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21 March, 2011

Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant in Hanoi

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 shoplots 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 colour on the walls make the place look like some sort of bar from twenty years ago.

So, what is Cha Ca La Vong? It is actually a fish and vegetable dish that was handed down from generation to generation. The art of preparation is done by the chefs and a waiter or waitress brings the raw dish to your table and cooks it on the spot showing you how its done before attempting to do-it-yourself. Mind you that there is only one dish and this is it. People come here for the experience so do not expect much. As a travel foodie, I personally tried the fake restaurant and the original one just to satisfy my curiosity of  this so called traditional dish.

Grilled Fish with herbs and vegetables dish at the restaurant

Waitress prepares the dish for you to see 

Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant interior


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. 

While doing a search on the internet, you will find a lot of reviews and comments about Cha Ca La Vong and about 80% of them claim that this place is a rip off, cheat or nothing great. Well, to be very honest, I doubt these people have really traveled much to be able to pass such opinions. So what if the experience was expensive, that's what you pay for when you want to try something authentic in another country. The funny thing is travelers nowadays are very opinionated and sometimes for all the wrong reasons. Anyway, such is life and everyone has their own personal opinion. I like fish, you like chicken.

Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant - Preparing the meal video



Video of Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant in Hanoi



From my personal experience here in Hanoi, I found the restaurant one of a kind and pretty interesting despite the low key atmosphere here. If you love fish and veg, this is your stop but be prepared to pay VND120,000 per person for the experience here. Overall, I would eat this again due to the uniqueness of the dish. A little on the oily side but you can tell them to cut down on the oils.

Fake Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant Hanoi Video


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, main entrance with statue

45 degree wooden staircase leading to dining hall


Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant Address
14 Chả Cá, Hoan Kiem
Hanoi, Vietnam
Telephone Number: 84-4/825-3929 
Price: VND120,000 per person 


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Impressive Hotel at Old Quarter in Hanoi


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 4, just order for 2 to try Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant in Hanoi, Vietnam.  
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6 comments:

CathJ said... 21 March 2011 23:45

Their food look so fresh with the herbs.. drooling..

Jozef @ Where Now said... 22 March 2011 02:11

Oh god I shouldn't have read this before eating lunch!!! Im sooo hungry. Looks great though and like CathJ said reall reall fresh! Yum

cherrychixx said... 22 March 2011 11:10

Wow they actually faked the restaurant because it was THAT popular?

Ted Nelson said... 22 March 2011 23:22

I wish I had this information when I was in Hanoi. I sometimes had trouble finding food in Vietnam.

Denise said... 9 April 2011 17:10

Came across this post while researching Vietnam...I am so hungry now!

vietnam said... 30 April 2013 19:48

So detailed and great review

Item Reviewed: Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant in Hanoi Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: David Jr
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