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Cha Ca La Vong: Hot Dinner
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…
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Cha Ca La Vong: Unique Vietnamese food experience
A little shop in a small little lane. However it is very famous, so you can easily get the direction from any local. Their business in very good, packed with local and foreigners in the 2 storey shoplot.
We were not sure how to order, the waiter show us the menu we order the set for about 35,000dong each we ordered two sets. It came with a charcoal po, some spring onions, some vegetables(mint leaves?), some onions, some oil, some cut chili. We did not know how to start. Then the local sat next to us show us we have to out the spring onion/veg into the hot pot, put some oil then fish slices(called cha ca in vietnam). After the fish is cooked, we could eat with the rice noodles provided, you could add the cut chilly or shrimp sauce or lime to go with it.
Favorite Dish: Cha ca (the fish slice)
Cha Ca La Vong: Over-rated and over-priced
Heard so much about the restaurant and the dish, I thought I had to give it a try. I missed it a couple of times because it only opens for dinner at 5pm. So, on the last day of my trip, I made it a point to get there at 5pm for dinner, before rushing to the airport at 6pm. Well, it was a great disappointment. I find the dish (made up of grilled fish cubes and vege) tasteless and oily. Definitely not worth VND 75,000 per person.
Cha Ca La Vong: Fish In Pan
There has been much hype about this restaurant, ran by 5 generation on Cha Ca Street. I have not tried any other Cha Ca but I will surely do in another restaurant the next time when I am there. They charge VND70,000 per person which I think if way too much for the portion but it is the way the food is being served. You get load of veg and noodles but there isn't enough of sauce to eat with... but should try at least once......
Favorite Dish: They do not serve anything other than Cha Ca
Cha Ca La Vong: No talking needed
We really didn't need to say anything when we ate at Cha Ca La Vong. We just took our seats and signalled how many servings we want. The attendant returns with a bubbling iron plate of fish with plates of noodles, herbs and fish sauce.
Before finishing the first plate of this Vietnamese specialty, customers usually ask for another one. Again, no need to talk. There is no other dish served in the venue, so no explanation necessary. Anyway, mother said don't talk when your mouth is full.
You shouldn't leave Hanoi without having tasted Cha Ca. Don't be intimidated if the attendants seem not the usual smiling faces of Hanoi. I think it's part of the charm of the place. My husband and I even regret not returning before we left Vietnam.
Cha Ca La Vong: It must be Cha Ca, because it's on Cha Ca Street
The classic Cha Ca place. Ambience is a bit local. If you want similar Cha Ca, visit La Brique on Nha Tho street. It's about the same price, but the atmosphere is friendlier to foreigners.
Favorite Dish: Well, they only serve one dish. Cha Ca is fish fish fried over a charcoal stove on your table, served with dill, nuoc mam (fish sauce). Very delicious.
Cha Ca La Vong: Try the stinky sauce
This place is famous enough that most people have heard of it by now, since it's probably the only place in the Old Quarters that serves the "Cha Ca" dish (grilled fish). But I noticed that the last time I was there, when we sat down, they served us the dish with the standard Vietnamese "nuoc mam." Traditionally, the dish is eaten with an odiferous shrimp paste sauce that non-locals would probably have to ask for. It's called "mam tom" and you can't miss it by the smell :-) If you're willing, ask for it and try it the way locals do!
Cha ca la vong: Do not go there
Do not go there, it was a joke for us,we went there in May 2011 and it cost us $28 for a few pieces of fish and noodles. owner was rude, food was bad,I nearly punch the guys there after they toll us our bill was $28.
Favorite Dish: Nothing good about the dish or the Restaurant
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Cha Ca La Vong: absolute rip-off...DO NOT GO HERE!
We just went to this restaurant and also got ripped off. We're Vietnamese but look viet kieu so we got the english plastic card stating that the dish is 150,000 dong per person. My wife and I were with our 8 year old and 5 year old so were required to order 4 portions (understandable at first)...which we soon found out consisted of 2 skillets of fish, each containing 8-10 tiny pieces of catfish covered in turmeric.
We assumed surely that such little food for 150,000 each would result in a skillet each...but when they told us each skillet was 2 portions i was floored.
I had to run to an ATM to grab cash as we didn't realize the price was so high...on the way I asked a motorbike taxi if the price was right and he confirmed it was definitely a foreigner rip off price.
I came back to pay and asked the lady if the price was a foreigner only price and she said she couldn't tell that I was vietnamese when I came in but insisted to charge 600,000 dong for the family...outrageous either way.
How this place gets on all the tourist maps and top ten listings for food in Hanoi I'll never know...the food was street food quality at best...the service was horrible (chronically constipated staff should not be dealing with customers)...and the prices we relatively outrageous.
Cha Ca La Vong: Avoid- A massive Rip off full of tourists
First time i have been compelled to write a review, unfortunately a bad one. Tonight I went to Cha Ca La Vong with my girlfriend after seeing it recommended in the lonely planet. Sounded good as a local place that has been going for 5 generations serving only one dish...
BUT it was terrible. From the moment we arrived the staff ignored us. We found a table to sit down and then had some cold rice noodles and herbs dumped in front of us. The hot plate with fish came out next, the taste was ok but there was nowhere near enough of it- about 10 small pieces. And, at 170,000 Vietnamese Dong per person it was a complete rip off!! We asked for beers which arrived 10 minutes later with the top on. We then waited another 5 minutes until we were given a bottle opener to open them ourselves!
The place is filthy, and had a load of tourists who'd obviously read the same glowing lonely planet review..
For what came to $20 USD, try somewhere else that has a nice local feel to it and better value for money.
Cha ca La Vong: Fried fish & fried veggies ;)
It's located in the old quarter..Need to be careful as there are similar restaurants offering similar dish. Picture of the original restaurant is attached.
It's a two floor restaurant. Don't bother to ask the staff in front of the restaurant to get a table for you, either wait on 1st floor or just go upstairs. You need to queue in the alley, when there is an empty table just take it.
Favorite Dish: Only cha ca (fish and veggies fried) offered here. You should put all the veggies in the pan. After all get cooked, put it on your rice noodles and add several condiments for additional taste. I personally prefer the fish sauce added with fresh red chillies instead the one with shrimp paste..
Btw, I overcooked my dish as shown in the attached photo.. ;)
- Food and Dining
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Cha Ca La Vong: Please avoid!
Lonely planet recommended but it is totally OVER-RATED in my opinion. 100,000VND per pax for few pieces of fish in oil. Avoid at all means.
When i enter, they brought me this card "we only sell one dish - grilled fish, 100,000VND for one". Looks like they really know that they are popular with tourists. Check out the review of other VTs who went there earlier, you can compared who much have they increased in price.
If you really want to try this local dish, go to Ladybird Restaurant @ 57 Hang Buom, the menu calls it “Hanoi grilled fish”, but it is Cha Ca. You can enjoy it at half the price, twice the portion and in a much better ambience.
Favorite Dish: None.
- Budget Travel
Cha Ca La Vong,Hanoi: A total Rip Off!!!!
A total rip off, one of the most extreme I have experienced, even here in Hanoi.
The date: March 10th,09.
Starting from the rude madam at he door who snapped at us as we entered the main downstairs part of the restaurant, and subsequently forced us up a narrow wooden staircase to an upper level where there were a few tables left in this grubby run down area obviously not designed for dining and possibly a storeroom, but used as a back up area for the GREEDY owners to stuff in even more dumb ass tourists...
Maybe we though with great expectations it will STILL BE great.
I got suss when an unspeaking male person threw onto the table a plastic coated notice stating the cost is Vnd 10,000 and its just that, and nothing else is available.
Well my Lonely Planet copy says VND 8,000 but that no surprise once Lonely Planet puts these places in their book prices always soar.
Still we waited with great expectation to try these reccommended Fish feast at this hyped up so called 200 yr old establishment.
What we got was a maybe 500 VND [50 cents] worth of food, being 7 pieces of so called fish per person , no bigger than my small finger nail, [I do not jest] and not much thicker than a postage stamp, with a few greens, heaps of Oil and tossed in a hot dish with a fire under it by the young guy servicing the table.
We felt totally ripped off, and looked around at all the other wanker tourists being politically correct.
My gripe is not about the dump itself, or the rude Greedy owners, thats character, but the outragious exorbitant price asked for a few very boring scraps of food and the way they keep filling the place with these stupid tourists is my gripe..
I know when Im getting screwed, Ive been in the restaurant buss long enough to know costs, so we left to do battle with the madam at the reception who we told them it was crap for the almost A$10 per person asked.
After a lot of yelling back and forth,and the head madam getting more backup support at the reception to try to intimidate us, we eventually got bored with arguing and threw half the amount asked on the desk ,and walked out. Even at VND5,000 each we left, that was 5 time more than it was worth.
The place is also a FIRETRAP there being NO way we could exit down the narrow steep attic stairway if one of the blazing fire cookers on each table fell over.
How do these crooks get away with these rip offs.
You know how these rip off artists keep getting away with it, dumb first time tourists, being too politically correct, and not complaining!
Favorite Dish: You mjust be Kidding!!
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Cha Ca La Vong: What a shame...
Me and my husbond went here 4 years agao and we both remembered it as different amd eceptionally good. So we had no doubt in our mind to come back this time and try the food once again.
This time we did not meet our expantations at all!! We were so dissapointed! The food was uneadible to put it mild!! To much oil and no flavor at all!!
We will return to Hanoi but never to this restaurant again!
Cha Ca La Vong: Tourist Trap
Give this place a miss unless you have extra cash and don't know what to spend on. The place is small and cramp, it will be hard to run for your life if a fire were to break out.
A rip-off for a few miserable pieces of fish swimming in oil - not for the health conscious. Paid 200 000 dong for a meal for 2 including 2 bottles of mineral water. Taste is not bad but for the meagre portion and location with zero ambience, 80 000 dong will be more like it. Even a random coffee shop in my homeland fill my stomach better for less than half the price.
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