Hit & miss
Posted on 01 / 25 / 2011
I understand the mixed reviews here. I've eaten at Tamarind Cafe about half a dozen times, with mixed experiences: everything is well presented, but some dishes are quite bland, while a few of them are creative and tasty. In terms of service, my experiences have also been mixed: a few of the servers are warm and attentive, while one or two have been a bit surly, and some in between.
Another issue is that Tamarind Cafe isn't particularly vegan-friendly. While lacto-vegetarians will find plenty to choose from, there are very few items that are vegan as-is, and just a few more that can easily be made vegan on request. Making matters worse, the menu doesn't make it clear which items are vegan or can be made vegan, so one has to ask the server and, unless you speak Vietnamese, it may be difficult to achieve satisfactory clarity about the ingredients (depending on how well your server speaks English or how willing s/he is to summon someone with greater fluency).
This is not a criticism but, just FYI, i'd have to agree with others who've noted that eating at Tamarind Cafe isn't a very Vietnamese experience (either in terms of food or ambience). This might be a good thing if you're craving something different, but if you're looking for authentic Vietnamese vegetarian food, you'd be much better off at one of Hanoi's many other veggie eateries. In fact, to be honest, i felt the Vietnamese items are among the least flavorful on the menu.
In short, if you know what to order, Tamarind Cafe might satisfy you, but whether or not it's worth the price tag is another question. My overall impression is that Tamarind Cafe offers the presentation and pricing of a fine dining restaurant but is quite inconsistent when it comes to flavor and service.
Fresh juices, A few creative dishes
Not very vegan-friendly, Inconsistent service and flavor