There is an Escher-like quality to Dao Dao Coffee – its cumulative layers of gangways, landings and small room sets, all lined with pale blonde timber and overlapping black metal screens, are punctured by voids and mezzanines that, in turn, create breakout spaces for intimate tête-à-têtes, and even, for the socially reclusive, solitary corners for one.

Located in the midst of Chengdu’s Intime City Commercial District, the two-storey café is the work of HAD Architects & EPOS which has deployed its trademark arsenal of intersecting volumes to create interesting spaces. This is particularly evident on the second level where a back-lit barrelled ceiling creates a trompe l’oeil effect of a conservatory, a visual treat reinforced by rows of shelves displaying books, stylishly rendered air-plants, and coffee-related tchotchkes. 

The lower level paying station, by contrast, is a study in moody black, cut through with columns of contrasting blonde timber on one end, and on the other, opening out with views of the public piazza.

Meanwhile, pastry chef Aimee Huang delivers a tried and tested menu of standards, including tiramisu and a chocolate pistachio mousse laced with Belgian chocolate and Japanese raspberry jam, the sweet repast ably complemented by coffee sourced from Colombia, Ethiopia and, of course, Yunnan.