May 17, 2004
Tam Deli and Cafe
So last week Greg and I tried Tam Deli and Cafe on North Lamar. We got the grilled pork Banh Mi, Vietnamese Eggrolls, Shredded Yam and Shrimp Cakes, and Dou Hua. I have to say, my expectations were a bit too high. The food was good, but not as good as I was expecting after hearing so many praises of it. But this is just one girl's opinion, and I am, by no means, an expert in Vietnamese food.
Let's start with the Banh Mi. I noticed immediately the roll was a traditional french baguette. It didn't have the light and tender texture, and airy crumb and crispy crust like on the traditional Banh Mi baguette that is made with rice flour. Then I noticed they used regular mayonnaise on the sandwich. It looked and tasted like the kind that comes in a jar from the grocery store. The grilled pork was chopped and was very thick. It seemed like they actually used roasted or boiled pork, cut into slices and then grilled it slightly for flavor, then chopped again into smaller pieces. It was good, but not as good as the Banh Mi I'm used to where the pork is thinly sliced, marinated and grilled with lots of nice caramelization and tiny bits of charred pieces on it. The grilled pork in this sandwich was missing something, and seemed like it could've been a bit more tender had it been sliced thinner. Overall the sandwich was still very good, but I would choose Pho Cong Ly's Banh Mi over Tam Deli's. You should try the Banh Mi from both restaurants and let me know which you prefer.
Then we got a plate of Vietnamese Eggrolls and these fried cakes with shredded yam and shrimp. The eggrolls were alright. I still haven't found a place in Austin with eggrolls that I think can rival the Vietnamese eggrolls found in Houston. Again Cong Ly's are my favorite so far, with the exception that they aren't consistent. Sometimes they come out too greasy if they aren't watching the temperature correctly. The shredded yam cakes had shrimp and shredded yam mixed in a starchy batter and deep fried. They were served with spicy fish sauce. They were nice and starchy and slightly sweet, but didn't really have too much flavor beyond that. I think there might have been too much batter in them. The shrimp was chopped into large pieces and they left the shell on. It's edible cause it's been deep fried and adds a crunchy texture to the shrimp. I'm used to eating fried shrimp with the shell on and everything however it kind of put Greg off at first, but he ended up having no problem with them. I think maybe there were just too many of these little fried cakes in one order. It left a heavy feeling in our stomachs after. So make sure you go with big group when ordering this dish.
Then I noticed in the desserts section they had one of my most favorite desserts of all time, Dou Hua in ginger syrup. It's the softest, most tender tofu you've ever had, floating in a sugar ginger syrup and served hot. You can also have it cold in the Summer, but my favorite is when it is served hot in the Winter time, especially if I'm walking down the streets of Chinatown in NYC and have a hot cup of it in my hands. Traditionally it's also served with a ladel of sweet boiled peanut soup, but it wasn't an option here at Tam's. It was really soft and sweet and warm and perfect. The julienne of sweet stewed ginger added a nice garnish to the dish. CoCo's, a Taiwanese cafe here in town, also serves Dou Hua, but I haven't tried it yet.
Although I wasn't entirely impressed I will go back to Tam's for the Dou Hua and to try some other dishes. I'm curious about their Pho and Spring Rolls. So far, Sunflower Restaurant has the best freakin' Spring Rolls ever and I'm hoping I can find even better.Posted by yi at May 17, 2004 12:14 AM