For the uninitiated, egg coffee may sound like a puzzling idea. Yet once tasted, this northern Vietnamese specialty is sure to win over sweet tooths and caffeine lovers alike.
Egg coffee, or ca phe trung in Vietnamese, was first invented by a hotel bartender named Nguyen Giang in 1946. At the time, milk was scarce in Vietnam, leading Giang to experiment with other ways to provide a luxuriously creamy coffee to his guests at the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi. He discovered that blending fresh chicken eggs and condensed milk into a thick whipping cream and ladling it over a strong cup of espresso made for an amazingly decadent treat. Customers loved egg coffee, and soon after Giang opened his own café in Hanoi to serve his signature beverage.
These days, you can find egg coffee in every corner of Hanoi, from casual street cafés to upscale eateries. Here are the eight best spots to enjoy ca phe trung, including some of the earliest cafés to serve it and modern locales putting a fresh twist on the old classic.
Of course, the first on the list has to be the café that started it all — Café Giang, founded in 1946 by the creator of egg coffee. Here, their formula perfectly blends fresh eggs with coffee for the ideally creamy texture. Now run by his son, Café Giang stays true to its humble beginnings. This café is easy to miss — while walking down busy Nguyen Huu Huan street in Hanoi’s old quarter, you’ll need to keep an eye out for their small black sign hung over a long, narrow alleyway. Inside, sit at one of the small clusters of tables to enjoy the original egg coffee recipe.
Hanoi Coffee Station
Just a block southwest of Café Giang in Hanoi’s old quarter, you’ll find Hanoi Coffee Station. Tucked away on the second floor above shops and spas, this charming café and bistro has the perfect balcony for taking in the chaos of the street below. Here, they put a twist on the classic egg coffee. Using a little coconut syrup and coconut cream in place of the traditional condensed milk, Hanoi Coffee Station makes egg coffee with a lighter taste and slight tropical undertones. Perfect for those days when you still want to indulge in a cup of ca phe trung but already have a stomach full of hearty Hanoian street food.