I love a good,crotchety waiter.The old guy who waits here always delivers service with a grimace.I want to give him a can of steel cut oats for Christmas so he can let out all the vitriol and get on with living his life.
Grouchy people always put a smile on my face.Curmudgeons make me smile so Tams' always leaves me happy.
I wish I could branch out a bit but the deep fried garlic butter shrimp sandwich leaves me powerless under it's steady gaze.
It's my companions first visit ever[if you've only lived in Austin for 2 years this is acceptable behavior]and she's a soup fanatic so I order the vermicelli with shrimp paste,escargot and crab meat for her.The tureen arrives[a gallon or so strong]at a low boil with a giant platter of mung bean sprouts,sliced jalapeno and cilantro branches.
We trade our meals back and forth as is my custom with all my friends[I hate people who don't like to swap their food around the table]and I've clearly ordered the superior entree'.The soup is good,simply flavored with a mild broth and modest amounts of the trumpeted seafood.The sandwich however is phenomenal.My companion has lived internationally for much of her life and proclaims it the finest she's sampled on US soil.
I can't eat at Tam's without drinking a good glass of young coconut juice.It is the musky essence of an esteemed coconut,served on the rocks with a straw.How there are people in this world who don't like coconut is beyond me.Heatherns I reckon,my grandma would declare.
Unable to finish the heroic portion of soup we request a to-go container from Grumpy."No",he flatly declares and begins explaining why.My dining mate doesn't respond well to the word no,no matter how it's delivered."I BEG YOUR PARDON..I WISH TO TAKE MY FOOD AWAY WITH ME".She says her voice slowly rising.
I guess after years of working with two powerful women[Tam and her sister]he knows his ultimate role when any discussion begins to go in this direction so he begins trundling his way back to the kitchen.Tam and I stand in the middle of the dining room for a few minutes reminiscing about a Vietnamese food party I threw a few years back.We exchange lavish compliments about the others cooking as she fixes a nice bag of to go pastries for us to take with us.
The last few years in Austin have seen a multitude of Vietnamese restaurants come to town[John Kelso should do an article about the rise of Pho and the fall of chili]but for me Tam remains the queen.Her combination of wry service,intensely delicious food and reasonable pricing should serve her well for some time to come.
The garlic shrimp doesn't do it for me but I love the steamed shrimp with boiled egg. Comfort food bigtime. And the palmiers are just fantastic. I've been getting my charcoal grilled pork bahn mi at Baguette House , they're big and cheap by comparison. They have pate chaud too which are really good. Thanks for your posts scrumptiouschef I enjoy them.
some things: if by mr. grumpy, you mean the skinny guy with glasses, actually, he is really hilarious if you deal with him correctly. i've known him since 1978 and find him amazingly quick witted. now, my last visit to Tam's (in February or March) revealed that Tam suffered a stroke about a year ago and never goes to the restaurant anymore. Maybe you confused her with her sister. ???? I got the impression that Tam's stroke left here relatively incapacitated and would not likely be in the restaurant again. maybe things have changed for the better.... we hope so.
Sambamaster, Tam is back in the kitchen and seems to be doing well, praise be. The place still seems to be doing good business.
Aren't you due back in Austin soon? I was at Asia Cafe today--after a tough spell there this fall they seem to be doing better and have some exciting new options: fried lamb with green chile, twice cooked fish fillet, and more...