Veteran Saigon coffee shops offer a slow, easy start
Three Saigon cafés are regular haunts of somewhat elderly people who enjoy a slow, easy start to the day.
Am Phu Café
In Vietnamese, am phu means hell. The nickname was given by patrons of the café, because it is open 24/7. It has remained open for over 60 years and become one of the most well known cafés in Saigon.
The café still makes coffee in the traditional way, using a cloth mesh to strain the coffee after brewing. Most of the customers here are regulars. They can be seen here early in the morning, drinking coffee and reading the newspaper.
Customers get to enjoy their coffee sitting on low plastic chairs, inside a small alley off Phan Dinh Phung Street. A cup of coffee costs VND15,000 ($0.6).
Cheo Leo Café
Probably the oldest coffee shop in Saigon, Cheo Leo opened in 1938. This café still goes old school, using the cloth mesh to strain coffee after brewing. And just like Am Phu, Cheo Leo Café is a regular spot for elders who have been customers here for decades. Many foreigners also come here to enjoy the true flavor of coffee in Saigon.
The space in Cheo Leo is simple but nostalgic, with old records playing nonstop, reminding people of an old Saigon as they sip their flavorful, fragrant coffee for just VND17,000 ($0.7) a cup. The café is located on a small alley off Nguyen Thien Thuat Street, District 3.
Isolating itself from the hustle and bustle of the city is Chieu Café on Hoang Sa Road, near the Kieu Bridge. It opened in 1969.
Here, melodies of Trinh Cong Son seem to be favored by the establishment and by the regular patrons. The café’s ambience is also a throwback in time.
It’s black and milk coffee that's most ordered, but the café also serves tea, lemonade and other drinks. The average price for a drink here is about VND30,000 ($1.3).