Steve's Gastronomic Home Page

Tamarind Tree

1036 S. Jackson St.
Seattle, WA
(206) 860-1404

Tamarind Tree is somewhat of an anomaly for restaurants in the International District-- while most restaurants are Chinese, this is Vietnamese; while most are small holes-in-the-wall, this is modern and upscale; while most are relatively obscure, this is one of the more popular and well-known Asian restaurants in the city. In fact, upon entering I got the feeling this was the type of restaurant that every blogger had already visited, and that there would be absolutely nothing new about it that I could write. I did hope, however, to have a great meal.

I was definitely not disappointed by the food. Serving "Provincial Vietnamese" cuisine, I found it to be fresh and flavorful with an interesting menu, much like Green Leaf Vietnamese Restaurants. Both have relatively large menus compared to most Vietnamese restaurants, and specialize in the authentic dishes that would not be served in many U.S. restaurants.

I had heard that people had had either very good or very bad experiences with the meals ordered here. I am sure this comes from the very pronounced flavors (and possibly some of the strange ingredients) of Vietnamese food. Not too many restaurants, though, give us such an opportunity to experiment and get out of our comfort zone with such a high probability of receiving gustatory satisfaction.

Having had such great success with the Green Mango Salad at Green Leaf, I ordered the one here, even though I knew it would be too much food when added to the entrée (as it turned out to be). The one at Tamarind Tree had the same "sweet and sour" flavors as the other version, and was very good in its own way (although I think I liked the one at Green Leaf better). Tamarind Tree, though, offers chicken skewers on the salad that were cooked in lotus leaves, and had an excellent flavor. It seems that Vietnamese food is just not best in a vegetarian version-- it has to have meat to offer the full flavors and cooking styles for which this cuisine is known.

For a main dish I ordered Tamarind Tree Soup. This has been served as "Vietnamese Hot and Sour Soup" in the Southwest, with pineapple chunks giving a sweet flavor, and I assume the "sour" part coming from the tamarind broth. The traditional way of serving it is with seafood-- I ordered the combination seafood version, but I thought the shrimp was the only one that was truly outstanding. In fact, I did not think Tamarind Tree's version was the best I had eaten except for the fact that such a great variety of vegetables and flavors was included.

The food here is served in small (and cheap) portions, and you will probably want to order more than one dish. It seems best, though, when shared with other people family style. There are so many items on the menu that look interesting I would recommend going with as many friends as possible (but make sure you get more than one or two bites of each item!).

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Tamarind Tree



Cuisine: Vietnamese
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Tea: Jasmine house
MSG: Yes
Smoking: No Smoking
Alcohol: Beer, Wine, Mixed Drinks

Most Recent Visit
Jun. 6, 2006

Number of Visits: 1

Best Item
Tamarind Tree Soup

Special Ratings
Green Mango Salad:
Tamarind Tree Soup:

Health Dept. Report
King County