Ca Kho To – Eating Vietnamese Braised Catfish in Saigon

Read all about this ca kho to restaurant here:…
Along with numerous other delicious meals, when I was in Saigon, I had a chance to eat a Vietnamese food called ca kho to (cá kho tộ), which is a slice of catfish, braised in a mixture of soy sauce, fish sauce, and often some sugar to make it caramelized. Ca kho to is one of the many Vietnamese street food dishes that you’ll probably smell before you see. And one day as we were walking around the streets of Saigon, I got a whiff of that sweet goodness, and I had to stop everything we were doing to have lunch.

Along with serving ca kho to, this restaurant in Saigon was also serving a full menu of com binh dan dishes – which translate to commoner’s rice – and it’s basically a bunch of different pre-cooked dishes that are always served with rice. I really enjoyed eating com binh dan when I was in Saigon, and it’s about as much food as you can get for your money in Vietnam. So anyway, along with ordering one of the clay pots of braised catfish, we also chose a few different dishes from the pre-cooked assortment.

I started my meal with the ca kho to, which was extremely fragrant. Although the sauce was a little heavy on the oil, I would have to say it was extremely good and tasty. The fish was soft, yet not mushy, and had just soaked up all that flavor from the caramelization and from the light blend of spices included in the stew. Also I really liked how the ca kho to was cooked in a clay pot so it stayed hot throughout my entire meal. I reminded me of eating in South Korea, where numerous dishes are served in a stone earthenware bowl.

Along with the ca kho to, we also ordered some other, mostly meat heavy dishes. The fried pork was a little on the greasy side, but it was still tasty. But the grilled pork, was probably my favorite of the other dishes – it was just slightly sweet, and nicely smokey. We also ordered a simple vegetable soup, which included a vegetable that sort of tasted like spinach.

You will find Vietnamese street food restaurant exactly like this that serve ca kho to all over Saigon, but if you want to visit this same exact stall I went to, it was on Hem 39, in between Nguyen Dinh Chieu and Vo Van Tan roads. This entire meal, everything we ate cost 68,000 Vietnamese Dong ($3.14).

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