Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ca phe trung (egg coffee) with a view

I first read about cà phê trứng on Eating Asia. Then Manisha reminded me about it. I love love love Vietnamese coffee, and I'm fond of eggnog, so something like a mix of the two sure sounded right up my alley.

And right up an alley is where you'll find it in Hanoi.

The Sergeant was a little concerned when I dragged him down this narrow passageway through a souvenir shop. Cafe Pho Co's faded sign out front is not obvious – I didn't even spot it until we were leaving.

But the passage leads to a lovely, if dim, courtyard and an Escheresque series of stairways.
You place your drink order with the bored girl sitting at the foot of the stairs, then climb. Up a long flight of tiled stairs. Up a circular staircase. Up another narrow metal staircase.
You're rewarded for your climb with a most awesome view of Hoan Kiem Lake, the lake of the sacred turtle.
And if the day is misty and the hour early, you might even get a table by the railing, and reasonably speedy delivery of your tasty coffee.
Yep, it is indeed quite yummy. It's made by frothing egg yolks and sugar, then adding strong, hot coffee. I could have had three more.

There were other seating areas, including a second floor overlooking the lake, and an interior courtyard terrace. Can you imagine how much exercise the servers get when the place is full?

Cafe Pho Co has a reputation for surly service (according to reviews I'd read and a couple Vietnamese people I spoke with about it), but we were there for the coffee and the view, both of which were lovely.

You can try making ca phe trung yourself. I found a couple of recipes, one at (if you have time, watch the video, too. Very interesting) and one at (which appears to be a rough English translation of the same recipe I found on several Vietnamese sites).

But for the best flavor, get yourself to Hanoi!
Cafe Pho Co
11 Hang Gai, Hanoi


  1. Good golly that's a lot of work to go to just for a cup of it still hot when you get it? But WHAT a view.

  2. I was thinking the same thing as Delores - is it still hot when you get it?!

    But, wow, so awesome that you found the cafe! I definitely want to go to Hanoi next time!

  3. It's still warm, at least. Some places serve the cup sitting in a larger cup of hot water, so it stays warmer.

    Manisha, I loved Hanoi. Saigon was so frenetic, which got tiring fast; Hanoi was much more laid back.

    It was, BB!