Com binh dan restaurants are like Vietnamese greasy spoon shacks without the bacon, sausage, black pudding, fried egg or litres of lard. ‘Food for workers’ is how I think Com binh dan translates. Cheap eats all day long, offering a range of meat, fish and veggie dishes normally displayed in a glass case shack front. You choose your ‘main’ and it comes along with rice and a soup. I very nearly didn’t bother stopping at this one at 36 Nguyen An Ninh in District 1 as the dishes didn’t look that interesting. The one I was planning to try, just around the corner a wee bit, was ramming and I wasn’t gonna stand and scoff or takeaway. There’s a couple of tables out front at No. 36, most folk slip inside, I went al fresco.
I ended up with a cold deep-fried sprat with more bone than meat together with a nuoc mam (fish sauce) dip. Com trang (Plain rice) and cucumber plus a gelatinous, sweet Canh (soup) with malabar spinach. It’s basic. And for 7,000VD I wasn’t expecting crack cuisine. What I did get was functional food in the open air that topped the tank up and sent me on my way. As Com binh dan go, this was below average. However, it’s worth sniffin’ around the locale, there are better and more popular restaurants although you might have to scoff standing. No. 36 also sells a Lau De (Goat hotpot) for 20,000VD, Bun Cha Ca and Banh Canh Cha Ca for 5,000VD and a Hu Tiu for 10,000VD.