Fresh off of sampling cha ca (turmeric-coated catfish w/ dill) at Pho Thien Long in San Jose, I'm on a quest to find other places in the South Bay that serve up this fragrant North Viet dish.
While PTL's version was very fresh, tasty, and something I'd recommend to others, it was different than what I fell in love w/ at Cha Ca La Vong in Hanoi. My memory may be hazy, but I remember the Hanoi version being served in a very hot device, something like a molcajete or what Korean bibimbap is served in. Raging hot to create a wonderful caramelization on the fish. I also like a good amount of turmeric and an assertive nuoc cham (dipping sauce). IIRC, the nuoc cham in Hanoi had some sort of herbal oil/liquid swirled into it that added a vegetal, slightly medicinal layer of flavor to the dish. It's a flavor that you either like or hate IMO, and I still haven't figured out exactly what it was. Let's just say that I enjoy my Viet sauces on the strong, "funky" side.
I haven't had a chance to do lots of research into CH archives, but I did come across cha ca recs for Minh's in Milpitas and Hue in San Jose/Santa Clara. I'm not even sure if Hue is still open. Suggestions for my cha ca crawl in the South Bay would be great. Thanks!