Cha Ca (Grilled fish) – Best places to try

Cha Ca (Grilled fish) is so delicious and attractive; it is also regarded as the most complicated dish because of strict requirements from the very first process to the final step in order to maintain the unique taste of this special type of fish. Among which, seasoning is especially important and sensitive. Although the recipe is the same with all the required ingredients, only a very little change may result in imbalance and damage the whole dish.

Chả cá (Grilled fish)

The Cha Ca is so famous to foreign tourists that everyone arriving Hanoi will try to taste it at least one time. The Cha Ca is served with Bun (vermicelli), rau hung lang (basil), roasted peeled peanut, hanh la (fresh green onion), thi la (dill) and mam tom (a meticulous mixed shrimp paste). The cook prepares mam tom by combining sugar, shrimp paste (mam tom), distilled wine, hot oil, chili and mixing them well. While constantly stirring, they will squeeze in the juice of half a lemon until it foams. Fish is the main material, often be processed from Ca Lang (Hemibagrus) and Ca Qua (Channidae fish). The talent cook will cut the fish into small fillets, dip them into secret ingredients carefully, and then fry them in a pan in advance before serving the eaters.

Cha Ca gives its best taste when it is still boiling in vegetable oil pan. Eating this special dish requires some techniques for the best enjoyment: grasp a piece of fish fillet and then use spoon to draw some boiling oil in the pan to pour onto it and eat with rice vermicelli, peanuts, coriander, dill, spiced fresh green onion and an indispensable ingredient – mam tom. You cannot imagine such mixture would have a fantastic taste – that makes the most famous specialty of Hanoi.

Let try at least one of the 03 most famous Cha Ca restaurants in Hanoi below:

Cha Ca La Vong

Almost foreign tourists arriving in Hanoi, looking for Cha Ca specialty in this 130 years-old restaurant

Cha Ca of this La Vong restaurant is mainly made of Ca Lang and Ca Qua, so the fish meat is firm and tough, is not separated when stirred up in a boiling oil pan. The fish fillet is at suitable sized, when it is fried well, it turns to dark yellow color, taste crispy on the outer but soft inside and so delicious thanks to the secret spices.

Moreover, the mam tom here is also a very special sauce. It is not salty, strong smelling, but very appetizing and still keep the typical fragrant of mam tom. The sweet and greasy fried fish fillet served hot with scent of herbs and peanut, mam tom will make you desire it more. The price of Cha Ca set is about VND 175,000/pax (~ US$8/pax).

Address: No. 14 Cha Ca street in the Old Quarters or its branch at No. 107 Nguyen Truong To street, Ba Dinh district. If your group has quite of lot of members, you should go to No. 107 Nguyen Truong To for better space.

Cha Ca Thang Long

This restaurant is interested no less than Cha Ca La Vong because of lower price while the dish is still very delicious.

Arriving here, you will have more options of fish: Cha Ca, fish stomach, and fish head’s edge. Cha Ca here is made from Ca Lang and Ca Vuong, cut in squared piece. The cook keep the thick fish skin to make the fish fillet tougher. When it is fried, the fillet turns into brownish color, which is different to the Ca Qua fillet, and taste soft but not dry. Eaters just need to pour a little mam tom or fish sauce to have a perfect mixture together with herbs. To make best convenience for eaters, the cook will fried the fish in advance then bring both the stove and the fish pan to the table. The eater only needs to stir fish lightly to make it hotter and enjoys fantastic dish.

You can also order fish stomach. Mam tom here has a lighter taste than in La Vong restaurant. In return for, the area here is spacious, with 3 branches quite close in distance, good service. The price is only VND150,000 (~ US$7/pax)

Address: 19, 21, and 23 Duong Thanh street, Hoan Kiem district

Cha Ca Anh Vu

With the price is quite reasonable, VND 130,000 (~US$ 6), Cha Ca Anh Vu is the top choice for many Hanoi gourmets as well as foreign tourists especially in winter days. Therefore, all tables here are all often be full at noon and evening.

Cha Ca in Anh Vu restaurant is made from fresh Anh Vu fish (semilabeo notabilis), with the soft fillet sweetened sophisticatedly by secret spices and nghe (saffron). The fish is also fried in advance, done to a turn then served to the eaters. When you eat Cha Ca here, you may think that it is quite light (lacking of salt) but it has its own reason. Just pour a little mam tom on the Cha, then you will have a perfect dish. The restaurant is clean, spacious parking, enthusiastic and thoughtful servants will make you comfortable from your fist step here.

Address: 120 Giang Vo street, Ba Dinh district