By the time we got back to the hotel, we were all dead tired. I guess it was not because of the places we visited today but the past three days. So we decided to go back to the hotel to have a nap and then go out for a late dinner. It was certainly what we all needed.
We woke up at almost 8PM but Arkensen was still very tired and wanted to continue to sleep. We had bought some fried chicken from Albertson’s and left that for him to eat in the hotel while we took a drive to the Tamarind Tree for dinner.
The Tamarind Tree was one of the highly recommended places from readers of chowtimes. They are located in Little Saigon. If not for the GPS, we would probably have rounded the place a few times because this restaurant is hidden behind a strip mall on 1036 S Jackson St.
We were impressed with the restaurant. This is certainly not like any Vietnamese Pho restaurants we had ever been to. The Tamarind Tree is many class above that. I was wondering if there is a place like this in Vancouver, I can’t think of any. This does not appear to me like a family restaurant maybe because this is an upscale Vietnamese restaurant.
For one, this place does not reek of pho soup. You know what I mean? Everytime I have a meal in Vancouver’s Vietnamese restaurant, I always end of having my clothings and jacket smell like pho. I can’t see anyone having pho here. No siree.
The table setting is very nice but am not sure if this is Vietnamese though. We did not have the ubiquitous plastic Sriracha hot chilli sauce bottle here.
But the place is really dark. It was so dark that it’s impossible to read the menu even after moving the menu next to the candle cup … any nearer the menu will probably combust. We had to ask for a torch light and I am amazed that they had to scour for one for us. I was thinking that this place is so dark I was quite sure many customers would have asked for one too. Maybe we’re getting old and our eyesight is failing! Time for us to get one of the credit sized magnifying glass cum lights.
Because of the poor light, many of the pictures ended up fuzzy — I wanted you to know that. I cranked the ISO to 1600 on the camera and yet there was not enough light.
We decided to order their “7 Courses of Beef”. I think it’s their specialty and was recommended by the waiter. The first course was the Beef Salad which came with some kind of fish sauce (above). We were told to pour it over the Beef Salad (below).
Nanzaro had never been one to like vegetables, let alone salad but he absolutely loved this.
In many ways, this tastes a lot like the Malaysian Yee Sang (raw fish salad). The mix of crunchy fresh cabbage and cilantro and thin slices of beef and most importantly the fish sauce made this an awesome dish. We were telling ourselves that if this is just the first course, we are in for a treat that night.
Course two is simply called Beef Vinegar. It’s a do it yourself dish. First component is a plate of thinly sliced beef.
The other components are a big plate of green herbs (basil?), beans sprout, carrot and vermicelli. Also there is a burning pot of
vinegar — or at least, I think this is vinegar since this dish is called the Beef Vinegar.
We hesitated for a moment on what to do until the waiter came and gave us a crash course.
First we had to cook the raw beef slices in the vinegar. And then …
… the hard part is to assemble this. We made a real mess of it. It was not easy putting this together with the rice paper that was provided. I never knew handling rice paper was so difficult … the instructions sounded simple … just soak it for 5 seconds and then wrap it up. Oh yeah, sure.
We see the other tables (and whites too!) putting this together so deftly. Ours fell apart and looked awful. However, it was great. It is because of the ingredients they gave us was fresh and very good.
I remember thinking … this is course two of seven and I am beginning to feel full already!
It’s a good thing that Course 3 through 6 came in a single dish. They are all meat — basically marinated in different ways and grilled. They were really nice.
We still had some stuff left from course 2 and we improvised by mixing this meats with rice paper, vermicelli and herbs. We practically ate with our hands throughout, made a big mess but we had a great time.
The last course was the Rice Soup. Cute name but it should be called congee but Rice Soup sounded nicer. We love this as there is a certain sweetness to it unlike the Chinese congee which is basically salty.
All the above is only $27. It was really, really good. Do any of you know of a place in Vancouver which is like The Tamarind Tree? We will definitely want to come back again here for their other dishes.
Oh, I smelt my jacket as I left the restaurant … no smell of pho.
So, all thanks to “fresh_one” who recommended The Tamarind Tree to us. This is the BEST Vietnamese meal we ever had.