Nowhere else in Hoi An does your cafe viet come with a free fish pedicure. Situated on the riverside, U Cafe’s serene atmosphere is made complete with ponds filled with small fish eager to snack on your feet. It only tickles, I promise …
Keen to escape the crowds of tourists in the Old Town a while back, I bicycled down the Thu Bon River to find some peace and discovered U Cafe.
The decor wasn’t hip and trendy and there was no A/C – usually a deal breaker for me, a native of the most air-conditioned city in the world – but with its fabulous water features it was easy to see why U Cafe is a favorite among locals and expats for coffee and conversation.
The most stunning feature, matching fish ponds on the second and third levels – with glorious lily pads and teeny tickling fish – is the product of a Japanese university’s water purification research project. Owned by Japanese humanitarian, Reiko Usuda, U Cafe is not just a cafe. Through her efforts, it has become a space for learning, training and tranquility.
But for me, with organic ginger tea in hand in this exquisite, peaceful spot, I simply let the fish chomp away without another thought. Bliss.
U Café’s simple but tasty menu offers an array of Vietnamese/Japanese fusion snacks, made with organic herbs from Tra Que. Organic teas and fair-trade organic coffee from Dak Lak are served as well. I personally recommend the mango snow cone, a cold treat of fresh mango slices served over shaved ice and topped with condensed milk. If you need something a little stronger, the cafe also serves a small selection of cocktails and cold beer.
The best time to visit U Cafe is in the late afternoon when you can sit and watch the river boats drift by as the sun begins to set. And, if you’re looking for something a little different, dip your feet in the cool ponds and let the fish do their thing.