Get to be told about the story of the oldest coffee shop in Saigon
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Saigon seems to provide you almost everything you ever ask for, from street food of a Vietnam culinary tour, hidden sightseeing gems, iconic landmarks to coffee. However, such a huge and dynamic land like Saigon cannot lack some specific precious values that have brought such sensation to the city itself for the past decades. Today, we are taking you to that one hide-out coffee house which has been around for nearly a century, Cheo Leo.
Cheo Leo – A precious hidden gem…
Cheo Leo, a familiar name to any Saigon natives, has been around for nearly 8 decades at the back of an alley in the city center of the young and dynamic Saigon. For the time being, Cheo Leo is run by three blood sisters, descendants of Mr. Vĩnh Ngô, the father and the first owner of Cheo Leo. Starting their new days very early in the morning, the siblings rush their morning into a busy labor day. Back to the ages before 1975, Cheo Leo was a common hangout spot of Petrus Ký and Chu Văn An schoolers.
Cheo Leo café
Back in the heyday of the old Saigon, the method of making coffee differed a little bit from the time being, when most of the cafeterias used a special item to filter coffee drops, a net, or let’s say a racket. This was initially brought by the Chinese Vietnamese in Chinatown, who tended to pour coffee into a small plate and not in a cup. Vĩnh Ngô, after figuring out such authentic method, came back and started his own business. Cheo Leo was hence born, and now gradually becoming a favorite spot of many Southern Vietnam culinary tour guide.
During the twilight of Cheo Leo, the shop was one of the most remarkable acoustic coffee houses in District 3 of Saigon. Back to the days, not many vertical houses and buildings lined up in the neighborhood, which made Cheo Leo significantly stand out in the middle of a vast empty land. As a consequence, the name Cheo Leo was accordingly introduced, which literally means “isolated” or “lonesome”.
… with a special coffee-making method behind the ancient wall
Coming over Cheo Leo in a culinary tour in Vietnam, you would be showcased each step throughout the entire coffee making procedure which is recorded to be the oldest method in Saigon. The coffee brewer comes in a huge clay jar made out of several layers of bricks and golden sugar. The whole brew is placed atop a charcoal fire. The water is only poured into coffee powder once it is well boiled through a thin piece of cloth. After a good amount of brewing time, the whole portion of coffee drops would be moved into a different separate pot and kept heated to serve each turn off customers.
The oldish art of making coffee
Now, this is revealed for fans of “Cà phê sữa”, or “Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk”. The way of processing “Cà phê sữa” at Cheo Leo is as exceptional as the name it is. A proper ratio of coffee and condensed milk must be carefully noticed. Milk would be added in first, heated coffee comes later and boiled water is poured in ultimately. As an outcome, the definition of the best Saigon “Cà phê sữa đá” is found right here at Cheo Leo.
The owner lady
Even though today, Cheo Leo completely falls amid a bunch of imposing buildings, the finest coffee aroma and the slow old song beats are still able to direct by-passers’ attention. If you have been in several different best Vietnam culinary tours and now hunting for a new customized edition in Saigon, why not make it all the way to this 80-year-old cafeteria?
The Retro-like style
To our Vietnamese, especially the native oldies who have spending half of their existence in this special city, Cheo Leo is not simply a coffee house, but a gift granted by the past Saigon. They fall in love with Cheo Leo not only thanks to such exceptional coffee savor, but also the heritage-like colors climbing on the vintage walls, the old bookshelf, the wooden tables and chairs and even the collection of oldish Southern Vietnamese melodies that are now still well saved by the three lady owners.
Cheo Leo is surely expected to bring you something new that you have not thought of before. With this ancient coffee badge, your Vietnam culinary tour is now taken to a whole new level.