OK then we're of to a grilled catfish place so famous that the the street they reside on is named after them. Cool!
We must've walked around every possible variation of streets before we found the place. Seriously the old city is like a maze .. you take a turn down a street you haven't been down then another and wayhey your back where you started with out even trying........I think even a week later I was still surprised at the places we would end up... Anyhoo I digress, there was a the big sign proclaiming the grilled fish so in we went, the staff were super friendly, not much English but they knew what we were after, Cha ca? was the enquiry .. affirmative nods plus with some pointing to some of the fresh rice noodles being made in the front door.
Nods and smiles all round we were in...sweet.
With but the briefest of waits a small electric hot plate is placed in front of us, along with bowls of chilli, roast peanuts, sliced onion, plates of fresh rice noodles a pile of fresh dill, spring onion and half a dozen Vietnamese herbs I have no idea about, two frothy sauces one made from fish sauce, one from shrimp paste.
.. and the catfish, thumb size chunks that had been grilled over coals.
We were looking around to see what to do next but the waitress was on to us, all smiles she placed a good whack of the herbs in to the pan on the hot plate the then some of the fish, turning the plate on she then gave us the pointing directions for when your ready mix the fish and herbs with your rice noodles add the chilli, nuts and onions, splash in a little sauce and go OK? OK.
The herbs began to sizzle in the oil giving off an amazing aroma the fish went in on top and we were good. We followed directions, a little of this a little of that then we at it.
I don't know how to describe how good it was mouth after mouth of amazing, the herbs aroma filling your head, the oil from the pan coating the fish and noodles, the salty hits from the sauce and wicked chilli spikes, how could we have never known about this before. We were packing the second round into the pan before the first was finished so there would be no wait to go again.
The rice noodles came in from the front. A plate of fresh steamed noodle topped with sweet sticky pork and more of the herbs and deep fried garlic.
It was fantastic but the Cha ca was stealing the show. Why haven't any of the Vietnamese place in Australia done this?? Maybe we don't visit the right places....
After all was done we crossed the road to take a photo of the shop front and stood next to the world famous Cha ca la vong the place we had come to visit ...oops. (note for young players the original uses charcoal braziers not hot plates.)
Still the place we were at was full locals and it was great. Next time we'll visit the real deal for a comparison....
Cha Ca Grilled Fish
Banh Cuon Tinh Ca Cuong Con Nquyen Chat
Just across the street from .....
Cha Ca la Vong
14 Cha Ca Street, Hanoi