Monday, September 17, 2012

Tan Tan Cafe and Delicatessen

Tan Tan Cafe & Delicatessen is located in the strip mall on SE 123rd Ave. in Vancouver, Washington. For my Oregon friends, there's also a location in Beaverton. Tan Tan had been on my radar for a while, so I finally pulled the proverbial trigger and drove down to try it out.

Basically, I picked this place because Yelp had it as one of their top places to go to in the area. Figure a 4.5 average star rating (for the Vancouver spot) is pretty convincing.

Once you get inside, you're basically right at the counter with certain appetizers and dessert items to make you start pondering what to get. That's before even getting the dang menu with some 100+ more items to pick from. Fun....

Some of the chilled items at the front counter
You can either dine in or take out, and being on a time crunch, I just opted to get my food to go. Everything here is very affordable, especially the various banh mi at $3.50 apiece.

I started with the BBQ steamed bun, a.k.a. char siu bao ($1.50). Very well executed, but I wish I could have had more pork in mine. Sure, I could wish for a larger portion size as well, but maybe I just need to eat three at once.

Heated display case with all the steamed buns

BBQ Steamed Bun
(Tan Tan Cafe & Delicatessen)
Next was the #1 Special Banh Mi Tan Tan ($3.50) with Vietnamese-style ham, lean pork roll, fried pork, and head cheese. The usual banh mi veggies and condiments are also added (liver pate, homemade mayo, picked veggies, cucumber, cilantro, onions, and sliced jalapenos).

#1 Special Banh Mi Tan Tan
(Tan Tan Cafe & Delicatessen)
Closeup shot!
I liked that there was just enough mayo to make me realize it was there, none of this "would you like a sandwich with your mayo?" I might see elsewhere. Fresh vegetables, crunchy pickled veggies, and wonderful flavors overall. The meat and head cheese were good, but didn't scream "amazing" to me. The bread, while decent, was a bit chewier than I would have liked it. Perhaps there's an option to toast (or further toast) the bread?

The apple pie pastry ($1.75) has an amazing golden brown exterior. The puff pastry was buttery, yet very flaky and fairly light. They stick a small pretzel stick on the top, and the puff pastry itself seemed to have pretzel-like aftertastes. It indeed got messy when I tried to eat it. I also thought the balance of puff pastry to apple pie filling was a bit off (hoped for a little more filling for the amount of puff pastry received). Shouldn't complain though, since it tasted great.

Apple pie pastry on the right
Apple Pie
(Tan Tan Cafe & Delicatessen)
The Pate Chaud ($1.25) is a pretty tasty appetizer. Pork meatball in puff pastry. Again, for me, probably a bit too much puff pastry, but the meatball inside had nice flavor.

Pate Chaud
(Tan Tan Cafe & Delicatessen)

Inside of the Pate Chaud
Since the panda is not one to shy away from anything deemed edible, there's a fresh durian smoothie on the menu ($3.25). Add tapioca bubbles or lychee jelly for 50 cents more.

Durian Smoothie
(Tan Tan Cafe & Delicatessen)
OK, I got the durian smoothie more for the experience than anything else. It's not something I'd get again, but one can't fault the panda for being adventurous.

I'd definitely come back to try their pho, as much cooler weather returns to the Pacific Northwest. Gotta love one of the areas in the United States where we seemingly get winter for 10 months, then a fleeting couple months of warmer weather that we can apparently call summer! 7/10

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