Cơm Tấm Mộc – Ho Chi Minh City

 

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April 9, 2008
Cuisine: Vietnamese

85 Ly Tu Trong Street
District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Phone: 8248561
Website: none

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Com tam thit kho (30,000 VND)

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Com tam suon bi (25,000 VND)

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Com tam bi cha (22,000 VND)

Air-con street food is a popular trend sweeping through the Saigon dining scene. The formula for this genre of eateries is pretty straightforward—ditch the dirty, embrace the modern, halve the portions and double the price.

Plastic stools are replaced by solid furniture, wall calendars of Hong Kong movie stars are traded in for eye-catching color schemes, and inattentive waiters are given lessons in service and hospitality.

Pho 24 is the current leader of the air-con street food movement with hundreds of locations throughout the country. Although not nearly as prevalent, Cơm Tấm Mộc is one of the powerhouses in the realm of broken rice. The decor features light-colored wood furnishings and minimalist decor.

The Astronomer, Matt and I decided to try fancy broken rice after Plan A for lunch fell through. I ordered the com tam bi cha (broken rice with shredded pork and pork skin with a slice of pork loaf), which was high-quality, but wimpy in the size department. Whereas most Vietnamese establishments serve a lot of rice and a little meat, Cơm Tấm Mộc piles on the meat and skimps on the rice. This is perfect for those still on the Atkins Diet, but a growing girl demands more rice.

On a sunny note, the pork loaf was the best I’ve had in the city—the yolk-y topping was fresh and the pork actually tasted like pork. Fancy that. Sadly, I could not get my com tam with a fried egg on top.

The Astronomer was also quite pleased with his com tam suon bi (broken rice with shredded pork and pork skin with slab of barbecued pork), but had to order an extra portion of rice (com them – 4,000 VND) to round out his meal. The hunk of grilled meat was well-seasoned, but truly no better than broken rice sold street-side.

Matt’s com tam thit kho (braised pork bits) was damn good, but missing some hardboiled egg action. Thit kho without eggs is like Lucky Charms without marshmallows, you know what I mean?

If Cơm Tấm Mộc started offering more eggs (fried and hardboiled) and increased their rice portions, I’d be all over it like white on rice.

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7 Responses to “Cơm Tấm Mộc – Ho Chi Minh City”


  • This place is quite a decent place. The food is good, not great. The dipping fishsauce is ok, not bad not great. With Com Tam, the dipping fishsauce is to make or break the dish.

    You should have also checked out Banh Cuon La, next door to this one (if I remember correctly). Banh Cuon in AC :)

  • I totally agrees with you about the hard boiled eggs in thit kho. Thit kho without the caramelized eggs is incomplete.
    I am also puzzled by the skimpy rice portion since it is cheap compare to meats.
    Is this the beginning of an end to real street foods? I hope not.

  • Just want to clarify something, thit kho with hard boiled eggs is called Thit Kho Tau in Vietnam (‘Ta`u’ as in ‘Chinese’, not ‘ship’), or Thit Kho Trung (similar to: Thit Kho Dua`, Thit Kho Cu Cai…). When people talk about Thit Kho, many families still think of Thit Kho with caramelised sugar alone, not with anything else. I know Vietnamese restaurants in many countries usually serve their Thit Kho with hard boiled egg, and some ab-normal people like me don’t like it, as I don’t like the egg in Thit Kho.
    Other than that, I hope it’s not the end of street food either. I can’t imagine living without them while in Vietnam. I seriously need to find time to go back soon…

  • DVQ – You know, I thought the nuoc mam was quite decent at Com Tam Moc. And I tried Banh Cuon La when I first arrived in town, but haven’t returned since because The Astronomer and I left really hungry.

    Htran – Good point. Meat is so much pricier! I think they’re just trying to cater to Western palates. The location is right next to Ben Thanh Market, if you know what I mean. And no worries, street food is a live and well in HCMC.

    Vivian – My family always referred to caramelized pork with eggs as Thit Kho, but that is a very small sample size. I guess Thit Kho Trung would be THE most accurate ;-)

  • If you refer to Thit Kho, the meat is normally chopped in much smaller size, less left-over liquid compared to Thit Kho Trung or Thit Kho Tau.

    Thit Kho Tau, the word Tau has nothing to do with “Chinese”. It means “light” (as in light taste).

    In fact Thit Kho Tau is different from Thit Kho Trung (or often called Thit Kho Hot Vit). In principle you don’t use coconut juice (the water) in Thit Kho Tau but you do in Thit Kho Trung. There should be more liquid in Thit Kho Tau than Thit Kho Trung as well (it takes longer time for the egg to absorb the liquid in Thit Kho Trung). Nowadays people mix up all the names and this principle is therefore also flexible. Hmmm I just asked my mom :)

  • Oh my god, I didn’t know there are such variations in Thit Kho. I thought that coconut juice is just a Southern touch to the dish because, you know, we add coconut in every dish we make =) I just learn something everyday reading this blog

  • I love Com Tam Moc, the best one I have enjoyed!!!:)

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