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“Is Cha Ca La Vong still worth going?”

La Vong Grilled Fish
Ranked #2,750 of 3,775 Restaurants in Hanoi
Price range: US$5 - US$10
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Dinner, After-hours, Breakfast, Lunch, Reservations
Description: Visit this street after a long day of sight-seeing for a traditional dish of fish fried tableside with herbs, spices, onions, peanuts, and rice noodles.
Reviewed January 18, 2011

I have visited Cha Ca La Vong in 2005, 2008 and over the last weekend.

Before I went there, I read some reviews on various travel websites, and there seems to be an overall trend of negative reviews for the place.

'Rip-off', 'over-rated', 'tourist trap', 'rude service' are some of the common complaints. Having read those negative complaints, it made me even more interested to see for myself how the place has changed.

I was told to go upstairs when I arrived at the restaurant. I climbed up the narrow staircase up to the second storey, which was crammed with foreigners and local Vietnamese, seated at tables, all eating the one dish - Cha Ca.

By the way, narrow staircases are the norm in shophouses in the Hanoi Old Quarters, and are not exclusive to Cha Ca La Vong. Just watch your step when you are climbing up and down the stairs.

It didn't take long for the waitress to serve the ingredients for the dish. She also helped to put the few marinated slices of fish together with some spices into the hot pan. After that, you are in total control of how you want your dish done. I chose to put the dill, peanuts and rice noodles into the oil-filled pan.

So how's the taste? Well, it tasted ok for me, though a bit oily. The rice noodles soaked up pretty much of the oil. I enjoyed scraping the fried spring onions off the pan and eating it.

The service may not be first-world standards, but seriously, what do you expect from a thriving family business? It may take some time before service standards are emphasised by Vietnamese businesses. (You can expect better service in the higher-end restaurants and in banks).

The portion may be a bit little, even by Asian standards. But seriously, if locals are prepared to pay the same prices as foreigners for the dish (at 120,000 VND per person, this is considered pricey by Vietnamese living standards), and it has been served by 5 generations over more than 200 years, it is definitely worth a try. At least, you can say you have tried a Hanoian dish.

Date of visit: January 2011
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Thank travelbuzzasia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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834 - 838 of 1,131 reviews

Reviewed January 16, 2011

i went to Cha Ca La Vong today, from the recommendation of both my hotel and my Insight guidebook. The place was empty when i was there, and I did not think too much of it as I was there past lunch time around 2+pm. When i saw the menu, i was really surprised. I read somewhere that it was USD6 per person, but the price on my menu was 190,000VND =9.5USD! Since I was already there.. i decided to give it a try. Nothing special if you ask me, but the price was just simply ridiculous!! I dont know if they had increase the price YET AGAIN or I just got conned. Will never come back to this place ever again.

Date of visit: January 2011
Thank Siminzzz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 11, 2011

We saw a recommendation on this place in our travel book so decided to try it.
WOW, you need to get there early or stand around waiting for a table. It's so popular; mainly with Asians!
As has already been reported, there is only one dish on the menu so if you don't like fish, don't bother!
We were four friends and found a table by the upstairs window. it had a reserved sign on it but we were given the OK.
They give you a card to clearly point out that they only serve one dish so thats your chance to do a runner!
We didn't and went for the set meal. A table burner with a frypan is placed in front of you and then a frypan with oil/butter and sizzling bite-sized portions of succulent white fish is added.
Then along comes a dish of greens and a bowl of nuts. We were looking pretty dumb, so one of the staff comes over and shows us how!
We add some boiled rice to our bowls and then add most of the greens to the frypan. when they have wilted, it's time to go for it!
When all the goodies were gone, we added what rice we had left to the frypan and proceeded to devour the remaining juices washed down with nice cold beers!
A delight. We went back a second time!

Date of visit: December 2010
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Thank paknasi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 10, 2011

For us it is a miracle why this place is mentioned in "1000 things to do ..." and various other books. Obviously the phenomena of one author copying the other. The fish is served in a frying pan at your table with some vegetables. Taste? Quite okay but really nothing special, fish with curry. Only a sauce gave it some taste. Portions? Small, never left a place on our trip still being hungry. Price? 6 $ pp, 3 times too much for portions this small.

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Thank Thomas317
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 8, 2011

While the food is rather good, I think the price is highly overpriced for such portion, quality and ambience. I suspect (I could be wrong) that they charge higher price for tourist compared to local.

I know the living standard and food prices in Hanoi and seeing flocks of locals eating in this restaurant for that prices were very illogical in my opinion. If they really charge VND 120,000.00/pax for locals it is VERY VERY EXPENSIVE in local standard. The delicious dish of sole meunière in classy Café de Paris costs less than here, which is absurd.

I think this is the kind of place that rides on their fame rather than honest and fair eatery that simply proud of their food and gives good value to customers.

It would be good if people boycott this place until they give better value.

Date of visit: January 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
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Thank auden89
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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