Little known to the outsider, but the quintessential dining experience in Hanoi is Cha Ca La Vong. Sounds like a little dance but it's actually grilled fish, served accompanied with a medley of greens - dill, spring onions, chinese parsley, mint, etc. So quintessial they even named the street after it. But that outlet is perpetually packed, they opened another, not too far away. Thank goodness!
When you sit down, the waiter brings plates and bowls of different raw ingredients. See above! The one thing to remember is not to put your nose too close... the smell from the fermented shrimp paste solution is undeniably an acquired one.
Some time later, the waiter brings a charcoal stove with a sizzling pan of fish pieces swimming in a turmeric-infused oil.
Throw in as much of the greens you can to cook for a short while. When done, spoon over your bowl already filled with Vietnamese noodles. Drizzle with the shrimp paste and garnish with roasted peanuts, parsley and if you like a bit of kick, the chopped red chillies.
Then enjoy every morsel you put into your mouth. Wash all down with Hanoi Bia (beer). What a slice of Hanoi culinary culture, and how delicious!