Top 5 Com Trua dishes in Ho Chi Minh City
One of our favourite spots to eat in Vietnam are com trua restaurants. Literally translated as “rice day”, these are canteen-like spots that serve homestyle dishes, perfect for the fast paced Saigonite..
Most canteens serve at least 10 different dishes during peak hours which usually run from 11:30am to 1:30pm and from 5:30pm to 7:00pm. Between these times, the dishes will depend on what was left over from the lunch or dinner rush. So it’s best to get there early for lunch or on time for dinner to get the freshest food.
Ordering is very simple. Just walk up, point to the dish that you want and take a seat. The portion will have a plate of rice with the item that you chose on top. There will also be vegetable on the side of the plate as well. Options can be sautéed green beans, pickled cabbage, and steamed morning glory. Also, depending on what you order, you will get a dipping sauce in a small ramekin on the side. Most likely it’ll be nuoc cham but it will always compliment the flavour of themain item. You might also get a small bowl of soup as well.
Prices are ridiculously cheap as well as they can run from 15,000VND to 25,000VND per plate.
The amount of dishes can be intimidating so we’ve put together a list of our top 5 com trua dishes in Vietnam.
Ca Kho To – Braised catfish in a clay pot
This staple has origins in the Mekong where catfish is abundantly available. The rich brown colour comes from a caramel sauce that coats the fish at the beginning of the cooking process. Fish sauce, coconut juice and garlic round out the dish. Some places add a liberal dose of pepper as well just to round out the flavours. Make sure to spoon the sauce onto some rice. You won’t regret it.
Recommendation: Com Tam Di Nam in District 4. Not only do they make a fine Ca Kho To, they elevate it by throwing in some chopped chicharrones on top for good measure.
Dau Hu Nhoi Thit Chien Sot Ca Chua – Fried tofu stuffed with pork served with a tomato sauce
Yes, it seems wrong to order this dish but once you taste it, you will keep ordering it and not feel guilty about it. The minced pork inside is flavoured with fish sauce, copious amounts of garlic, some chilis and probably some MSG. Once stuffed, the tofu is fried and topped with a tomato sauce made from the drippings.
Recommendation: Com Tam Thu Tram in Thao Dien Ward in District 2 on 16A Quoc Huong.
Ga Chien Nuoc Mam Ot – Fried chicken with a chili and fish sauce glaze
Take some chicken, marinate it with fish sauce, shallots, garlic and chopped chilis.
Then take the remainder of the marinade and toss it in some of the hot oil. Toss the chicken back in and serve. Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, this is the dish that was instrumental for elevating Pok Pok to the culinary powerhouse it is today.
Recommendation: The best of the bunch is served on the corner of Vo Van Tan and Truong Dinh in District 3. Affectionately known as “crack fried chicken lady”, she ups the game by crusting her chicken with flour to help absorb the sauce.
Thit Kho Tau Trung – Braised pork with egg
Vietnamese comfort food at it’s finest. While growing up, we had this dish at least once a week and never got sick of it. Anything with the word “kho” in it means it has been braised in a caramel sauce for hours which means the pork is fork tender and the boiled eggs will take a brown tinge to them. Also, the sauce is another one of those you need to spread onto your plate of rice.
Recommendation: Anywhere you can get it.
Dau Hu Chien Xa Ot – Fried tofu with lemongrass and chili
As unrepentant meat eaters, one would find it surprising that one of our favourite com trua dishes is vegetarian friendly. Take a bite and you will see why we picked this dish. Copious amounts of chopped fried lemongrass and chili top crispy chunks of tofu. The aromatic topping is the star of the show with the tofu taking a second fiddle.
Recommendation: Head to Chua Vinh Nghiem on 339 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia in District 3. Make sure to head to the side restaurant with the benches.