My buddy Jaime is leaving Calgary. She wants to hit up some of her favourite restaurants before she leaves at the end of this month. On a chilly Wednesday night, she suggested we check a vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant in the downtown core, Tamarind.
Before I talk about the food, I’m going to set the mood with a song to show how I feel about my friend leaving me. If the ever so melodramatic Celine Dion depresses you while you read along, you can blame Jaime. Sadly, I’ve become attached to the little vegetarian.
Tamarind is tiny and near closing time, was still packed with customers. The food takes a long time to arrive as it is so busy and the homemade food is plated with care. For example, the tofu is house made with non-GMO soya beans and without calcium sulfate. I noticed the colours were bright and the food artfully presented.
When Jaime opened the menu, she let out a happy little squeal and said, “I can order anything off the menu!” I take it for granted that I can go into any restaurant and choose whatever I want. Well, except the really expensive stuff but that’s my choice as I want to stay within my budget.
Jaime and I wanted to try the Veggie La Lot Rolls ($9), but the restaurant was sold out. Instead, we tried the Tofu Mini Pie ($8.50). The tofu is mixed with mushrooms, bean thread noodles, peas and carrots. As instructed, we poured the fish sauce on top and spooned the warm tofu mixture on sesame rice crackers.
I ordered the Sate Tofu Noodle Soup ($11.00) sans cilantro. The broth here rocked. Spicy, clean, flavourful but light. The tofu was particularly good, sweet with a pleasantly firm, silky smooth texture. The bowl was filled with broccoli, cauliflower, onions, carrots, celery, sugar snap peas, and mushrooms. I added some fresh basil leaves and sprouts. Usually I’m still hungry after eating vegetarian food, but here I was more full than a regular non vegetarian restaurant.
Jaime ordered Laksa ($12), which came with similar vegetables and noodles. I tried a sip of her broth, which was lighter and more fragrant than my sate soup. I could detect the lemongrass and the coconut milk. Jaime enjoyed her dish but preferred the sate tofu soup over the laksa.
I found the prices reasonable for the portions and quality. If I was a vegetarian, I would come here every day. I plan to return but I will likely opt for take-out. Next time, I want to try Tamarind’s fresh Paradise Rolls ($7.50), Veggie La Lot Rolls ($9.00), Pad Thai ($13.00) and any dishes with tofu. Tamarind’s tofu is delicious.