Hanoi is renowned for it’s coffee scene, with Vietnamese Coffee being one of the most distinctive flavours on the planet. And one of these coffees is almost a mythical folklore – Vietnamese Egg Coffee. We set out to bust this myth – is it fact or fantasy…
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The Search for Vietnamese Egg Coffee Begins…
In Hanoi at our awesome Hanoi Bella Rosa Suites Hotel the reception told us we simply HAVE TO TRY an authentic EGG COFFEE. They informed us the finest place in the Old Quarter of Hanoi is Giang Coffee. So off we went to hunt for this famous cafe/coffee shop. It turned out to be rather elusive, mainly due to the lack of signs in English. The address we were given was 39 Nguyen Huu Huan Street , Hoan Kiem – Hanoi. Easy right?
We found the street no problem. First we walked right past the cafe and didn’t see it. We were armed with a map, street address and all the information we needed but still missed it. We asked directions to a non-english speaking local, and he pointed back the way we came.
As it turned out there is no actual storefront, just a door with a sign on a busy street. We felt better, no wonder we didn’t see it the first time! The Giang website says “Giang Café” is humbly hidden on a small lane on Nguyen Huu Huan Street in the city’s old quarter. They got that right!
Giang Coffee, est. 1947
As it turned out this place has been open some 70 years. I went in and much to my disappointment I saw a few guys moving tables around, but no customers! Oh well, not open yet I figured. Standing out the front considering my options a European traveller came along and asked us about Giang.
“Don’t think its open” I said. He went in to check for himself, came out 5 minutes later and said “it’s open and it’s pretty cool. Follow the staircase up“. Sure enough we went in and found the staircase, which took us up to a windowless room on the first floor. It was open!
Giang Coffee Menu
We found the menu on the wall. No table menu, no prices, no food, hardly any variety, just an old poster on the wall showing tea, coffee, and EGG COFFEE. Rule number one in overseas travel, always agree on the price before agreeing to a service or a meal. So I asked the waiter (about 3 times) what’s the price.
The waiter appeared to be as little offended, and eventually replied “25,000 dong per coffee“. That sounded fair so we ordered. Actually we later saw some coffee shops in tourist areas selling coffee for 60-80,000 dong, so 25,000 dong was very fair.
The other interesting thing about this coffee shop was the little tables and chairs that everyone sits on. It is true Vietnamese style that the chairs are only about 18 inches high and the table is about 2 foot high. Very cute, it reminds me of those little kindergarten cubby houses back in Australia where everything is miniature size for the little kiddies. But here was a room full of grown ups, sitting on mini-tables drinking grown up super-strong coffee.
Egg Coffee – Myth Busted
Out came the egg coffee. In fact there were 2 of them, one for my wife and one for me. And a hot chocolate for my son. At first we were challenged how to start drinking. The top looked solid, and when you shake the cup it stayed firm. We decided to start spooning out the top, it was like a thick yogurt in texture but very eggy and tasty.
Then below an extremely strong Vietnamese coffee. POW. This is a delightful mix of sweet and strong coffee taste. Sweet yet bitter. Delicate yet pungent. Packs a punch, there’s no doubt about it. Would I have another? Absolutely YES!
What is Egg Coffee anyway?
From the Giang Cafe website: Giang Café was founded by Mr. Nguyen Giang in 1946. Although the café has been relocated twice, its egg coffee recipe is almost the same as in its early days, with its chief ingredients being chicken egg yolk, Vietnamese coffee powder, sweetened condensed milk, butter and cheese.
The coffee is brewed in a small cup with a filter before the addition of a well-whisked mixture of the yolk and other ingredients. The cup is placed in a bowl of hot water to keep its temperature.
“My father developed the recipe in days when milk was scarce in Vietnam. He used egg yolks to replace milk” says Mr.Nguyen the owner.
Check out this video review of Vietnamese Egg Coffee At Giang Cafe.
Normal Vietnamese Coffee
Next (make that next day, one cup per day is enough for me), we set off to find an authentic Vietnamese Coffee, minus the egg. A lovely rooftop restaurant, a delightfully mild day. Out come the coffee in a bowl of warm boiling water to keep the cup warm. In the top the coffee was brewing, and dripping into the drinking cup below. A small jug of condensed milk accompanied this brew.
Mixed them together to form a fairly sweet mix and POW, what an awesome sweet strong and flavoursome brew. I do love Vietnamese coffee because it has a bitter bite but in a tastefully delicious way. Slightly stronger than the Egg coffee, very much stronger that coffees I normally brew myself. Yes I am always looking forward to my daily cup of Vietnamese coffee. 9 out of 10 from me.
Vietnamese Egg Coffee Recipe
So you want to try making your own Vietnamese Egg Coffee? It doesn’t look too difficult if you follow the Mokabees recipe on the below link.
Take a Tour
If you’d like to take an inexpensive 3 Hour Hanoi Food Tour by Foot, click HERE for more details.
Whether you prefer a guided tour or a self-guided tour, exploring the hidden culinary treats of Hanoi’s Old Quarter is a must. Vietnamese Egg Coffee is a classic example.
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