Thursday, October 05, 2006

Vietnamese Coffee

Thanks to Mark Davidson, I discovered the Vietnamese 9N9 restaurant here in RTP at the intersection of Miami Blvd. and Alexander Drive. That was back in May or June, and since then, I've been there with Mark (or Jason Kreider, or Jennifer and the kids) at least half a dozen times.

The restaurant has nearly everything going for it, including several very important rules for restaurants:
  • plenty of people of the ethnicity that the restaurant claims to be
  • busy, ensuring good turnover and freshness
  • no fishy smell, again ensuring good turnover and freshness
They have a great selection, the food is very fresh, and it is reasonably priced. Win-win-win.

But the thing that impressed me the most was the coffee. Vietnamese French-pressed iced coffee, to be exact. Mark made me order it, and I enjoyed it so much that I made Jennifer get it, and eventually Jason, who with his thrifty nature, was reluctant at first due to its steep $2 price, but discovered that he liked it so much that he decided to go to Viet Nam to bring back a child to make it for him. (Seriously, he's going next month).

Not wanting to a) go to a Vietnamese restaurant every time we wanted coffee this good and b) pay $2 for it, Jennifer and I set out on a quest to have the ability to make it at home.

We made a couple of attempts with the various hardware and software we had at home, but it wasn't right. We needed a Vietnamese single-serve French press. Actually, two of them. So last weekend, Tristan and I headed to Grand Asia Market in Cary. We not only found the aforementioned presses ($5 each) but we were able to pick up some Vietnamese coffee, Vietnamese sweetened condensed milk, and some toasted seaweed snacks that Tristan likes to munch on at school. (An American kid who brings Japanese food to munch on in Chinese class, but whatever, they're tasty!)

Here's how it works. The press pot has a perforated bottom, and a perforated plunger to go on top of the grounds, and a lid, to keep in the heat. The whole contraption sits on top of a small class containing about 3/4" (45g) of sweetened condensed milk. You add 20g of the pre-ground Vietnamese coffee (~ 3 T) to the pot, and place the perforated plunger on top. Add 20 g (or mL) of nearly boiling water to the contraption, and let the grounds hydrate, then add an additional 45g. The coffee will drip into the milk over the next 5+ minutes. When the dripping has ceased, mix thoroughly, pour over ice, enjoy.


Andy Roth said...

Vietnamese or no, it still sounds nasty.

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