Tamarine's casual spinoff opens in Palo Alto | Peninsula Foodist | Elena Kadvany | Palo Alto Online |

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About this blog: I am a perpetually hungry twenty-something journalist, born and raised in Menlo Park and currently working at the Palo Alto Weekly as education and youth staff writer. I graduated from USC with a major in Spanish and a minor in jo...  (More)

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Tamarine's casual spinoff opens in Palo Alto

Uploaded: Sep 23, 2019
Banh khot, bo luc lac, goi ga and other traditional Vietnamese dishes are on the menu at Tam Tam, opening tonight, Sept 23, in downtown Palo Alto.

Tam Tam (140 University Ave.) comes from the owners of Tamarine, the more upscale Vietnamese restaurant located at the other end of University Avenue. It’s an attempt to be more casual, less expensive and "strictly Vietnamese" (no fusion dishes), co-owner Tanya Hartley said in a previous interview. She has run Tamarine with her sister Tammy Huynh since 2002. Both were born in Vietnam; their family is from from Vung Tau, a fishing village in South Vietnam.


Photo courtesy Tam Tam Restaurant.

The menu describes Tam Tam as "a regional Vietnamese restaurant created to introduce our guests to the heart and soul of traditional Vietnamese cooking. ... The light and balanced flavors of Northern Vietnam, the colorful dishes and bountiful spices of Central Vietnam, and the melange of fruits, vegetables and herbs of Southern Vietnam are all represented to showcase the regional diversity of Vietnam."

The menu identifies which region of Vietnam each dish comes from. Banh khot, crispy coconut rice flour pancakes stuffed with crab meat, uni and scallions, is from the South, while ca chien, fried whole branzino topped with sautéed onions, bell peppers, pineapple, dill, celery and tamarind sauce, is from the North. Tam Tam serves a Northern-style pho with slices of beef tenderloin and brisket and fried breadsticks on the side.


Tam Tam's beef pho with deep-fried breadsticks. Photo courtesy Tam Tam Restaurant.

Starters range in price from $8 to $12 and entrees, $19 to $28.

Drinks include a traditional chicory and espresso Vietnamese coffee with sweetened condensed milk, mango limeade, tea, beer and wine.

Tam Tam will be open from 5-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The restaurant will open for lunch (11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) starting Monday, Sept. 30.

They hope to prove that "you don't have to go to downtown San Jose or East side San Jose to have real Vietnamese food," Hartley said.


Inside the Tam Tam dining room, which is decorated with paintings by Vietnamese artists. Photo courtesy Tam Tam Restaurant.
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Comments

 +   9 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Sep 23, 2019 at 5:47 pm

I cannot wait to try this ... Vietnamese food is healthy, light and delicious.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by charles reilly, a resident of another community,
on Sep 23, 2019 at 7:31 pm

I have not been to this restaurant, but I bet they'll be successful. They have a popular, simple, cost-effective restaurant model. They probably don't owe $1,000,000 to contractors or architects or interior designers. They don't need 25 Stanford students at $20. per. AND, they don't sell $40 hamburgers ! I suggest they run a few coupons in the Palo Alto Almanac and get off to a fast start ....


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Not Authentic, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Sep 23, 2019 at 11:55 pm

Meh. Tried it. Not impressed. Over priced for what you're getting. Still worth the drive down to San Jose to get more authentic tasting Vietnamese food.


 +   18 people like this
Posted by $$$$$, a resident of Midtown,
on Sep 24, 2019 at 12:02 am

Tofu for $19? An appetizer-sized Banh Xeo dish for $12? This is considered casual and less expensive food?

Sigh... Yet another overpriced Palo Alto restaurant.

No, thanks. I'll go to Story Road to get my fill of delicious Vietnamese food for a fraction of the price.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Sick of it all, a resident of Woodside: Woodside Hills,
on Sep 26, 2019 at 1:52 pm

"Starters range in price from $8 to $12 and entrees, $19 to $28." These are not "casual" prices.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Gary G, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Sep 26, 2019 at 6:02 pm

Tamarine was amazing when it opened, and they've managed to maintain that quality of food and service for 17 years. I'm looking forward to trying out their new spot, even if it's more expensive than traditional places in San Jose or Cupertino. Palo Alto real estate is expensive, so casual dining isn't as low-cost as other areas.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by john_alderman, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Sep 27, 2019 at 6:55 am

john_alderman is a registered user.

@$$$$$ - "No, thanks. I'll go to Story Road to get my fill of delicious Vietnamese food for a fraction of the price."

You have consider your time valueless or of negative value to spend an hour driving (if you are lucky with traffic) to save a few bucks on food.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Downtown North,
on Sep 27, 2019 at 8:44 am

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Rumor has it that Tamarine offered to buy 542 University from the buildings longtime (since 1980s) ownership group for $8m but the general partner turned them down ( and raised the rent). The space was previously Theo's then Perry's . That backstory bodes well for a second restaurant here. They now pretty much anchor the street, from 140 to 542.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Downtown North,
on Sep 27, 2019 at 8:44 am

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Rumor has it that Tamarine offered to buy 542 University from the buildings longtime (since 1980s) ownership group for $8m but the general partner turned them down ( and raised the rent). The space was previously Theo's then Perry's . That backstory bodes well for a second restaurant here. They now pretty much anchor the street, from 140 to 542.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by nick pq, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Oct 20, 2019 at 5:47 pm

this place is a joke! committed to real vietnamese food and no fusion dishes but the first item on the menu is:

Banh Khot - Uni & Crab Cupcakes
Crispy coconut rice flour filled with crab meat, uni, & scallions. Served with yuzu-tamari sauce.

since when vietnamese food use uni, crab, yuzu and tamari? if you read the rest of the menu, you will find apple, butter, avocado, etc.

i rather drive down south and have the real thing for fractions of the cost! yes my time is valuable but authenticity is worth any price! these poser types of restaurants are making money of uneducated deep pocket customers and students in the area...



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