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Ligaya Mishan Recommends the Broken Rice at Com Tam Ninh Kieu in the Bronx

The pho here arrives with a trailing scent of star anise.

Beneath the four train in the Bronx lies a taste of Vietnam.
Beneath the four train in the Bronx lies a taste of Vietnam.

Ligaya Mishan visits Com Tam Ninh Kieu, on a heavily Vietnamese block of the Bronx and finds exceptional broken rice and noodle dishes:

The specialty at Com Tam Ninh Kieu is broken rice, the lowliest rice, grains splintered in the milling process, shunted aside and sold cheap...Turns out the fragments are clingier and earthier than their grander, polished cousins, all the better for soaking up the flavors of whatever is flung on top...Here that adornment may be suon nuong, a pork chop flat as a plank and fantastically saturated with lemon grass, fish sauce and liquid caramel.

The rest of the menu is almost entirely made up of noodles soups which, as Mishan says:

in Vietnamese cuisine is no limitation....Pho, the Vietnamese noodle soup most familiar to Westerners, arrives trailing the scent of star anise, with the balance in the broth tipped toward that spice's sweetness. It is not a primal, belligerently meaty broth, but it has clarity, dimension and arc, the flavors deepening as the spoon goes down.

She advises guests to be adventurous. "Take interest in the farther reaches of the menu, and the waitress may in turn take interest in you."