Monday, January 29, 2007
Nestled inside the far right corner of the Bolsa Mini Mall, obscured behind two big yellow umbrellas, and overshadowed by the bright lights of the nail salon next door, it can be easy to overlook Da Nang Com Tam Tran Quy Cap. The restaurant is an awkward L-shaped configuration, with the small entrance at the tail end of the L and is easily missed unless someone gives you exact directions. The interior is bare bones basic with about a dozen utilitarian tables and chairs. But then Tran Quy Cap doesn't need any fancy embellishments, it has stayed in business for years by offering arguably the best com tam (Vietnamese broken rice) plates in town. Com tam is traditionally peasant fare, utilizing leftover broken bits of rice that were formed during the harvest or processing. The rice is cooked slightly drier than normal, and takes on a couscous-like consistency. Or you can opt for banh hoi (Vietnamese steamed vermicelli sheets). The menu is essentially variations of grilled meats to accompany your rice. Served with a side of Vietnamese herbs and pickled vegetables. Your order comes with a small bowl of the obligatory nuoc cham (Vietnamese dipping sauce) and broth. The broth may be sipped as a light soup, or spooned over the rice if you think it's too dry.
Our order of cha gio (Vietnamese egg rolls) came first with a side of Vietnamese greens - lettuce, cilantro, mint, and pickled carrots and daikon. The egg rolls are crisp, filled with pork and shrimp. You can eat these plain, or wrap them in herbs and lettuce and dip them into the nuoc cham. One order was about $5 or so if I remember correctly.
Our order of banh beo, nine small discs of rice flour with minced shrimp, fried shallots and crouton bits, was only OK. The banh beo weren't pipping hot, so the rice flour consistency wasn't as smooth as I'd like. One order $4.95.
But I was really here for the com tam platter. Most plates fall within the $4.95 to $5.95 price range. I super-sized and shared, so this platter was $7.95. Tran Quy Cap is known for their marinades and the grilled pork chop took center stage, with grilled shrimp, egg omelet, shredded pork skin, and the house specialty - tom hau ky (Vietnamese shrimp paste deep-fried in a bean curd wrapper). While some other com tam restaurants might offer this, the shrimp is not nearly as thick, the wrapper not nearly as crispy, flaky. If you don't see the combination of grilled meats that you'd like, you can simply request particular ones be added to your plate.
But then if the juicy details in this photograph haven't convinced you of Da Nang Com Tam Tran Quy Cap's deliciousness, then I don't know what will.
This post is also reprinted with permission on OC Food Blogs.
Da Nang Com Tam Tran Quy Cap
9607 Bolsa Ave.
Westminster, CA 92683