Cha Ca La Vong in Hanoi
In the heart of Hanoi's Old Quarter is Cha Ca La Long a restaurant that serves just one dish, Fried Fish. And it’s so good that it’s fight time at lunch to find a seat. Get there early...or plan for the next day!
In fact, when my friend and I took a taxi to the restaurant, the taxi driver told us that we have chosen exactly the right time (about 11:15) as he has taken many folks to Cha Ca La Vong too late....11:30....and they ended up chasing down other eateries less renowned.
As luck would have it, not only had we chosen right time according to this driver, we had also chosen the right day. It was drizzling and cool, so the restaurant (non AC) was very pleasant.
My lunch companion showed me how to eat this. We slide over our bowl, put in some noodles first, splash in the sauce and then plant the fried fish, dill and green onions. Then, on goes the remaining greens and the bowl gets a good mixing .
The product....I don’t want to tell you or we will have to go at 6 in the morning to get a lunch table! Once again, simplicity and freshness are triumphant!
Above is a picture of the inside of the restaurant. It is on the second floor. When you happen to be in Hanoi, try this local specialty.
We arrived at Cha Ca and shimmied up the narrow steps to the second floor, setting up camp at a free table. There was no menu as the restaurant only serves its very famous specialty.
The staff started bringing all, the necessary bits and pieces to do the dish and as we saw the happy campers around us, all locals, in full scarf mode we knew it would be worthwhile.
First came the small stove. On it was a pan filled with tiny slices of fish and some oil. Upon firing up the cooker, the fish frying started.
Small bowls came with sauces, assorted greens (dill, mint, coriander and green onions) and fresh noodles. Some of these greens, notably the dill and green onions, went into the pan and were fried up with the fish.
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More on Hanoi:
If you want to learn how to prepare Vietnamese food, here is a good book to get.