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- 72%Business Travelers
- 64%Luxury Travelers
Member Reviews (28)Write a review
- TamarineMember ofBusiness TravelersOutdoor EnthusiastsFoodies+ 2
Tamarine is one of Palo Alto's best upscale restaurants. Asian influenced menu has a lot of unique and flavorful dishes. Would highly recommend the shaken beef and the tamarind prawns.Recommended for:
- TamarineMember ofLocal CultureOutdoor EnthusiastsFoodies+ 2
An upscale Vietnamese restaurant with romantic ambiance. Tamarine is the kind of place you could safely take your first date to. (Unless your date is Vietnamese. In that case he/she will probably be laughing at you.)
The restaurant might seem contemporary but the food is surprisingly authentic. There are no fusion elements and very little creativity in the menu. The food was good. Ingredients tasted fresh and presentation was excellent. Of course, at this price range I really wouldn't expect any less.
Vung Tau in San Jose is also ran but the same family that owns Tamarine. The food is just as good and the menu is more extensive. Eat there instead if you don't care too much about the ambiance. Save Tamarine for dates or business meals with clients.Recommended for:
- TamarineMember ofBusiness TravelersLocal CultureOutdoor Enthusiasts+ 11
Tamarine is generally overrated by most diners.
Here's who the over-raters are:
1. Most don't know Vietnamese food well
2. And/or want an alternative to the dismal dives they had it before
3. They want some of the flavors in a yuppified environment
4. Prefer a huge wine list and Sommelier, to better dignify it
5. Willing to pay 5 times more than a Viet place in San Jose
6. Want to be around more white people when they eat asian food
7. Hated the dumpy-dive-grumpy-service their Asian friend took them to
8. OR are Asian and brought their non-Asian friend here to impress them
9. OR are white dudes with non-Vietnamese Asian dates
A Vietnam native and I went here to check it out. We had reservations, at 6:45 but came early, and were promptly seated in perhaps one of the best tables in the house, the corner table in the back room. Many of the seating choices are community tables on bar stools, so a draped table in the far corner was much more elegant and quiet, perfect for you romantics.
Tamarine Taste (combo appetizer, $16) consisted of 2 Cha Gio (taro egg rolls), "tea leaf beef" (aka Bo Lo Lot) which is 2 small beef sausages covered with tea leaves, 2 Goi Cuon Banh Trang (shrimp spring rolls), and a small Goi Du Du Kho Bo (Papaya Salad with beef jerky strips). Aside from the portions being smaller, these were generally OK, but better in a standard Vietnamese place in Little Saigon.
Ha Long Bay Soup ($13) we split. It came in a large bowl with a ladle, and two small bowls, with 4 crab won ton pillows in a coconut milk. It was "meh" at best, as you could get a better version in most southeast asian restaurants, and most will serve you the soup into your bowl with the ladle, which our server didn't bother to do.
Pineapple Bass ($27). This was good. A lightly battered and flash fried bass, then cut up into bite size pieces and well plated.
Cumin Spiced Duck ($24). This was poor. The duck was just little slices on a plate, with little flavor, and the sprinkled powdered cumin didn't help. It was on a bed of mung beans, also very bland, like veggie-mush.
2 sides of Jasmine rice ($1.50/ea), served in a banana leaf. This may seem exotic, but in Vietnam, this is the way it is often served in roadside stalls. They gave us Coconut Rice first, and just before we started to eat it, they whisked it away to another table!
We had a glass of Merlot and Pinot Grigio (both $11). Our server gave me my Grigio, I took a sip, and a minute later she whisked by, picked it up and said "I gave you the wrong one!" I guess she didn't see me take a sip, and didn't care!
Our server was also indiscrete, as she would come by the table, and announce in a large voice, did we like the last dish?, or other such standard lines, as if she was announcing our entry into the Kings Ball in a Fairy tale. A bit unsettling, between the service mishaps and the pronouncements tryng to draw out gushing compliments from us. (We gave none, maybe that is why she kept getting louder?)
Tamarine has Vietnamese family chefs mixed with latin helpers. The patronage is 85% caucasian, with 10% white guys with Asian dates, and the rest all non-Vietnamese Asians curious to the cuisine.
The food is decent, just a lot more expensive than what you can get 20 miles south. Tamarine has an SF restaurant, Bong Su.
You know the old saying about ethnic restaurants.....if you see a lot of Vietnamese eating there, you know it is good. My date was the only one there (eating, not cooking!).
- TamarineAmbassadorMember ofLocal CultureOutdoor EnthusiastsBudget Travelers+ 9
I love the ambience for this restaurant, so I'd say 4 stars just for that alone. Sometimes you just got to pay for ambience alone.
The food is pretty good for fusion food. I wouldn't get the pho again because you could pay way less money for pho at a regular pho restaurant.Recommended for:
- TamarineMember ofFamily TravelersFoodiesWellness+ 5
Tamarine is a high-end Vietnamese restaurant geared towards those who want the ambience of a fine dining experience, but the taste of great Vietnamese food. This is a more upscale restaurant (and therefore, the dishes are higher priced).
The food is what I'd consider Vietnamese fusion. Some dishes were close in flavor to an authentic Vietnamese dish, while others were not (not to say that the taste wasn't good though). The menu is in English, so that says something right off the bat. If you accept that the food will not be completely authentic, you're in for a great dining experience. Most dishes I had were pretty good, and it was a lovely place to take my girlfriend for a celebration dinner. Although we had a later reservation, the hostess was awesome and was able to help us find a seat earlier than expected. What I ordered (that I can remember):
- Shrimp Cupcakes. This is actually a savory dish that is called Banh Khot in Vietnamese. This had a nice coconut flavor and was very good.
- Hue Beef Rice Noodle Rolls. I forget the name in Vietnamese. It was good, but somewhat lacking in the strong flavor I usually associate with the meat in this dish.
- Ha Long Bay Soup. This reminded more of a Thai soup than any Vietnamese soup I've ever had. It was good, but for me, I would have preferred the slight tartness rounded out with some sweetness.
- Empress Rice. This was kind of like a fancy Xoi Mang (savory sticky rice). It was really good. Note that the egg on top comes out raw-ish for you to stir in.
Dishes I have yet to try, but have heard great things: Bo Luc Lac (Shaking Beef).Recommended for:
- TamarineMember ofLocal CultureOutdoor EnthusiastsFoodies+ 5
One of my favorite restaurants on University Ave. The decor is very elegant and contemporary, with beautiful artwork on the walls from various Vietnamese artists. We made reservations for a late dinner with friends here on Friday night, and the place was packed. We started our evening there with some yummy lychee martinis.
Between the four of us, we shared 4 main dishes. The menu listed them as "small plate entrees" but they really weren't that small. We also shared the Tamarine crab and garlic noodles and 3 orders of jasmine rice (2 orders would have been enough for 4 people). They used mung bean noodles in the garlic noodles dish, which was different than any other one I've had, but it was still good. For our entrees, we had the Jumbo Tamarine Prawns, Clay Pot Cod, Shaking Beef and Hoisin Lamb Chops with sweet potato fries. Everything was fantastic, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would have to be the Lamb Chops. We polished off every dish -- it was the perfect amount of food for 4 people. BUT we still had room for dessert!
For dessert, we definitely indulged! We shared the Banana Beignets, Chocolate Pot de Creme and Chocolate Lava Cake. It was all wonderful. The lava cake was quite rich, and it was a good thing that we added 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream because it would have been way too sweet on its own. The banana beignets were one of my favorite versions of F.B.I. The pot de creme was yummy too, I just wished it came in a bigger bowl.
Great ambiance, food, service, and company.Recommended for:
When most places describe their food as fusion, its almost always seemingly sound more attractive than the end results. Sometimes it's a difficult line to walk as one needs to highlight the accents of both cuisines and not make it just a mish-mash.
Tamarine does a wonderful job of keeping the Vietnamese portion of their food as a home base while reaching out to neighboring cuisines to add that extra layer of flavor.
Some of the memorable dishes include their crab dumpling soup, the steamed halibut with black bean sauce, and their Vietnamese Beouff.
A quick tip: Definitely make sure you make reservations for dinner as the restaurant gets extremely busy!
- TamarineMember ofLocal CultureFoodiesLuxury Travelers
No joke, this restaurant was one of the reasons I was saddest to move away from Palo Alto years ago. Years later, the quality is as high as before. The Ha Long Bay soup is delicious, so is the shaking beef and the salt and pepper calamari is my personal favorite!
Easily one of the best restaurants in the Bay Area. Try the Wok Pho Noodles. Their menu changes once in a while, so sometimes great dishes disappear. They once had a cashew chicken dish that was ridiculously amazing.
Try the Tapioca dessert if they have it.
One of my preferred restaurants in Palo Alto, especially on University! I really like their fish in the clay pot. It seriously just melts inside your mouth and the flavor is out of this world. Their shaking beef is what they're famous for, but they have a wide variety of options. I would definitely order family style if you go in a group, so you can try many different dishes!