Dining At Com Tam Thuan Kieu; Tucson, AZ
Friend Roland called on a summer Saturday afternoon to say that he and his lady, Ms. Susan, had a hunger for Vietnamese cuisine and wanted to know if could we meet them at 6 PM at Com Tam Thuan Kieu, their favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Tucson.
Carnival of Illusion
Roland & Susan are the principle performers in Carnival of Illusion, one of our favorite Tucson performing arts attractions. If you have not seen their show, we highly recommend you go. A wonderful evening of magic and mystery and laughs. Perfect for date night or for entertaining out-of-town guests.
Com Tam Thuan Kieu is located in a typical NW shopping center; relatively new, but otherwise non-descript. Walking in, the first impressions was of a very clean school lunch room. No adornments to speak of. All the charm of a fluorescent light tube. But very clean. Read More
Compared with Americans, the Vietnamese are a tiny people. And our waiter for the evening was a small-sized, older man who knew a few English words. Communication was mainly short, barely decipherable vocalizations, plus facial expressions, and sign language.
We let Roland do most of the ordering as he claimed to speak the Southwestern dialect of Vietnamese, not the general Southern variation.
I was curious as to what types of alcoholic drinks are served in a Vietnamese restaurant because I couldn’t find any on the menu. The reason, we soon discovered, is they don’t serve alcohol. No cocktails; no beer; no wine. Nada!
Ms. Susan suggested we order Spring Rolls (Phan Goi Cuon) for appetizers. As they had dined here many times, we acquiesced. Spring Rolls are the shape of Chinese Egg Rolls, but not fried. They contain Shrimp; Sliced Pork; Lettuce; & Ginger wrapped in rice paper. These 4 rolls came with two different kinds of dip, one of which we think was peanut-based and the other was some variation of soy sauce. Did we like the Spring Rolls? We did. Very fresh!
Roland’s Stir-Fried Noodles with mixed Meats & Veggies.
Roland ordered Hu Tieu Hoac Xao Thap Cam … you know … Stir-fried noodles with mixed meats & veggies. I noted that his noodles were fried in a clump that he used to sop up the sauce. There was no doubt that Roland enjoyed his dish.
Ms. Susan ordered Com Chien Tom; aka Fried Rice with Egg & Shrimp. She also requested added broccoli. I should have asked her if they charged extra for the broccoli. Nevertheless, she too was fond of her meal.
Ms. Karen had Com Chien Chay; Fried Rice with Tofu & Egg, plus peas & carrots that she declared “very good”.
Ms. Susan’s Fried Rice with Eggs, shrimp & broccoli.
I ordered the Charbroiled Beef dish that came with an Egg Roll, Bean Curd, & Shrimp with noodles. The thin-sliced beef had been marinated in something that gave it a slightly sweet taste. Very different than what I have experienced in Chinese restaurants from Honolulu to London, but tasty. I was fine with the other ingredients as well, until I got down to the noodles … cold, wet noodles.
I suppose if I had been stationed at a U.S. Army outpost in Helmand Province, Afghanistan for weeks living off K-rations, I might have looked at the noodle situation somewhat differently, but …
The general consensus of our little group is that our meals were very good. An added benefit is that this place is very inexpensive. Our dinners amounted to about $20 per couple. Ms. Karen & I have not dined out for dinner that inexpensively in the 11 years we have lived in Tucson.
Is Com Tam Thuan Kieu the best Vietnamese restaurant in Tucson? Probably. And you certainly can’t beat the price.
Thus, we recommend Com Tam Thuan Kieu. Our only caveat is that you might want to brush up on your Vietnamese before you go.
Com Tam Thuan Kieu
1990 W. Orange Grove Road. (Next to Lee Lee Oriental Market at La Cholla & Orange Grove.) 520.638.7912