Tam Tam Brings Vietnamese Gastropub Tradition to Miami
In the event you’re eager for a style of Vietnam — minus the flight — look no additional than Tâm Tâm.As Miami turns into more and more saturated with fusion-style Asian delicacies, a brand new restaurant from a pair of native, self-made cooks supplies a welcome pivot from town’s pho-forward institutions with its quán nhậu-inspired eating.
Located in a small strip of eateries on the nook of NW First Avenue and NW First Avenue, the out of doors facade could also be unassuming, however the inside is something however.
As an alternative, it is a bonafide time capsule of wood-paneled partitions, hand-painted tabletops, and floral oilcloth upholstered barstools that boasts giant street-facing home windows with a full-frontal view of the Miami-Dade Courthouse steps.
Tâm Tâm was conceived by house owners and companions Tam Pham and Harrison Ramhofer, a restaurant born from their mutual disappointment with Miami’s Vietnamese choices. And whereas each come from a background in hospitality, Pham — with no formal chef coaching — will let you know his position as chef nonetheless feels international.
“I’ve at all times loved cooking,” Pham tells New Occasions. “However a variety of it was, and nonetheless is, trial and error.”
Over the previous few years, what began because the “Phamily Kitchen” supper membership within the couple’s residence, has since developed right into a sequence of profitable pop-ups all through Miami and a partnership with restaurateur Brian Griffiths, who additionally owns and operates Over Underneath and Low Key.
Elevating a pop-up to a full-service restaurant does not come with out its challenges. Fortunately, the duo say they’d Griffiths to paved the way.
“We wouldn’t have been in a position to do what we have executed with out him,” says Ramhofer.
Regardless of its diminutive area, Tâm Tâm was created as a gathering area for big teams. The venue’s earlier occupant, Diana’s Cafe, was thought-about a downtown establishment, working on the nook spot for greater than 20 years. Remnants of its former theme embody the lengthy, curved bar mirrored, a ventanita-style window, and a deli-style glass show case.
“Once we took over the area, we wished to pay homage, and be considerate to protect what was right here earlier than,” says Ramhofer. “The area instructed us what it wished to be.”
And when the area quietly whispered “toilet karaoke,” as effectively, Tâm Tâm delivered. As if rising by beaded curtains right into a zebra-print wallpapered nirvana isn’t alluring sufficient, every toilet comes full with karaoke mics.
“We at all times knew we wished to include karaoke into the restaurant someway,” says Ramhofer. “However our area is restricted. I urged the bogs as a joke, however everybody preferred the thought, so we simply went with it.”
Ambiance apart, what Tâm Tâm actually delivers is the meals. Tam says he attracts inspiration from conventional Vietnamese dishes, together with his mother’s cooking whereas sticking to what has grow to be the restaurant’s signature mantra: ingesting and meals.
“It is ambiguous. It provides me a variety of inventive flexibility. I can simply give you one thing and so long as it is scrumptious, pairs effectively with wine, and is enjoyable to eat,” he explains. “That is ingesting meals.”
You’re going to get messy and sticky, however you’ll not remorse a single chew. These dishes are supposed to be eaten along with your palms and with out disgrace.
Take the Tâm Tâm hen wings tossed in a garlic-kissed sauce that’ll have you ever unapologetically licking your fingers.
Whereas many dishes come and go, do not miss the signature, always-on-the-menu “Lamb State of affairs,” wrapped and cooked in betel leaves, the treatment for any spicy-sweet, chewy, crisp craving.
There are additionally sumptuously spiced lamb meatballs, served alongside rice noodles, a heap of recent herbs, and a aromatic nước chấm sauce. Or the “Jungle Steak” Wagyu tartare, plated alongside edible flowers, recent sprigs of Vietnamese coriander, and flavored with a fireplace ant salt (a Vietnamese delicacy created from mixing dried fireplace ants with salt, chilis, and spices), that’s as beautiful as it’s flavorful.
Do not miss the house owners’ favourite: escarole, a street-style dish of leafy bitter greens elevated with shrimp crumbs, recent herbs, and scallion oil.
“It isn’t a traditional Vietnamese dish, however after we’re executed, the flavors are one hundred pc Vietnamese,” says Ramhofer.
It is that very pursuit — the objective of hanging the perfect marriage of genuine taste and expertise — that requires the duo to supply solely the freshest components.
“We go ourselves to native farms and Vietnamese grocers to get the betel leaves, Thai basil, and different herbs. Even the Vietnamese espresso. We insist that every thing be the actual factor,” says Ramhofer.
To encourage ingesting, a wine program has been thoughtfully curated to incorporate all-natural, zero-intervention wines. A classically lovely Albariños or gentle and vibrant rosé are served alongside an ever-changing listing of chilled reds and salty whites, presenting one thing for each palate.
So, what’s on faucet at Tâm Tâm?
“For the time being, we need to preserve the idea centralized round ingesting and having enjoyable at evening,” says Pham. “We do have plans for lunch, however that shall be a part of a separate undertaking. Including lunch gadgets like pho or bahn mi to the menu would change what we’re.”
Fortunately, Tâm Tâm is in contrast to anything in Miami — and it goals to remain that means. What you will get is a full-sensory expertise with delicacies you’ll be able to’t discover anyplace else. It is the kind of place the place you’ll be able to really feel the individuals behind it care about what they serve, the individuals who serve it, and the neighborhood the place it is served.
Simply as should you had been within the household eating room — however with much more individuals to share the expertise.
Tam Tam. 99 NW First St. Miami; open every day at 5:30 p.m.; 786-359-4647; tam-tam-mia.com.