One of the most popular Vietnamese street food dishes to eat in Saigon is com tam suon nuong, the combination of broken rice with a grilled pork chop on top of it. It’s one of the most common Vietnamese food meals throughout the city, often available at street food restaurants and even more sit down restaurants as well. When I was in Saigon, eating com tam suon was one of my favorite meals, and I ate it frequently. But there was one place that I ate, known at Com Tam Ba Ghien, that topped all others.
Located on Đặng Văn Ngữ, just off Le Van Sy road in Saigon, Com Tam Ba Ghien is well known as one of the most legendary and most beloved restaurants that serves Vietnamese broken rice and pork chops. I could actually smell the aroma of the pork grilling when I was walking down the street to the restaurant – it was a beautiful smell. The restaurant does both takeaway and sit-in, and though there were plenty of people doing both, I decided to take a seat at the front of the restaurant at one of the communal metal tables. You could order just a typical plate of broken rice topped with a marinated grilled pork chop, but to go the extra mile, you’ve got to eat the grand slam of all Vietnamese dishes, known as cơm tấm bì chả sườn trứng ốp la, which basically translates to all things pig over a plate of broken rice with a fried egg on the top.
My order came to the table quickly after I had ordered it, and it was hot and fresh, the rice was soft and fluffy. The pork was then placed on top of the rice, a huge sized pork chop that was sweet and salty, probably marinated in a mixture of soy sauce and sugar, then grilled over hot coals until slightly charred on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside. Surrounding the pork chop came a slice of Vietnamese meatloaf known as cha trung hap. The meatloaf included a mixture of mung bean noodles and minced pork, seasoned with salt, pepper, and fish sauce, and topped with egg yolk. The Vietnamese meatloaf was pretty good, nice and salty with a delicious texture. Also on my plate of com tam suon was a pile of shredded pig skin, known in Vietnamese as bi. It wasn’t my favorite component of my meal, but wasn’t too bad – the skin was a little rubbery and chewy, with not much flavor. There was also so shredded pork meat, which was delicious. Finally, on the very top of my plate was an op la, a fried sunny side up egg. The egg added the absolute extra touch, both protein and the marvelous yolk sauce which coated everything and seeped down to the rice.
My plate of com tam suon nuong at Com Tam Ba Ghien was then drizzled in a spoon of scallion oil, and a scoop of Vietnamese cucumber, carrot, and daikon radish pickle. The final component of my meal was a side side of Vietnamese sweet fish sauce with a touch of chili in it as well. The mixture was absolutely sensational, everything from the pork to the meatloaf the pickles and sauce. Although com tam suon is popular and widely available throughout Saigon, one of the best and most famous is Com Tam Ba Ghien. If you love to eat grilled pork and rice, you’re absolutely going to love this restaurant when you’re in Vietnam.
Cơm Tấm Ba Ghiền
Address: 84 Đặng Văn Ngữ, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Open hours: From 6 am – 10 pm daily
Prices: The total bill for Ying and I together came to 104,000 Vietnamese Dong ($4.80), I had the deluxe monster plate, which I think was about 60 or 65,000 VND, and Ying had just a plate with a grilled pork chop and an egg on top which I think cost about 30 or 35,000 VND.
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