My Hanoi tour had ended. And I was coming back to Kolkata with good memories. I asked for a coffee to the Indigo air hostage, when my flight took off. While serving the coffee she initiated a nice chat, about Vietnam. Her planes had been landing at Hanoi airport many times. But she never got the chance to visit the city. I told her about the beautiful places I had visited, the names, the experiences. She suddenly asked me about that one thing I liked most in Vietnam. And a name popped in my mind. Egg Coffee. She too heard about the famous egg coffee. She wanted to know how it tasted like, how it looked like. Whether I had the egg coffee from a genuine place or not. I smiled at her. Curiosity can not be answered briefly. I needed the beginning with a sip of the latte.
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Hanoi known to have the original recipe in Vietnam, and it is very famous for egg coffee. I know it sounds gross, but it’s REALLY tasty! You can get it hot or cold (hot is better, atleast I prefer most), and make sure to mix it with your spoon before drinking.
THE HISTORY OF EGG COFFEE:
I didn’t know a major fact before I visited Vietnam. It is the second-top country in the world for coffee production. Their total output is not below than 4 billion pounds of coffee beans a year – second to Brazil – and they also produce 40% of the world’s robusta coffee, the alternate to arabica beans (for those who know coffee). It’s no wonder that some new twists would be added to one of the nation’s top drinks, with so much stock on hand.
Back in the 1940’s Mr Nguyen Giang, a resident of Hanoi, Vietnam, was working as a barman at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hotel. The story goes that, one night, Mr Giang ran out of milk to serve with the coffee. He used a concoction of egg yolks and condensed milk instead to make, what is known today in Vietnam as, Egg Coffee or Cà Phê Trứng. Such a success was Cà Phê Trứng that Mr Giang opened a cafe and egg coffee has been a part of Hanoi ever since.
Eggs were just one of the ingredients he used to create a frothy, latte-style top to an espresso. Other ingredients included cheese, sugar, condensed milk… And a secret ingredient that he had no intention of ever sharing. What’s surprising about his recipe is that it doesn’t taste like egg. But neither does custard or even really mayonnaise for that matter. Just think of his concoction as a Vietnamese tiramisu…without the biscuit and chocolate. You can even add a touch of rum to egg coffee if you like, just like the marsala wine that’s sometimes added to the Italian dessert. Sometimes these amazing things just happen to sound pretty weird. Like Egg Coffee.
DISCOVERING THE REAL EGG COFFEE IN HANOI
Thousands of cafes have tried to copy Nguyen Giang’s creation. I too tried a couple myself and they were okay, but not mind-blowing like the two cups I had at each of the cafes run by Nguyen Giang’s son and daughter. The first cafe, called Café Giang and run by his son, is located on the east side of the Hanoi Old Quarter. The second cafe, called Café Đinh and run by his daughter, is located just a few feet from the main square of the Old Quarter! Yet despite the wildly touristy locations of both cafes, I was surprised to see hardly any tourists in either cafe. It seems the locals have kept the best places for themselves, leaving the tourists to experience second-rate egg coffee at other cafes in town. But I needed to complete my experience any how. So I did.
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