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This exactly describes a typical eatery of the subsidy period (between 1975 and 1986) but this is also the restaurant of 50-year-old Pham Quang Minh.
Minh says he nurtured the idea of opening such a restaurant for years and tried to realize it by collecting furnishings used in Hanoi’s families before 1986. 1986 is the year when the Vietnamese government abolished the state-subsidy mechanism and made some first economic reforms.
During the subsidy period before that, food, goods, and services were purchased with coupons or food stamps issued by the government.
After hearing of the idea, many friends of his donated their old furnishings produced in the 1980s to the restaurant. Minh says the opening of the restaurant is aimed at evoking the once hard life and helping younger generations catch a glimpse of the past.
The restaurant introduces dishes and furniture associated with Vietnam’s subsidized economy. It is located on Nam Trang Street, Ba Dinh District.
Pham Quang Minh, the restaurant’s owner.
A customer is enjoying frugal Vietnamese dishes served at the restaurant.
A corner inside the restaurant, featuring an ancient bicycle, camera, pith helmets among others. Minh says some guests cried in tears upon seeing them.
The owner had to buy some old items at high prices. To purchase the ‘Elephant Ear’ electric fan, he spent VND1.2 million ($60).
Coupons of various kinds, governmental securities, and old banknotes on display in the restaurant.
An old Soviet-style cassette player.
A black and white TV bearing the National brand with sliding door in the restaurant. This was a valuable fortune in the subsidized economy.
Radio cassette (M9) only owned by well-off people after the Independence Day in 1945. The cassette is still operating well.
To order food, customers have to buy coupons first. Though fake, the coupons look exactly like those in the old days.
Rice mixed with manioc is served, offering visitors a unique experience. The tray and enameled bowls and plates seen in this photo were all produced before 1986.