Cơm tấm is a southern dish, you can find it anywhere in Saigon. Cơm tấm in Vietnamese literally means broken rice, or cooked rice from fractured rice grains. In the past when rice was produced pretty much manually in Vietnam, whole grain rice was sold to rich people, and broken rice was left to poor people. Nowadays as technology has advanced, there’s not much broken rice in the production. Thus broken rice becomes trendy and even more expensive than whole grain rice. Talk about irony!
Cơm tấm is usually served with grilled pork (either ribs or shredded), bì (thinly shredded pork mixed with cooked and thinly shredded pork skin), various pickled vegetables, along with a sunny side up egg. Typically restaurants will serve this popular combination rice plate with a small bowl of nước chấm (dipping fish sauce), as well as a small bowl of canh (soup broth).
I guess I have a thing about grilled food. Like, when I’m really hungry and have to pick something to eat, grilled stuff is always the first that comes to mind. And for a Vietnamese, what can possibly be better than grilled pork with some rice! I mean, I’m not yet as old as my parents who need rice everyday to live, but when I’m really hungry, a rice dish with grilled pork like the one above is simply irresistible.
In Danang I often go to 81 Tran Quoc Toan for com tam. As the shop owner is from Saigon (I guess, based on their southern accent), pork marinade and dipping sauce have a typical sweet taste of com tam in the south. Although I don’t often like main dish with sweet taste, I love com tam here because that’s how original com tam is supposed to be.
Video recorded at this shop:
For a Danang version of com tam, go to 31 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai. I call it “Danang version” because of a few modifications from the original dish. Different from the original version which just includes grilled pork chop, egg and bì, here you can choose your main ingredients from a wide variety of food (photo below) to accompany your broken rice dish.
For some reasons I couldn’t resist the overwhelming smell of grilled pork and ended up ordering the basic ingredients, with the exception of a spring roll.
Although overall the dish was good, I still preferred the one at 81 Tran Quoc Toan. Grilled pork here was thinly cut, a bit overcooked and thus quite dry.
You may find the soup broth here interesting: mince pork and jew’s ear mushroom stuffed in half of a bitter melon.
Cơm tấm là 1 món ăn nổi tiếng của miền Nam, đặc biệt nổi tiếng ở tp Hồ Chí Minh. 1 dĩa cơm tấm gồm có thịt heo nướng, trứng ốp, bì và đồ chua.
Chẳng hiểu sao mình thích đồ nướng lắm. Đang đói mà ăn thịt nướng với cơm là số dzách. Hồi còn ở Úc lúc nào vào nhà hàng Việt cũng gọi cơm tấm ăn, bảo đảm không thể nào không ngon được. Mà cơm tấm cũng là món Việt rất nổi tiếng ở Úc, hầu như nhà hàng Việt nào cũng có, và các bạn nước ngoài rất thích.
Ở Đà Nẵng mình hay ăn cơm tấm ở 81 Trần Quốc Toản. Vì chủ tiệm là người Sài gòn (mình đoán thế, nghe giọng Sài gòn mà), nên cơm tấm ở đây có vị ngon rất đặc trưng giống cơm tấm mình hay ăn mỗi khi vào thành phố Bác chơi.
Ngoài ra muốn ăn cơm tấm theo ‘phong cách’ Đà Nẵng thì có thể đến 31 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai. Gọi là cơm tấm “phong cách Đà Nẵng” là vì ngoài thịt sườn nướng ra có thể gọi thêm rất nhiều món khác như chả giò (ram), mực độn, cá thu… Quán này cũng lâu đời rồi và được kha khá người dân tp biết đến.
Summer created Danangcuisine.com in 2010 to share her eating experience in her hometown Da Nang and other cities around Viet Nam and Asia. She also runs the Funtastic hostels, Food tour and Cooking class in Danang.