Guidebook Hanoi has two outstanding one-dish restaurants (but what a dish)

Best eating in town

Hanoi has two outstanding one-dish restaurants (but what a dish)

Cha ca la Vong (tumeric-grilled fish) is an iconic Hanoi dish -- and it’s the only dish served at two of the city’s finest restaurants. One is called Cha Ca La Vong and the other is Cha Ca Thang Long. Here’s the take on both of them ...    

Cha Ca La Vong serves “one iconic, delicious dish” which also “happens to be the name of the restaurant,” explains Florence Fabricant in The New York Times. “In the bright, noisy dining room, packed with communal tables set with little charcoal burners, a skillet of fish and other components arrives, and you submit to a brusque ceremony of tabletop cooking and do-it-yourself assembly … the combination of ingredients -- turmeric, dill, shrimp paste and fish sauce -- delivers an intriguing muskiness bolstered with chiles, silky noodles and a thicket of other fresh herbs to season the chunks of moist fish.” This original family-owned restaurant is over 100 years old, “up a rickety flight of wooden stairs,” says Dim Sum Diaries. As for the fish, “every mouthful exploded with flavor, the heat (both spice and temperature) was intense since I was picking food right off of the stove,” writes Trupti Devdas Nayak at Exploring the Blue Marble. “Even with a singed tongue, I could tell that this was going to be one of the best meals I’d ever eaten.”

“Without a doubt, Cha Ca Thang Long wins hands down,” opines B For Bun Bun, “surpassing Cha Ca La Vong in terms of food quality, hygiene, ambience, service, and price … I love Cha Ca Thang Long’s interpretation of Cha Ca and cannot recommend it enough.” The food arrives “as small bowls of peanuts, spring onions, bun rice vermicelli and nuoc cham, followed by the star: a pan of turmeric-yellow large chunks of fish, along with a heaped bowl of dill and more spring onions,” writes Undiscovered Guide. “The fish arrives pre-cooked, cold and ready to be heated at the burner on each table … the wait-staff will take care of all the cooking unless you request otherwise, and demonstrate combining a bit of everything in a small bowl for eating.”

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