From the beginning of the 20th century, coffee has become popular in Saigon. The flavor of coffee has gradually become a feature of one of the major cities in Vietnam.
Before drinking Vietnamese coffee the French way, Saigonese enjoy net-filtered coffee (or ca phe vot/ ca phe bit tat/ ca phe kho in Vietnamese) like the Chinese. Net-filtered coffee is one of the features of the Chinese community remaining in Saigon. Ground coffee is put into a thin fabric filter, boiled in boiling water. The decoction of coffee is then cooked with a small fire.
Making net-filtered coffee is not complicated. First, the fabric filter must be dipped into boiling water, then put a certain amount of ground coffee into the filter. After that, dip the filter with ground coffee inside of it into boiling water, stir several times with a spoon, then cover up the lid of the pot. Leave the coffee there for 5 - 10 minutes, so that the best taste of the coffee can be fully extracted.
The fabric filter used to make net-filtered coffee
Talking about the pot, net-filtered coffee should be cooked in a pot that is used for Chinese herbal decoction. Only when coffee is kept hot in that kind of pot does it taste a lot better than coffee made with a coffee "phin" filter.
Nowadays in Saigon, there are only a few coffee shops remain that use this method to make coffee. You can check out the list below to see if you can visit one of them.
The first net-filtered coffee shop is located at 330 Phan Dinh Phung, Phu Nhuan District. The shop has sold coffee for over 60 years. The price is only from VND 10,000 to 14,000. It opens from 5 AM to 9 PM.
The second net-filtered coffee shop is located at 313 Tan Phuoc, Ward 6, District 11. The shop has also sold coffee for over half of a century. The price is just VND 5,000 for a black coffee and 6,000 for coffee with milk. The shop opens from 6 AM to 5 PM.
The third one, which is very famous, called Cheo Leo coffee. Cheo Leo coffee shop has been there for about 80 years. This is the oldest net-filtered coffee shop in Saigon. Its address is at109/36 Nguyen Thien Thuat, Ward 2, District 3. It opens from 5:15 AM to 6:45 PM. The price is VND 13,000 for black coffee and 8,000 to 10,000 for milk coffee.
Cheo Leo - an 80-year-old coffee shop
Although there is an array of ways of enjoying coffee nowadays, net-filtered coffee is still one of the signatures of Saigon. It is not only about coffee but is also about the spirit of the old Saigon.
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© Written by Thuy Tran for itourvn.com