This is an extremely busy place to dine if you go in the evening so to avoid crowds go in the afternoon, after the lunch hour rush. Though it is reputed to be 200 years old and is visited by many tourists, there is a decided local flair to it and indeed many Hanoians dine here. It is a narrow and simple place, with too many wooden tables squeezed into its area space. When the tables are full and the waiters are scurrying about with hot sizzling pans of cha ca, you know you are in the right place.
Favorite Dish: Not sure if they even have anything aside from cha ca but this is THE thing to get if you are here anyway. It is a white fish, served in boneless chunks, smothered in greens and saffron-infused oil. It comes out right in the frying pan it is cooked in too. It seems a bit expensive by local standards (142,000d or $9 for two) but you get an unlimited amount of rice noodles on the side and with all the oil and greens, it makes a tasty accompaniment. Wash it all down with one of Vietnam's best bottled beers, Ha Noi. This brew is not as watery as most of the country's concoctions and actually has some hop bitterness that goes well with the spicy fish.
This place is listed under Patricia Shultz's "1000 places to see before you die".
Since this place is highly touted by Shultz, it's supposed to be an instituition pretty much like the Pho Hua in the South. But sad to say, I won't give this place high points for the food though service is excellent. Nope dear reader, if you can, give this place a miss and try your Cha Ca at La Brique or Brother's cafe.
Favorite Dish: Ok, it wasn't the creaking windy staircase or walking around the choked arteries of the old quarters that made me debunk Shultz's recommendation.
It was the tumeric.
There was too much of it , making the dish more yellow than the Beetle's submarine. And like a fussy Chinese eater, I don't like the fact that my fish was frying the whole time I was eating! When that happens, the fish is stripped off the taste and moisture. Too bad, this was otherwise a fine place and service was par excellent.
How did I know? Well, after ordering the dish, I snared one the the waiters and asked in terrible vietnamese how to eat this darn thing. The next thing I knew, the proprietess intercepted the waiter.Guess she took pity on me. She broke into a cheerful prattle of motherly chuckles and threw in an ark of vegetables into a sizzling platter of oil and fish. Next, she threw in something here and there and voila! There was the dish ready for me to eat...
Here's a lesson on eating cha ca in case you look as daft as I did in the shop.
Eating Cha Ca 101
Attack the dill, parsley and assortment of vegetables like a crazed rabbit and throw in the lot into the simmering pan. Toss in some noodles too for good measure.Stir fry it for a while to kill unhappy e.coli in the vegetables.
Take out the concoction, sprinkle an odd peanut or two, drench it in sweet sauce and feast on the fish.
I love looking for little restaurants / bars / cafes in strange places that I have never been before. Armed with just the address and a vague idea of where it is located, its an adventure itself looking for that elusive place.
So I got lost along the way. However, helpful locals seeing a lost tourist (ie : me) generously pointed me to the right direction.
The restaurant is a small place. Up the slightly steep staircase, I come into a bustling atmosphere with many tables filled up already ! I was alone, so I had no problems sharing a table with an old couple. Everyone there is smiling and busy focusing on the food - this is a great sign !
Favorite Dish: While the guest sit down at the table, the waiter starts laying there some seasonings: a bowl of well - stirred shrimp paste sauce mixed up with lemon and a few drops of liquor to give it flagrancy, and decorated by a few slices of red fresh pimento (chilli), a plate of grilled ground nuts of gold yellow color, various species of mint vegetables from Lang village; onions in small white slices having the form of tuberose.
Added to this is a plate of soft noodle in thin small and white threads. To many customers, the sight of such seasoning already greatly stimulates their appetite. A few minutes later, fried fish, yellow in color and flagrant in smell, put on a plate of anethum vegetable is brought in. But that is not all. A few seconds more a cauldron of boiling fat is brought in and the waiter start pouring some boiling fat on each bowl of grilled fish, thus producing a flagrant smoke and sputtering noise.
Further, some drops of coleopterous are dropped on the bowl giving it a special smell which is unforgettable to connoisseurs. Grilled fish are usually chosen from certain species of fish: pimelode, sturgeon,etc
Cha Ca means fried fish in Vietnamese, and it's an appropriate name for this restaurant because that's all they serve. Cha Ca La Vong is reputedly the oldest restaurant in Hanoi, and one does get a slight sense of its history. The decor and ambiance leave something to be desired, but the Cha Ca was actually quite good, with a nice sauce and served in a heated pan. The place was packed with tourists, although there was a sprinkling of locals.
After dinner, head to the really swanky little cafe directly across the street that serves great french desserts. Can't remember the name.
Favorite Dish: They only have fried fish, so if you don't like that then don't come here.
First went here 12 years ago, before the air cons were put in, been taking people here ever since they put a drop of what they said was beetle semen in there to "help me through the night" (I was with me girlfriend). White fish cooked on charcoal burner in saffron oil and lots of greens, eaten with cold rice noodles and shrimp paste. I know lots of people literally turn their noses up at shrimp paste but once you get past the smell it tatses wonderfull.
Favorite Dish: There is only one.....Cha Ca
We stayed in one of Hanoi's well-known 36 districts. This restaurant, which specializes in fish, is unsurprisingly located in the Fish district. The little statue supposedly depicts the lgendary old fisherman who's the restaurant's namesake.
Cha ca means fish paste. The white paste is served fresh, along with a hot pot, right on your table. The soup base is a little sweet, a little sour, a little tangy. You'd boil the fish in it along with assorted vegetables, roll them all up with white vermicelli in thin rice paper. Then you'd dip the whole thing in a pungent sauce. If you can get past the smell of the sauce, you're golden. My non-Vietnamese companions had no problem with it; in fact they enjoyed it immensely.
This place has been known for generations. My parents knew about it. I'm glad we finally got to try it.
Favorite Dish: They serve one thing and one thing only.
This restaurant has been featured in all major tourist guide book, guide map and tourist own recommendation. It has indeed meet my high expectation.
It's a 2 storey shoplot located at Cha Ca (reads Cha Ga). It's small & packed with tables & charcoal stoves & tourists, and only turn on fans during spring. Could be a little stuffed but the fish is just so tasty that all i could do is to sip a can of beer to cool down and continue eating.
Favorite Dish: "There's only 1 dish served in the restaurant - Grilled Fish. VND70,000 per person. "
I was handed a piece of paper indicating me need not to think of what to eat and just order :). Eight of us can settle with 6 servings, fyi. Waiter served a basket of green vege, plate of bean sprout, a bowl of sauce that looked like lemon juice with chilli called "mam tom", plates of rice noodle without soup, and then followed by a charcoal stove with fish cube soaked in hot boiling oil. Just mix veges into the fish & oil to heat, and mix with the noodle to eat. Add the "mam tom" into noodle for taste
Cha Ca La Vong is the oldest restaurant in Hanoi spanning five generations. It is so famous, the street was even named after it. Cha Ca is a fish and noodle dish cooked with tumeric, dill, noodles, spring onions, peanuts and the special Vietnamese sweet sauce all of which you throw in and mix yourself. It was excellent and a trip to Hanoi is not complete without a visit to Cha Ca La Vong.
The only drawback was that the hot coals made us feel like we were frying along with the fish, and when we turned the electric fan above us on, it blew ash everywhere. So we had to endure the heat , but the entire experience was well worth it!
Written on the back of their business card:
Cha Ca, a special dish, first made by the family Doan in Hanoi
Cha Ca La Vong restuarant has been open through five generations for over one hundred years and has now become very famous at home and abroad.
Cha Ca has been so appreciated that the street is named afterwards.
Cha Ca La Vong is the only three restaurants to serve authentic Cha Ca in Vietnam and has no branches.
Favorite Dish: There's only one dish! - Cha ca
The entrance of the restaurant along Cha Ca Road is not very inviting, opps..main dining is on the second floor, it is air conditioned and jamp packed with tourist and locals alike.
Cha Ca, a special dish first made by Doan family in Hanoi. Cha Ca La Vong (name of the restaurant has been opened for more than 100 years, managed now by the fifth generation of the family.
In order of the dish, the street where it is located is named after it, Cha Ca street.
Favorite Dish: Grilled Fish and it cost 70,000 dong per person not including the drinks...
The river fish is very very tasty, cooked into special oil concoction..Then on the side of the grill, the herbs is placed in order to cook on the fish oil.
There is a process of eating Cha Ca, thanks Minh!
On a small bowl, place the cooked noodles, followed by the greens, grilled fish and herbs (from the grill), peanuts, then a teaspoon of fish sauce.
The old establishment is famous for it's fish hot plate dish served on mini charcoal stove. The food was alright - afterall, they only have one dish there! The ambience was much to be desired however, you have to walk up a narrow flight of wooden stairs, but the "old" setting smacks of character. The service was pretty good though - the lady obviously knew we were foreigners and showed us how to cook the food, dumping in a load of vegetables and stirring everything together!
All in all, it certainly was an experience, but dining here is rather pricey. Dinner with drinks cost the two of us 160,000 dong.
This you must do, have cha ca in Hanoi. It will be a little difficult to find this restaurant in that it is located in the Old Quarter in Hanoi in the middle of a block with no special sign that says "Hey You are Here", but boy is it totally worth the search. Cha ca is a type of white fish that is cooked in a skillet that is prepared right at your table. Don't worry if you look clueless, the waiters and waitresses will help you. The taste is so AWESOME. Be careful not to splatter any of the brilliant yellow sauce that it is cooked in on your clothing because believe me it will not come out.
I guess i'm in the luck making the right decision leading my group of 40 pax opt not going to this restaurant at the end of Hanoi-Ha Long Bay visit. We're heading to airport unexpectedly early (something fishy) and no thanks to the local tour guide keep bragging about this 200 yrs. old restaurant serving Cha Ca fish trying to convince us to lunch promising good food at the price of USD10/head. The tour guide initially said he will only want to bring 10 persons due to the popularity of the restaurant and if we going in groups the owner will find out we are tourist and the price will be raised up. After just mere 5min. of making decision with my groups to my amazed the tour guide change his statement that he could bring us all with the price raised up to USD15 without any valid reason being explained. However judging from the trips with many empty promise of good food and lousy accomodation from the journey we decided not to go. We're so DAMM LUCKY.
Favorite Dish: Not even reach there.
I see this restaurant more like a tourist trap. Advertising everywhere to go there. But what you get is this:
First you will realize that there are (almost) no locals but only tourists (don't think Asian looking people there might be always from Hanoi - there are Asian tourists too). You get the food without ordering. A view small pieces of fish in hot oil. You can add vegetables. The taste is an extremely oily experience - nothing more. But eat slowly since you do not have much to eat...
To summarize: an awful snack for far too much money... This restaurant seems to live mostly from one time customers - I will not go there anymore too. I write this after having been living in Asia for more than 10 years and so with some Asien kitchen experience... The best meals I found in Hanoi were in a small street next to the market in the old quarter. The street is Dong Xuan directly next to the market hall. It is only a few meters wide so that you can only walk there. There are many food stalls next to each other. The prices are even smaller than the street ;-) The quality and taste of our meals was always perfect. And you get real local food.
Cha CA La Vong is on Cha Ca Street where you can see the sign of ''Cha Ca'' everyehere so dont go in the wrong restaurant. We went to no.17 on Cha Ca St. first and it wasnt look like the oldst restaurant so we checked the addrees again then moved out quitely.
La Vong restaurant has 2 floors with very steep stairs --- becareful when you climbing down.
Favorite Dish: They asked us only how many person we wanna order---7,000 dong per person---they put hot pot on the desk --- and put pieces of fish with curry oil in---put vegetable too. They tought us how to eat as well LOL eatting thing from hot pot with rice noodle ( if you like put some sweet clear sauce )
In Hanoi, there are some eating places you go to because of the decor and others that you go to despite the decor. Cha Ca La Vong is one of the latter kind.
The place is any decorator’s nightmare with its neon lights, green walls and wobbly tables and chairs.
But – oh – the food! The food is absolutely scrumptious!
And the best thing is that they only serve one dish. So you won’t be spending hours studying the menu, trying to decide what to get.
At Cha Ca La Vong, there’s only “Cha Ca” – the signature fish dish. It’s so popular that it’s even lent its name to the street that the restaurant is on.
Cha Ca La Vong has been run by the same family for generations. It’s located in a rickety old house in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. There’s no flashy sign, no line of people, no attractive exterior that’ll draw you to this traditional restaurant.
If you aren’t aware of what’s inside this shabby house, you’ll never notice it or think of going in.
Luckily, a friend had told me about it, so we stepped inside, climbed up the narrow wooden stairs to the left of the entrance, and made our way to the first floor.
Upstairs, one of the waiters showed us to our seats and placed a little laminated card in front of us. It told us that the only dish at this restaurant – Cha Ca – would cost us 90 000 Vietnamese Dong each – roughly € 3,50 or about $ 5,00.
After we’d managed to communicate that that price was just within our financial limits, we were on.
The waiter brought a clay oven filled with red hot charcoal to our table. He put a pan with sizzling hot oil and some pieces of fish on top of the oven.
In addition, we got some cold rice noodles in a bowl, some peanuts, a small plate with dill and Vietnamese herbs and a bowl with spring onions.
Next, the waiter threw some of the spring onions and herbs into the pan. The combination of frying fish, Asian spices, herbs and spring onions smelled great.
Unfortunately, we were clueless as to what should happen next: Should we take the frying pan off the grill at some point? Or should we also put the noodles and peanuts into the pan?
No, no, our waiter signalled, and demonstrated how it’s done: you put some of the cold rice noodles in your bowl, add some pieces of fried fish from the pan, sprinkle with some peanuts and add the fresh herbs.
The resulting combination was unbelievably delicious!
“This is the best dinner we’ve had in Vietnam”, my friend said.
I think it didn’t take us longer than fifteen minutes to clear that pan.
But as soon we were no longer busy chowing down, we suddenly became aware of the fact that there was this extremely hot grill sitting right in front of us on our table. A grill with burning charcoal and a pan full of hot oil. A grill on a wooden table, in a wooden house, in the middle of the maze that is Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
How far to the next fire extinguisher in case the oil caught fire? How long would it take fire fighters to get here in case of an emergency? Kind of unpleasant thoughts.Ha Noi Beer to extinguish the fire
We felt pretty relieved when the waiter finally took away that charcoal grill and just left us with our beers. And the bill…