Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant in Hanoi is one of the must visit places if you are the foodie type of traveler. Located along the famed Cha Ca Road in Hanoi's Old Quarter, you will find this 104 year old business along one of the shabby shop lots on this busy street. Just so you know, there are two Cha Ca La Vong Restaurants in Hanoi. One of is rip off of the original while the other is the real deal.
To tell the difference, the real one has 'Charcoal Stoves' and dining is only on the first floor of the restaurant while the fake one uses an electrical stove and you can dine on both floors. Visiting the original restaurant was an adventure by itself as once there, you needed to climb a 45 degree wooden staircase to get to the first floor. The restaurant up top was no larger that a deluxe hotel room with about 8 dining tables. It looked more like an antique store with heavy wooden floorboards and a huge prayer alter mounted on one wall.The green color on the walls make the place look like some sort of bar from twenty years ago.
The unique dish is prepared with a hot coal stove brought to your table while bowls of raw food and condiments are accompanied. Whitefish pieces, local vegetables, turmeric, herbs, Pho (Vietnamese Noodles), Onions and Peanuts with a local sauce and oil is placed on your table. As the person cooks it in front of you, the strong aroma of the fish and vegetables fill the entire room while the condiments are slowly placed in. Finally after about 3-5 minutes, the dish is ready and served to you in a little bowl with the Pho noodles. You then attempt to do the next round yourself which can be an exciting adventure all together.
The video above is taken at the Fake Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant in Hanoi. They use an electric stove to do the cooking so you should know which is the real and fake one. Anyway, the food here was not as tasty as the real one though it is similar. Overall ambiance at the fake place was terrible. Remember, the original restaurant is along Cha Ca Road in Hanoi's Old Quarter of town. You can tell by the wooden statue and plants in the front. The dining area is upstairs and you need to use a old wooden staircase to get up there.
Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant Address
14 Chả Cá, Hoan Kiem
Telephone Number: 84-4/825-3929
Price: VND120,000 per person
My review is based on 2011 before all the famous newspapers and dailies came here to cover this place. The place has also been renovated and looks a little different, so I guess it is high time I paid this place a re-visit once again.
Here is my personal tip to enjoying this restaurant - If you are traveling as a couple, I would recommend you order a meal just for one person. Tell them you have already eaten and would just like to just try this famous Vietnamese fish dish. So, same goes if you are in a group of four, just order for two persons to experience the famous Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant in Hanoi, Vietnam.