Aug 26 2013

Cha Ca La Vong


I had read in my Frommers guide book that different cities and areas of Vietnam have slightly different traditional food and in Hanoi the Cha Ca is the thing to try, which is whitefish fried at high heat in peanut oil with dill, turmeric, lemon shrimp paste and a dash of rice whisky and my guide recommended that the best place to try this dish is Cha Ca La Vong, that only serves one dish, this Cha Ca (which means grilled fish in local language), and is located on the Cha Ca street.

When we arrived at ten past 5, we were the only people there, but when we left two other tables were occupied. The place is super grubby, the tables seem to be communal, and had there been more people in the restaurant I am sure we would have had to share a table. The waitress brought us the menu, which had just this one dish Cha Ca, but you could chose for how many people you wanted to have it for (1 person = 190,000 VND (£5.7), 2 people = 380,000 VND (£11.4), etc… clearly no discount for more people getting the same dish) and as we were not that hungry but wanted to try this, we chose to have it for only 1 person, and the waitress did give us a bit of a look for this, hoping we would be eating more and spending more.

When the fish arrived it was served on a lot of greens and there was a sort of cooking machine/ grill on our table and the waiter placed the dish on the machine, pressed some buttons, and the fish started bubbling and frying. Probably because we were foreigners and he thought we did not know what to do with all the ingredients that were put on our table, which is true, we did not, he began assembling the bowls for us. First he put some rice noodles, then some of the bubbling fish with the greens, then some onions and coriander and topped this with a spoonful of sauce and some peanuts. Sort of simple, but this was extremely delicious. I did not even mind the oil with the fish, it was just delicious to eat, all the different condiments went so well together with it. It was unique and tasty and full of Vietnamese flavours.

In terms of the price, VND 190,000 (£5.7) for a dish in a grubby restaurants is towards the high end of what you should pay in Hanoi (especially as I have also found a restaurant in London, Cay Tre, where you can get this dish for £7.50/ person in a much nicer ambience), but I did not mind. I thought it was such an experience to eat this dish and the Cha Ca was delicious.

Date: 26/ 08/ 13
Location: Hanoi
Price for 2 people with a bottle of beer, no service charge: VND 220,000 (£6.5)

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Cha Ca La Vong
14 Chả Cá, Hoan Kiem District
Cha Ca La Vong Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 3