It has been awhile since my last post, I do apologize for the delay but I just got back to the U.S and moved into my dorm in Queens, New York.
This time, I’m going to take you guys to one of the most oldest traditional restaurant in Hanoi, Chả Cá Lã Vọng. It was during the time when Vietnam got dominated by France, a family usually treated their guests with excellent grilled fish and those guests helped the family to open a restaurant where they could talk about the food, gather around and help the family making money also.
With the smell of incenses from the altar and the old furnitures, we can tell that Chả Cá Lã Vọng still kept the ancient and antique flow from way back then until now. The family of the ancestors is now stilly living in the house and continuing the family’s business. One of the reasons why Chả Cá Lã Vọng is famous, is the endurance.
Even though the house is very small, the first floor has never used for customers to seat. People have to go up to the second floor through a tiny staircase. And if you’re wearing high heels that day then well, this is not your lucky day.
The second floor is not much bigger. You don’t get to choose where to sit here at Chả Cá Lã Vọng. There will be people assigning you where to sit because it is always crowded in there. The funny thing is this is also not the place where you can boss the waiter around asking for stuffs; in fact, they will boss you instead and sometimes even give you the attitude. It seems like you need them more than they need you.
This is before dinner time:
Ten minutes later:
The service at Chả Cá Lã Vọng is very quick, as soon as you sit down, they will bring out all the side dishes like vegetables, peanuts, “mắm tôm” (shrimp sauce), and rice noodle.
And coming up next is the star of the meal – the grilled fish. They will bring the pan with the little stove on your table so you can eat it hot and serve it the way you want it. A couple year ago, they use coal stove to cook the fish instead of this new dry alcohol stove. Coal stove cooks the fish longer. The longer it cooks, the better it tastes because the fish will have time to absorb all the spices and goodness.
So, how to eat this unique and delicious food? Don’t worry, I will show you guys right now.
Step 1: Put some of the rice noodle into your bowl
Step 2: Drizzle some of the “mắm tôm” (shrimp sauce) on the rice noodle
Step 3: Add the grilled fish and vegetables from the pan into the bowl, don’t forget the sauce in the pan.
Step 4: Add peanuts and chili depend on your taste.
And step 5, enjoy your work! The sweetness of the fish, saltiness of the shrimp sauce, richness of peanuts, and the operating of vegetables will all appear in this tiny bowl.
To be honest, after eating here this summer, I don’t plan on coming back ever again. You all probably wonder why? Compared to a few years ago, the quality of the food is going down. The fish is not even real hemibagrus anymore. My parents told me that before they even let you pick your hemibagrus and made it in front of you. But now it’s just all like fast food and the reason why people still come here is of the restaurant’s fame back in that day. Plus, with that amount of money we spent on the meal, we deserve a better service and respect from the worker.
However, if you’re new to Hanoi, I still recommend you to come to Chả Cá Lã Vọng, not for the quality of the food but for the experience and the history
Location: 8/10 Delivery: No
Service: 5/10 Take out: No
Food: 7/10 Price: $$$
14 Chả Cá Street, Hanoi.
Especially when fall is coming with a little bit of cool weather, Chả Cá Lã Vọng is the best choice.
Until next time, stay freaky.