The best famous Cha Ca restaurants of Hanoi
La Sinfonía del Rey Hotel & Spa

Cha Ca (Vietnamese Grilled Fish) is a rare yet iconic dish in Hanoi that has been listed as one of the 1,001 dishes to eat before you die. One of the unique things is that Cha Ca is the only food on the menu of the restaurants that serve it. So it’s either you eat it, or you don’t.

What is Cha Ca?

Cha Ca (grilled fish) is not only delicious but interesting to figure out as well. It is regarded as the most complicated dish because of highly-required criterion from the very first process to the final step in order to maintain the fresh and unique taste of the fish, a kind of snake-headed family. Among which, seasoning is especially important and sensitive.

How is it served?

Cha Ca is so famous to the world that everyone arriving Hanoi will try to taste it at least one time. Cha Ca is served with bun (vermicelli), rau hung lang (basil), roasted peeled peanut, hanh la (fresh green onion), thi la (dill) and “mam tom” (a meticulous mixed shrimp paste). The cook prepares mam tom by combining sugar, shrimp paste (mam tom), distilled rice wine, hot oil, chili and mixing them well. While constantly stirring, they will squeeze in juice of a half lemon until it foams. Fish is the main material, often be processed from Ca Lang (Hemibagrus) and Ca Qua (Channidae). The talent cook will cut the fish into small fillets, dip them into secret ingredients carefully, and then grill them on charcoal in advance before serving the eaters in a pan.

Tip to eat

Cha Ca gives its best taste when it’s cooked the second time in boiling oil pan. Eating this special dish requires some techniques for the best enjoyment: grasp a piece of fish fillet, use spoon to draw some boiling oil and pour onto it, so that the fish can be well-cooked, take some rice vermicelli, peanuts, coriander, dill, fresh green onion and indispensable mam tom, mix them up with your fillet on top for each bite. Such a mixture creating fantastic taste that makes you remember the most famous Hanoi specialty for a decade or more.

Best restaurants for Cha Ca in Hanoi Old Quarter

Cha Ca La Vong

Almost every tourist arriving in Hanoi will look for the dish in this 130-year-old restaurant.

The food is supposed to be created by a lady of the Doan family. According to Mrs. Ngo Thi Tinh, the 4th –generation descendant, the family started this business not majorly for living, but to have a meeting place for the Vietnamese patriots to fight against French colonialism in early 1900s.

Cha Ca of this La Vong restaurant is firm and fresh, and not falling apart when stirred up in a boiling oil pan. The fish fillet is at suitable size, when fried well, it turns to dark yellow color, some of the outers can be crispy, but the fish itself is always tender and tasty thanks to the perfect cooking way.

Moreover, the “mam tom” here is also a very special sauce. It is not too salty with strong smell, but very appetizing and can be good for Western eaters whom it’s unfamiliar to. The sweet and greasy fried fish fillet served hot with scent of herbs and peanut, mam tom will make you desire more, and go back again.

Price range: VND175,000 ~ USD08/portion.

Address: Original place: #14 Cha Ca street, an old house in the Old Quarter. It’s so well-reputed that the street is named after the dish.

Second branch: #107 Nguyen Truong To street, Ba Dinh district, which is approximately 1.5km away from the first place. If your group has quite of lot of members, you should go here for better space.

Cha Ca Thang Long

This restaurant’s quality is not less than Cha Ca La Vong, however, price range is a bit lower. There are more options here: of course cha ca, fish stomach, and fish head’s edge. The fish choice for main ingredient is quite the same, on the other hand, the cook keeps the thick fish skin to help fillet pieces crispier and not too dry when well cooked. To make the best convenience for eaters, the cook will do everything in advance, then bring all set of stove and fish pan to the table. Customers only need to stir slightly to keep it hot and enjoy the mouthwatering food.

Price range: VND150,000 ~ USD07/portion.

Address: #19, 21, and 23 Duong Thanh street, Hoan Kiem district.

More Travel Guide

Discover our extensive guide for first-timers in Hanoi