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Cơtấm Nguyễn Văn Cừ
Ho Chi Minh City Restaurant Collection: ‘Cơm tấm Nguyễn Văn Cừ’ – A Must-Try Gem for Korean Palates (응우옌반꾸) Top-Tier Restaurant
Hello, Each country has its own representative cuisine. For example, Korea has Korean cuisine or bibimbap, Japan has sushi, and Hong Kong has dim sum.
Today, I would like to introduce a dish that I personally tried and believe can represent Vietnam well. If we write “껌땀” (ggam-tam) in Vietnamese without the accent marks, it can be written as “com tam” in the Latin alphabet.
“Com” in Vietnamese means rice, and “tam” refers to broken or chopped rice grains. So, “com tam” essentially means broken rice in Vietnamese.
Cơm tấm (Broken Rice)
Cơm tấm, a Vietnamese dish, consists of rice topped with grilled pork, vegetables, and a fried egg. In fact, the name slightly varies depending on what type of meat is served on the rice; the most famous version features grilled pork and is known as “Cơm tấm.”
It’s commonly consumed as a breakfast dish in Vietnam, and if you explore the operating hours of these restaurants, you’ll find that most Cơm tấm places open as early as 5-6 AM and close around 3-4 PM after lunch.
During my trip to Vietnam, I had the opportunity to enjoy Cơm tấm for breakfast a few times. It’s worth noting that it’s delicious even when ordered for takeaway and enjoyed in the comfort of your hotel, which can be a convenient option depending on your schedule or if the weather is too hot.
In front of the entrance, it’s filled with smoke, and there are 1 to 2 men grilling pork.
I ordered two beverages along with the food, and the refreshing drinks I ordered arrived first.
In fact, “Cơm tấm” was known as the “food for the poor.” In Vietnam, the rice typically used is long-grain rice, known as “long-grain,” and it was cultivated as the main staple. During the harvesting process, when the long rice grains were broken, cracked, or chopped, they were either used as animal feed or distributed to the less fortunate.
Vietnam, being a country prone to frequent floods, often faced food shortages as a persistent issue. Extended periods of flooding led to a scarcity of food, and the inability to secure rigid land exacerbated the situation. Vietnamese people began consuming broken and chopped rice as their primary sustenance during these trying times, leading to the development of various cooking methods for these dishes.
As these dishes gained popularity among the common people, they evolved into what is now known as “Cơm tấm.”
The taste of Cơm tấm is rich and distinctive due to a variety of combinations. Here are some key characteristics that describe the flavor of Cơm tấm:
- Smooth and Rich Flavor: Cơm tấm combines tender rice with grilled pork, creating a special flavor that blends the smoothness of rice with the richness of the meat.
- Subtle and Satisfying Taste: Despite its simplicity, Cơm tấm delivers a delicious combination of flavors with modest seasoning and fresh vegetables, resulting in a subtle yet satisfying taste.
- Diverse Textures: Cơm tấm offers a range of textures, including the softness of rice, the chewiness of pork, and the crispy exterior and tender interior of the fried egg.
- Simple yet Clean Taste: Cơm tấm is prepared with straightforward ingredients and cooking methods, resulting in a clean and uncluttered taste.
- Vinegar-Based Sauce: It is often served with a vinegar-based sauce that adds a tangy element, helping to balance the flavors and enhance the overall palate.
Thanks to these characteristics, Cơm tấm is cherished as a beloved Vietnamese dish, known for its captivating and delightful taste.
Cơm tấm can be found throughout Vietnam, whether along major roads, in small alleyway eateries, inside large department stores, or at bustling markets where street vendors gather. It is easily accessible in various settings.
Thanks to its affordability and value-for-money menu options, you can commonly spot Cơm tấm being served right in front of construction sites and near schools. In my personal opinion, Cơm tấm may not be considered one of the cheapest options among Vietnamese dishes, given its price range.
Cơm tấm’s menu consists of a simple method where you can choose your preferred ingredients to go on top of rice. It can be loosely interpreted as something akin to Korean-style charcoal-grilled beef rice, but with the option to add eggs, vegetables, or even replace the grilled beef with chicken or Korean-style braised dishes, making it equally delicious.
The sauce, known as “nước mắm” in Vietnamese, is a sweet and tangy sauce made from fish sauce, sugar, and lemon. You can either mix it into your rice or dip the meat for a more flavorful experience.
Restaurants that operate in this manner are sometimes referred to as “cơm bụi,” and if I happen to visit one in the future, I’ll make sure to post a review.
I will provide a link to the address of the Cơm tấm restaurant I visited. I highly recommend trying it if you ever visit Vietnam!
Then, have a delicious trip!😃😃