Review: Cafe 714 — Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Cafe 714 is an adult oriented lounge in District 8 of Ho Chi Minh City. It is a type of establishment that the Vietnamese refer to somewhat in jest as a caphe om. That translates to “hug cafe” which suggests more or less what goes on inside the place.

sexy caphe om

As the name might suggest Cafe 714 is located at 714 Pham The Hien. This street is home to a number of mainstream businesses with caphe om interspersed up and down the road. The previously reviewed Tro Lai is only steps away at 698 Pham The Hien.

Om means hug in Vietnamese but the term is used rather loosely. As described in a report I published on creative responses to the sex work ban in Vietnam years ago there are in fact all sorts of “om” places in Vietnam. The long list of real or imagined shops includes the ubiquitous bia om that are more or less the same as caphe om except that they are presented as beer halls instead of coffee shops.

That’s actually somewhat funny since Cafe 714 and places like it aren’t all that oriented around coffee themselves. Cafe 714 calls itself a cafe and uses the same sort of low lounge chairs that a lot of local style coffee shops use but it doesn’t actually serve up a cup of joe. Instead it has a limited menu that includes soft drinks and beer. The latter is usually served over ice in a mug as is typical in Vietnam and surrounding countries.

Cafe 714 isn’t a totally obvious place but it isn’t all that hidden either. Like other shops of the kind nearby it is marked by a clear sign even if the entrance is a little more obscured. The actual entrance is a little recessed back from the road and some potted plants sit outside in an attempt to the obscure the view.

Unlike Tro Lai however Cafe 714 is more or less open to the street. The wide front is exposed and it wouldn’t take all that much bending for someone out front to get a glimpse of what is going on inside. That’s okay though because for the most part nothing much is going on inside of Cafe 714 at all.

Tro Lai is a rather lively place with a lot of women of various degrees of attractiveness on staff. Cafe 714 on the other hand is staffed by two or three women at most. While one of the women might be a somewhat attractive gal in her twenties on a good night the majority of the ladies who work the place are in their thirties or forties and look like they have seen much better days.

In other words working at Cafe 714 wouldn’t be the pinnacle of anyone’s career. In fact most if not all of the people inside would probably rather be anywhere else. Still the gals take it all in stride and they do not shirk their work at all.

When customers enter the dimly lit facilities they can sit down in any of the many seats. Then they place their orders. The typical customer would order a beer but no one seems to give a second look to those who chose to drink an energy drink or even just a can of cola.

Music plays in the background and customers mostly bang away at their phone screens in what has become a sort of international pastime. The ladies on staff bring orders and do their best to strike up conversation in hopes that they might break out of the doldrums or at least get a small tip.

The ladies on staff don’t speak any languages other than the local tongue. They wear dresses but they are not revealing nor necessarily well fitting. They sit with customers and do their best to converse. They may also ask to share a beer or soft drink. And that’s about it.

While some caphe om are known for staffing women that offer a lot more than coffee and hugs Cafe 714 is a more or less restrained and laid back kind of place. At most the women on staff may offer to meet a customer off premises in the right circumstances but otherwise there is no kind of funny business going on.

The days of oral being offered openly in the cafes do seem to be drawing to a close just as the more public BJ bars in Thailand have started to go the way the saber tooth tiger. There are still places where things like this go on they just are not nearly as widespread as they once were. Perhaps that is just the nature of the beast.

Caphe 714. 714 Pham The Hien, Quan 8, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Open every day from afternoon until late night.

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