Shortly after my daughter moved to Vietnam, she began raving about the food. We raised her a foodie, obviously. No street eat was too questionable, no dish too exotic. But, the one thing she really went on about was Vietnamese egg coffee (ca phe trung or cà phê trứng). When she fist told me about it, I had to pause for a moment and think about the word combination. Egg + coffee=Hmm… I must admit that the mental image was not pleasant.
My first thought was: scrambled eggs in coffee? I really didn’t know what to think. She swore it was like nothing else I had ever tasted. She sent us a photo and recipe to explain this mysterious beverage.
Vietnamese egg coffee (ca phe trung) is made by beating an egg yolk with sweetened condensed milk for about 10 minutes until it makes an airy, creamy, meringue-like fluff. Are you drooling yet? This eggy goodness is then slowly poured on top of hot espresso, or iced coffee. Are you with me so far?
So, when my family and I traveled to Vietnam last Christmas to visit my daughter, she hooked us up with a street food tour given by her friend Thanh who owns a tour company called Maia Travel. My daughter now helps her with tours and is part of the team. Here is Thanh and the team.
They have great fun and so do their guests!
If you are traveling to Hanoi this is a must-do tour and you are in for a great experience.
On the food itinerary was none other than egg coffee. WOW, what a surprise. It was absolutely delicious.
The egg cream on top of the coffee was rich and silky, but not overly sweet. The Vietnamese espresso underneath was strong enough to color my hair AND keep me up for days, but perfectly offset by the creamy sweet foam on top. Yes, this is definitely dessert coffee.So, then, how did such a lovely treat come to be? Well, my daughter’s friend, Thanh, who gave our street food tour, told us the story:
Egg coffee first hatched (pun intended) in 1946 in Hanoi, Vietnam. An individual by the name of Giang worked at the Metropole Hotel as a bartender. During this time, it was unusual for locals to work for foreign companies, but Giang was a real go-getter. He was passionate and very talented in his pursuits; so when a milk shortage struck Vietnam, he figured out that creamy egg yolks and sugar would make a perfect substitute.
Giang then started making the curious concoction for hotel guests and they LOVED it! Soon, word got around of his talent, and he left his job at the Metropole to open a small coffee shop serving his now famous Vietnamese egg coffee (ca phe trung).
Generations of Hanoians have come to know and love his little family-run coffee shop. Other baristas in town attempted to copy his creation, but nobody did it quite like him. Giang had three sons and one daughter who carried on his brainchild and now owns three cafes in Hanoi that serve the ORIGINAL Vietnamese egg coffee (ca phe trung).
When you taste Vietnamese egg coffee (ca phe trung), not only will your taste buds dance with joy, you will now be a part of an old Hanoi tradition. Creamy, sweet egg fluff atop rich coffee, you won’t forget it.
By the way, if you are ever in Hanoi and want the real deal, there are three Cafe Giang locations to check out:
109 Yen Phu
39 Nguyen Huu Huan
13 Dinh Tien Hoang
If you want to try some other popular Vietnamese dishes at home that are very easy to make check these out or bookmark them for later:
Vietnamese Pho Tron is a cold and VERY flavorful beef salad that is served during the hotter months.
Bun Cha is a grilled pork meatball that is out of this world and it includes the traditional dipping sauce recipe also.
Thit Kho Tau are slow braised pork medallions in a coconut sauce that you have to try.
Vietnamese Egg Coffee (Ca phe trung)
- 6 oz espresso
- 1 egg yolk
- 4 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
Brew 1 cup of espresso
Whip the egg yolk and sweetened condensed milk until light frothy or soft peaks.
Add egg mixture on top of the espresso.