Editors' Picks

Cha Ca La Vong

14 Cha Ca Street hanoi

(84 4) 3825-3929

Despite being written up in nearly every guide book (not to mention the U.S.’s Vietnamese Embassy Web site), this classic spot in the Old Quarter still draws loads of locals, who mingle with the lunchtime crowds of tourists. There’s no menu, since the only dish is cha ca: a white fish (often grouper or catfish) that is marinated in a mixture of saffron, fermented rice and fish sauce, then grilled in chunks until tender at your table in a small cast-iron pan atop a charcoal-clay burner. Once it is tender, the gooey fish is mixed with chives and cilantro and served over vermicelli rice noodles, with shrimp sauce, peanuts and pickled vegetables. The place gets packed, so it’s best to arrive early and ask to be seated upstairs in the original dining rooms, which the locals prefer. Be prepared: there’s nothing fancy about this place.

Written by Simone Girner

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