MIAReview

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

Tâm Tâm image
9.2

Best New Restaurants

2023

Tâm Tâm

Vietnamese

Downtown

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightSpecial OccasionsOutdoor/Patio Situation
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Before it was an actual restaurant in Downtown, Tâm Tâm was a pop-up Vietnamese supper club. The kind of stylish dinner party one hopes their adulthood is filled with: string lights, long communal tables, and meet cute opportunities over passed plates of grilled shrimp.

Tâm Tâm the restaurant has retained that energy (and the shrimp). You still kind of hope someone you know will walk by the floor-to-ceiling windows and glimpse you inside, mid-sip of a spiked frozen Vietnamese coffee, at which point they will mentally nudge you towards the “cool” section on the pie chart of everyone they know. But where Tâm Tâm has taken off into another galaxy is the exhilaratingly delicious food, which is better than it’s ever been and incomparable to anything else that currently exists in Miami.

Tâm Tâm image

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

Tâm Tâm image

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

Tâm Tâm image

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

Tâm Tâm image
Tâm Tâm image
Tâm Tâm image

The menu is inspired by quán nhậu, a term for the places in Vietnam where people go to drink and eat. Some of Tâm Tâm’s best dishes, meant to be eaten with your hands, are messy. They are supposed to be. Toning down the fish sauce caramel on the sticky wings, the tamarind glaze on the pork ribs, or altering any aspect of the lamb wrap situation would only interfere with the end result, which tastes awfully close to perfection.

But if you need to make multiple trips to the bathroom to wash your hands, please do. For these are the greatest restaurant bathrooms of them all. One forces its users to break out into song (we don’t want to spoil how), and the other is what being a flea on a tiger must feel like.

Tâm Tâm image

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

Tâm Tâm image

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

Tâm Tâm image

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

Tâm Tâm image

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

Tâm Tâm image
Tâm Tâm image
Tâm Tâm image
Tâm Tâm image

To encounter something unexpected is the guarantee Tâm Tâm makes with its guests. There’s of course the food, such creative takes on an underrepresented cuisine in South Florida. But if you look between the bright colors that make the dining room pop, you'll see a sign advertising the daily batido options of yesteryear, and an old ventanita window. These are the bones of the Cuban restaurant that used to operate here—purposeful details to give you a sense of place—because at Tâm Tâm it is so easy to forget that you are, in fact, in Miami.

But you are. We promise.

Perhaps it's been too long since a restaurant recalibrated your understanding of what it feels like to eat in Miami. Same here. But that's what Tâm Tâm does. So make a reservation when you need a dinner that won’t compare to anything else. Because nothing, right now, comes close.

Food Rundown

Tâm Tâm image

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

Jungle Steak Tartare

This is one of the best tartares we’ve ever met—it gives all the essential tartare flavors plus some. The mishima wagyu is diced into symmetrical cubes, there’s a yolk plopped on top, and look closely for the fire ant salt, which is now our favorite salt.

Tâm Tâm image

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

Shimeji Mushroom

Shimeji mushrooms, we love you. But the la vong sauce and scallion oil that gathers at the bottom of the plate to form a buttery little lake is why we order this. We only wish it came with a chunk of warm baguette to help us mop that liquid up. But at least slurping directly from the bowl is acceptable here (we have put this theory to the test on multiple occasions).

Tâm Tâm image

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

Tâm Tâm Wings

Meet the wings that’ve made answering the question, “Who makes the best wings in Miami?” so easy. They’re impossibly crunchy and covered in crispy garlic. But the real reason we’d fight you for the last one is the fish sauce caramel it gets tossed in.

Tâm Tâm image

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

Tamarind Glazed Pork Ribs

These are the best pork ribs we’ve ever had, and it’s not even particularly close. The tamarind glaze hardens to give the exterior a slight crisp, while the meat beneath slides from its bone with only a little encouragement from a pair of chopsticks.

Tâm Tâm image

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

Lamb Wrap Situation

There is a Vietnamese name for this dish (see Tâm Tâm’s menu for the translations) but here it’s boiled down to the fitting “lamb wrap situation." The platter includes banh hoi noodles, cylinders of betel-wrapped lamb, some sliced vegetables, a spicy, nutty sauce, and lettuce to wrap it all up. There is no wrong way to put it all together, but try to get a little of everything in one bite and you’ll be happy for the rest of the week.

Tâm Tâm image

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

Mama’s Whole Steamed Fish

The fish (usually a snapper) is steamed to tender perfection and topped with ginger, scallion, and cilantro. It does involve some strategic maneuvering around tiny bones—so don’t order if you’re feeling lazy. But also, maybe stay home if you’re feeling lazy. Tâm Tâm deserves you at your best.

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FOOD RUNDOWN

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