Cha ca La Vong (Hanoi Tumeric Fish with Dill)


Might not be the oldest dish of Hanoi, but “Chả Cá Lã Vọng” is definitely the most unique among best known dishes of the capital city.

Cha ca La Vong (Hanoi Tumeric Fish with Dill)
Photo by Tri Nguyen

History of Cha Ca La Vong

The origin of this dish dates back to the early 1900s when Vietnam was a French colony. Đoàn family, who lived at 14 Hàng Sơn Street, often hosted secret meetings for the resistance army. Therefore they decided to sell this home cook fish dish as a cover in addition to earning more money. 

The people called it “Chả Cá Lã Vọng” after the statue of “Lã Vọng”, a Chinese poet and revolutionist, sitting at the gate of the house. The delicious taste of “Chả Cá” soon made it popular, so much that the whole street was named after it later on.

Cha ca La Vong (Hanoi Tumeric Fish with Dill) 1
Photo by Viethavvh

How to make Cha Ca La Vong?

The fish used in this dish is Hemibagrus, a type of Catfish caught in the rivers of the northern mountainous area. It is one of the biggest river fishes thus very easy to remove all bones to have a big fillet. 

The fish is cut into matchbox-sized pieces, marinated in galangal and turmeric along with other spices. Then the spiced fish pieces are placed into bamboo clips to be grilled on charcoal until both sides are almost cooked. After that, the fish is put into a frying pan with hot oil, together with dill and spring onion for a short time.

“Chả Cá” must be served while hot with rice vermicelli, fried peanuts and coriander, all to be dipped into Vietnamese dipping sauce (contains fish sauce, vinegar, salt, sugar, garlic) or shrimp pate (“mắm tôm”) mixed with lime juice. The grilled fish pieces must not be broken or too dry, but are yellow, tasty, fresh and fatty.

Cha ca La Vong (Hanoi Tumeric Fish with Dill) 2
Photo by Lionel Ng

Imagine that you are one of the guests…

While you sit down at the table, the waiter starts laying there some seasonings includes a bowl of well - stirred shrimp paste sauce mixed up with lemon. After dropping the liquor, he will decorate the bowl with a few slices of red fresh pimento, a plate of grilled ground nuts of gold yellow color, various species of mint vegetables o­nions in small white slices. 

To many customers, the sight of such seasoning already greatly stimulates their appetite. A few minutes later, fried fish, yellow in color and flagrant in smell put o­n a plate of anethum vegetable, is brought in. But that is not all. A few seconds more, as soon as a cauldron of boiling fat is brought in, the waiter starts pouring it o­n each bowl of grilled fish, thus producing a white smoke and sputtering noise.

Now, this is the time for picking and choosing what you like from the dishes on the table; sticking them into your bowl. Everything in all dishes should be eaten together. Let’s taste…

Where to eat Cha Ca La Vong in Hanoi?

Although “Chả Cá” can be found in many restaurants even around the world, the orginal “Chả Cá Lã Vọng” is still open for locals and tourist after five generations. It is in the old quarter, at 14 Chả Cá Street.

In addition, you can to visit restaurant at No 87 Nguyen Truong To street, Hanoi to enjoy. You can search the address on google maps or join our Hanoi city tour to explore Hanoi and enjoy this unique dishes of Hanoi.

See tour detail at:

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