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Cha Ca

Cha Ca La Vong is a Vietnamese grilled fish dish, orginally from Hanoi. The dish is traditionally made with hemibagrus (Ca Lang), which is a genus of catfish. The fish is cut into pieces and marinated in turmeric based sauce, which often includes shrimp paste or fish sauce, ginger and chilli peppers. Sometimes, saffron is used instead of turmeric. It is then lightly grilled over charcoal. The dish is served in a hot pan coated with marinated sauce and herbs, particularly dill. Other herbs such as scallions or basil, may be considered a delicacy in Vietnam as it is nearly exclusively served in restaurants and is not found in street food. In the 19th century, the Doan family was known with the preparation of grilled fish for their neighbors. The dish became so popular that their local community helped the family open a restaunt named Cha Ca La Vong in 1871. The word ” Cha Ca” is translated as “grilled fish” in Vietnamese. Meanwhile, “La Vong” was inspired by a local statue of Jiang Ziya, also known as Lu Wang, the fisherman – turned – politician who symbolized the potential for patient and talented people. The restaurant opened at 14 Hang Son street in the old quarter of Hanoi. This was reportedly the same street where Doan family had lived before opening the restaurant. It was managed by Doan Phuc and his wife. In the early days, the restaurant was a meeting place and hideout for anti-colonial rebels. However, the restaurant later became popular with aristocrats and colonial troops of French Indochina. Copycat restaurants opened on the street with similar names such as Cha Ca La Song. Other restaurants used the exact same name. For this reason, Hang Son was officially renamed Cha Ca. The original Cha Ca La Vong restaurant is still open in Hanoi where it only serves its signature dish and clients eat from charcoal burners at communal tables. The restaurant was listed as a destination in the book 1000 places to visit before you die.

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