Nov 2008

Cơm Tấm Thuận Kiều – San Gabriel

For one of our first meals out on the town, The Astronomer and I met up with veteran L.A. blogger Wandering Chopsticks. The evening’s destination was admittedly unoriginal, but I was craving a cool bowl of bun (vermicelli rice noodles), and WC knew a great place in nearby San Gabriel.

The San Gabriel Valley has the largest concentration of Chinese-American communities in the United States and a robust Vietnamese population as well. Driving to the restaurant, we passed by all sorts of awesome looking ethnic eats that I am muy excited to try—exploring this culinary landscape is going to rock!

Prior to arriving at Cơm Tấm Thuận Kiều, WC warned us that the place was a bit dirty, but after surviving the squatters in China, I wasn’t too worried.

Our group of three started with an order of cha gio ($5.50), which came with herbs, greens and a few cucumber spears. Nuoc mam was served on the side for dipping. The rolls were served hot out of the fryer and tasted fantastic—crispy blistered skin with well-seasoned porky innards. Unlike Ba Sau’s pinky-legnth cha gio in Saigon, these were super-sized to satisfy American appetites. After eating my portion of the cha gio, I was quite full and could’ve called it a night. However, I still had an entree coming my way.

WC and I ordered the same dish—bun chao tom nem nuong cha gio. Now, that’s a mouthful! Literally! The bottom of the bowl was covered with fresh bean sprouts, shredded lettuce and herbs. Next, a nest of vermicelli rice noodles. And lastly, the meat—egg rolls (cha gio), meat balls (nem nuong) and shrimp paste wrapped around sugarcane (chao tom). The bowl of bun was garnished with pickled carrots and daikon, scallion oil, peanuts, and fried shallots. The noodles were solid, with the exception of the sugarcane-less chao tom and slightly rubbery nem nuong. WC postulated that the meat balls were reheated rather than grilled to order, hence their unsavory texture. Portion-wise, the bowl was the size of a stadium. If there’s a next time, I’m definitely sharing my noodles with another.

The Astronomer stuck to the broken rice side of the menu and settled on com tam bi suon nuong ($4.99)—broken rice with grilled pork chops and shredded pork. It’s been three months since Vietnam and I still can’t get over how ginormous Vietnamese-American portions are; the slab of grilled pork was the size of my face. It’s a good thing The Astronomer is a powerful eater.

The three of us left Cơm Tấm Thuận Kiều stuffed to the gills.

Com Tam Thuan Kieu
120 E Valley Blvd., Unit E
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Phone: 626-280-5660

Com Tam Thuan Kieu on Urbanspoon

Com Tam Thuan Kieu in Los Angeles

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12 thoughts on “Cơm Tấm Thuận Kiều – San Gabriel

  1. I’m so excited you’re in the SGV! I’ve been following your blog since you were in Vietnam, and now I’m excited that you’re in my home neighborhood. There’s a really good banh cuon place on Valley in Alhambra if you’re in the mood for that. Pasadena also has some good eats, even if it’s not as cheap.

  2. I wish I lived in a place where there are so much good Vietname food(unfortunately, unlike here). However, I’m glad I don’t live in a place where people would vote yes on a very silly proposition (#8) (fortunately, unlike here!). Sorry for getting political…!

  3. Viet food in the US looks so much better than in Canada. And cheaper too ($4.99 for com tam bi suon nuong! Where was I when the Canadian dollar was higher than the US dollar? :-() And cha gio in banh trang wrapppers!!! I hate the Chinese springroll wrappers with a passion. They absorb more oil, and taste so much worse. Sadly, I haven’t found a single restaurant here that does cha gio properly.

  4. WC – In the words of my favorite fictional Angeleno Cher Horowitz, “oops, my bad.”

    Sharon – Woot! Would love to hear what your favorite places in town are. With SO many choices, it’s hard to tell the good from the great.

    Miss Adventure
    – Prop. 8 makes me embarrassed to be a Californian 🙁 Canadians are so evolved.

    NN – A shame to hear that the Vietnamese food in Canada isn’t superb. I’ve heard the poutine is excellent though 😉

    Jaden – That sounds like a mighty good plan. DO IT.

  5. Welcome back to the states! Seems like you are getting your fill with more Viet food… I agree, CTTK is the Claim Jumper of joints selling com tam. Been following your blog for so long now, and can’t believe you’re actually back stateside.

    If you have some time, I would love to meet up for a quick bite in Garden Grove =)

  6. Anh – Thank you, thank you! Feels pretty good to be back now that we’ve finally got a winner in the White House 😉 And you’re totally right with your assessment that CTTK is the Claim Jumper of com tam establishments. I told my mom what you wrote and she more than agrees. Quick bite in Garden Grove? Sure! I’ll shoot you an email.

  7. I don’t know if it is the power of suggestion, but those servings do look especially gigantic! I’m going to need some of those rolls for lunch today, no doubt about it…

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