Perhaps due to Coronavirus hit or for some other reason, my favourite com tam (broken rice) restaurant, Com Tam 36 in Old Quarter, Hanoi is permanently closed. So I am looking for new com tam restaurants in town and there are many suggestions from locals on Facebook groups and Instagram pages. A recent post on Ha Noi Riviu Facebook group recommended a com tam restaurant, so I went to try it. The broken rice, which was my initial purpose, was a disappointment! But it turned out as a great restaurant for claypot rice. So I’m recommending you this restaurant if you want to try claypot rice in Hanoi.
Restaurant in a Quiet Local Area
Dong Da district is in the very centre of Hanoi city, close to most of the other main districts of Hanoi such as Hoan Kiem, Ba Dinh, Hai Ba Trung etc. Com Tam Bong restaurant is in a residential area of Dong Da district not too far from Old Quarter.
Located in a narrow street adjacent to Pham Ngoc Thach road, it is small restaurant. The restaurant is very clean and well managed. Their air-conditioned indoor space makes it a good lunch place during summer days.
Their main menus are two types of rice – com tam (broken rice) and com nieu (claypot rice) with four different types of meat options. The meat options are:
– Sườn nướng chả trứng – pork ribs with fried egg
– Đùi gà chiên mắm – fried chicken thigh with fish sauce
– Bò sốt tiêu đen – beef with black pepper sauce
– Cá kho tộ – claypot braised fish
I ordered com tam suon (broken rice with pork ribs) and com nieu bo (claypot rice with beef) to try both types of rice.
Not for Com Tam
Com tam literally means broken rice, which is originally from south of Vietnam. Because of its unique texture, it is one of many common dishes enjoyed by the locals and it has become a popular dish all over the country. Broken rice used to be a low graded rice, because it is fractured grains from sieving, but due to its increased popularity, it has become a speciality and either scarce or expensive.
Therefore, many so-called com tam restaurants do not actually use 100% broken rice. I’ve been to several com tam places where they have only a small portion of broken rice mixed with normal grains.
To my disappointment, this restaurant did not use any broken rice at all. There was zero com tam even though they call it ‘com tam’.
But, although the rice was not com tam, I liked the pork ribs because it was moist unlike many other com tam suon I’ve tried. So it was a delicious dish and definitely a satisfying meal as a normal rice dish.
Claypot Rice, A Dish to Try in Hanoi
Thankfully and to my great surprise, the highlight of Com Tam Bong was the claypot rice! The dish is served in a hot claypot and the rice is grilled in the pot and flipped before serving. So the top of the rice is nice and crispy, which I loved! Just like the pork ribs with com tam, the beef was moist and the black pepper sauce was delicious.
So despite the fact that it wasn’t a com tam restaurant as I’d expected, I liked both dishes. And I’m planning to visit again in the future to try other options like chicken thigh and claypot fish.
The area is where residential buildings are quite concentrated, so if you’re looking to explore a local neighbourhood, Com Tam Bong is a good lunch stop for you!
Com Tam Bong
Address: Số 6B Ngõ 21 Phạm Ngọc Thạch, Kim Liên, Đống Đa, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 14:00 & 18:00 – 21:00