“Cha ca La Vong”– a should-not-miss Hanoi specialty
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Not only is Hanoi renowned as a city of peace, the city also captures visitors’ hearts by its special delicacies. Hanoi is home to many famous dishes representing the Northern Vietnam cuisine such as pho, bun cha, xoi xeo, and especially, “cha ca”. “Cha Ca” or “Cha Ca La Vong” (grilled fish) is not just a normal dish of Hanoi’s citizens but it is now a must-taste dish that travelers cannot help falling in love.
The origin of “Cha Ca”
The first “Cha Ca” restaurant
This scrumptious dish has gone through more than 200 years of history. In the early 19th century, Vietnam was still a colony of France. The Vietnamese revolutionists often held meetings at Hang Son Street in the Old Quarter. Doan Family – which was the host of the house, decided to make a home-cooked fish dish to sell in order to be a cover for the secret meetings as well as to earn some incomes for the family. In front of the house stood a statue of La Vong – a Chinese revolutionist who was fishing on the stream; hence, the dish and the shop has been called “Cha Ca La Vong” since then. Nowadays, “Cha Ca La Vong” is considered one of the top must-eat dishes in Vietnam.
How to make “Cha Ca”
This heavenly-tasty Hanoi food is made from Hemibagrus – a popular type of catfish which lives in the river in the North. Since the size of the fish is quite big, it is much easier to remover the bones. To make “Cha Ca”, the fish is cut into small pieces and marinated with turmeric, garlic, and other ingredients. After being grilled on charcoal, the fish is then pan-fried with dill and onion. The ingredients altogether create a mouth-watering smell and taste.
Cha Ca – a Hanoi specialty
In the restaurants, customers are allowed to grill the fish right at the table by themselves. The sizzling sound and the fragrant smell from the frying pan would drive you crazy.
Cha Ca is often served with rice vermicelli, fresh vegetables (mint, cilantro), fried peanuts, dipping sauce or “mam tom” (shrimp paste) – a distinguished sauce of Northern Vietnam cuisine. You can add chilies, lemon juice to the sauce to make it tastier.
Many people choose to eat everything separately. However, combining all the ingredients together in one bowl is the more popular way to eat “cha ca”. Putting the fish, noodle, fresh herb in a bowl and spreading the hot broth in the pot would make the dish more tasteful. Especially, in the winter, the heat from the dish will warm up your day.
Where to eat “Cha Ca La Vong”
There are some famous traditional restaurants that serve “Cha Ca” that you should pay a visit to your Hanoi culinary tour.
Cha Ca La Vong
Cha Ca is pan-fried right on the table
Located at Cha Ca Street in the Old Quarter, the 200-year-old restaurant is where you can find the most authentic taste of “Cha Ca”. Even though the restaurant only serves “Cha Ca”, it is still crowded with locals and travelers. It cost 170,000 VND/person (about $8) but it’s worth it.
Address: 14 Cha Ca, Hoan Kiem District
Cha Ca Anh Vu
In addition to the enticing taste, Cha Ca Anh Vu is even more appealing thanks to its low price. It only takes you about 450,000 VND for 4 people.
Address: 116 K1, Giang Vo, Ba Dinh District
Cha Ca Kinh Ky
Cha Ca Kinh Ky is another famous series of restaurants. With 5 eateries around Hanoi, Cha Ca Kinh Ky attracts a large number of both locals and tourists. The thing that makes this restaurant outstanding is the aroma from “Ca Cuong” essence which is added to the dish. It costs about 50,000 – 100,000 VND/person.
- 25 Duong Thanh, Hoan Kiem District
- 104 Hoa Ma, Hoan Kiem District
- 621 Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho District
- 41 Huynh Thuc Khang, Ba Dinh District
- 172 Nguyen Son, Long Bien District
Cha Ca Lao Ngu
A distinguished dish of this restaurant is the fried fish stomach, which can hardly be found in western countries.
Address: 171 Thai Ha, Dong Da District
“Cha Ca La Vong” is not only a typical dish of Northern Vietnam cuisine but also the pride of Hanoi’s people. Made from fresh materials and with passion from the chefs, the taste of “Cha Ca La Vong” will definitely whet your appetite.