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Pork Chop with Broken Rice @ Cơm Tấm An Dương Vương in Ho Chi Minh City

Buddy Marcus brought me to a chup chai png or Singapore economic rice type affordable restaurant which serves rice with lots of side dishes.

Com tam literally means "cooked rice broken". It is a signature of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam along with the more well known pho (beef noodle), banh mi (baguette) and ca phe (coffee).

The Vietnamese say "Saigon people eat com tam, Ha Noi people eat pho".

Cơm Tấm An Dương Vương is a corner shop at a busy intersection of Đ. An Dương Vương and Đ. Trần Nhân Tôn.

The pork chop grilling station caught my attention straight away and stopped me in my tracks.

Thin slabs of marinated pork chops sizzling, hissing on a hot, well seasoned, weathered flat grilling pan on a sweltering Saigon high noon.

The pork chops were marinated, sloshing in sauces, chopped aromatics and roasted rice powder.

The layout is very similar to Singapore point and order chup chai png type of the place but the dishes and taste profile are quite different. 

The people at the restaurant are Vietnamese and speak no foreign language. But, that's no problem as everyone understands hand signs 😁 You can also have what we had which is pretty much the essentials at com tam restaurants.

Me, I just left everything to Marcus, a Vietnam foodie veteran 🤭

First thing first at any com tam restaurant or stall is the broken rice - it is the raison d'etre of com tam places. It's a throwback of leaner, harder days when broken rice was all the people of Saigon could afford. To this day, steamed broken rice is still the staple of com tam eateries.

Then, there will always be the thin slab of pork chop. Slightly firm but still tender, slightly chewy to the bite. Nearly moist, not juicy. The sweetish marination overlays the subtle natural sweetness of the thin slice of pork. 

Choose a more fatty piece if you like more tenderness, moistness and flavour.

Steamed egg with minced pork and mung bean noodles (glass noodles). Eggy savoury sweet.

Along with these, a bit of crunchy sourish vinegar pickled vegetables.

That sums up the trinity of broken rice, pork chop, and steamed egg that make up the essential com tam.

The rest are add-ons, extras. For this trip, we stuck to the basics as we were hopping from restaurant to restaurant to try as many as possible.

They have lots of condiments on the table but the essential one is, of course, fish sauce. The umami savoury fish sauce sweetened with sugar is dribbled over the rice.

Enjoying com tam with locals, indulging and imbibing the culture and spirit of Vietnam through its delicious cuisine. Travelling for food is such a privilege 🙏

More articles on Vietnam by Johor Kaki 👈 click


Restaurant name: Cơm tấm An Dương Vương

Address: 502 Đ. An Dương Vương, Phường 4, Quận 5, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

Tel: +84 283 839 1126

Hours: 7am - 9pm

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Written by Tony Boey on 12 Mar 2024

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