The Tamarind Tree proves you can take the Vietnamese out of Vietnam. This place makes every effort to keep their traditional cuisine in tow. It is tucked in a corner of a Little Saigon business complex with no street signage. Having spent time all over Vietnam, I had the feeling of being in-country upon arrival. Every element in Tamarind Tree, from the fresh salad rolls to the pho; wait staff to market-fresh ingredients, put me in a cafe on Phu Quoc Island or a bistro on the streets of Hoi An. The Tree is that traditional.
The Tamarind uses Seattle's proximity to great fisheries to bring the menu to a delicious level of authenticity. Not to worry—the pork, beef, and chicken have their share of the spotlight, too. The veggie options abound and add to an already dynamic list of dishes. The staff displays all the best service qualities: friendly, smart, fast, and gracious. Food is fresh and original with foreign flavors pairing perfectly with local bounty. Start with the Tamarind Tree rolls and progress to one of the pho bowls. From there, it's a free-for-all with exceptional entrees—Co Ngu Crispy Shrimp, Vegetarian Crepe, and Ha Noi Grilled Pork Noodle are just the start.
The energy is calm within the constant chaos of keeping customers well-fed. It's all done with attitude, ingredients, and recipes that quell the hunger and feed the soul.
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Branch Out at Tamarind Tree
Tamarind Tree is one of the few places in the International District that has a nice enough ambience for a romantic date. It looks a bit sketchy from the outside, but inside it’s a dimly lit, tastefully decorated space with a modern feel. The spring rolls are fresh and light, and the cinnamon pork rice balls are tender, flavorful meatballs with a unique crisped-rice coating. Meat lovers may want to try the seven-course beef dinner for two ($33), including beef salad, grilled beef rolled in bacon, and marinated ground beef wrapped in leaves. Their extensive cocktail menu includes fancy mixed drinks, sparkling wine, sake, and beer. A well-known local favorite, Tamarind Tree and its downtown sister restaurant Long Provincial won’t disappoint.