Vietnamese coffee is one of the most iconic drink in Vietnam. But have you heard of “Egg Coffee”? Most visitors don’t even know what to expect from the name, but egg coffee or “cafe trung” is quite a pleasant surprise.
Ever since Mr. Frugal had his first sip of Vietnamese coffee on a sidewalk of Saigon, he immediately took a liking to this sweet and strong stuff. Introduced by the French, coffee is adapted to the Vietnamese taste with the addition of condensed milk. Also, instead of having hot coffee, many opt for a “cafe sua da”, or ice coffee with milk instead. Let me tell you, this is wonderful in a hot summer afternoon.
Moving to Hanoi, we often heard of “cafe trung”, which is literally translated to egg coffee. The name doesn’t give much clue to the drink itself, other than the fact that it is made with egg and coffee. Weird combination? Yes. But hey, here at the Frugal house, we never shy from weird foods or drinks.
So we went to one of the most popular Vietnamese coffee shops in town – Cafe Giang Hanoi. Note that I said “Vietnamese coffee shop”, because in Vietnam, you can end up in a coffee shop that doesn’t serve Vietnamese coffee. You will probably get a nice cup of cappuccino or latte, but nothing close to the real Vietnamese coffee, and definitely far from the egg coffee in question.
Cafe Giang is located on Nguyen Huu Huan street, where you can find a row of coffee shops lining up. A couple of doors down the street, there is also another shop that have the sign for “Cafe Trung”. Don’t let it fool you though, the real Cafe Giang is at number 39. And the doorway is Tiny! Definitely need to keep an eye out.
The number one rule in Hanoi is that, the better the food, the harder it is to find! Since street front shop is so expensive to rent, the popular places often keep their original humble store to keep cost low, while relying on word-of-mouth for marketing.
Once you spot the tiny sign, make your way to this also tiny alley/ entrance. There are two floors in the place, but we were fine sitting at the first floor. In the 10 minute period that we were there on a regular week day afternoon, there are so many Vietnamese and foreign guests coming in and out. Good sign!
After taking a quick look at the menu, we decided to go with a hot egg coffee and a hot egg cocoa.
Then the drinks were promptly served in these cute little mugs, placed in a bowl of hot water to keep them warm.
Visually, it looks yummy. There is definitely no hard-boiled egg floating in our cups!
Here is how it’s made: They take egg-white and whipped it good to a soft, creamy texture. Almost like a meringue. This egg white is mixed with the regular Vietnamese coffee or hot cocoa. The egg is so creamy that the whole cup has a very interesting texture, almost as thick as a cake batter.
My hot cocoa is sweet and goes pretty well with the creaminess of the egg white. Half way through the tiny cup though, it gets a bit too rich for me.
The egg coffee, however, is wonderful! The bitterness of the coffee cut through the richness of the egg, creating an amazing experience. The lady next to us described it as almost like coffee ice cream, except that it is warm and creamier!
The egg coffee itself is worth checking out, but we were curious about the next item on the list: Rum with Grapes or Strawberry flavor.
Turns out, the drink tastes like Plum Wine, very sweet and fruity. The ice drink is nice to clean our palate. I’m guessing that there is a little bit of alcohol in this, but not much at all.
We also ordered a plate of sunflower seeds to snack on while chitchatting, just like true Vietnamese! Nothing really special about this though.
The total bill for 3 drinks and a plate of sunflower seeds came up to be 95,000VND, or less than $5. No excuse to check it out while you are in Hanoi right?
Here is the location of the coffee shop, in case if you want to try the real Hanoi egg coffee: Cafe Giang Hanoi, 39 Nguyen Huu Huan. (Click on the link for a Google Map location)