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Sound chicken-rice at Cơm Gà Nam An, San Jose

David Sloo | May 28, 201210:11 AM

Cơm Gà Nam An is a specialty restaurant serving boiled or roasted chicken in several traditional forms, including with chicken-stock rice, sticky-rice, rice noodles, and in soup. This is a Bay Area echo of Singapore's so-called national dish of Hainan chicken-rice, and I recommend it.

I ordered the house standard, #1 cơm gà: boiled chicken with rice.

The chicken was a small, resilient half bird, with quite a bit of flavor. You have a choice with the boiled chicken of having it with skin or without. I had mine with skin. The chicken comes completely boned and cut or scored into pieces.

Alongside are unremarkable tomato- and cucumber slices plus a cup of salty broth: not remarkable, but neither bland nor greasy.

More important, they include a pile of lightly pickled sliced white onions and several sprigs of rau ram. The rice is medium-short grained and cooked with enough oil and chicken stock to hold it together into lumps. Cơm Gà Nam An served three sauces with my chicken:

- oil and chopped green onions
- winey and flavorful dark soy
- sweet garlic paste

These are all good sauces - none of them the traditional gingery sauce familiar in Singapore. But they are different from one another and all good counterpoints to the chicken. Together with the rau ram and pickled onions, you can make your own little tasting menu of chicken rice with assorted condiments. (I admired most a forkful of rice with a piece of chicken, two rau ram leaves, an onion slice, and a drizzle of dark soy.) In fact, if you are like me and have had mixed feelings about rau ram, you might come away from this meal respecting it more.

The menu also includes some sweet bean drinks and canned sugar waters.

The restaurant was quiet on this holiday weekend, so I spent a couple hours at my table using the house's open Wi-Fi. This was a nice perk, and definitely a culinary step up from the other Wi-Fi hotspot down the street - a Starbucks.

The total with tip for one: about $11.

Cơm Gà Nam An
348 E Santa Clara St
San Jose

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