What is Vietnam without mentioning coffee, right? Vietnam is the second largest producer of coffee in the world so a trip to Vietnam would not be complete without drinking coffee. In our month-long trip, I would have to say that the egg coffee (ca phe trung) was not just the most unique coffee I have tasted in Vietnam, it was also the most delicious. And the best place to have it is in the place where it all started — Cafe Giang.
Giang Cafe and its egg coffee is on the top of my “must-do” list in Hanoi, and all of Vietnam. I love coffee and I am always willing to taste different kinds of coffee anywhere in the world. The egg coffee is also famous because it is unique to Hanoi. Despite staying in Hanoi for more than a week, we were only able to visit Giang Cafe on our second to the last day, but I thought it was all worth the wait.
The day before, we explored some parts of Ho Tay (West Lake) and sampled Hanoi Cooking Centre’s version of ca phe trung. We loved the creamy texture of the coffee and I was delighted to know that the coffee did not taste of egg at all because I do not like raw egg. We got lucky the following day because despite the popularity of the cafe, we were able to find it almost empty! Of course, it helped that we were there at 8AM in the morning when almost all of Hanoi were at the Hoan Kiem lake doing their morning exercises and all of the tourists were still sleeping. I have no idea how the place would look like later in the day but just an hour of sitting there and the place slowly filled up, but mostly with locals. There were only three foreigners there, including Joel and I. The cafe only serves drinks. We had a feeling on this so I brought some buttery pastries from a nearby bakery.
What is also unique about Giang Cafe’s ca phe trung is its origin. According to the cafe’s website, the owner’s father, Mr. Nguyen Giang, concocted the coffee mixture during his time as a bartender at the famous Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in the French quarter. At that time, milk was scarce so he replaced milk with raw egg yolk. The current recipe is a mixture of egg yolk, condensed milk, butter and cheese. Ca phe trung’s mixture reminded me of the Bisaya “kinutil,” a concoction of tuba (coconut wine), tsokolate, raw egg, and sometimes, Royal Tru Orange. What Mr. Giang’s egg coffee tasted like was a coffee-flavored leche flan — rich, creamy, and really delicious!