La Vong grilled fish, Grilled fish (cha ca) is a favourite dish of Hanoi people. Hanoi now has several shops selling grilled fish, but no one of them can equal Cha ca La Vong in term of quality and flavour. Located in Cha Ca Street, Cha ca La Vong is the famous restaurant not only to Hanoians but also visitors from anywhere.
Domestic and foreign visitors to Hanoi are all fond of enjoying the gastronomic Cha ca La Vong (La Vong sliced grilled fish) at No 14 Cha Ca Street, a restaurant that only serves this one special dish. Mrs Ngo Thi Tinh, 80, the third generation daughter-in-law of The Doan family, who invented this dish 200 years ago, still treats her guests to th is excel lent dish.
The restaurant has no shop sign and there is only a statue of an old man sitting grasping his knees on the bank of the stream ready to fish. However, the name? "Chaca La Vong" has been well recognized all over the world as an especially delicious dish. The fishes, Hemibagrus (Lang fish) or Anh Vu fish, which were originally only offered to the feudal King have a good sweet tasting meat. The fish is firstly sliced into small pieces, then mixed with spices, following a secret traditional recipe, and then roasted over hot coals and enjoyed with an exquisite shrimp sauce and vegetables.
The beautiful old architecture of Cha Ca La Vong restaurant, with its narrow stairway and pair of vermilion lacquered and gilded wood panels inscribed with characters gives the house a peaceful happy atmosphere. It is a marvelous attraction and its beauty has been immortalized through modern Vietnamese poetry and literature.
While the guests sit down at the table, there will soon be a lay-out of some seasonings: a bowl of well-stirred shrimp paste sauce mixed up with lemon and a few drops of liquor to give it fragrance, and decorated by slices of red fresh pimento (chilli), a plate of roasted peanuts of gold yellow color, mint vegetables from Lang village; onions in small white slices with tuberose. Added to this is a plate of soft noodle in thin small and white threads. 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 a cauldron of boiling fat is brought in and the waiter start pouring some boiling fat on each bowl of grilled fish, thus producing a flagrant smoke and sputtering noise. Further, some drops of coleopterous are dropped on the bowl giving it a special smell which is unforgettable to connoisseurs. Grilled fish are usually chosen from certain species of fish: mudfish or snake-head fish, etc. The fish must be carefully prepared before grilling. Galingale and saffron must be ground mixed with water and filtered through a piece of clean cloth in order to obtain a solution to which is added some drops of rice ferment and fish sauce of good quality. Then, the fish meat is immersed in this solution for two hours before grilling. Grilling must be done by means of pairs of bamboo tongs placed on a stove of burning charcoals. The fish meat must be grilled on oath sides and brought in to the guests when it is duly grilled.
The guests take their time slowly eating the fish and sipping some strong vodka to enjoy the special flavour and taste of the food. The sound of onion frying on the stove, the yellowness of the fish and the hot burning charcoal stove make you feel as if you were enjoying the essense and beauty of the nature. As a dish, La Vong grilled fish is indeed a remarkable culinary invention.
Cha Ca La Vong is indeed a very special dish and is perfect for those who want to sample the del ights of Hanoi.
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