A strong, unique coffee famous throughout the world for its quality. It is served over ice in summer and hot in winter. The Vietnamese do a lot of different drinks with coffee, they often serve it with cream, yoghurt, ice-cream but for the classic Vietnamese coffee experience, drink it with a sweet, condensed milk.
Find it at all of the thousands of cafes in Vietnam.
Tra Da and Tra Chanh
As well as coffee, tea is very popular! Tap water is undrinkable so if you’re not in the mood for anything fancy then a fragrant Tra Da is the go-to choice. This milkless iced tea is infused with different scents depending on where you are. Whilst Tra Da, pronounced ‘char dar’ means cold tea, Tra Chanh (char chang) is a slightly more expensive, sweeter alternative – ‘lemon tea’.
Where to find it? Anywhere and everywhere.
Coconut Coffee Smoothie
A cool chain of café’s called Cong Caphe serve a delicious coconut coffee smoothie made with a generous helping of ice-cream. Even if you’re not a coffee fan, chances are you’ll enjoy this invigorating drink.
Find it at any Cong Caphe for example at 32 Điện Biên Phủ, Hoan Kiem District
Egg Coffee (Ca Phe Trung)
Caphe Trung literally means ‘egg coffee’. An egg is whipped into a thick frothy tiramisu type mixture and poured over some strong coffee. A favourite with locals and tourists alike, don’t be put off by the egg, it’s like drinking a meringue.
Find it at ‘Secret Café’ Cafe Phố Cũ, 1 Hàng Gai, Hoàn Kiếm (note they call this wonderful café ‘secret’ for a reason, you’ll have to find your way through a clothes shop to find the entrance. Good luck!)
Bia Hoi truly is unmissable. On nearly every street you’ll find hordes of locals sat on tiny chairs and tables powering through dozens of glasses of bia hoi. Bia hoi is an additive and preservative free ‘fresh beer’ originally from the Czech Republic which costs between 5000 and 8000 Vietnamese Dong. That’s about 20cent a glass! The taste might seem a bit strange at first but our guess is that you’ll love it eventually. They say ‘in Vietnam you never drink alone’ and this is probably thanks to the great drinking culture of bia hoi. Expect a lot of invites from friendly Vietnamese to share in their drunken merriment – Day or Night.
Find it all over the city, the most popular being an intersection of Ta Hien Street, also known as ‘bia hoi corner’…you’ll know it when you see it.
Winters in Hanoi can get a bit chilly and this is the perfect winter warmer. Take an Earl Grey tea, froth some milk and then add just a touch of vanilla essence. It tastes like Christmas.
Find it at Joma Cafe or Post it Note Café in Hoan Kiem District
It tastes more like whisky than wine and at around 20% alcohol you’ll understand why. But it’s a common accompaniment to bia hoi and a favourite with the Vietnamese.
Find it at the secret railway bar- Ray Quan.
If you get fed up of little glasses of lager and want a heavier beer this is the go to. It’s not easy to find somewhere selling it, but it’s a full and flavourful beer and wouldn’t be out of place in an English pub.
Find it at Bia2KU where you can buy giant steins and enjoy them whilst looking at the great lake view.
Truc Bach Beer –
Whilst Vietnam has a good selection of beers, if you start to get tired of them, try Truc Bach. It is a surprisingly crisp, light and refreshing alternative to Hanoi’s normal selection.
Find it in the Truc Bach district of Hanoi where you can also snack on some delicious pho cuon.
Written by Alex Sinclair Lack for Teacher’s Friend – Vietnam. All rights reserved.