This restaurant came highly recommended from one of my foodie friends, so I had to try it. Tamarind Tree is unusual in that they attempt many different Asian cuisines, from Chinese to Singaporean to Vietnamese. I think primarily it is a Vietnamese restaurant, and it shows through their dishes.
Here is what we enjoyed:
1) Gỏi vịt ~ Duck salad - Shredded cabbage, carrot, and fresh herbs, pickled onion, roasted peanuts topped with skinless/boneless duck in house dressing served with ginger sauce.
I love duck more than any other protein in the world, so I order it whenever I can. The duck was a bit dry and I didn’t love the dressing. It didn’t really tie together as I would have liked.
2) Bò xã lụi ~ Lemongrass beef satay - Ground beef marinated with lemongrass, onion, garlic, and seasoning served with peanut sauce.
Another flavour I can’t get enough of is lemongrass. And anything on a stick seems to taste better! These satays are similar to those at Wild Ginger, with a sugar cane stick and plump, flavourful meat. I haven’t had anything like this in Calgary, so I’m kind of having a satay withdrawal…
3) Bánh xèo Cây Me ~ Tamarind Tree crepe - Scallops, prawns, pork slices, shiitake mushroom, bean sprouts, and mung beans in fried rice batter topped with coconut milk served with green vegetable platter.
This was the star of the night. A lovely pancake that was crisp and fresh with tons of filling – shrimp, pork, scallops – and a great assortment of greens to eat with it. I always enjoy a good Vietnamese crepe, but this one was exceptional. Just wrap in the lettuce leaves, dip in the fish sauce, and you’re in crepe heaven.
4) Cơm gà tươi Hải Nam ~ Hai Nam chicken rice pot - Rice cooked in chicken broth and fresh coconut juice topped with steamed chicken served with ginger fish sauce.
This was a dish I regretted ordering. I had the most amazing Hai Nam chicken in Singapore for like, a dollar, and it ruined me for any future Hai Nam chicken dishes. This is not a Vietnamese specialty, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when it wasn’t amazing. The chicken was kind of fatty/boney and the rice wasn’t quite right. To be fair, I haven’t been able to find a good rendition of this dish outside of Asia.
The moral of the story is that it’s best to stick with Vietnamese food at a Vietnamese restaurant. There were some okay dishes and some really incredible ones. I would have really liked to try some of the other dishes if we had any more time (or more stomachs!).
WHAT TO GET: Lemongrass beef skewers and Tamarind Tree crepe.