Incredibly Cheap Eats–Com Suon Bi Cha at Thai Son


Fork in the Road is on a Vietnamese binge, scrambling through fields of banh mi and among lakes of pho. Somehow, in all this enthusiasm, everyone has forgotten the rest of the menu. We’re not talking about spring rolls and summer rolls, buns (rice noodles) or eggy crepes.

The heart of the old fashioned Viet menus in town has always been cheap, over-rice dishes, featuring razor-thin pork chops cooked over charcoal, lemongrass-scented chicken, curries, and French-leaning beef stews.

The oldest collection of these restaurants, mainly run by Chinese who once resided in Saigon, is Chinatown’s Baxter Street, though the zone has gradually spread out across the region, and now includes some Chiu Chou establishments that flaunt signage in Vietnamese.

Our favorite was long the place with the comical name of Pho Pasteur, which we always mispronounced “Faux Pasteur.” Turns out it was named after a street in Saigon. But we found the prices even cheaper at a Vietnamese place with the misleading name of Thai Son. There the standard over-rice combo called com suon bi cha weighs in at $5.75, and let us tell you it is a big feed indeed: a giant plate of broken rice surmounted by a grilled pork chop, a haystack of shredded pig skin and meat, and a crab omelet loaded down with rice vermicelli that, in this case, at least, includes real crab. Just try to finish the whole thing. 89 Baxter Street, 212-732-2822