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Best Places to Try Cha Ca in Hanoi


Cha Ca La Vong has long been known as a must-try specialty of Hanoi. Although it's not a typical dish of Vietnam like Pho or Banh Mi; for Hanoi people, Cha Ca (grilled fish) is representative of the city's culinary culture, and cannot be found in any other area. Here, we'll show you five places to try Cha Ca in Hanoi.

Best Places to Try Cha Ca in Hanoi: A Brief History of Cha Ca

The first Cha Ca La Vong restaurant was opened at 14 Hang Son (currently 14 Cha Ca) during the French occupation in Vietnam. Legend has it that the Doan family living at 14 Hang Son often made a delicious grilled fish to treat their guests, who later helped the family open a Cha Ca restaurant to earn their living as well as to provide a place for gathering. The restaurant became famous, and eventually, people renamed Hang Son street to Cha Ca street. The secret recipe of Cha Ca was passed only on to the eldest son of the Doan family.

cha ca la vong 1

The symbolic dish of Hanoi’s culinary culture.

Best Places to Try Cha Ca in Hanoi: How to Make Cha Ca

Cha Ca La Vong is often made from Lang fish that has few bones and sweet, soft meat. The fish fillet is cut into cubes ​​and marinated with spices like galangal, turmeric, pepper, shrimp paste... at least 2 hours before grilling on the bamboo clamps.
Before serving, the grilled fish is added into a hot greasy pan. People usually eat Cha Ca with vermicelli, fried peanuts, and coriander.

Best Places to Try Ca in Hanoi: Locals Recommendations

In Hanoi, there are many Cha Ca restaurants, but not every restaurant can make grilled fish with the right flavor. The following Cha Ca restaurants are loved and often visited by Hanoians.

Cha Ca Ngon - 269 Kim Ma

First impression: The restaurant locates in downtown with a spacious storefront; therefore, it's easy to find. On the inside, it's clean and cool.

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The restaurant has an extremely spacious front.

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The inside of the restaurant.

Food: The menu is not too diverse, focusing on familiar dishes like grilled fish or grilled fish stomach. Here, you can't order a mixed serving, so come in a group to enjoy more at affordable prices. Fish meat is firm and boneless. The grilled fish is seasoned lightly, suitable for those who don't prefer salty food, while the shrimp sauce is not unique, but it tastes good.

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A table set of Cha Ca.

Service: Cha Ca Ngon is a "local" restaurant, so the service is not as excellent as restaurants that serve tourists in Hanoi Old Quarter. However, the servers will still take care of you during the meal, so there is generally nothing to complain about. There is free wifi for guests as well as a payment card system.

Rate: 6.5 / 10
Address: 269 Kim Ma, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM ; 5:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Price: VND 129,000/serving

Lao Ngu Cha Ca - 171 Thai Ha

First impression: The shop is opposite the National Cinema Center back gate, quite easy to find even if you choose to go by taxi, bus or motorbike. The restaurant from the outside looks quite small, but it is spacious on the inside. The restaurant is beautifully decorated with golden lights and decorations bearing the old Hanoi vibe.

lao ngu cha ca 1

lao ngu cha ca 2The front and inside look of the restaurant.

Food: Fish meat is soft, not too sweet and boneless, but it will break apart easily. However, the addition of shrimp sauce will be better. The shrimp paste here is sweet and doesn't have a strong smell, which is suitable for beginners to shrimp sauce, or you could add lemon and chili to it to enhance the taste.

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The table set at Lao Ngu Cha Ca.

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Enjoy a bowl of Cha Ca.

You will also get a free dessert with green tea and hot tofu - one of the Vietnamese must-try desserts. Green tea is easy to drink here, suitable for those who are afraid of the tea's bitterness. Hot tofu is soft and fragrant with ginger in it and not too sweet, so it's fitting to eat in the winter.

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Hot tofu and green tea.

Service: The staff here does not always have their smiles on the lips, but they will still take care of you carefully. If you come alone, the staff will always pay attention to help you fry the fish or change the pan if needed.

Rate: 7.0 / 10
Address: 171 Thai Ha, Dong Da District, Hanoi
Opening hours: AM 9:00 - PM 10:00
Price: VND 129,000/serving

Cha Ca Vong Ngu - 29 Nguyen Chi Thanh

First impression: Despite the small storefront, the restaurant's easy to find. It isn't crowded, so you can enjoy a quiet atmosphere upon coming here. The inside of the restaurant is neat and clean. If you want to enjoy a relaxing, pleasant lunch, this place is especially suitable.

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The restaurant from the outside...

cha ca vong ngu 2

… to the inside

Food: The fish is grilled and cooked evenly on both sides. The meat is very firm and a bit salty, so there's no need to add much shrimp paste. The shrimp paste here is quite good, though, you should add some lemon and chili to the sauce bowl to get the perfect shrimp sauce.

cha ca vong ngu 3

A table set.

The restaurant offers free dessert with green tea and Cao Linh Quy. The green tea is not too remarkable, and the Cao Linh Quy will not taste good for people who are not used to eating it. Cao Linh Quy is also available in supermarkets in Vietnam if you wish to try it first.

Service: Because the restaurant isn't crowded, the service is quite good. The servers are incredibly enthusiastic; every visitor is carefully taken care of. They will first bring the fish pan to your table and help you fry the fish. There is also a card payment system which is convenient and free wifi. However, the minus point is, for a takeaway, the food will be stored in a styrofoam box, which spills easily and is not environmentally friendly.

Rate: 8.0 / 10
Address: 29 Nguyen Chi Thanh, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Opening hours: AM 10:30 - PM 2:00 ; PM 4:30 - PM 9:00
Price: VND 129,000/serving

Vua Cha Ca - 48 Nguyen Thi Dinh

First impression: The place is not too large, but there are many floors. The restaurant is quite cozy, and despite being small, it's clean and doesn't smell bad. It is also decorated with yellow lights and paintings depicting the life of ancient Hanoi, bringing a nostalgic atmosphere.

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The front of the restaurant.

vua cha ca 2

The restaurant is decorated beautifully.

Food: The fish meat is soft, sweet and freshly cooked. Notably, every Cha Ca piece here contains fish skin that makes them fragrant and pleasant to eat. The shrimp sauce is tasty, aromatic and not too sweet. A huge plus point is that the lemon has been squeezed out to get the juice, so you don't have to squeeze them yourself. However, there is no free dessert.

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The lemon has been squeezed.

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A table set of Cha Ca.

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The taste is exquisite.

Service: The servers of the restaurant are professional and enthusiastic, taking care of guests carefully from beginning to the end. The restaurant also has a guide on how to eat fish properly on every table and also allows guests to pay by card.

Rate: 8.5 / 10
Address: 48 Nguyen Thi Dinh, Cau Giay District, Hanoi
Opening hours: AM 10:30 - PM 9:45
Price: VND 129,000/serving (not including VAT)

Cha Ca Anh Vu - 120-K1 Giang Vo

First impression: The restaurant is located in the central area of Hanoi. Although the shop is crowded, there is little fishy smell. The restaurant space is not polished, as it mainly serves the locals; however, it is still cooling and tidy.

cha ca anh vu 1

The front of the restaurant.

Food: The menu of the restaurant is not too diverse, it’s also focused on the familiar dishes such as Cha Ca, grilled fish stomach, fish porridge... The fish meat is firm, sweet, and, well-seasoned, which makes it one of the best places to try Cha Ca in Hanoi. Here, you can also call a mixed serving of Cha Ca and grilled fish stomach. The shrimp paste is fragrant, delicious, and goes very well with the food. If you have a chance, don't forget to try the fish porridge here.

cha ca anh vu 4

A serving of Cha Ca Anh Vu.

Service: The servers are all enthusiastic and friendly, and regularly take care of guests. When you buy a takeaway, the food will be put in a clean box.

Rate: 9/10
Address: 120-K1 Giang Vo, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Opening hours: AM 10:00 - PM 2:00 ; PM 5:00 - PM 10:00
Price: VND 130,000/serving

Summary on Best Places to Try Cha Ca in Hanoi

Above are five restaurants recommended by locals as the best places to try Cha Ca in Hanoi. With reasonable prices and tasty food, these restaurants are definitely worth giving a try on your visit to Hanoi.

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