The Best Cơm Tấm Eateries in Saigon

Address: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Cơm tấm, or broken rice, is a Vietnamese dish made from rice with fractured rice grains. Here is Streatery’s list of best Com Tam spots around town.

Streatery Vietnam: Best Com Tam
Cơm Sườn Ốp La

There is no dish more quintessentially Saigon than the humble cơm tấm (broken rice) and we would like to intoduce you to the best com tam spots in town.  The name refers to the dish’s base component, broken rice kernels that will be spooned steaming from vast rice cookers and placed on your plate. It’s topped with suon nuong (grilled pork chop) and pickled vegetables before further customisation with bi (shredded pork skin), cha (an egg and pork meatloaf) and op la (a sunny side up fried egg). This will then be served to you either with a small dish, or preferably a large jug of nuoc cham (sweet fish sauce) which is to be lovingly drizzled or poured over the whole plate.

There is no dish more quintessentially Saigon than the humble cơm tấm (broken rice)

Broken rice has a uniquely pleasing texture, and the way it soaks up the flavours of the fish sauce, meat juices and egg yolk is key to its popularity—and popular it is. All across the city at any time of day you can smell the unmistakable scent of grilling pork and see plumes of smoke rising from the grill. The sheer number of com tam eateries makes it difficult to know where is best, and almost any will give you a satisfying meal, but we think this list gives a great sample of some of the tastiest. Behold: the best com tam in Saigon.

The Best Com Tam, Streatery Vietnam
A classic com tam lunch: rice, pork, fresh veggies, and an egg on top

1. Ba Ghien, Phu Nhuan

Bigger is better

Anyone who believes bigger is better will feel very at home at com tam ba ghien, probably the most famous com tam in Saigon. This is due in no small part to the size of its pork chop. It is almost impossible for a smile not to spread across your lips when you first see it on your plate, almost entirely covering the rice. It’s not just the size, though, as over the years ba ghien have consistently delivered on taste, with the pork chops freshly grilled throughout the day on the large open grill. Service is quick and orders can be made by pointing at the pictures of each dish on the wall.

Anyone who believes bigger is better will feel very at home at com tam ba ghien

It has to be said that the price has been increasing every year, and some have questioned if the once brilliant consistency has remained. Nevertheless, we think Ba Ghien is well worth the journey out of district 1. As the Saigonese say, “Sườn Ba Ghiền, ăn vào là ghiền” (Try Ba Ghien Grilled Pork Chop and you’ll never forget!).

45-80k per meal

8:00 – 21:00 | 4 Đặng Văn Ngữ, Phường 10, Phú Nhuận

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Related: Read our review of Saigon’s top specialty coffee shops.

2. Bui Saigon, Tan Dinh

Serving the biggest pork chops.

Due to its popularity, Com Tam Bui Saigon has a number of locations around the city, but we recommend the one in Tan Dinh. Known for the quality of its meats and nuoc cham, and for offering a number of different marinades including spicy or honey glazed, you can’t go wrong with Bui Saigon. Loved by locals and in-the-know tourists alike, it can get very busy during lunch hours, making ordering a bit daunting. Be patient and you will be eating one of the best meals in Saigon soon enough. Highly recommended is the canh khổ qua (stuffed bitter melon soup) to accompany your main dish. 

45-80k per meal

8:00 – 22:00 | 100 Thạch Thị Thanh, Tân Định, Quận 1, Tân Định Quận 1

3. Com Tam 40A, Thao Dien

Consistently great and probably the best in Thao Dien.

Streatery Vietnam
Cơm tấm 40A in Thao Dien

Thrifty eaters hungry for a cheap tasty meal in District 2’s Thao Dien, an area well known for its large expat community and pricier western food options, can rejoice at the existence of Com Tam 40A. One of the hallmarks of a great com tam place is seeing the chefs grilling the pork chops out front instead of lying cold in a bowl, and 40A Quoc Hung certainly fulfils this criteria. From the early morning till just after lunch, a varied mix of customers are drawn in by the scented smoke that billows across the road from this eatery, and provided with a delicious freshly cooked plate of com tam.   

25-50k per meal

8:00 – 14:00 | 40a Quốc Hương, Thảo Điền, Quận 2, Hồ Chí Minh

4. Tiệm Cơm Tấm Tài, Binh Thanh

The only Com Tam with consistently runny egg yolks.

Com Tam Lai, deep in Binh Thanh, checks all the boxes when it comes the lunch staple. Tender pork chop? Always there. Runny egg? Done to perfection. Served with fluffy rice and pickled veggies, Com Tam Lai pretty much sets the standard for what you should be looking for when it comes to this dish*. If, like us, you’re partial to the runny egg, this is your place—fairly often when it comes to com tam the egg is overcooked.

If, like us, you’re partial to the runny egg, this is your place

Com Tam Lai is a good place to begin, too, due to its setting; rather than needing to bear the sun in the heat of the day, this particular com tam can be enjoyed in a spacious room that appears to be a church-turned-disco-turned lunch joint.

Although soup doesn’t come with the dish here, be sure to order a bowl of the bitter melon soup on the side. Stick around after lunch for an in-house coffee or soya milk, then spend your afternoon reliving it. 

*another tell-tale sign of a solid com tam is billowing smoke from the grill, a sign of freshness. Keep your eye out. – Joel

Com Tam: 35-45K, Soup: 20K

6:00 – 22:00 | 1 Nguyễn An Ninh, Phường 14, Bình Thạnh

For more phở-nomenal eats, head to our EATS section.

July 15, 2019

By Andrew Baron

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