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Long Provincial Vietnamese Restaurant - Report

Four of us had dinner at Long Provincial Vietnamese Restaurant tonight, and I was really impressed. The food ranged from good to excellent, service was good, and prices were very fair. I'm visiting Seattle from Boston at the moment, which has its share of Vietnamese food - but this really surpassed anything I've had recently in Boston, and was as good (if not better) than my favorite Vietnamese places in San Francisco. Things we had:

Tamarintini: The tamarind pulp sank to the bottom, and there was more lime flavor than I would have expected. But it was a nicely balanced cocktail.

Tangerine martini: This cocktail is made with tequila, and it sort of just tasted like a margarita. But nice presentation with a slice of tangerine

Gỏi cuốn Cây Me ~ Tamarind Tree rolls: These were excellent, possibly even my favorite dish of the night, which is surprising since they were veggie fresh spring rolls. The greens were fresh, they were rolled tightly, and there were little crispy fried bits inside which provided a nice crunch.

Chả quế cớm xanh ~ Cinnamon pork rice balls: We ordered these after reading about them on Chowhound, and they were great. The shavings of coconut worked well the cinnamon-flavored meat and the sour dipping sauce. Different and attractive preparation.

Hến Xúc bánh đa ~ Baby clams rice cracker: I had never had anything quite like this dish before, but I really enjoyed it. The closest thing I can compare it to is a shrimp dip dish I've had at a Cambodian restaurant in San Francisco. We used the rice crackers as scoops to dip into the dip of baby clams (clams were tiny - the size of a lentil, and they looked like lentils too). The dish was served with a very pungent anchovy/pineapple dipping sauce, which was actually a bit too intense for me. But I was impressed with the bold and different flavors of this dish, and for those who like savory/fishy dishes, this is a must-try.

Gỏi bò ~ Beef salad: A nice rendition of Vietnamese beef salad - lots of cabbage, not as much beef. A solid version, with fresh veggies. Sauce served on the side, and we only needed to use half of it. On par with versions of this dish that I've had in SF and Boston.

Bánh khọt ~ Turmeric coconut rice cake: I was excited to order this dish, since i haven't found it anywhere in Boston, and I loved ordering this in San Francisco when I lived there. This version was good, but seemed like it was deep fried (as opposed to cooked in a special pan). The inside of the banh khot was custardy and coconutty, and the shrimp on top were tender. Served with lettuce for wrapping, and lots of fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, mint, vietnamese balm) and dipping sauce.

Đậu que xào đậu hủ ~ Green bean tofu: Probably the least interesting dish we ordered, but still not bad. The pieces of tofu were pan fried, and green beans were not overcooked. This dish was a bit too salty, and also had lots of pepper and garlic - it also had a dipping sauce, which seemed like vinegar and fish sauce, but different than our other dipping sauces.

Bánh khoai mì nướng ~ Grilled cassava: Served with coconut milk sauce and roasted peanuts. The coconut sauce was great, the cassava tasted like cassava....and was therefore much better combined in a bite with lots of coconut. I probably wouldn't rush to order this again, but it wasn't bad.

We didn't get to try the homemade ice creams, but I would be interested in tasting them - they had a lot of interesting flavors, including black sesame, pandan and durian.

Overall, a very enjoyable experience, and the total bill for all of this (before tip) was $82.00. In my opinion, a real bargain, especially given the level of service, ambiance and dish presentation (cocktails were $7.50 and $9.00, so without alcohol, this place is even more of a bargain)

Definitely would return next time I come to Seattle, and I think that any Vietnamese food fan visiting from East Coast should definitely give this place a try.

Dave MP

Tamarind Tree
1036 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98104

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  1. Sounds good! Thanks for your report.

    1. I agree this was very good and a bargain. (We live in San Francisco, and thought it was dirt cheap for the quality.) We also had the spring roll (the non-veggie version) and loved the crispy bits and the strip of sausage inside. We also had the cinnamon meatballs and thought it nicely balanced. Our final dish was the whole fried snapper, which was very good. I thought this was better than Slanted Door, with far less $$$ and attitude.

      1. I went last night and was underwhelmed. I went to the Slanted Door a long time ago, in its original location, and loved it. Thought it was far better, but I don't know if it has changed. Anyway, I expected/wanted more intensity of flavor and more spiciness. we had the same rolls and pork cinnamon balls as the OP and they were good. Then we had duck salad that was medium. It needed some intensity, lime and cilantro. Lemongrass chili chicken with rice needed more chili and spice. The spicy eggplant with mint was neither spicy nor minty, but the eggplant itself was meltingly tender.

        2 Replies
        1. re: cocktailhour

          I think Slanted Door has changed... the stuff we had last night at Long had far more flavor than anything I've ever had at SD.

          1. re: cocktailhour

            The closer you get to any financial district, the closer you are to expense-account culture (think martinis and meat-and-potatoes). You can hit BOA from Long with a baseball.
            The transition zones are fascinating (Noodle Boat, Rainin Ribs, New Sammy's...).

          2. I notice that you're able to write using Vietnamese characters. Are you Vietnamese, then? And how many of you were in your party? It sounds like there were many! I think I can write phố by cutting and pasting the special character, but I have no clue how to write the special vowels for BEEF (BO) and CHICKEN (GA). I know their letters, but not their tones.

            I notice as well that you mention that they serve Durian flavored ice cream! I'd love to try that, but I'm afraid I have too much familiarity with Durian to eat it where other diners could be affected by it! (For those who don't know, Durian fruit tastes like ambrosia, and smells like a gas leak: literally: it's the smell of durian that they introduce into natural gas so you can detect a leak, otherwise the gas is odorless)

            2 Replies
            1. re: PeteSeattle

              There were four of us in our party.....we had 6 food items (three of which were appetizers) and 1 dessert. This was plenty of food.

              And I copied and pasted the names of the dishes from the menu, which is how I knew the correct accents (I don't read/write Vietnamese)

              When I've had durian ice cream before, it hasn't smelled nearly as strong as the fresh fruit. So I think it's okay to order this dish - other diners won't mind :)

              Dave MP

              1. re: Dave MP

                Now youv'e got my interest: Durian ice-cream that doesn't stink! Thanks! It's good to share information!

            2. My husband and I went this week. We very much loved the clams with rice cracker, the cinnamon pork rice balls, and the Long Provincial rolls. We probably ordered a little too much food, and the turmeric coconut rice cake lost out—we couldn't muster enthusiasm for it.

              My spicy watermelon cocktail tasted good, but felt a little light on the booze.

              The service was horrible. It was impossible to get anyone's attention, from the time I entered the restaurant to when we flagged down the bill. And while I am the least germophobic person I know, even for me the sight of a waitress kneeling outside the bathroom on the floor scraping food into to-go cartons with the help of her hands was just too much.

              1. OK, the last revue was enough. In the law of unforeseen consequences, in spite of the revue being negative, I now want to eat there!

                But where is it? What's the address of this restaurant?
                I've appreciated the writings on their Vietnamese cuisine.
                I'm not Vietnamese, nor do I speak the language (mais je suis comfortable en francais) but I routinely watch VietTV over the antenna. I don't have cable. I especially like Vietnamese operas that seem to be remakes of Chinese ones from the T'ang Dynasty.
                I suppose Vietnames food is a little like Vietnamese music. What makes Vietnamese music strange to a non-Viet is that the music MUST retain the tones of the language in a lyrical song, and in Vietnamese those tones aren't necessarily following the pitches of a musical scale. (In Mandarin and Swedish and certain African languages, they do, giving people in an argument the feeling that they're in a dueling banjos situation)
                Likewise with the cuisine: it matches what Vietnamese people actually have and what they do with it and it fits them, regardless of what the rest of the world thinks! That's part of what makes it good!
                And this restaurant now has my interest

                1 Reply
                1. re: PeteSeattle

                  The restaurant is at Second and Stewart, downtown. Location, location, location. It's important information. Up to now I was thinking it was in Little Saigon, because it was so clearly not a simple Pho House. Glad to have that cleared up!

                2. Went for happy hour tonight and was glad I did. The happy hour menu is long and very reasonably priced, all between $2-4. I had a tamarind tree roll, prawn paste on crispy rice crackers, tamarind glazed grilled quail, green papaya salad with shrimp, 2 glasses of cava, and steamed cassava with coconut and peanuts for dessert, all for $32 something before tip. Everything was delicious and I left full and happy. The bar was basically empty and service was fine and friendly enough. I would definitely go back, but if Tamarind Tree has happy hour, I might try them next time, in hopes of a livelier atmosphere, or else bring a couple of friends.

                  1. Is this restaurant run by the family of Nguyen Uy Long? He's the guy you see on VietTV al the time, and it seems he must own the TV station, or got it dumped on him and he found out he had to run it all by himself.
                    Speaking no Vietnamese myself but not having cable TV, the fact that I watch Viet TV anyway means that he is actually doing a really good job of running a TV station, and if he's running a restaurant as well I'd expect he's doing an equally good job.

                    2 Replies
                    1. > Chả quế cớm xanh ~ Cinnamon pork rice balls

                      What would you estimate to be the percentage of this dish's mass that's rice? It sounds amazing to me, but I'm working hard to eat little starch.

                      Thx much.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: not the bad Steve

                        If I remember correctly, it was more meat than rice, and the rice that was in it was kind of puffed and crispy. I would guess that starch-wise, it might be equivalent to a plate of fried calamari?

                        1. re: Dave MP

                          Had this the other night and the piece I had was mostly meat. You could scrape off some of the coating which tastes like deep fried rice krispies. I wasn't impressed but the others at the table loved them.