|aaaauuuuuugghhhhh OM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM RIPRIPRIPRIPSLURPSHOVELSHOVEL. Check please!|
Cơm Tấm is one of the most delicious and popular rice dishes among visitors to Saigon, and Cơm Tấm Ba Ghiền is where to go get it.
Hands down. End of review.
If you expect perfection on your first bite, head here. There is com tam all over the city, but few are turned out so excellently or consistently perfect as at this alley location in the midst of Phu Nhuan District. It’s all they serve, after all, and they’ve been serving it for a long, long time.
Com Tam itself is a rice that was born of necessity. Com (Rice) and Tam (Broken) come from poor farmers whose customers would not buy the many grains broken on the way to market, and so the family would have to eat them itself. It’s become popular, and even famous, in it’s own right, for it’s unusually soft texture (well, sometimes… there’s several styles). The most famous accompaniment is pork ribs (suon) or chicken (ga).
|I just realized in all the visits I’ve had here, I’ve taken exactly TWO PICTURES. Consider yourselves lucky.|
Fortunately, Cơm Tấm Ba Ghiền has both. In fact, these are only the two dishes offered at the restaurant, along with a host of relatively expensive drinks. My advice on drinks: stick with the Tra Da (iced tea) and enjoy the bevy of flavors provided in these perfect dishes.
|The restaurant is in the back there, to the right.
It may look like a concrete shed with some tables (hint: because it is).
The restaurant itself is at the intersection of an alley and a bigger thoroughfare (used by trucks and cabs, but… somehow less than a street), near a massive catholic church on Le Van Sy. There’s not much in the way of tourist hotspots up in this ‘hood, unless you want to check out the indie coffee scene (which is super impressive – cafe walking tour coming soon!).
The food itself… beyond perfection. This is pork rib at it’s most Vietnamese, pounded flat and marinated with a soy-garlic glaze that caramelizes just as fast as the ribs cook, thanks to the thin nature of the cut. This is chicken thigh and leg, so sticky and juicy that all you can do is think about the dreams you’ll have later that night, realizing how alone you were without Com Tam Ba Ghien in your life.
It really is that good.
|For those of you with ‘bikes, there’s parking across the alley.|
Green onions. Garlic. Chili. A bowl of fish sauce you just dump all over that plate like it’s a dirty special someone in your life, and you’re doing both of you a real favor that you know you’ll look back on with fondness.
If this post is what you want to sound like after you eat food, please. Please do yourself a favor, and check out Com Tam Ba Ghien. There are very few restaurants that can turn out a plate of com tam like this, and it’s worth the linguistic rapture. Just thinking about this dish is a problem for me – I mean, it’s 7pm as I write this, and I’m full of rice, but my god… I’m only 15 minutes away.
Life is good.
|I woke up this adorable gus, whose cage was in the garage. Lookit that tongue. awwwwwwww.|
And here? Unusually for me (well, unusual for pre-vietnam), I go for the pork. Almost every time. The other half dozen times I’ve had the chicken.
They’re both excellent. Check out Com Tam Ba Ghien during your time in Saigon, and though you may have trouble getting here without a taxi, you certainly won’t have any trouble with the food.
P.S. If you get here via motorbike, there is free parking in the garage opposite the restaurant, on the NE corner of the T intersection. And these adorable dogs!
Do you have a game-changing Com Tam place of your own? Please, for the love of all that is holy, leave it in the comments!