My brother-in-law is currently holidaying in Vietnam, having the time of his life, and has kindly shared the sights, sounds and, best of all, the food, he’s been sampling with me.
To say that it’s left me more than a little jealous is an understatement.
Not much chance of me making it to South-East Asia any time soon, but having heard of a new Vietnamese restaurant opening in Streatham, I decided to give it a try to make myself feel better about others living it up in hotter climes.
Tam’s Kitchen sits on the spot of a long-standing and successful pan-Asian restaurant, Tiger, that wasn’t bad at all.
First question, who is Tam? The much-loved auntie of the brother and sister team running the place, and she also happened to be casting an expert eye over the kitchen during our visit last Thursday evening.
Eating at 7pm, later than is usual for my little family, my husband and I were keen to get ordered and out in under an hour and home to put the toddler to bed.
There is so much to love about Vietnamese cuisine. It’s always quick to arrive at the table, wholesome, healthy, and full of the most interesting array of flavours. As time was not on our side, we decided to share a few starters and adopted the same strategy when it came to the main.
Summer rolls always top my list of go-to starters. Fine, cigarette paper-thin rice sheets, stuffed with bean shoots, carrots, cabbage and all manner of other veg, with a cross section of a king prawn placed delicately, just beneath the surface, and folded neatly in place. P
opped into sweet chilli sauce, I’d have happily polished off a couple of platefuls as a meal. My daughter grappled with them a little less easily, but her nifty fingers were easily able to fish out the prawn, which disappeared in a nanosecond.
She was, however, exceptionally pleased with chicken satay (£4.60) – nothing new to report here.
A familiar dish with one and all, hence its ubiquitous presence on most Asian menus. This version was hugely satisfying. Both husband and daughter were very taken with the vegetarian spring rolls (£4.60) so a definite crowd pleaser.
For the main course, we shared egg fried rice (£3) – looking for a plainer dish, without chilli, that we could all eat. It was sensational, which sounds like I’m going a tad overboard in my description of rice but it really was something special.
Savoury rice, yes, but with a hint of sweet and although meant as an accompaniment, could easily work as a one bowl meal.
Just add a fork and you’re away. We managed to wrestle the bowl away from the little one eventually but she wasn’t particularly keen to share.
Chilli and lemongrass noodle salad (£7.20) was halfway between a soup and a salad and while the fragrantly spiced meat was very nice, it wasn’t the star of the show.
Glass noodles swimming in broth were just lovely and with the fresh vegetables included there wasn’t really a need for meat.
Welcome to Streatham, Tam’s Kitchen. What a lovely addition to the neighbourhood it is and so handy to have a casual dining spot with such good food available right on my doorstep. It really knocks spots off similar offerings locally.