The Top 100 List: #73 New Saigon’s “Tom Rim (Head and Shell on)”


New Saigon’s “Tom Rim (Head and Shell on)”

Location: Federal

Rating: 1 (out of 10)

Price: $10

The Skinny: Well… I will say this much about New Saigon: it seems like they might have other decent food options on their menu.  And I overheard the table behind me say that they love the place and go there as a tradition.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that they didn’t order the Tom Rim.  If they did, perhaps they traditionally love to torture themselves with an inedible dish.

I don’t eat the outside of a pineapple and I don’t eat the shell of a peanut (licking the salt doesn’t count).  I’m going to guess that 99.99% of people are with me so far.  Trust me, you’re missing nothing by skipping the shell on shrimp.  Nothing.  If you’d like to try an example of what it tastes like, go and bite into a clear plastic straw.  Now imagine that straw wrapping itself tightly around a juicy piece of shrimp and a decent sauce.  It was mildly torturous.  I left half of the plate uneaten, which may have surprised the waiter.  10 minutes earlier, when I sheepishly asked how to eat the dish, he snapped “WITH RICE!”  Right… like I was asking what to eat my shell-on shrimp WITH.

Skip this one.

**UPDATE: My friend Dave tells me that shell-on shrimp are supposed to be peeled at the table.  He’s got to be right, but in my defense, I did ask another waiter and he said I was supposed to eat them with the shell on.  In any case, when I did peel them, it was a total mess, but the shrimp inside was fairly decent, I will admit.


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Rating: -1 (from 3 votes)

3 Responses to “The Top 100 List: #73 New Saigon’s “Tom Rim (Head and Shell on)””

  • Hazel Says:

    Being a Vietnamese myself, I must admit that your review of tôm rim shows that you did not know this traditional Vietnamese food well enough to enjoy it, let alone review it. Without the shell-on shrimps, the tôm rim will not be tôm rim any more, and the reason that the shell must be on is to show how fresh the shrimp is when made (the shell is supposed to be very crispy and sweet). Only small newly caught shrimps in the river are qualified to make good tôm rim.

    I won’t have a problem if you had said that the tôm rim dish at New Saigon was awful. But your comment about shell-on shrimps forced me to leave a reply. I hate people criticizing things they don’t know about as if they are an expert in it.

  • jko Says:

    Hazel – I always appreciate feedback, good or bad, so thanks for the note. Some of your comment is fair. I am not a Vietnamese food expert. I did not know what to expect from the Tom Rim, nor how it was supposed to taste. But, I also admitted as much in the blog post (asking the waiter how to eat it seemed to me a dead giveaway), so let’s not fake outrage that I was pretending to be an expert.
    And I think you’re missing the point of the exercise I was doing. The goal was to eat all 100 dishes on the Denver Magazine list and review how they TASTED. Vietnamese expert or not. It was all about taste, and I called it like I saw it.
    But – I appreciate your point of view on the dish, its necessity of keeping the shell on, and what to expect from the flavors when cooked correctly.


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