The Oats Kafe
The Oats Kafe is open for takeout, delivery and indoor dining. There are floor markers and hand sanitizer is at the counter. Masks are mandatory.
The Oats Kafe serves coffee and snacks similar to what you'd discover at cafes and street stalls around Vietnam.
Vietnamese signatures like creamy egg coffee and bac xiu outshine the standard, espresso-based latte and Americano at this coffee shop tucked away on the tiny Phipps Street.
Local to the U of T St. George Campus, the bright cafe is usually busy on weekdays with students flocking to the two-tops with their MacBooks and choice of caffeine fuel.
Jolie Tran opened for business after moving to Toronto from the capital city of Vietnam, Hanoi, and whips up the drinks trademarked by the world's second-largest coffee producer with a team of four baristas.
Head barista Louis Nguyen makes a distinctive Hanoi offering, egg coffee ($4.99) by whisking a few eggs and condensed milk at high speed in a mixer for a good 10 minutes until it reaches a fluffy consistency.
This drink, which is a far cry from just a raw egg in a cup of coffee, was created during the French Indochina War in the 1940s due to a milk shortage. A Hanoi bartender had the thought to whisk eggs into coffee and it made for a more-than-worthy substitute.
The airy froth gets their house-blended Vietnamese coffee, which is dripped from a phin filter and mixed with robusta and arabica coffee beans to avoid being overly bitter.
The beverage that doubles as a dessert is served with a spoon, and the recommendation is to stir in the coffee at the bottom with the egg and milk foam before taking a sip.
Bac xiu ($4.50) is another drink that you'll likely have a hard time finding elsewhere in the city. The Vietnamese white coffee blends dark coffee, your choice of milk and condensed milk. It's just the thing if you're looking to veer (only slightly) from your standard latte order.
Coconut coffee ($5.99) is their take on a popular drink in cafes around Vietnam. The subtly rich coconut cream nicely complements the strong coffee and plenty of toasted coconut flakes are sprinkled on the top.
Food is also on the menu to balance out the caffeine. Vietnamese street style snack kit ($20) is a platter of fried and grilled pork fingers and fried cheese, pork balls. I'm told, this type of street food can be found around pretty much every corner in Hanoi.
Available along with a grilled chicken and lemongrass beef Bahn mi is the northern-inspired house special ($6.99) that gets warm Vietnamese ham and pork pate, pickled veggies, cilantro and cucumbers.
The salted egg cupcake (each: $3.50, pack of six: $18) is made in-house with cheese sauce and pork floss for an interesting combination of salty and sweet.
Make sure to pick up one of the Vietnamese phin filters ($10) before heading out the door if you plan on recreating any of the drinks at home.