We continue to countdown our 100 favorite dishes at local
restaurants. We'll be sharing these with you every weekday until our
annual Best Of Issue comes out. Enjoy!
#82. Com Tam at Com Tam Tran Quy Cap
I wish there were more com tam shops in OC than pho shops, especially when the weather gets balmy. I mean, who wants soup when it's friggin' sunny and 90 degrees?
Specifically, I wish there were com tam restaurants like Com Tam Tran Quy Cap, which not only serves the dish in question in dizzying permutations of toppings, but does so in one of the most spotless dining rooms in Little Saigon.
And so far, I've found no fault on anything they put on top of their grain of choice.
But first, there's that rice: it is actually broken rice. It doesn't happen often, but there have been times when I order a rice dish at a Vietnamese restaurant, expecting broken rice, but then I'm served the plain whole grain stuff.
Ironic, when you think about it. Broken rice, com tam, used to be the castoffs that the poor would be forced to eat, since it's technically rejects from the threshing process. These days, broken rice fetches a premium.
You won't have this happen to you when you're at a place that designates itself as a com tam restaurant; and certainly not at Com Tram Tran Quy Cap. Their dishes start and end with com tam, cooked to a toothsome chew somewhere between too hard and too soft–just right. And on top, there will be toppings, but mostly, pork.
Tender, sweet, char-glazed BBQ called thit nuong. Other toppings include crispy, light, egg rolls made with rice paper and shrimp mousse encased in a deep-fried tofu skin wrap. Both are impeccably done. All are to be doused with plenty of nước chấm and enjoyed to the very last speck of that now-coveted shattered grain.
Com Tam Tran Quy Cap,
16175 Harbor Blvd., Fountain Valley, (714) 418-1333
The list so far:
Jerk Carnitas Torta at The Crosby
Nem Nuong Cuon at Brodard
Pork Chop Anything at Nice Time Deli
Flying Saucer at Alberto's
Frozen Custard at Marc Burger's in Macy's Signature Kitchen
Collard Greens at Johnny Reb's
Strawberry Shortcake from Job's Daughters
Cuban Sandwich at DeSimone's Deli
Lamb with Preserved Cabbage at Mas Islamic Chinese
Baked Rice at Luc Dinh Ky
Beans on Toast at The Olde Ship
Midnight Al Pastor Burrito or Taco at Taqueria Tapatia
Budino di Cioccolato, Pizzeria Ortica
#87. Beef Teriyaki Bowl, Teriyami
#86. Salmon Onigiri at Cream Pan
#85. Beef Fat Fries at SideDoor
#84. Silken Tofu & Thousand Year Old Egg at Asian
#83. Cambodian Beef Jerky at Sophy's