Cafe Giang – the story of Vietnamese Egg Coffee

Egg coffee (Cà phê trứng), is creativeness of Hanoi’s culture, has become famous around the world by viva voce (word of mouth) of many foreign tourists who have tried it. Some of my foreign friends, said that it is their most memorial experience of Hanoi. Vietnam is the world’s second largest coffee exporter, behind only Brazil. Therefore, it is easy to find coffee shops in Hanoi, from narrow and sinuous streets of Old Quarter, to big roads of new districts. However, finding a cafe which brings the history from French colonization, and promotes unique egg coffee, is a different story.

Egg Coffee (Jan 2013)
Egg Coffee (Jan 2013)

Giang (Giảng) cafe has its name from the first owner, Mr. Nguyen Van Giang. He worked at the Sofitel Legend Metropole and the Golden Rooster hotel – Hotel de Coq (currently it is main office of GP Bank, 14 Ngo Quyen) in Hanoi during the French colonial era (1930-1945). It is said that he invented egg coffee as an alternative choice of Cappuccino. Milk and cream were luxurious items at that time, so he made it with what he had, coffee and eggs.

Cafe Giang was opened around 1946, at 90 Cau Go street, after he left the job. Mr. Giang served traditional coffee, juices, tea and egg-drinks. In 1969, it was moved to 7 Hang Gai. This location was associated with memories of many Hanoians, including me. I still remember this tiny cafe (it was a small part of an alley I think, only few square meters), with simple woody tables and chairs, and its magical sweet, creamy brown liquid when my Mom took me here. My nostalgia for old cafe Giang at 7 Hang Gai has never been ending…

Egg Coffee (May 2013)
Egg Coffee (May 2013)

After Mr. Giang passed away in 1988, his daughter, Bich, opened a new cafe named cafe Dinh (13 Dinh Tien Hoang street, I would love to have another post about this no-nameboard cafe later) and his two sons, Duc and Hoa, have continued operation of the cafe, till 2011. It was moved to two new locations, 39 Nguyen Huu Huan, and 106 Yen Phu, each son has run one location.

Egg Coffee (Jan 2015)
Egg Coffee (Jan 2015)

In my opinion, each cafe Giang or Dinh cafe, has different taste of egg coffee, more or less. However, in general, taste of egg coffee is combining sweet and fatty taste of egg, with bitter coffee. Two oppositions mix together and create a tenderness, which cannot be mistaken, of cafe Giang. Opinion of my foreign friend after his first sip: where egg yolks and egg whites made the coffee fluffy like cloud, with the additional taste of a creamy tiramisu, although I told him that I think only egg whites made that cloud!

Egg Cacao (Jan 2015)
Egg Cacao (Jan 2015)

My only complaint in the beginning of 2015: why the cup of coffee is much smaller than before?!? 😦 Well, to sum up, let’s roll back to figures a bit. According to a report issued by Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, in the first seven months of 2014, Vietnam exported 1.12 million tons of coffee beans. Germany and the United States are the largest Vietnamese coffee importers. However, Belgium is also fast becoming a key market for Vietnamese coffee. My conclusion and suggestion in this Year of Horse’s last article, every German or American or Belgian visitor should try egg coffee once when they come to Hanoi! Ah, others, please try twice! 😉 We always wait for your coming back 😀 Address: Giang Cafe, 39 Nguyen Huu Huan; or 106 Yen Phu. Giang cafe on Nguyen Huu Huan street (owner is youngest son of Mr. Giang) is more popular with foreign visitors because it is nearer the Old Quarter. Update: I passed Giang on Nguyen Huu Huan yesterday and took picture of its signboard. We were in Tet holiday (Lunar New Year) so it was closed. I hope you can find it easily by the signboard.

The front and signboard of Giang cafe at 39 Nguyen Huu Huan
The front and signboard of Giang cafe at 39 Nguyen Huu Huan

Walking few meters in small alley and you will see Giang cafe, ordering at 1st floor, then walking to 2nd floor to find your seat (hopefully!). My most favorite seat is not those wooden stools, but the indoor wooden long chair in the corner (I need to rest my poor back after long walking, is it?). You can easily recognize an old black and white picture of family near that chair.

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