Sunday, June 30, 2013

Vietnamese Food in Seattle: Tamarind Tree

Vietnamese culture abounds in the International District of Seattle and it was refreshing to see familiar sights and enjoy familiar flavors.

The Entrikins were curious to know how their local Vietnamese joint compared to our usual spots in Saigon, so they took us to Tamarind Tree and let us order a feast!

Billed as a "provincial" restaurant, Tamarind Tree has an extensive menu covering delights from all regions of Vietnam. Per family tradition, we started with Gỏi cuốn (Spring rolls).

Spring Rolls

Tasty bricks of grilled tofu accompanied the Gỏi củ sen (Fresh lotus root salad).

Lotus Root Salad

Bún thịt nướng (Skewered grilled pork noodles).

A decidedly Americanized version of Bò lá-lốt, with incomparably massive chunks of beef sausage rolled in betel leaves.  Delicious, but very filling.

A perfectly made Bánh xèo chay (Vegetarian crepe).

Banh Xeo - Crape
The Hủ tiếu chay (Vegetarian noodle soup) further corroborated a sneaking suspicion that vegetarian stock simply can't replicate the complex flavor profile of meat-based soups.  Using a recipe that originated in the Chinese kitchens of Phnom Penh and arrived in Vietnam with the post-conflict Cambodian diaspora, their version was bland and uninspiring. 

Bột chiên (Pan fried rice cake) is usually enjoyed while perched on a decaying stool along a bustling street as a greasy pick-me-up.  This restaurant-ready version was delectable.
Bot Chien
Our verdict?  It was pretty damn good - traditional Vietnamese flavors with an American sense of portion, service, and scope.  We would happily return and highly recommend it to any Seattleite looking for tasty Vietnamese in a comfortable setting.

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