The “Café Giảng” is one of the most famous traditional coffee shops in Hanoi, located on the east side of the Old Quarter. Opened since 1946, the café was named after its founder – Mr. Nguyễn Giảng – a bartender at a colonial hotel in the French Quarter.
Tucked away behind a small lane, through what looks like someone’s house and could be easily missed, on the bustle of Nguyen Huu Huan Street. This hidden gem draws endless lines of locals and tourists to taste the original “cà phê trứng”, or egg coffee.
Though coffee shops across the city now serve egg coffee, Café Giảng claimed to have invented the drink. Nguyễn Chí Hoà, the current owner of Café Giảng, revealed that when the resistance against the French kicked off the first Indochina War in the late 1946, his father got no choice but to relinquish his job at Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hotel and opened a café at home.
To enjoy the strong and bitter French-press Robusta coffee, both coffee makers and local drinkers in Vietnam rely on a steady stream of sweeten condensed milk to balance it out – the trick that make Vietnamese coffee today. But what happens when the milk runs out?
Shortly after opening his own café, Giảng faced the question when a milk shortage was caused by the war. With a clever hack whisking in egg yolk as a much-needed substitute for dairy product, surprisingly, he created a frothy cup of egg coffee resembling a liquefied tiramisu!
Hoà reafirmed his father’s egg coffee recipe remains the same today: raw chicken egg yolk, Vietnamese Robusta coffee, sweetened condensed milk, butter, and cow cheese. The coffee is firstly brewed in a cup before adding the well-whisked mixture of those simple ingredients.
What a story to tell!
After three hours walking around the Old Quarter on our Hanoi food tour, eating heaps of different street food, we walked into Café Giảng to try its legendary egg coffee. It was quiet when we were stepping in, and the long hallway that we walked through did not depict what we would find inside.
But when Uncle Hoà, sitting at the door of the kitchen keeping track of orders, told us to head upstairs – that was where the noise and crowd were. We found the only empty table and sit down. There are menu and wifi password on the wall. They serve coffee, types of tea, yogurt, juices and sunflower seeds, but no food.
The egg part on the menu features about a donzen of drinks related to egg, including egg ice cream and egg beer. With a philosophy to try as much local produce as we can, we ordered fourdifferent drinks: Egg Coffee, Egg Matcha, Egg Cacao, and Green Bean.
Our hot-version egg coffee, came resting in a small dish of hot water to maintain its temperature, was the best of the four. It was frothy, rich, sweet, and tasted almost like a coffee flavored tiramisu – our customer concluded it was more like a dessert than coffee.
The egg matcha had too strong green tea flavor, which muted all other taste, plus no matter how much one stirred, the matcha gets lumpy. Green bean did not provide any kick or outstanding flavor. The egg cacao was kind of over sweet. All the four drinks cost 125.000 dong; nearly $6 US.
Though the café was so busy, the service was quick. When our drinks came, the friendly waiter gave us a number, we hold on to it and paid for the drink down stair. The owner farewelled his customers with a grateful smile.
For the vast majority of our customers over the years, the egg coffee experience is a revelation. The wow factor is high. When we start describing it, they can’t put two and two together. “Egg” and “coffee”, together? It’s pretty hard to get a coherent image of those two ingredients in a cup together. It’s always fun.
We’ve never had a customer not like it. Most devour it and swear they’re coming back for one every day they’re in Hanoi. Even travelers who are not normally coffee drinkers at home can be surprised.
Before heading to Café Giảng for the original egg coffee yourself, note that the place has a bit uncomfortable tables and very low chairs – traditional little stools very close to the ground, which, of cause, is part of the experience. At some points of the day, it’s so busy with groups of locals and tourists that it could be difficult to find a spot to sit down. Also, their bathroom is not supper clean.
Despite the crowd, we had a pleasant coffee experience. Thus, we gave Café Giảng 4 star for offering delicious egg coffee, maintaining traditional home-based coffee atmosphere, and having helpful staffs. Highly recommend going to this family-run egg coffee shop for your first egg coffee ever.
- Café Giảng
- 39 Nguyen Huu Huan Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
- 098 989 22 98
- 07h00 – 22h00
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