“Cha ca” is a favourite dish of Hanoian. Located in Cha Ca street, Cha Ca La Vong (”cha ca” means grilled fish) is the famous restaurant to many Hanoian as well as visitors from all over the world.
The food is supposed to have been created by the Doan family. According to Mrs. Ngo Thi Tinh (a descendant of the 4th generation of the family), the family started the business of selling “cha ca” to earn money to support the family members and to have a meeting place for the Vietnamese people who wanted to fight against French colonialism.
The family food became a specialty of Hanoian. There’s a statue of La Vong (an ancient Chinese poet and revolutionist) fishing by a stream on display in the restaurant. This is the symbol of a talented and patient man who know to wait for the right moment to come. The patrons called the restaurant “Cha ca La Vong”.
Connoisseurs usually wait until it become cool to go to enjoy the taste of Cha ca. The grilled fish must be made from a kind of fresh water fish called hemibagrus because it has very few bones and the flesh is very tasty. If hemibagrus is not available, we could do with mudfish or snake-head fish. Some connoisseurs may request for a special kind of fish called Anh Vu, which is available only in Viet Tri city at the turning point of the Bach Hac river.
Thin slices of Anh Vu fish are rolled with a kind of herb called “soi” then grilled to give an excellent flavour. To make grilled fish, thin slices of fish have to be mixed with ginger, saffron, fermented cold rice, pepper and fish sauce; then placed on bamboo skewers and grilled on a burning charcoal stove right on the dinning tables.
La Vong grilled fish has become a cultural feature and specialty, attracting food lovers to come to Hanoi. The dish was listed in The Bucket List “1,000 places to know before you die”, in the top 5 out of 10 places to visit in the world. In 2016, La Vong grilled fish was broadcast on CNN as one of the best Vietnamese dishes in the world.
Find a place to try?
Cha Ca La Vong restaurant:
Branch 1: 14 Cha Ca Street
Branch 2: 107 Nguyen Truong To
Ho Chi Minh City:
Branch 1: No. 3-5 Ho Xuan Huong, Ward 6, District 3
Branch 2: 36 Ton That Thiep, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
Branch 3: 1000 Nguyen Van Linh, Phu My Hung, District 7
Branch 4: 106 Hoa Phuong, Ward 2, Phu Nhuan District