The first time I tried to have dinner at Tamarind Tree was last November. I had never even seen the place, but multiple friends were raving about the food. It was a Saturday night, and we snaked our way through the traffic jam of a parking lot on the northwest corner of 12th and Jackson. Tucked away in the back corner of the rundown-looking shopping center was the entrance. Inside was the sound of a waterfall, a tastefully warm interior, and a more upscale feeling than your average Vietnamese restaurant (while remaining unpretentious).
Tamarind Tree doesn’t take reservations, and the wait that night was quoted at around an hour. We made a hasty exit (Mark was ravenous already), and I forgot about Tamarind Tree for a few months.
Fast forward to mid-June. Lauren‘s boss recommended Tamarind Tree and gave her the tip that if there’s a wait you should just enjoy their specialty cocktails in the interim. Out we went to celebrate Kavita‘s MBA graduation, on a Friday night this time with call-ahead estimated wait of 20 minutes. It wound up being very quick (maybe 10 minutes) and we followed Karim’s advice to sample the cocktail menu. Turns out that Tamarind Tree makes a fantastic pineapple mojito! We had an enjoyable meal, finishing with an amazing Thit gà xào xa ot (a.k.a. “chili chicken”). The tender chicken was bursting with flavor; spicy hints of chili pepper and lemongrass layered in with the onions.
Tonight Lauren and I returned to Tamarind Tree for a second graduation celebration (a bit of a tradition being established this summer it seems), this time to celebrate DeAnn’s release from the shackles of UW grad school. A slightly longer wait, but it gave us time for DeAnn to experience the pineapple mojito…
And raspberry mojito…
And continue with a guava martini over dinner 🙂
I was able to steal a sip of all drinks ordered, and while the pineapple mojito is still my favorite on their list, the raspberry mojito (with fresh raspberries), pomegranate martini, and guava martinis were no slackers. I didn’t care for the kumquat martini, though I hear it’s the most popular drink on the menu so YMMV.
Tonight we sampled an array of vegetarian options, starting with shitake and eggplant satays. I’m a sucker for good mushrooms, and these did not disappoint. A common issue with shitake preparations is that they will emerge rubbery and undercooked. Not here, where the marinated, grilled morsels in front of us were even better than the menu description:
Next up were the very tasty tamarind tree rolls (also offered with your choice of meat). served with roasted peanuts for a nice crunch, they were the best Vietnamese spring roll that I’ve had in Seattle to date.
Tamarind Tree has an enormous menu, and I’ve only scratched the surface of it (I will remedy that over the next year). With such flavorful food, friendly staff, chic zen ambience, and just about every dish under $10 it’s a wonder the waits aren’t even longer!
1036 South Jackson Street, Suite A
Seattle, Washington 98116
Daily 10:00AM-10:00PM (Lunch and Dinner)