At first glance, Yokohama seems like the sleepy, more sedate sister to Tokyo’s glitz and glamour. It’s more spacious and has fewer crowds overall. Even on weekends, when families with young kids are out in full force, it’s positively mellow. But this city has plenty to be proud of, like jazz bars, Chinatown, and Sankeien Garden. My personal vote goes to Cafe Giang, a little Vietnamese cafe serving some of the best damn egg coffee you’ll ever taste.
A taste of Vietnam in Yokohama
One of the most popular ways to drink coffee in Vietnam is cà phê sữa đá—or Vietnamese iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk. The dark, bitter, chocolaty notes of black coffee are intensified, sweetened, and mellowed by adding condensed milk. If you like sugar with your caffeine, it’s one of the best drinks you can have, even if drinking this every day is a surefire route to diabetes.
But Hanoi’s most famous caffeinated drink is a variation on this—cà phê trứng, or egg coffee. This was apparently invented during the First Indochina War (circa 1946) by bartender Nguyen Van Giang, who replaced then-scarce milk with whisked egg yolks. It proved a hit with the masses, and 70+ years later, the family recipe is still as great as ever.
Fortunately for you, a flight to Vietnam isn’t necessary. All you have to do is visit Yokohama Chinatown, which is now home to Cafe Giang’s first Japan outpost.
Egg coffee is basically liquid tiramisu
If you’ve never had egg coffee before, you’re in for a treat. For egg coffee, you whisk egg yolks along with condensed milk and a little sugar. Whisk this concoction long and hard enough and it will thicken into a custard, so velvety and viscous that it trails slow, voluptuous ribbons when you lift the whisk. It is so thick that it will sit on top of the coffee as a separate layer. Imagine, if you will, a super-concentrated custard.
Try it on its own before stirring it into the coffee below. As if the egg layer weren’t enough, there’s a layer of condensed milk at the bottom. Perhaps its the bitterness of the coffee, but though it’s sweet and incredibly rich, it’s not cloying in the slightest. (Your mileage may vary.) Cafe Giang’s egg coffee is essentially liquid tiramisu. It’s great both hot and cold, though hot coffee has the edge by a hair.
The Yokohama outpost also offers several variations on egg coffee, such as egg matcha, egg cocoa, egg cinnamon, egg rum, egg cola, and egg beer. Some of those suggestions are, frankly, rather dubious. But we’ll let you be the judge of that.
Eat some banh mi at Cafe Giang
This is a Vietnamese joint, and what better casual food to pair with an egg coffee than a classic banh mi? At Cafe Giang, this is a local Chinatown twist on the usual fillings. Instead of pâté or headcheese, you get roasted pork and Peking duck in addition to the usual pickled carrots, daikon, and coriander. Doused with your choice of sweet chilli sauce or bean sauce, the banh mi here is a delightful Chinese-influenced take on banh mi.
How to get here
Name: Cafe Giang
Address: 78-3 Yamashitacho, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa
Open: 10:00am–10:30pm (L.O. 10:00pm), Fri & Sat 10:00am–11:00pm (L.O. 10:30pm)
Post by Japan Journeys.