PEr FYI

March 21, 2015

Cha Ca La Vong, Hanoi… so exceptional that there is a street in Hanoi dedicated to these grilled catfish

Cha Ca is an iconic, delicious dish which also happens to be the name of the restaurant in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. With an unassuming external appearance the shop would be easy to miss. There’s very little to appreciate in the dining area: it’s just a room with wooden tables and chairs, a large shrine on the wall and a cabinet full of dusty looking bottles of alcohol.

So what exactly is cha ca? It is a mixture of chunks of grilled, smoky catfish, turmeric, dill, shrimp paste, fish sauce, chillies, noodles and other herbs. Once the various components are assembled, the cooking is fast, and the payoff is worth the effort. I don’t think there are any set rules in terms of how you eat it. We dished a few noodles into our bowl, put a few pieces of fish and vegetables on top, poured on some fish sauce and scooped it up with chopsticks, interspersing a mouthful of herbs every now and again. Probably not the Vietnamese way, but it worked

So is it any good? It is so delicious and aromatic and the complexity of the resulting well-balanced flavors will surely leave you craving for more.

Hanoians consider cha ca to be so exceptional that there is a street in the capital dedicated to these fried morsels of fish. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

cha ca hanoi

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