CHA CA LA VONG – HANOI-STYLE GRILLED FISH

“Cha ca La Vong”, “Cha ca Thang Long” or “Cha ca Ha Thanh” (Hanoi Tumeric Grilled Fish with Dill) is an iconic Hanoian dish and a culinary myth for visitors and food lovers coming to the Capital City.

A chunk of golden fish plated on an aromatic bed served with a special dipping sauce, every inch of “Cha ca La Vong” boasts a unique dining experience regarding taste and cooking procedure.

What’s so special about “Cha ca La Vong”?

The origin of this dish goes back a century ago, while Vietnam was still a part of French Indochina. Located in the Old Quarter of Hanoi was a secret meeting place for Vietnamese resistance fighters, and to act as cover and raise funds for the movement, the house would also serve “Cha ca” (grilled fish) during the day. Outside the establishment stands a statue of a poet and resistance fighter, La Vong, and until today, the “Cha ca La Vong” Restaurant (same as the name of the dish) still serves hundreds of satisfied patrons daily.

Nowhere offers a more refined dish of “Cha ca” better than in Hanoi. The signature flavor is like a harmony of ingredients, including heavy-scented ones such as turmeric, galangal, ginger, fish sauce, and sugar. The sliced fish meats, Hemibagrus at best, are well-marinaded, then served tableside on sizzling cast iron, followed by fresh dill and green onions. A well-cooked grilled fish must be juicy, firm, flavorful, and attractive with nice golden brown color. Vermicelli, crushed peanuts, and especially the challenging famous “mam tom” (shrimp paste) – key of a wowing after-taste, are also must-haves while enjoying “Cha ca La Vong”.

 

Silk Path’s Guide: Where to enjoy “Cha ca La Vong”?

Here are some of Silk Path’s recommendations for the best “Cha ca” in town:
CHA CA THANG LONG
● Address: 19 – 21 – 31, Duong Thanh Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
● Opening hours: 10.30 AM – 9.00 PM
● From Silk Path Hotel Hanoi600m

CHA CA LA VONG
● Address: 14 Cha Ca Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
● Opening hours: 11.00 AM – 2.00 PM | 5.00 PM – 9.00 PM
● From Silk Path Boutique Hanoi: 1.2km

VUA CHA CA
● Address: 1 Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
● Opening hours: 10.30 AM – 10.00 PM 
● From Silk Path Boutique Hanoi850m

CHA CA HANG SON
● Address: 15 Tran Hung Dao Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
● Opening hours: 10.30 AM – 2.00 PM | 5.30 PM – 10.00 PM
● From Silk Path Boutique Hanoi 1.1km

 

Photos: Cha ca Hang Son, Phan Anh, Hanoi Moi

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