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Around Hanoi in 30 Dishes #8: Chả rươi

Dig in.

A slightly unusual dish this time.

Hanoi is a city that adapts to the seasons. As it enters Autumn, the temperature drops to bearable levels, people dust off their winter jackets, and double denim makes its annual comeback.

But no more evident than in changes in food. Delicious smelling fried banana, taro and sweet potato stalls start competing for space on the already packed pavements. And despite the temperature remaining a balmy 21 degrees C, Men wrap up warm and forsake the usual iced coffee with condensed milk (Ca Phe Nâu Đá) in favour of hot lipton tea. Who needs a calender?

It was around this time that a Vietnamese friend invited me to have Chả rươi as it is in season at this time. ‘What is this?’ I enquired. The strain was visible on her face as her elementary English struggled to find the euphemisms and tact needed to convince me of its merits.

After a few of her words and some googling, here’s what I found out.

Chả rươi is the meat of a type of worm found close to the shore, particularly in low-tide conditions. They are only available for a month at this time of year, and stalls often pop-up specialising in this before disappearing for the rest of the year. The worms (sometimes referred to as fly eggs) are often cooked into an omellete or mixed with ground pork into a patty and fried.

Is your mouth watering yet?

Chả rươi

Here we had the former mentioned dish with a side of herby salad and a dipping sauce. You know what? It wasn’t that bad. At first it was difficult to taste the difference between the egg and the rươi, but then I realised that it was because the worms tasted so pork-like that my brain assumed there to be pork present.

We ate just off the corner of Hàng Rươi, astonishingly this street was so well known for the dish that the authorities named the street after it. Heck, that’s like eating a burger on Burger Street in the states (if such a place exists, this was the only one I found).

If you’re living in Hanoi and of a strong mind and constitution, then I urge you to try it before it disappears for another year. It could be too late to try this dish for another year but if you’re interested then check it out on the address below, the late bird might still have time to catch the worm.

Price per small omelette:  10,000 VND

Location: look for the stalls on the corner of Hàng Rươi and Hàng Lược.