One dish we were told we had to try in Hanoi was chả cá lăng, a Vietnamese fish with turmeric & dill specifically made famous in Hanoi. We found ourselves trying this famous dish at a brand new restaurant located in the E Central Hotel called appropriately Cha Ca Lang in the Old Quarter. The restaurant had only been open for a few days when we were invited to try it for dinner one night. And I’m so glad we did.
At Cha Ca Lang, we not only experienced dinner, but a show. Our server, Rosa, prepared the entire meal at our table. It was fantastic. She explained the the different herbs, seasonings and spices she used along the way. She also recommended pairing the chả cá lăng fish with a chagrilled herbal fish stomach. I was skeptical, but took her suggestion and watched as these tiny fish stomachs were tossed into the frying pan. The aroma was intoxicating. I couldn’t wait to try the dish.
We were served the chả cá lăng fish & fish stomach with rice vermicelli [noodles], broth and herbs. It was a fantastic combination. I was surprised to even enjoy the fish stomach! It went together so well. By having Rosa explain the different broths and herbs used, it really made for a more complete dining experience. She knew exactly when to step in and serve more, and when to step back and give us room to eat. It could be an oppressive dining experience if your server is always right there hovering, but Rosa had a great balance.
The restaurant itself is stunning as well. It’s not large, but it makes the most of every inch. Situated at the bottom floor of the beautiful E Central Hotel, hotel guests will immediately be able to find the restaurant. But if you have the time in Hanoi, search out this gem for an authentic and interactive chả cá lăng Hanoi experience.
This post was sponsored in part by Cha Ca Lang Restaurant, but as always, the opinions are entirely my own.