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Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant in Hanoi

Hanoi Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant

Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant in Hanoi is one of the must-visit places if you are the foodie type of traveller, or if you have heard raving reviews about this unique restaurant.

The restaurant is located along the famed Cha Ca Road in Hanoi's Old Quarter, and you will find this 104-year-old business along with 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.

Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant Hanoi

Visiting the original restaurant was an adventure by itself as once there, you need to climb a 45-degree wooden staircase to get to the first-floor dining area.

Challenging myself up the stairs, I found the restaurant no larger than a deluxe hotel room with about 8 small 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 made the place look like some sort of bar from the eighties era. Honestly, it was as tacky as it gets, but this is all part of the experience I guess. 

Must eat food in Hanoi
Grilled Fish with herbs and vegetable dish at the restaurant

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 it's 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 about this so-called traditional dish.

Cooking at Cha Ca La Vong
Waitress prepares the dish for you to see 

Original Hanoi Cha Ca La Vong
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 to 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 altogether. 

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 travelled 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 travellers nowadays are very opinionated and sometimes for all the wrong reasons. Anyway, such is life and everyone has their own personal opinion just like how I like fish and you like chicken.

Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant Hanoi 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 vegetables, 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 in 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.

The overall ambience 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 an old wooden staircase to get up there.

Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant Fake
Original Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant, main entrance with statue

Hanoi La Vong Restaurant
45-degree wooden staircase leading to the dining hall

Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant Address
14 Chả Cá, Hoan Kiem
Hanoi, Vietnam
Telephone Number: +84 24 3825 3929 
Price: VND120,000 per person 


My review is based on the year 2011 before all the famous newspapers, magazines, bloggers and influencers came here to review this place. 

The place has also been renovated and looks a little different from the original setting, 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 travelling 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, as there is nothing wrong with doing that.

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.


CathJ said...

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

Jozef @ Where Now said...

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

Grace said...

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

Ted Nelson said...

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

Denise said...

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

vietnam said...

So detailed and great review