2013

Tamarine Restaurant Review, Palo Alto

Posted by Foodnut.com

Reviewer: Foodnut.com

Tamarine

546 University Avenue (At Tasso)

Palo Alto, CA 94301

650-325-8500

Tamarine Website

Book Reservation

Tamarine Palo Alto Exterior Decor

Tamarine is a popular Vietnamese contemporary restaurant in downtown Palo Alto on busy University Avenue. They focus on small plates and serve food family style. Tamarine features light, but flavor-intensive culinary delicacies of Vietnam. This place is similar to Slanted Door or Xanh in Mountain View. We find the food pretty accessible with many items for mainstream palates. The owners family runs the traditional Vietnamese restaurant Vung Tau in San Jose. Our last visit was in the summer of 2014.

Tamarine Palo Alto Bar

Decor, Vibe – Very nice decor, lots of beautiful art from Vietnam. The place had lots of couples, small parties, people from a variety of age and ethnic groups. Clearly lots of high tech workers and VC types frequent Tamarine. Tamarine gets packed at night.  Reserve ahead of time. They have a bar and communal table for times when you can’t get a reservation. These fill up around 6pm.

Tamarine Menu

Tamarine’s Menu has a variety of starters, noodles, and entrees. Dessert menu is weak. They have a special menu during the Lunar New Year.

Tamarine Food Picks:

Tamarine’s Anti-Oxidant Mojito ($12) Myers Silver Rum, Fresh Raspberry, Fresh BlackBerry, Strawberry Puree, Fresh Lime, Club Soda was strong and balanced with a nice flavor profile.  A lot better than the mojito we had previously. In 2014 they changed it to a Strawberry fields mojito that was also good.

Tamarine Palo Alto Banh Mi Roti

Banh Mi Roti Pan fried wheat bread served with red Panang curry dipping sauce ($8) was very good. We ate it up very quickly. Additional order required!

Tamarine Palo Alto Calamari

Salt & Pepper Calamari Crisp calamari wok tossed w/ garlic & spring onions. Served w/ a cilantro emulsion ($12) was very delicious. Light batter, strong cilantro sauce made this a classic here, and a good starter.

Apple & Asian Pear Salad ($12) Heart of palm, pomelo & cashews tossed with apple & pear; drizzled with a tamarind vinaigrette was very fruity and refreshing, with a lite dressing.

Tamarine Palo Alto Kobe Beef Pho

Kobe Beef Pho ($15)  Sliced Kobe beef blanched with star anise, cinnamon & ginger beef broth; served w/ rice noodles & herbs. Wow this is a tour de force must get for pho fans. Strong star anise flavored broth, excellent thick sliced beef, and some thin delicate noodles. Far better than those cheap pho restaurants. Bean Sprouts are preloaded unlike most versions. Tamarine gives you some Sriracha sauce, lime, and plum sauce on the side.

Wok Pho Beef Noodles ($14) Wok-flashed rice noodles tossed with Chinese broccoli, flank steak, eggs & soy sauce was spot on.  Almost like Chinese Chow fun, the noodles were wide and soft, while the quality of the meat really shined.

Tamarine Palo Alto Pineapple Sea Bass

Pineapple Sea Bass Whole fried Branzino filet served w/ a black bean, ginger & roasted pineapple sauce ($27) is a popular dish with fresh fish that is deep fried to perfection. Good sweet and sour flavors and a beautiful look.

Spiced Honey Seared Duck ($26) Seared Sonoma duck breast drizzled with spiced honey & served with grilled pineapple & a radish cake was a bit on the tart side, but still satisfying for duck fans.

Tamarine Palo Alto Shaking Beef

Shaking Beef  ($28) Cubed beef tenderloin seared with soy, garlic & onions; served with a watercress & mizuna salad is a must order.  Tender beef cooked perfectly. This dish is very very good. We would order the prawns and this any day.

Tamarine Prawns ($28) Flash-fried 5 huge jumbo prawns tossed in Tamarine’s signature tamarind sauce & served with crisp noodles is their signature dish and a must get. Very fresh seafood along with a sweet and tangy sauce that is absorbed by the crispy vermicelli noodles. Butterflied, so there isn’t a lot of excuse to having messy hands.

Garlic Fried Rice ($7) Long-grain jasmine rice wok-fired with butter & garlic hit the spot 100%.  A bit rich, but nice flavors. We would order it over the coconut rice.

Lemon-soy Broccolini ($11) wok tossed with shallots & almonds in lemon-tamari garlic sauce is our recommended veggie after trying several.

Tamarine Palo Alto Coconut Tapioca

Coconut Tapioca ($8) Coconut Milk Tapioca served with lemongrass-coconut & passion fruit sorbet drizzled with passion fruit caramel & pandan syrup was a lighter refreshing desert. Good combination of flavors.

OK:

Tamarine Palo Alto Mojito

Tamarine Mojito ($11) with Ten Cane Rum, Fresh Mango, Muddled mint & lime was filled with all these different flavors. Moderate strength. On our last visit, it wasn’t very sweet, so we had to ask for a redo.

Tamarine Palo Alto Lamb Chops

Hoisin Lamb Chops Grilled w/ garlic & served w/ baby bok choy & sweet potato fries ($27) The lamb was a little overwhelmed by the hoisin sauce. No gaminess but not much distinct lamb flavor. Good quantities and yummy yam fries.

Tamarine Palo Alto Sake Mushrooms

Sake Mushrooms Shiitake mushrooms wok fired in sake w/ sugar snap peas in a sesame oil & oyster sauce. ($10) has fresh mushrooms and crispy peas. Not too oily.

Coconut, vanilla, roasted coconut flakes Rice ($2.50) was an interesting combination. A good change of pace.

Pans:
Curry Roasted Cauliflower ($10) Madras curry, garam masala & butter roasted cauliflower was a bit powdery and over crisp.

Curried long beans ($11) were chopped up really short and didn’t really have a curry flavor to them.

Tamarine’s service was above average with the waiter and servers floating around constantly. This is definitely one of the best restaurants on Palo Alto’s University Ave district and is an easy choice for those looking for fine Vietnamese cuisine. As with most other small plate places, you may order more than anticipated and your bill will reflect that.

Their sister restaurant Bong Su in San Francisco Closed.
Tamarine on Urbanspoon

Tamarine Overall Rating: (Excellent 3)

Come Back?

Food Rating: (Excellent)
Service Rating: (Very Good)
Atmosphere Rating: (Excellent)
Value Rating: (Good)

Guide: 0 = poor, 1 = Below/Average, 2 = Good, 2.5 = Very Good, 3 = Excellent , 4 = Extraordinary

Alcohol:Full Bar
Attire:Dressy
Hours:530 - 10pm
Parking:Street
Reservations:Yes
Prices:$19 - $27
Posted on January 23rd, 2013
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8 Responses to “Tamarine Restaurant Review, Palo Alto”

  1. New 2011 San Francisco Michelin Guide | Foodnut.com Says:

    [...] – Koi Palace – Gialina – Pizzaiolo – RN74 – R&G Lounge – Tamarine – The House –  Zuni [...]

  2. Michael Bauer's 2011 Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants | Foodnut.com Says:

    [...] Tamarine, Palo Alto [...]

  3. Xanh, Mountain View | Foodnut.com Says:

    [...] restaurant reminds us of Tamarine and even Slanted Door. The prices are more affordable and portions far larger here. You could easy [...]

  4. New Michelin Guide San Francisco 2012 | Foodnut.com Says:

    [...] Koi Palace – Gialina – Pizzaiolo -Prospect – RN74 – R&G Lounge – Tamarine – The House -Wayfare Tavern – Zuni [...]

  5. Straits Restaurant, Westfield San Francisco Centre, Burlingame | Foodnut.com Says:

    [...] eat plain rice when you can have something special. Coconut flavor makes this rice a little creamy. Tamarine’s is more [...]

  6. Michael Bauer's 2012 Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants | Foodnut.com Says:

    [...] Tamarine, Palo Alto – Fusion done right [...]

  7. Ben Tre, Millbrae | Foodnut.com Says:

    [...] Tamarine in Palo Alto is still one of our favorite higher end Vietnamese fusion restaurants nearby. [...]

  8. Pho Ao Sen Restaurant Review, Oakland | Foodnut.com Says:

    […] up some of the best Pho in the Bay Area. Give it a try, the prices are very reasonable. Checkout Tamarine in Palo Alto for some really good […]

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