The old saying about New York's classic beverage, the egg cream, is that it contains neither egg nor cream. The Vietnamese drink soda sữa hột gà is what you might actually think an egg cream would be, if you didn’t grow up on the chocolate syrup, milk, and soda water concoction of New York.
Seattle’s a pho town. Everyone has their favorite spot for a bowl of hot noodle soup, and everyone has their favorite selection of meats and condiments to add in, but does anyone have a favorite beverage to pair with it? The soda sữa hột gà is ready to stake a claim to that role.
In soda sữa hột gà, egg yolk is beaten with condensed milk until fluffy, then topped off with soda water. It’s a cool, refreshing drink with a funky, savory edge to it. The richness of the egg yolk mixed with the sweet milk gives it the texture of a custard, which is then loosened up by the bubbles of the soda water. The soda also cuts through the thickness of the egg and milk, allowing the complexity of egg yolk flavor room to play with the milk’s sweetness.
The pairing with pho is incredible, as the broth, hot in both temperature and spice, is cooled with the sweet, creamy soda. The herbs of the soup brighten the flavor of the pho while pairing with the savory egg elements of the drink.
Where to find it:
A favorite version comes from Ben Thanh, an under-appreciated gem of a Vietnamese restaurant across the street from Franklin High School in Rainier Valley. Look towards the kitchen, and you might spot your server beating the yolk and milk together by hand. It’s also on the menu at Mi La Cay, Green Leaf, and many other Vietnamese restaurants, either under the Vietnamese name soda sữa hột gà or in English as Egg Milk Soda.