Bạc xỉu đá

I used to think it was unfair that I was born with a love for coffee but my body refused to receive caffeine. I always had to sneak the fragrant steam of coffee from my friends’ cup to satisfy my thirst for it. I inhaled a long breath to gather as much coffee aroma into my lung as possible. Sometimes I was brave enough to sip some black coffee or milk coffee but then I ended up having butterfly in my stomach and feeling nervous for the rest of the day.

Bạc xỉu đá (before and after being stirred)

However, I stopped complaining about it since the day I luckily discovered “bạc xỉu đá”. It’s a drink of milk, a little coffee and ice chips. You can find it in every coffee shops in Huế. It’s an ideal drink for a hot sunny day, or for someone who cannot drink strong coffee.

I didn’t know why it was called “bạc xỉu đá” and where it came from. While “đá” means “ice”,“bạc xỉu” or “bạc sỉu” doesn’t make any sense in Vietnamese. Besides, I always believed “bạc xỉu” was a weird name for a drink, and I even didn’t pronounce it properly when I started to order it for the first few times. Therefore, I decided to google “bạc xỉu” and found out its meaning from an online forum. A guy nicknamed Karma explains that “bạc xỉu” is a Guangdong dialect (“bạc” means “white”, “xỉu” means “little”), and it’s a kind of milk coffee with a lot of milk and a little coffee. Although I’m not sure if it’s true, this explanation sounds quite reasonable to me.

I do wonder how much “bạc xỉu đá” from Guangdong tastes different from the one from Huế, and I’m going to find it out. Until then, I’m happy with this blend of sweetness, bitterness, coffee aroma and icy taste although it makes me feel nervous or sleepless sometimes.

  • Hi there Lan 😉 greetings from Jakarta…

    well I must say that ur love for ur city fascinate me, bravo

    regarding the coffe, I used to go to a Vietnamese restaurant in Jakarta called pho-hua, they served one of the best coffee, but the side effect is that u can’t sleep even for a minute for the next 10 hours he he 😆

  • Hương Lan

    Thanks, mate. I was so happy to find one Vietnamese restaurant in Jakarta. There are some Indo food that I like and mie baso is my favorite. 🙂

  • Is it possible to find decaffeinated coffee in Vietnam? It is popular in the US and Europe and available at Starbucks and in grocery stores. Maybe ask at Gloria Jeans since they are from the states.


  • Hương Lan

    Thanks for your suggestion, David. But it’s a pity that Gloria Jeans has not arrived in Hue yet. Got to find it in Saigon or Hanoi. 😀

  • Andy

    This is new to me. Isn’t it weird to name a drink “bac xiu da”? haha…it sounds more like a coffee Latte to me.

  • Prince Edward

    In Hong Kong, we don’t have anything called bau xiu for this kind of milky coffee. But u may appreciate we have a very special and local drink called yin yeung. It’s a blend of ceylon tea with coffee and milk in Hong Kong style. You can choose to have more tea or more coffee to suit your own taste. Available in both hot and cold.

    • Hương Lan

      Hi Edward,

      Yin Yeung sounds interesting. I’ll definitely try it when I visit Hong Kong. Thanks for recommending it. ^_^