Serious Eats: Drinks

Snapshots from Vietnam: Egg Coffee in Hanoi

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[Photographs: Erin Zimmer]

My put-an-egg-on-it philosophy applies to most dishes. Got leftovers? Reheat; put an egg on it. Got a salad or sandwich, or pretty much anything else? Put an egg on it, please! But coffee? Put...an egg on it? Egg coffee, or cà phê trứng in Vietnam, is a special drink you'll find at select coffeehouses in Hanoi. If you like tiramisu, you'll probably like egg coffee immensely.

It starts with the same black, sludgy coffee used in the traditional Vietnamese coffee with sweetened condensed milk, except an egg gets cracked into the milk. The glass comes with a spoon for mixing the rich, creamy, custard-like top layer into the dark coffee that lies beneath.

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At Cafe Giang, a Hanoi coffeehouse that's been around for decades, they'll ask "how many eggs do you want?" (Is this coffee or an omelet?) The double egg order comes with a custard layer that's twice as tall, ergo twice as rich. You won't even reach the coffee part underneath until about the fourth sip of the Cadbury-Creme-Egg-sweet blanket on top.

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The glass sits in a cup of warm water to keep the drink heated throughout the sipping experience, and the Vietnamese don't like to rush, so you might be sitting at one of the miniature tables (with matching miniature chairs) for some time, all the while snacking on sunflower seeds until you've created a mountain of shells. It's a nice salty snack to go with this very sweet coffee.

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Ever tried egg coffee before? Would you? And don't you think it'd also be nice with a shot of whiskey?

Cafe Giang
106 Phố Yên Phụ, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam

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