Tam Vietnamese Restaurant
Tam serves accessible Vietnamese street food, but it's not all banh mi and pho here.
The restaurant serves other kinds of noodle soups, rice bowls, and a couple kinds of dumplings.
The 60-seat space retains the retro feel of the donut shop this once was, with the touches of a classic casual Asian restaurant like colourful table coverings and a sandwich counter where banh mi are assembled at the front.
Goi cuon, or rice paper rolls, come in an order of three for $5.50 and are a more typical starter or side with a meal here.
Thin, elastic rice paper sheets are stuffed with lettuce, rice noodles, mint, pork, cucumber and shrimp and serving with a thick dipping sauce.
Banh it tran are small glutinous rice dumpling balls, a traditional Vietnamese street food. The glutinous rice skin makes the dumplings comfortingly chewy and mochi-like.
They're stuffed with mung bean, pork, and fried onion, and topped with poached green onion, shrimp powder and crunchy fried onion.
Banh bot loc are dumplings with a delicate tapioca skin that has a cool clear look to it, stuffed with ground pork and shrimp and topped with the same poached green onion.
Both styles of dumplings are served with clear, funky fish sauce specially blended in house.
Banh mi for $6 are totally home style, a crusty roll stuffed with thinly sliced Vietnamese sausage, pork belly, pickles, cilantro, a slathering of mayo and an excellent beef liver pate.
Pho ($8) isn't the same day to day, but the version I try has a rich, oily, fatty beef bone and beef flank broth with beef tripe, balls, flank, tendon and rare beef slices, and of course flat rice noodles.
The meat is flavourful, and garnishes of bean sprouts, lime, herbs, hot sauce and hoisin are provided for diners to add to taste.
Bun bo hue ($8) is great if you like spicy soups and want to order something other than the more typical pho. The broth made with beef shank, pork feet, beef bone and lemongrass has a homemade seasoning of lemongrass and chili sauce added to it for an intense kick of heat.
This soup has round noodles, Vietnamese pork sausage, sliced beef shank, a big hunk of pig's feet, and a slippery pork blood cake with an irony taste that may be better suited to more adventurous soup lovers. DIY garnishes are served with this dish as well.
Ca phe sua ($4.50) is made with imported Vietnamese coffee brewed non-traditionally in a French press and condensed milk.
It has a nicely grainy texture, and isn't overly bitter, and makes for a warming, sweet end to a meal.