This is a specialty of Hanoi and more precisely of Chả Hanoi now has several shops selling this dish, but on ancient days, this was a street where were sold paints, and therefore was named as the Paints Street. By the end of the 19th century, the Đoàn family, located at House No.14 of this street, hit upon a new idea: to sell fried fish pie served with soft noodles and seasoning.
Encouraged by the appreciation of customers, the family specialized in this trade, and the shop was called as “Chả Cá Lã Vọng shop” as a wooden statue of an old fisherman (Lã Vọng) holding a fishing rod and a string of fish stands at the door. As the specialty grew famous with every passing day, the street was renamed by the people as Chả Cá Street.
While the guest sit down at the table, the waiter starts laying there some seasonings: a bowl of well-stirred shrimp paste sauce mixed up with lemon and a few drops of liquor to give it fragrance, and decorated by a few slices of chilli, a plate of grilled ground nuts of gold yellow color, various species of mint vegetables from Láng Village; onions in small white slices having the form of tuberose.
Added to this is a plate of soft noodle in thin small and white threads. To many customers, the sight of such seasoning already greatly stimulates their appetite. A few minutes later, fried fish, yellow in color and fragrant in smell, put on a plate of anethum vegetable, is brought in. But that is not all. A few seconds more a cauldron of boiling fat is brought in and the waiter starts pouring some boiling fat on each bowl of grilled fish, thus producing a fragrant smoke and sputtering noise.
Further, some drops of coleopterous are dropped on the bowl giving it a special smell which is unforgettable to connoisseurs. Grilled fish are usually chosen from certain species of fish: pimelode, sturgeon, etc.
The flesh of sturgeon fish is not solid, that of pimelode fish lacks fragrance, other fish has too many cones which make it difficult to take out all the flesh. Only the lăng fish (dwarf catfish) is ideal for the dish as its flesh is sweet and tasty, solid and fragrant.
The fish must be carefully prepared before grilling. Galingale and saffron must be ground mixed with water and filtered through a piece of clean cloth in order to obtain a solution to which is added some drops of rice ferment and fish sauce of good quality. Then, the fish meat is immersed in this solution for two hours before grilling. Grilling must be done by means of pairs of bamboo tongs placed on a stove of burning charcoals. The fish meat must be grilled on both sides and brought in to the guests when it is duly grilled.