Miami has just added a new Vietnamese dining and drinking hotspot to its roster: Tam Tam. This restaurant, which has evolved from a popular series of pop-up events, is inspired by the “quán nhậu,” traditional Vietnamese establishments known for their spirited atmosphere and hearty meals.
Saigon-born Tam Pham and his husband, Harrison Ramhofer, turned their shared passion for Vietnamese cuisine into the successful underground supper club, Phamily Kitchen, to highlight the lesser-known facets of Vietnamese food. Tam Tam, their restaurant brainchild, first gained acclaim as a pop-up at 1-800 Lucky, which led to collaborations with chefs such as Michael Schwartz and restaurants like Over Under and Low Key, allowing them to fine-tune their restaurant.
In creating their Vietnamese restaurant, the duo aimed to break away from the ubiquitous pho-oriented restaurants that dominate the cuisine here in the US as it’s “almost the only form of Vietnamese food people are familiar with,” said Pham. They created a “quán nhậu,” akin to a Vietnamese izakaya celebrating the country’s lively drinking culture. Nhậu food typically focuses on proteins or a single vegetable that aren’t too carb-heavy, using unconventional cuts and proteins.
Much of the menu pays homage to Pham’s upbringing in Saigon, featuring dishes like the crowd's favorite betel-wrapped lamb, “shimeji mushrooms’, done in “chả cá Lã Vọng” style, which is their take on a famous Northern dish in Hanoi utilizing ingredients common in this region such as galangal, turmeric, and dill. Another standout is the jungle steak tartare, made with wagyu steak, egg yolk, edible flowers, sesame rice cracker, and “fire ant salt,” sourced from Vietnam’s Central Highlands. A well-curated selection of wines, sake, and local beers complement the food offerings, and traditional Vietnamese iced coffee and teas offer non-alcoholic options.
The small, 36-seat space in Downtown Miami was previously a Cuban cafe` for nearly ten years. They kept many of the space’s original elements while incorporating their design mixed with Vietnamese culture. The restaurant also promotes Vietnamese customs, encouraging patrons to cheer “mo, hi, ba, yo” – the traditional toast. And its most unique feature? It’s a karaoke bathroom. Yes, you read that right. Paying homage to Vietnam’s love for karaoke, guests will find a fully-equipped karaoke system inside the bathroom stall ready for impromptu performances.
“We really just want a fun and no-fuss place for people to come to eat,” said Pham. “While every other new Miami restaurant seems to be a glitzy clubstaurant, we try to be a neighborhood spot, a place you’d feel like “phamily.”
Tam Tam is now open at 97 NW 1st Street in Downtown Miami from Tuesday to Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., with a forthcoming lunch and happy hour service. For more information, visit here.