Dining Out

Tâm Tâm

Celebrating Quán Nhậu Inspired by Saigon, Home in Miami

By: Lauren Titus
People enjoying food at a table at TÂM TÂM
Images courtesy of Tam Pham

When Tam Pham and Harrison Ramhofer met in 2017, opening a restaurant together was not in the plans. The two were attending Florida International University’s school of hospitality and discovered a shared passion for Vietnamese food. Slowly, through their search for Vietnamese food in the city and trial and error in their kitchen, the idea of Tâm Tâm, their restaurant in downtown Miami, took hold.

“We bonded over the lack of Vietnamese options in Miami, so we thought we should do something about it,” says Pham. In 2019, they decided to make a Vietnamese meal of foods Pham liked to eat but couldn’t find in the area and invited a bunch of friends over. “We called it ‘Phamily Kitchen’ supper club, and it was very successful; everybody loved it,” explains Pham.

chef Tam Pham of Tâm Tâm

After eight supper club events, the partners were offered a three-month pop-up spot at 1-800-Lucky, an Asian food hall in Wynwood. Pham, a self-taught cook, gained skill and confidence with each pop-up, practicing the same dish until he’d fine-tuned the flavors.

Customers who arrive expecting to find traditional Vietnamese dishes such as pho or bánh mì will need to set aside preconceived notions. “A lot of the dishes at Tâm Tâm are not necessarily authentic, but they are authentic to me, and reflect my journey up to this point,” Pham says. He is excited about sharing the variety of regional cuisines in Vietnam and more aspects of the culinary landscape because he feels Vietnamese food in America doesn’t reflect the diversity of ingredients, techniques, and flavors he knows from growing up in Saigon.

“The food in the central highlands of Vietnam is very salty, very spicy, very seafood-forward because it’s right there by the ocean,” Pham says. “Once you go south where Saigon is, things get a little sweeter; a lot of meat is used because there are a lot of farms in that region. There’s also lots of coconut used in desserts because that area grows so much coconut.” Tâm Tâm’s menu celebrates quán nhậu, a term for places in Vietnam where people go to drink and eat. Pham refers to the selection of dishes as drinking food, and the curated wine and beverage offerings pair perfectly with the creative dishes.

When it came time to choose a location for Tâm Tâm, the partners knew they wanted to be in a walkable neighborhood and an up-and-coming area, and downtown Miami fit the bill. “Surrounded by all these historic buildings, when you look out the big picture windows in the front, it doesn’t really feel like Miami. It feels like you are somewhere else,” says Pham. “Tâm Tâm is a fun, casual spot because we like to have fun, but the menu and service are very serious.” One more reason to enjoy a meal there? The lively party atmosphere extends beyond the dining room: Each bathroom comes complete with karaoke mics for impromptu performances. 

Can’t Miss at Tâm Tâm

a spread of food and drink at Tâm Tâm

Scallop Pomelo Goi

You won’t find this dish in Vietnam—it’s Pham’s own creation. Super fresh, hand-dived scallops are served crudo style, with coconut nước chấm (dipping sauce), rice paddy herb oil, chopped jalapeño, crispy garlic, and Thai basil.

Delicata Squash or Shimeji Mushroom

Prepared in “chả cá Lã Vọng” style, whichever vegetable is in season is grilled and topped with nước chấm and Lã Vọng sauce, which uses ingredients common in northern Vietnam such as galangal, turmeric, and dill.

Lamb Wrap Situation

A lettuce wrap dish with thick slices of lamb belly served on a hot skillet, similar to a fajita, with bánh hòi noodles, fermented bean curd sauce, pineapple, and peanuts. “It’s a hands-on dish, a total umami bomb, that represents Vietnamese cuisine very well,” says Pham.

about this restaurant

  • Chef

    Tam Pham and Harrison Ramhofer

  • Address

    99 NW 1st Street
    Miami, Florida

    • Vietnamese

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