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Vietnam forum

Cha Ca La Vong (Grilled fish) / Hanoi food & Cuisine

Posted by Travelindochine on 14/7/2008 at 13:54

Posted from within Vietnam.

“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 speciality of Hanoian people. 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”.

Connoiseurs 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 make do with mudfish or snake-head fish. Some connoiseurs 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.

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#1 Travelindochine has been a member since 10/7/2008. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 35
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Posted by CatBa2 on 14/7/2008 at 18:48

Posted from within Vietnam.

TravelIndochine is a travel agent trolling for business who is too cheap to pay for advertising.

Isn't this a duplicate post, Stuart, and possibly a copyright violation?

#2 CatBa2 has been a member since 6/11/2007. Posts: 53

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Posted by KPTham1 on 16/10/2008 at 01:39

At 95000 dongs per pax , it is in my opinion over-rated and overpriced, especially when the portions for a 3 pax group or a 5 pax group looks pretty much the same. Our group of 5 had to ask for a second helping top-up and this was given reluctantly.( why do we need to ask in the very first place ?).

You can find better and healthier food elsewhere in Hanoi.

#3 KPTham1 has been a member since 26/9/2006. Posts: 52

Posted by maykoay188 on 16/10/2008 at 09:02

Hello there,
I fully agree with you.It was not worth the price.
The fish pieces were so small and tiny and the qauntity was worth about RM 5.00 whereas we have to pay around 75000 dong (9US)

#4 maykoay188 has been a member since 14/10/2008. Posts: 2

Posted by KPTham1 on 17/10/2008 at 01:08

Hie maykoay188

Thank you .
By the way, I hope you have been paying in dongs instead of paying in US$ because the rate is 1US$ to 16300 dongs! The rate you used worked out to 8300 dongs to the $!

In loas, it is 8500 kips to the US$.

#5 KPTham1 has been a member since 26/9/2006. Posts: 52

Posted by wizemen2 on 20/4/2009 at 14:49

Cha Ca La Vong restaurant, Cha Ca street,Hanoi

A total 500% Rip off!
Even extreme for Hanoi.
What theft is perpertrated on dumb ass tourists I can not believe.
Contents of food was worth maybe VND 500,and charging VND 10,000 at March 09 when I was unfortunate enough to experience this place.
How do these rich Madams get away with it for so long.
Maybe because all these first timer tourists to Vietnam just keep renewing,so why does the rich greedy owner care,there are plenty more suckers on the next flight!
For just twice the amount you can choose a superb buffet at a 5 star hotel,and get real food,in a safe hygenic enviroment,not food scraps served in a dusty unhygenic fire trap as served at Cha Ca La Vong .
Beside more importantly,the place is a total fire trap!!
Be warned.

#6 wizemen2 has been a member since 18/8/2007. Posts: 1

Posted by smkuchta on 5/5/2009 at 18:36

If we wanted safe, hygienic food from a 5 star buffet we wouldn't travel to Vietnam! We went to Cha Ca La Vong and while I agree it was a firetrap and overpriced it was also an experience.

Do we regret it? No. Would we recommend it? Not necessarily but it was fun. Interesting thing to us was how many locals were there. They outnumbered the tourists the night we ate there.

The food wasn't worth 100000 VND but the experience was.

#7 smkuchta has been a member since 10/8/2007. Posts: 72

Posted by brucemoon on 6/5/2009 at 06:42


I also agree that Cha Ca La Vong is an experience. And, a worthy one for HaNoi.

I have long ago learnt that the price of food is not necessarily an indicator of value. Value not only being the quality of the food, but also the cooking style, service quality, ambience, etc.

In HaNoi I recently paid about 1,000,000 VN dong for a really good restaurant meal. Was it worth it? It all depends on how one measures value. To me, when comparing what I could get in Australia, it was very good value.

So, was Cha Ca La Vong good value?

The ambience was truly great - packed to the rafters, everyone babbling on, collective tables, OK service. YES.

The food? Well, Cha Ca is a particular meal. I've seen others try it outside HaNoi and I must say the meal at La Vong was much better than I've seen presented elsewhere (which doesn't mean La Vong has a copyright on a certain style, nor that Cha ca is only as La Vong serves it).

What did I like about the food? That there was heaps of Dill to 'marry' with the fish. That the frying could be done by me, so that I didn't get a lump of horribly overcooked and dry fish (nothing worse than overcooked fish).

But, then I cannot bring myself to eat (what my then young kids called) DonaldMuck!

When I eat food, I'd like it to have life, flavour, and be cooked with passion. A good ambience makes the experience much better. Cha Ca at La Vong met those criteria.

Price? About the same cost as a fast food crap-merchant back home!


#8 brucemoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by luvmedic on 16/5/2009 at 17:34

It's very expensive... I just order 1 pax portion to share with my partner and then walked down Ma May to buy some duck's tongue and roast pork to fill the belly.

#9 luvmedic has been a member since 20/4/2009. Location: Malaysia. Posts: 12

Posted by Tweet22 on 24/7/2009 at 08:08

Please note, that this is dish which even the natives rarely get to eat, due to the price. But as a holiday maker, I'm prepared to pay more for this dish. And how much is more? I went with a group of over 10 people and the cost came to under 1 million dong (around £33 at the exchange rate at the time) So if you're saying less than £3 pax is expensive - well I give up.
Someone mentioned the food wasn't worth 500dong but was charged 10,000dong. These days a decent bowl of 'pho' is at least 15,000 dong, or just one steamed pork bun is 12,000dong. 500 dong is barely what you'd give for a beggar, so no; the ingredients are worth more than 500 dong. With regards to portion, please do not go to Viet Nam requesting 'super size me'.
The food is not unhygienic, none of the locals are dying.
Frankly, it's quite insulting to see Westeners going to the far east demanding to pay only $1 for anything and everything, be it a t-shirt or a bowl of noodles.
Cha ca la vong is a fantastic dish, and I have to pay at least £10 in London to find somewhere that cooks it, but of course it's not that authentic.

So what is the dish made up of?
Grilled fish brought to your table, upon a cooker.
Add the 'greens' namely herbs, mostly dill (which I think makes this dish incredibly aromatic even after you've chewed and swallowed your food).
Mix in your bowl your rice noodles and toasted peanuts, and shrimp paste sauce and away you go.
Very tasty and fun at the same time.

#10 Tweet22 has been a member since 24/7/2009. Posts: 8

Posted by tingers on 28/7/2009 at 13:26

Posted from within Vietnam.

any one of the bia hois in hanoi will serve you cha ca at a fraction of that price. plenty of atmosphere in them too, bruce!

#11 tingers has been a member since 9/4/2009. Posts: 36

Posted by BruceMoon on 28/7/2009 at 14:22


I do like to enjoy bia hoi. I never thought to ask for Cha Ca at a bia hoi.

Can you recommend any bia hoi places with Cha Ca that impressed you.


#12 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by tingers on 3/8/2009 at 09:20

Posted from within Vietnam.

Corner of Hang Thung and Hang Tre has some pretty good food. Good hotpots as well.

#13 tingers has been a member since 9/4/2009. Posts: 36

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