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Preya

The first time I went to Cha Ca La Vong I was 9 years old. I remember telling my mom to put a bit of the oil on the noodles so they would "chill out" and stop sticking together. You're right about this being "solid Hanoi"--heck, it's even listed in 1,000 Places to See Before You Die!

foodjunky

Three years ago, my husband and I went to the same joint because I had heard so much about it from friends and family whom had it when they lived in Hanoi, way back when. The taste was okay, but the MSG hangover was massive. The folks in Hanoi just use way too much of that flavor enhancer. A little bit is unavoidable and expected but this was something else. We spent three hours in our hotel just knocked out after having the food. Glad to hear that your experience was decent, but for those of you out there that have adverse reactions to MSG beware.

MAB

Wow, what a disappointment! As fabled as it is, the dish doesn't taste so great. There was way too much oil in the pan and the fish became chewy and tough because of the continuing flame.

Anna

MAB is right..this dish is quite oily! I enjoyed the food at Cha Ca La Vong but suffered a bit of queasiness afterward. Having said that, the taste has proven to be addictive. Since returning to Australia, my family cooks a version of it from time to time :)

Sticky

Well, we never expected such an adverse reaction to this place.

MAB and Anna - There's no doubting that cha ca is oily but so is a lot of stuff we shove in our cakeholes from time to time. It's not somewhere I go on a regular basis, usually only when I've got family or mates in town.
I must say that I have seen people spooning the oil over their noodles but I don't believe it should be treated as a sauce. There is fish sauce for that, though it's not really necessary either. As for it being tough, the fish comes almost cooked to the table and really only needs the greens added and wilted before serving. It's best to take the pan off the brazier and whack it on the table at that point.

Foodjunky - haven't heard any stories about MSG here though I do agree that Hanoians go into auto-pilot with the stuff.

Preya - All that oil is useful for something:)

pieman

Cha ca in Hanoi is bollocks. The branch the family opened in Saigon is way better, cleaner and with better service. One other thing - you cannot possibly eat Cha ca withou Mam tom. That's like having fish n chips without salt n vinegar. You just don't do that sorta thing.

Sticky

Pieman - I think due to the nature of their clientele now, they've ditched the mam tom from the standard cha ca vitals and replaced it with fish sauce and made it a more sanitised experience for westerners.

pieman

The bastards. Surly service and no mam tom. That's not good in anyone's book.

gdbiederman

Things seem to have changed a lot
recently. Most of the reviews I've
read on line consider this place an
outrageous ripoff.

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