden communal table fashioned from an old-style Vietnamese plank bed, a Northern-style mother of pearl carved cabinet, a reel-to-reel tape recorder and some clay pot urns. They’re clearly all antiques, but their arrangement is wholly contemporary. At the end of the lounge room is a glass door that opens out onto a sun-flooded atrium complete with a wooden bridge straddling a fishpond, which separates the front room from the open kitchen at the back. Continue to ascend a steep flight of stairs and you will reach a reading room and a tree house-like vaulted attic. This impressive assortment of spaces is, however, only the tip of the architectural iceberg. The showstopper here is the timber, four-poster, canopied bed frame that has been converted into a dining table. Homey touches – the mixed up, deliberately cracked crockery, bamboo chopsticks in tin cans, a 1970’s vintage Sony TV, leather-bound menus made out of worn brown papers and drinking straws made from the stems of water spinach – lend it a rustic and inviting atmosphere. To set all this off, its colour palette is fascinating. The place is ostensibly so muted, but then you notice shades of orange and green straight from the garden that pop out delightfully. Cuc Gach Quan is a tribute to the owner (architect Tran Binh)’s grandmother and is a delight for all design buffs.
10 Dang Tat Street, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1, tel: +84(8)-3848-0144, www.cucgachquan.com.vn.