Cafe Ngan has been around for 60 plus years. The old lady who was the original owner, died a couple of years ago, having spent a lifetime making and serving the most delicious kind of coffee there may be. The large framed portrait of her pouring a cup of coffee, silently welcomes anyone who enters the cafe.
The lady who owned this shop invented the recipe by accident. One day a customer asked for milk in his coffee. The shop had run out. So she beat an egg yolk till it was thick like cream. The customer loved it and they never looked back. Do you want a black coffee? Why not try a white one too? How about an egg chocolate?
He was asking but really wanted us to taste all of it so we nodded happily in the affirmative and waited. The first coffee to appear was the traditional café sua da (black coffee with condensed milk) served on ice and plain back coffee, also served on ice. We had both so that we could share. The strong dark flavour of the coffee hit my senses as soon as I took the first sip.
This is robusta bean, our guide explained. That is why it is so strong. The coffee you drink at home has arabica bean– it is not as strong. Ours is the best coffee in the world! We nodded and smiled as we sipped.
The pièce de résistance of the day, ‘egg chocolate’ in medium sized bowls was accompanied by little cups of frothy egg coffee. Each egg chocolate cup had a generous spoon of cocoa powder sitting on top of pale yellow froth. Our guide picked up one bowl at a time and deftly whisked the cocoa powder into the mixture. This was the mixing of a much practiced hand. Like magic the cocoa powder melted into the mixture, turning it from a pale yellow to a chocolaty brown. ‘Here, now taste that’. It. Was. Divine. The smooth, soft texture, the delicate taste of chocolate, the overall sensory experience was all just beautiful. I had no idea what to expect and I loved every last drop. The egg coffee was too bitter for me ( as was the black coffee) but the most delicious part was that gorgeous texture.
We finished up and left the little hidden gem of a cafe and reentered the main street. We turned right and then left and walked through the next few streets including what looked like underwear alley ( literally shop after shop selling all manner of lingerie…!) till we came to a broader road. We stopped at a smallish stall, with a modest seating area inside, which served vermicelli noodles, thicker flat noodles, deep fried, crispy calamari all tossed in with herbs and dressing. It was delicious. All the family seem to be involved in preparations while customers ate. The older looking gentleman sat across the street slicing the calamari, while the two women alternately fried the squid or prepared the many ingredients what went into making to overall dish. This was the only dish this restaurant serves. Needless to say, they have mastered the art of preparing and serving a really tasty dish with complex flavours, to perfection.
As we crossed over the cart selling fresh mango salad came into view. Again in a matter of a few minutes a bowl of thinly sliced, freshly cut, green mango topped with fried camalari, peanuts, mint and a generous helping of dressing found its way into my hand. The sweet, sour, chilli, salty, umami taste really does awaken all your taste buds and I found my self desperate for more while needing to take a break.
What an experience! It was worth every moment of the wait. A little while later, on the way home, I knew that this was going to be a food tour I would not forget in a hurry. Remarkably, I was neither over stuffed nor uncomfortable from all the food. 3 hours of walking, eating, taking in all our beautiful surroundings seemed to have done the trick.