LANDLUBBER MAY, 1998

OUTSIDE LINKS
  Vietnamese Drink Recipes

 

PICTURES
  Café Di~ Vãng 1
  Café Di~ Vãng 2

 

NEW DIMENSIONS IN SLEAZE

The Vietnamese Bikini Coffee Bar

I work in western Orange County, and as you might expect from the local demographics, there are a lot of Vietnamese guys at work. Oftentimes we'll talk about the geography, history, culture, and language of Viet Nam. A few weeks ago I experienced an aspect of Vietnamese expatriate culture that offers a new dimension in sleaze--the Vietnamese Bikini Coffee Bar.

Actually called Café Di~ Vãng 2, it's a place in Garden Grove where you sit down at a table, chat, and watch TV while beautiful, buxom Vietnamese women come by and serve you tea, coffee, juice, or shakes. You can get avocado, jackfruit, or sour sop shakes. (I had sour sop.) The waitresses wear skimpy bikinis with small, sheer wraps around their bottoms for a modicum of modesty. Apparently this place is on the cutting edge. While there are a number of similar cafés around Little Saigon, Di~ Vãng is the only one with the girls. The #2 location had just switched to bikinis three weeks previously and has been packed ever since.

As expected, the waitresses were hired less for their serving skills than for their ability to fill out the uniform and do their hair, with dragon tattoos in strategic locations a plus. The general strategy for a group of patrons is to stagger the times at which one finishes one's drink, so as to lure the waitstaff to the table more frequently. In actuality, the waitresses are so busy that it often takes several empty glasses to successfully attract a round of refills, and then, it's sometimes courtesy of the woman behind the counter clad in normal human attire, who seems to function primarily as a manager or co-owner.

Aside from our group, which was mixed, the entire clientèle was Vietnamese men, presumably killing time while their wives cooked dinner. As required by California law, a rather otiose No Smoking sign hung on one wall, but probably half of the patrons were lighting up. I asked one of my coworkers if it was owned by the Vietnamese Mafia, and he said that he wasn't sure, but that there had been a couple of shootings at similar places.

Being a sensitive '90s guy, I tried as much as possible to interact with the waitresses as people, and save the bulk of the ogling for when they were at adjacent tables. The next week we went to Di~ Vãng 1, which formerly had only short skirts, but by then had also gone bikini. I learned how to ask for more tea in Vietnamese, and the waitresses thought that was pretty funny. The waitresses were actually more open and communicative with me than they were with any of my Vietnamese compatriots, but lest I get cocky, one of the guys informed me that "maybe if you come to Di~ Vãng fifty times, then you can have a Vietnamese girlfriend."

Afterwards we went to a restaurant where we all had diced deer.

--Adam Villani

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