Iea Sae


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