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Ericandblueboy

Hai Duong, Northern Vietnamese in Eden Center

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I'm on a mission to eat at every restaurant in Eden Center. Today I went to Hai Duong, which according to Eden Center's website and Tyler Cowen, specializes in - Sizzling Fish Filet in Northern Style. I don't know if this is the same as Cha Ca La Vong or just something very similar. In this case, I was given a purplish sauce (I believe it's shrimp paste), peanuts, sliced onions, a plate of herbs (minty smelling), lettuce, rice noodle and then a sesame rice cracker. A little later a sizzling fish filet with lots of dill showed up. With Cha Ca La Vong, all the herbs are cooked tableside along with the fish. In this case, I wasn't quite sure what to do. I wrapped some noodles, herbs, fish and dill in lettuce, and dipped the whole thing into the shrimp paste. It was really good. The fish was moist and flavorful. I even liked their shrimp paste (I thought the version at Present was kinda gross). Tyler Cowen says to put everything on top of the cracker. I saw some older ladies eating them like lettuce wraps - so I went with that. I would love some tips on how to eat this. I probably should've asked my waiter.

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It sounds like Cha Ca La Vong. Was the fish nice and yellow, and tasting vaguely of, dare I say it, ball park mustard?

I've been doing CCLV at home lately -- but it's the only version I've had. Pretty good though if I do say so myself. Hoping to find some somewhere in Atlanta one of these days for comparison purposes. If I get to DC anytime soon I'll have to try this place.

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The official Cha Cha La Vong is cooked with all the herbs tableside. I think this is the generic northern Vietnamese tumeric fish which everyone ate until Cha Cha La Vong made its spin-off famous.

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I'm on a mission to eat at every restaurant in Eden Center.

That's funny, I started on this project myself about a year ago, and was going so far as to do a sequential sweep, going from one end of the shopping center to the other; got sidetracked, and never did get that far into it. There's a lot of middling restaurants here, and I still think it's far more culturally than culinarily interesting (nothing wrong with that).

The information on the web about Hai Duong's hours is incorrect: they are NOT open until 11 PM 7 days a week.

By the way, for those going to the Rice Paper dinner on Tuesday, I went there two weeks ago and had a very good meal - the Ca Kho To (caramelized fish in a clay pot), trite though it may be, was my dish of the night. Those looking for a reasonable facsimile of Rice Paper's menu can find it here.

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Round 2 at Hai Dong. The fish dish is actually called Cha Ca Thang Long. Lo and behold, there's a restaurant called that in Hanoi! Anyhow, I ordered it again and tried it this time by mixing everything together. First I take some bun (noodle) and put it in a bowl, then I shred some lettuce on top of the bun, then I scatter some herbs on top of the lettuce, I then put some fish (don't forget to take out the stick) and dill on the top of the heap with some onions, then pour some shrimp paste and fish sauce over the whole thing. Oh yeah, I threw in some pieces of the cracker. It was pretty good but if there is a preferred way of portioning the stuff - I don't know it. The rice cracker gets a little softer but doesn't get soggy, which is good. The fish is tasty but you don't really get a whole lot of it. There were just two skewers of fish. You're mostly eating bun, herbs, shrimp/fish sauce. I also ordered a bun mam, another specialty here (because it's located in the part of the menu that says house specialty, along with bun bo hue and the cha ca thang long). Bun mam is a seafood noodle soup. The noodles, although round, are much thinner than bun bo hue noodles. The soup, although similar in coloring to bun bo hue, smells different and actually has a little sweetness to it. Here it was served with a few slices of pork belly (very thin and fatty, not really for eating), 2 shrimp, 1 piece of squid, a couple of pieces of tender fish, and a couple of fish balls. I actually really like the broth, and the fish was perfectly cooked. The seafood doesn't have a ton of flavor though.

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Today I went to Hai Duong, which according to Eden Center's website and Tyler Cowen, specializes in - Sizzling Fish Filet in Northern Style. I don't know if this is the same as Cha Ca La Vong or just something very similar. In this case, I was given a purplish sauce (I believe it's shrimp paste), peanuts, sliced onions, a plate of herbs (minty smelling), lettuce, rice noodle and then a sesame rice cracker. A little later a sizzling fish filet with lots of dill showed up. With Cha Ca La Vong, all the herbs are cooked tableside along with the fish. In this case, I wasn't quite sure what to do. I wrapped some noodles, herbs, fish and dill in lettuce, and dipped the whole thing into the shrimp paste. It was really good. The fish was moist and flavorful. I even liked their shrimp paste (I thought the version at Present was kinda gross). Tyler Cowen says to put everything on top of the cracker. I saw some older ladies eating them like lettuce wraps - so I went with that. I would love some tips on how to eat this. I probably should've asked my waiter.

It sounds like Cha Ca La Vong. Was the fish nice and yellow, and tasting vaguely of, dare I say it, ball park mustard?

I've been doing CCLV at home lately -- but it's the only version I've had. Pretty good though if I do say so myself. Hoping to find some somewhere in Atlanta one of these days for comparison purposes. If I get to DC anytime soon I'll have to try this place.

The official Cha Cha La Vong is cooked with all the herbs tableside. I think this is the generic northern Vietnamese tumeric fish which everyone ate until Cha Cha La Vong made its spin-off famous.

Round 2 at Hai Dong. The fish dish is actually called Cha Ca Thang Long. Lo and behold, there's a restaurant called that in Hanoi! Anyhow, I ordered it again and tried it this time by mixing everything together. First I take some bun (noodle) and put it in a bowl, then I shred some lettuce on top of the bun, then I scatter some herbs on top of the lettuce, I then put some fish (don't forget to take out the stick) and dill on the top of the heap with some onions, then pour some shrimp paste and fish sauce over the whole thing. Oh yeah, I threw in some pieces of the cracker. It was pretty good but if there is a preferred way of portioning the stuff - I don't know it. The rice cracker gets a little softer but doesn't get soggy, which is good. The fish is tasty but you don't really get a whole lot of it. There were just two skewers of fish. You're mostly eating bun, herbs, shrimp/fish sauce.

I ordered the Chả Cá Thăng Long ($13.95) at Hải Dương this afternoon (the 2nd and 3rd photos in the post immediately preceding this one). Some observations:

Hải Dương is a city in Vietnam, and is the capital of Hải Dương province.

Chả Cá Thăng Long <--- (this is a very useful link), Chả Lã Vọng, and Chả Cá Hà Nội are different names for the same dish which originated 100 years ago at Chả Cá Lã Vọng restaurant.

I'm pretty sure that Chả means "crispy, grilled, or fried," e.g. Chả giò (fried spring rolls); and means "fish," e.g. Cá Kho Tộ (caramelized catfish in a clay pot).

Thăng Long is a place in Vietnam named in 1010 AD, and means (depending on the epoch and pronunciation) either "rising dragon" or "ascending and flourishing." It evolved into what is now Hà Nội.

There is a Phở Thăng Long in Pan Am Plaza in Fairfax (the same strip mall that houses Microcenter).

Regarding the dish itself, my guess is that Eric's first way of eating it - wrapping the fish in lettuce - is the most common, although I opted for his second way (forming a perverted Napoleon in my tiny bowl, with both the vermicelli and sesame crackers on the bottom to soak up moisture). I even asked my friendly server if this was "correct," and he said yes (I've generally noticed that Vietnamese Americans do whatever they personally like in terms of wrapping, bowling, squirting Sriracha, etc.)

In terms of complexity, this dish had virtually none. It consisted of a small bowl of whole, shelled, unsalted peanuts; a small bowl of unadorned, sliced onion; a plate of dry, overcooked vermicelli, semi-stale black sesame cracker, and several herbs and greens completely devoid of aroma (my neighbor's cinnamon basil has really spoiled me this summer); a little sauce dish of purplish, fermented shrimpy liquid (which was the only mildly interesting part of the dish); and the sizzling platter of what was perhaps catfish, skewered, with no hint of turmeric whatsoever, but sitting on top of some onion and the most dill I've ever experienced in any dish - a fistful of dill (this is not a bad thing, but I had more dill in this meal than I've probably had in the past several months combined).

So other than the little bowl of purple liquid, this dish was pretty much what you wanted to make of it. Like Eric, I made little layers in my little bowl, going from bottom-to-top, crackers, noodles, liquid, fish, herbs, a couple peanuts, some pinched onion, a half-spoon of chili sauce, a shake of fish sauce - mixing it all together with my chopsticks, and filling it back to the top whenever it got to about halfway empty. An enjoyable meal, but more for the novel experience than the culinary value. My attitude about Eden Center is that it's prepping me for the day when I actually go to Vietnam - for Vietnamese Americans, I can't imagine it's more than a pleasant, comforting, shadow of their former home.

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Went here last night--highly recommended. On this thread's and Washingtonian's recommendation, we got the Cha Ca Than Long, which I loved.  We also got a delicious fried crepe (bánh xèo) and some great lemongrass chicken.  My girlfriend had some tasty pho.  Service was fast and friendly. 

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Hai Duong's Cha Ca Thang Long/La Vong is amazing. The Bahn Xeo there is imo the best in Eden Center. Mark K and Haidar walked me through the menus of almost every place there except for Hai Duong, we were on a mission to find a really good local version of Cha Ca La Vong. Imagine a 6'7" giant wandering into one of those kitchens with his phone in his hand pointing a picture of yellow fish, saying "can you make this", while Haidar and I looked straight down to the bottom of our Saigons at the table.

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21 hours ago, ulysses said:

Hai Duong's Cha Ca Thang Long/La Vong is amazing. The Bahn Xeo there is imo the best in Eden Center. Mark K and Haidar walked me through the menus of almost every place there except for Hai Duong, we were on a mission to find a really good local version of Cha Ca La Vong. Imagine a 6'7" giant wandering into one of those kitchens with his phone in his hand pointing a picture of yellow fish, saying "can you make this", while Haidar and I looked straight down to the bottom of our Saigons at the table.

I second that bánh xèo emotion. A friend and I order it every time we're there. Have also enjoyed the baby clams. Getting hungry just thinking about this...

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Just popping up here in the Cha Ca Thang Long discussion, but I recently (Saturday) ate it at the Hai Duong that is in Springfield, VA. Anyone know if it's a branch of the Eden Center Hai Duong? The cast iron sizzling platter I got looks mighty similar to the one in the picture above.

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On 5/1/2017 at 10:47 AM, TheMatt said:

Just popping up here in the Cha Ca Thang Long discussion, but I recently (Saturday) ate it at the Hai Duong that is in Springfield, VA. Anyone know if it's a branch of the Eden Center Hai Duong? The cast iron sizzling platter I got looks mighty similar to the one in the picture above.

I'm pretty sure that Pho Hai Duong in Annandale is related to the Hai Duong in Eden Center, and I *think* (but am not sure) that the Springfield Hai Duong is also, but I'm not as confident with the latter.

Can anyone confirm?

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I can also say with confidence that the cháo cá (fish porridge) at the Springfield Hai Duong is really good. It comes out at roughly the temperature of the sun (the roof of my mouth is proof), but it's good.

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Hai Duong has opened a branch where Pho 50 used to be, in Loehmann's Plaza/Graham Park Plaza (Rt 50 and Graham Rd).  I had some Bun Bo Hue, which was terribly bland.  

P.S.  same menu as the Hai Duong in Eden Center (in fact, they 're so worn that they could have come from the Eden Center location).

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On 5/17/2017 at 9:21 AM, DonRocks said:

I'm pretty sure that Pho Hai Duong in Annandale is related to the Hai Duong in Eden Center, and I *think* (but am not sure) that the Springfield Hai Duong is also, but I'm not as confident with the latter.

Can anyone confirm?

I can tell you that the one in Springfield is a separate entity.

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On 9/30/2018 at 2:46 PM, Ericandblueboy said:

Hai Duong has opened a branch where Pho 50 used to be, in Loehmann's Plaza/Graham Park Plaza (Rt 50 and Graham Rd).  I had some Bun Bo Hue, which was terribly bland.  

P.S.  same menu as the Hai Duong in Eden Center (in fact, they 're so worn that they could have come from the Eden Center location).

Just happened to walk by the place today. It's not Pho Hai Duong, it's Pho Han Duong, with an n. In Vietnamese, the one in Eden is Hải Dương - a city in North Vietnam. The one in Loehmann is Hân Dương - most likely a name of a person. So to a Vietnamese person, it doesn't at all sound related. 

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You're definitely right about the name - I found their Yelp page.  But I'm pretty sure they use the same menu.  Probably best to separate the two until ownership is confirmed.

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On 11/26/2019 at 10:04 AM, Ericandblueboy said:

Hai Duong.  

Very good. Kids approved and husband finished his seafood soup.

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