Vietnamese Coffee Houses Alleged to Sell Coffee

May 31, 2009

I've never been in one, since to be honest I'm a little weirded out by them. The whole "sexy girl serves you food" spin never appealed to me (suck it, Hooters). In fact, I actually don't know anyone who has ever been inside one, and so these cafes have an urban legend feel about them. Some of the more popular claims surrounding these cafes, which mind you I can neither verify nor deny:

  • You can get a little extra action if you pay more, but only a little bit of action. You can signal this interest by turning over your coffee cup.
  • Others will say that these women are strictly on the up and up (I mean beyond the whole "I wear a bikini at work" thing), and that touching any of the women will result in quick retribution by Vietnamese gangsters/Chinese gangsters/elven rangers (that last group is probably least likely).

It's surreal to hear about these things in the blogosphere,
since growing up in Orange County, I was accustomed to seeing these cafe om (literally "Hug Cafe") type establishments in the various strip
malls that make up Little Saigon. 

Seeing them in the news and on the Internet is sort of like seeing the New York Times talk about Vietnamese sandwiches, or CNN talk about how your mom is always shading herself with her
purse. They make it seem like they just "discovered" it when all it means is
that Joe McAmerican now can look it up on Google and there are more
hits in English.


Mic Nguyen

social media editor & blogger

Michael D. Nguyen is a writer who grew up and went to school in California and now lives in NYC. When he's not
internet shopping, he works in advertising. Follow him @mic_nguyen



I cosign aZnHeartThrob... But it would be HILARIOUS to see old white guys flip their cups over and look at the waitresses with a goofy smile on their face.I can attest to the fact that there have been fights/shootings at establishments like these 10+ years ago... Heck, there was even a shooting at a Vietnamese Coffee House in San Gabriel a few months ago!
I think there are 2 different issues here.Sure, the coverage of the Vietnamese coffee house phenomenon is vaguely salacious. I'm sure Hooters received the same sort of coverage, though, back when it was novel. I don't see that the coverage here focuses unduly on the ethnic aspect of the coffee shops. It's more about the titillation of being able to get your frappes or whatever served by scantily clad women, which is a pretty equal opportunity kind of titillation in this country. Being able to get bikini-clad women to serve you in a place that serves no alcohol is kind of a new thing in America. I don't think you can blame people for wanting to cover it when it comes to their attention.Likewise with the sandwich craze. The banh mi is only going the same route that sushi, bulgogi, and--hell--pizza all took from new and exciting ethnic food to American staple. I don't understand the objection to mainstream America "discovering" these things. For the most part, props for introducing these novel-for-most-Americans foods are duly given to the immigrants who bring them to this country.To me, the problem isn't that these discoveries get covered. It's that the rest of Vietnamese immigrant culture doesn't get any kind of coverage. It's only of interest when it involves food or booty. That's creates an issue of visibility and results in a whole lot of people forming their impressions of Vietnamese immigrant culture on sandwiches and boobies. I think that is a legitimate cause for concern, but I fail to see how getting proprietary about one's culture's sandwiches and coffee bars fixes that.
Lol this is the place we went to a few times they had a blonde chick.
I agree with the first commenter, we can't get wrapped up on who eats legit sandwiches and who doesn't and lose sight of the larger picture, which is to have full and accurate portrayals of our various cultures.
Firstly, Its Fox News.I don't know if anything else needs to be said, but these coffee shops have been operating for years.yes it is sexist and objectifies women. They also let you smoke in-doors too.Is it exploitation? Both sides can be argued, the girls get paid $15 an hour plus tips (The tips are huge especially for regular customers who come back) so the girls are coming here to get paid.Also I've heard of some women who have been in this industry saving up enough money from serving to open up their own coffee shops so is it then a viable means of upward mobility?I lived in Garden Grove and the whole situation still confuses me. Guys will spend countless hours daily drinking $6 coffee looking at women they won't go home with and the girls have to walk in 6 inch heels for 8 hours. Who's playing who or are both sides getting what they want?
wow Mic. you should seriously go to one of these shops before you put up a blog post filled with "popular claims" you've heard. I would expect this from a White guy from Newport Beach that's too good to come down to the real OC, but not from an Asian American blog writer. If you ever go, you'll realize that these places don't sell sex. Where exactly do you even get the "extras"? The place is a coffee shop filled with people. Do you take the girls back under the drip coffee storage area? Or in the men's bathroom (which is a disgusting place)? Try going to Hooters and flipping your cup over, maybe you can get a little chicken wing action behind the souvenir display case.Thanks for spreading rumors and hopefully creepy old white guys don't read this and start showing up at DV1-DV3 flipping over half filled (i'm an optimist) $6 cups of coffee.