A blog about food in Thailand
and elsewhere.

Iea Sae

Posted date:  July 2, 2007


Iea Sae is the unpronounceable name of an old-skool Chinese-style coffee shop in Bangkok’s Chinatown. There are quite a few cafes like this in southern Thailand, and heaps in Malaysia, but very, very few in Bangkok, which makes this place somewhat special.


If you’re coming here for good coffee, you’re going to be sorely disappointed, but if you get a buzz from atmosphere, it can be a fun place. The shop is 60 years old (a fact written on nearly every dish and cup in the restaurant) and is outfitted with antique tables, an old tile floor, and some interesting murals on the walls. These furnishings could be purchased just about anywhere, but the thing that makes Iea Sae interesting is its patrons. The old Chinese-Thai men who frequent the cafe order a single cup of coffee and spend the next three hours doing their best to drink it as slowly as possible while arguing about politics, discussing food, smoking, and in the true Chinese tradition, carrying on with lots of hawking and spitting.


As far as I can see, they just serve coffee (some food items are written on a chalkboard, but they never seem available), and in the Chinese-Thai style, a cup or glass is always followed by a chaser of weak Chinese tea:


Iea Sae
Thanon Phat Sai (This street runs parallel to Thanon Yaowarat, Chinatown’s main road, and is most easily reached via Thanon Phadung Dao. Iea Sae is located smack in the middle of the short street; simply look for lots of old men drinking coffee.)
02 221 0549

5 Comments for Iea Sae

The coffee there is sub-par but the atmosphere is cool – albeit – funny too. One guy harassed me for about fifteen minutes about how his land was taken by the Crown Property Bureau and then given back to him ten years later…or something I forgot the details. I would suggest heading there only if you are doing something else in Chinatown.

interesting, coffee in glasses with condensed milk on the bottom followed by a chaser of tea is Lao style. when did the chinese thai start doing this?

austin: Yeah, you’re right, probably not worth a trip in itself, but worth stopping by if you’re there in the morning.

anon: This is how coffee is served over much of SE Asia–not sure when or where it evolved.

Most tea shops (or coffee shops) in Burma use condensed milk or sometimes canned evaporated milk for the simple reason that refrigeration is hard to come by. It is an acquired taste.
I find that most Burmese in UK even after having lived here for decades still prefer their tea or coffee with condensed milk!
Your photos on Mae Sot are fantastic.
When I went there last year December I missed those scenes.
I will be going there again this December and I will try the mohinga.

Finally tried this place today and it certainly is a gem. Had been meaning to check it out for some time but hadn’t gotten around to it. I know it’s a little late but thanks for this post.


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