Viet Nam News
HCM City’s best broken rice dishes can be found at Cơm Tấm Mộc restaurant, which specialises in southern fare, both traditional and fusion. Mỹ Duyên reports.
Though Western fast food like fried chicken, hamburgers and French fries have begun to replace traditional daily meals with rice, cơm tấm (broken rice) with grilled pork chops, shredded pork skin and steamed egg custard are still favoured by many locals, especially in HCM City.
In the past, the southern specialty was eaten only during breakfast, but now cơm tấm lovers can enjoy the dish at any time of the day at street side stalls or luxury restaurants.
Located in downtown HCM City, Cơm Tấm Mộc restaurant serves authentic cuisine from southern Việt Nam, with cơm tấm its signature dish.
Its recent renovation has given it a modern, polished look that catches the eyes of passersby. At the entrance, a stylish area with artfully crafted vases welcomes guests with boxes of organic Japanese watermelons for sale.
The beautifully designed menu surprised me with its tempting selection of different cơm tấm items at affordable prices.
The highlights included cơm tầm sườn bì chả, traditional broken rice with grilled pork chop, shredded pork skin and egg custard (VNĐ65,000), and cơm tấm sườn nướng, broken rice with grilled pork chop (VNĐ45,000).
Also on offer are cơm tầm sườn chìa nướng, broken rice with grilled pork ribs (VNĐ69,000), and cơm tấm ba rọi nướng/chiên, broken rice with grilled or fried pork belly (VNĐ60,000).
Unlike many other Vietnamese of my generation, I don’t often eat rice during meals as I fear it could lead to weight gain!
So my colleague and I started our lunch by sharing a plate of traditional broken rice. The flavourful dish, with scallions on top, matched perfectly with the well-made fish sauce.
It was the best cơm tấm I’d ever eaten.
Aside from rice with traditionally prepared BBQ pork, the restaurant has recently added new fantastic recipes with a modern twist.
The fusion items are cơm tấm cá basa chiên giòn, broken rice with crispy deep fried basa fish fillet (VNĐ60,000), and cơm tấm cá thu chiên muối ớt, broken rice with deep fried mackerel (VNĐ75,000), as well as cơm tấm đùi/cánh gà xối mở, succulent deep fried chicken legs or wings (VNĐ65,000).
Irresistible side dishes, the pride of southern cuisine, will also whet your taste buds.
The must tries include thịt trứng kho nước dừa, caramelised pork and eggs, and cá kho tộ, caramelised fish in clay pot, two well-known dishes cooked in truly Mekong Delta style.
To sample as many new fusion dishes as I could, I asked for a deep fried basa fish (VNĐ52,000), deep fried mackerel (VNĐ67,000) and succulent fried chicken leg (VNĐ62,000VNĐ) – all without rice!
Finely cooked, the three items were fresh and crispy.
Lovers of southern-style finger food should sample gỏi cuốn tôm thịt, fresh spring rolls with prawn and pork (VNĐ30,000), and chả giò, deep fried spring rolls (VNĐ59,000). Skillfully prepared from fresh ingredients, the two appetisers were impressive.
Southern-style sweet pudding and cocktail specialties are a good way to end such a bounteous meal.
I recommend the longan, lotus seed and aloe vera sweet soup with ice (VNĐ40,000), longan sweet pudding with black jelly (VNĐ35,000) and banana and coconut milk ice cream (VNĐ29,000). We tried the first two, which were superb and not too sweet.
If you’re too busy to make meals at home or want to impress your friends with special broken rice dishes, Cơm Tấm Mộc should definitely be at the top of your list of restaurants to visit in HCM City. VNS
Cơm Tấm Mộc Restaurant
Address: 85 Lý Tự Trọng Street, District 1
Phone: (08) 38248561
Comment: authentic Vietnamese cuisine southern style, beautiful rice plates, elegant interior design and refined hospitality at affordable prices.