Com Tam Ba Ghien – The Grand Slam of All Vietnamese Food

By Mark Wiens 36 Comments
Cơm Tấm Ba Ghiền
The Grand Slam meal at Cơm Tấm Ba Ghiền

Are you looking for one of Saigon’s biggest and most delicious meals?

When I was in Vietnam, I ate a lot of delicious meals, like fried chicken and rice, insanely good bowls of noodles, and banh mi sandwiches.

But there was one meal that was the Grand Slam of them all…

Best Vietnamese street food
Grilling pork chops by the masses

Com Tam Ba Ghien

Com Tam Ba Ghien (Cơm Tấm Ba Ghiền) is a well known restaurant in Saigon, probably the most famous place to eat the simple combination of a grilled pork chop over the top of a bed of rice, known in Vietnamese as com tam suon nuong (cơm tấm sườn nướng).

It’s one of the most common meals throughout Saigon, and you’ll see it being served at countless little restaurants and street food stalls around the city.

However, no one else in Saigon does it as grand and glorious as Com Tam Ba Ghien (but if you do know a better place, please let me know in the comments below, I would love to try it).

best Vietnamese food
The glass cabinet display of Vietnamese food

When I asked where I should eat during my trip to Saigon, one of the main places many of you recommended was Com Tam Ba Ghien, saying it was a place I absolutely needed to eat at, and a place that I would love.

During my trip to Saigon, I headed to the restaurant one day, hungry and ready to chow down.

grilled pork
Just look at that pork… isn’t it beautiful!

Walking down the street I could actually smell the aroma of the pork being grilled, far before I ever got there.

If it wasn’t for so many motorbikes in Saigon, I wouldn’t be surprised if you could close your eyes and just walk, following the fragrance of the meat, and eventually find yourself at the restaurant (that’s a joke, but I’m almost serious).

what is broken rice
Freshly steamed com tam, of Vietnamese broken rice

Com tam – broken rice

One of the most fundamental parts of any Vietnamese plate of com tam suon nuong is the com tam itself, directly translating in English to broken rice.

Vietnam is one of the world’s top rice producers and exporters, and during the rice milling process, a percentage of the grains of rice are broken, and set aside.

Although the broken grains of rice are often one of the cheapest grades of rice in Vietnam, it’s also a favorite for many.

You could eat broken rice with just about any Vietnamese food you like, such as a variety of pre-cooked dishes and curries, but easily the most recognized combination is with a pork chop.

At Com Tam Ba Ghien I went to the front of the restaurant to get a glimpse of the broken rice, and one of the many kind ladies (by the way the staff and owners were all really nice) immediately took off the lid for me to take a photo.

The rice was kept hot with steam, so at the restaurant it was always served piping hot – the system of steaming sort of reminded me of making sticky rice.

Cơm Tấm Ba Ghiền
The seating area of Cơm Tấm Ba Ghiền

When I arrived to Ba Ghien, it was before lunch, and already the restaurant was pretty full, many people were sitting in the open air dining room, and even more were just stopping by on their motorbikes to get takeaway.

After ordering, it just took a couple of minutes for my plate to arrive, and as soon as she delivered it to my table, I was overjoyed and my mouth began to water out of control.

It was a beautiful piece of artwork.

I’m going to do my best to break down exactly what I ate, and explain how each of the components of this grand slam lunch in Saigon fit together into a perfect harmony of Vietnamese food on a single plate.

Cơm tấm bì chả sườn trứng ốp la
Cơm tấm bì chả sườn trứng ốp la – here it is, all things delicious and porky on a single plate

Cơm tấm bì chả sườn trứng ốp la

When I ate at Ba Ghien, I decided to not mess around with any smaller plates, and to just go straight for the grand slam.

After doing a little research and finding this article, I wrote down the name of the dish I wanted to order: cơm tấm bì chả sườn trứng ốp la.

That might sound a litte intimidating as the name of a food, and yes it definitely is. But really it’s just a combination of all ingredients on the plate named one after another – it might be parallel to saying burger cheese tomato onions lettuce egg sauce.

You could also order just the com tam suon nuong, but with a chance to order the supreme, I had to go for it.

Vietnamese dishes
Bi – shredded pork skin

Bi is the Vietnamese word for pork skin, which is cooked and shredded. It doesn’t actually have that much taste, but is more of a texture thing, slightly chewy but not overly so.

On the side of this plate of com tam, there was a nice handful of bi, thin and tangly. It actually almost tasted like mung bean glass noodles, only a little more spongy and chewy.

I will admit that the shredded pig skin was not my favorite component of this plate, but nevertheless, it did taste pretty good with the sweet fish sauce sprinkled on top.

cha trung hap
Cha trung hap – a type of Vietnamese meatloaf

Another common item you’ll find at many com tam suon nuong restaurants throughout Vietnam is cha trung hap, a type of Vietnamese meatloaf.

The recipe for cha trung hap includes a mixture of minced pork, mung bean noodles, wood ear mushrooms, and then a few mild seasonings like salt and pepper and fish sauce.

The ingredients for this Vietnamese meat loaf are mixed together, steamed, and finally topped with a layer of egg yolk for frosting.

I was a pretty big fan of this slice of Vietnamese meatloaf. It almost had more of a sausage feel to it than meatloaf. It had a nice grainy, yet soft texture, and I enjoyed the mixture of both the noodles and the minced meat.

Vietnamese grilled pork chop
A pork chop is one of the main components

But the main event in this grand slam meal was of course, the pork chop, which was easily twice the size of most other pork chops I had when I was in Saigon.

Although most of the pork chop was hidden below the other toppings, it was actually huge, it must have been a good 300 – 400 grams, big bone included, but nevertheless, it was quite a sizable hunk of meat.

The meat was marinated in a mixture of soy sauce and sugar, then grilled over hot coals until done but not overcooked.

The pork chop at Com Tam Ba Ghien was salty and sweet, and had a wonderful smoky flavor to it.

best Vietnamese food
Op la – an egg on top of the pork

You might remember what an op la is – a fried sunny side up egg.

To me, just like numerous Thai dishes, I think an egg is one of the highlights of a single plate of food. It adds such an extra wonderful protein dimension to any single plate meal.

The egg was likely deep fried, so it was crispy surrounding the edges, and yet it was so soft and delicious and gooey on the inside.

As soon as I broke the egg, the yolk spilled out, glazing the grains of broken rice and anointing everything in its way. Eggs are never a bad idea.

best Vietnamese dishes
Pickled cucumber, carrots, and daikon

Finally, to totally finish off this mega plate of com tam suon, it was drizzled in a spoon of greasy green onion oil (which isn’t even really visible due to the egg), topped with a scoop of Vietnamese sweet and sour pickles, and served with a side sauce.

The oil was extremely fragrant with sautéed green onions, and it also provided a little extra saltiness to the rice.

Along with a drizzle of the green onion oil, the pickles on top were slightly sweet and salty, and added a nice fresh crunch to all the other greasy meats.

Lastly, my plate of com tam suon nuong was served with a side dressing sauce of the famous Vietnamese nuoc cham, sweet fish sauce.

best Vietnamese dishes
Partway through my meal

Sometimes when I start eating a plate of delicious food,  I just simply can’t put down my spoon to take a photo midway through my meal.

But here at Com Tam Ba Ghien, as soon as my egg broke and the yolk trickled down the pork chop to the broken rice below, I managed to force myself to put my spoon down to take another photo.

The bites just kept getting better and better and better.

The pork was juicy and flavorful, the meatloaf had a marvelous oily black pepper taste, and I really liked the fresh hot steamed broken rice.

All of the flavors mixed together, were superb.

Here’s the full video of the meal. If you have a few minutes to watch it, I think it’s going to give you a much better glimpse of the amazing atmosphere and taste of the food here.

Press play now…

(If you can’t see the video, click here to watch it)

Com Tam Ba Ghien
Com Tam Ba Ghien from the outside

Conclusion

In Saigon there are many foods to eat, but one of the most well known dishes is com tam suon nuong, a pile of steamed broken rice with a marinated and grilled pork chop on top.

While the dish is available at countless street food stalls and restaurants throughout the city, nowhere is more famous than Com Tam Ba Ghien.

I ordered the grand slam, a plate of broken rice topped with a massive pork chop, a slice of Vietnamese meatloaf, shredded pig skin and meat, and finally a runny egg.

It was every bit as delicious as it sounds, and more. The pork was tender, sweet, and salty, the meatloaf was soft and peppery, and the egg added ever more richness to everything.

I guarantee this won’t be one of the healthiest Vietnamese meals you eat, but it will definitely put a smile on your face with every bite.

For an awesome plate of com tam suon nuong in Saigon, Com Tam Ba Ghien is legendary.

Com Tam Ba Ghien (Cơm Tấm Ba Ghiền)

Address: 84 Đặng Văn Ngữ, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Open hours: 6 am – 10 pm daily
Phone: 08-3846-1073
Prices: The total bill, for both my wife and I came to 104,000 Vietnamese Dong ($4.80). She had just rice with a pork chop and egg, which I’m guessing was about 30 – 35,000 VND, and I had the grand slam which was I think 60 – 65,000 VND, and we each had a cup of iced tea.

How to get there: To find the restaurant on the map, scroll down on the left hand side until you see “14. Cơm Tấm Ba Ghiền,” click on it, and it will highlight the position on the map. Enjoy!

36 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • L Luu

    1 year ago

    Is it safe to eat raw vegetables and fruits from all the restaurants mentioned in your Ho Chi Minh map if I am coming from the US? Is it better to eat hot soup (pho) and add raw herbs instead of eating cold noodle plates or rice plates with raw vegetables (like you mentioned in Com Tam Ba Ghien)?

  • Gareth

    2 years ago

    How’s it going Mark, really like your expression when you eat food, your face comes alive. I’m off to Saigon this June, and thanks to you and Kyle I have heaps of places to try some local food out. You guys are the best. Many thanks,
    Regards Gareth the kiwi in Aussie

    • Mark Wiens

      2 years ago

      Hey Gareth, awesome to hear from you, thank you very much. Have a great upcoming trip to Vietnam!

  • Dan Low

    3 years ago

    We are now sitting here after eating this,it was really really good. Oh yeah we had bo la lot at the place you recommend this morning, it was so good as well. We have tried so many of your recommendations for the pass few days, you have not failed us yet… thank you so so much!

  • Anne

    3 years ago

    This place is around the corner from my grandmas house, its is the BEST place for com tam in vietnam. My cousins live in different districts of vietnam even they told me its the best place to go if u want com tam. Im from Australia and everytime we go back to Vietnam for a holiday its the first place we go get take away. Love reading your recommendation and watching your videos, makes me miss my grandma so much!

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hey Anne, awesome to hear from you, wow that’s fantastic. Glad this brings back great memories.

  • DAN

    4 years ago

    Oh wow that is mouth watering. Cant wait to try this for myself! Thanks for the info Mark!

  • Prisciila

    4 years ago

    Hi Mark I’m from Indonesian and I really like all of your travel video. Everyday I watched your video. It’s really interesting and inspiring. Keep posting and traveling. I’ll always wait of your next video. cheers.

  • Jenny

    5 years ago

    Hi Mark,
    nice guide! But what mean different signs and colors on your map?

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Thank you Jenny, I’m still updating the map, but the main restaurants will have the fork and knife icon, and then attractions will just have a pin.

  • Duyen

    5 years ago

    It’s so delicious! I hope to see you in Hoi An, Viet Nam one day to introduce to you some best food in my town!
    Cheers!

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Thank you very much Duyen! Are you from Hoi An? I’d love to visit in the future.

  • Nathan

    5 years ago

    Hey Mark,

    I stumbled on your site a few week ago and enjoy reading your post. The food all look tasty and delicious,I hope those business you features here gives you free meal too (lol). keep it up.

    Nathan

  • Com tam lover

    5 years ago

    This is my favorite dish, however for it to be the true “grand slam” of com tam, it’s missing 1 ingredient: tau hu ky. They finely mince shrimp and stuff it inside of a pouch of dried tofu shell (the innards have been taken out), and deep fry it. It’s one of the most delicious things ever.

  • Mark

    5 years ago

    nice video I like you travel videos as well. I’m in Brooklyn ny now but plan to visit Guyana soon. What is you next destination.

  • Jimmy Dau

    5 years ago

    Why have I not been here yet!?

  • Sam

    5 years ago

    Hello Mark Wiens

    I always enjoy watching your awesome videos. I also love Saigon. I love Vietnamese noodle. Thanks for uploading great videos. Good job man!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Sam, thank you very much, really appreciate it, glad you love Saigon and Vietnamese food as well.

  • Van Walden

    5 years ago

    I just got back from Vietnam about a couple weeks ago. While I was there to visit my family ,I have tried some interesting foods there! I hope you would try them too..

    1. Hoàng Ty Trần Quang Khải, Q.1
    2. BÚN ĐẬU MẮM TÔM – ĐẬU homemade 6 Hồng Hà, P.2, Tân Bình, Ho Chi Minh City

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Thank you for these wonderful suggestions Van. I’m not in Vietnam anymore right now, but next time I visit, I will remember your tips. Thank you, hope you had a great trip!

  • Cyn Hughes

    5 years ago

    Oh man, now I’m starving! Thanks for sharing your adventures. Vietnam is near the top of my list of places to go next!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Cyn, thank you very much for reading. Hope you can visit Vietnam soon.

  • Cyril

    5 years ago

    is this the last video from Vietnam since its the “grand slam”

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Cyril, there are a few more still coming, but this was one of my favorites.

  • John Rodgers

    5 years ago

    Excellent post, we are in Barcelona until the 22nd of April then we are heading your way and your articles make it sound that much more enjoyable. John and Laurel

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey John and Laurel, thank you very much, glad you’ll be coming to SE Asia soon. Hope you’re enjoying your time in Barcelona.

  • Kaila Yu

    5 years ago

    For me its always about the cha trung hap. I’ve only had it in the US, I’m sure that its quite epic at Ba Ghien!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Kailu, yes that’s a good choice, I liked it as well.

  • Neil Mitchell

    5 years ago

    Hi Mark. That plate of food you ordered looked mighty tasty and now I’m hungry. Excellent video too…..I always enjoy your 1-2 punch with the article , explanation and pictures but then the video is there too as a small gift! It is via the video that your readers get a true sense of atmosphere not only for the restaurant but whatever else you film of the surrounding area as well. When you’re actually chomping on the food in the videos you can really see how tasty it all looks, as no one can make a tasty plate of food seem tastier than you can!! Keep of the excellent work Mark, I’m liking it…..that chow looks awesome!!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Neil, thank you very much, really appreciate you watching and reading my posts!