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Jun 24, 2011 09:50 PM

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.