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Tan Tan No. 2

The second location offers none of the soul of the original and little consistency.

When you do luck out and get a good waitress, however, she's a gem. But even this does little to endear me to the new location, with its anachronistic 1980s-era fittings and fixtures (see earlier, re: Houston budget) and extremely off-putting armed guard out front. I know that this stretch of Westheimer has seen a rise in crime over the past few years, but nothing really drives that point home like the sight of a holstered pistol as you walk into a restaurant.
_____________________

On my third visit, I took David Tong along with me. Like me, he's been eating at the old Tan Tan for what's approaching decades now. We both agree that it's not "destination" food, but it's certainly comfort food for both of us.

"This place has no soul," he casually mentioned over dinner. He was looking around the cavernous dining room, all shades of beige with a few pops of color from those faux fruit trees. Soul is exactly what's missing here, even in the food.

Mixed fried rice at Tan Tan's second location is a safe bet.
Troy Fields
Mixed fried rice at Tan Tan's second location is a safe bet.

Location Info

Map

Tan Tan Restaurant

8066 Westheimer
Houston, TX 77063

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Outer Loop - SW

Details

11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to midnight, Fridays through Saturdays.
•Banh bot chien: $5.95
• Mixed fried rice: $9.95
• Stir-fried flat noodles with beef & broccoli: $9.95
• Sate pork: $8.95
• Shrimp macaroni: $10.95
• General Tso's chicken: $8.95
• Sour plum with soda: $2.95


READ MORE BLOG POST: Behind the Review: Tan Tan


Tan Tan
8066 Westheimer, 713-977-6682.

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It was better on this third visit, to be sure, but still nowhere near as good as the original. Tong had wanted those same stir-fried rice noodles with beef and broccoli, so out they came. This time, however, the noodles tasted appropriately smoky and there was an abundance of fresh Chinese broccoli, which had been missing last time. The mixed fried rice was light, fluffy and studded with pork spare ribs and sweet Chinese sausage. And the pork sate had a rich oyster sauce that finished with the tiniest kick of spice.

"I added an extra few vowels when I ordered in Vietnamese," Tong laughed. "That let them know to make it the 'right' way." I laughed too, knowing it wasn't true. But wouldn't it be funny if that's all it took — a secret handshake or a passcode — to transform mediocre food into something palatable?

Later on, at home, I told a friend about our dinner experience and he conspiratorially suggested that I could only get good food at Tan Tan if I brought a Chinese or Vietnamese friend with me. I know restaurants where you can certainly get a better menu with an Asian friend in tow — even if you take a Korean friend to a Cantonese restaurant, for example — but none where the food is miraculously transformed into a proper feast by virtue of having a Vietnamese guy at the table.

Instead, I chalk it up to this: Tan Tan's new kitchen is extraordinarily inconsistent. But it's been open for nearly a year at this point, meaning that the "new" excuse is set to expire any day now. Will the kitchen ever find its sea legs? I'm not too concerned, because I've had enough of the new location. And, in truth, most restaurants in Chinatown have now far surpassed the old Tan Tan in quality, too. But at least it's always there if you need hot pot at 2:30 on a bleary Sunday morning.

katharine.shilcutt@houstonpress.com

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62 comments
Alexus
Alexus

Houstonpress can't afford to lost customer. They go MAD when people cancel the ads . This company NOGOOD!!! LOL!

Alexu
Alexu

houstonpress lost another customer LOL!!!

Chip
Chip

Check your spelling glenn8, that one was on me .

Chip
Chip

I stand corrected " gesture" thanks ..... Just remember Jack n the box off limits ! Laugh .......

Glennbig8
Glennbig8

First and foremost anyone posting a review should refrain from using obscene and vulgar language towards Ms Schilcutt . Its unacceptable and way out of line. I think we can " agree to disagree" in a civil manner about a subject. Even though reading the " Overkill" review that Ms Schilcut written about Tan Tan ... I took the short walk from my apartment down what Ms Schilcutt describes as the Westheimer" that's already seen its best days gone " ? And went to Tan Tan again . Once again i enjoyed it and had no problems ? I seen the security officer out in the parking lot informing a street person (vagrant) trying to ask patrons for cigarettes and money to keep moving on { Bravo } ......in the article about the security ? Once again ? Ms Schilcutt took the liberty to ridicule and mock a person she did not know and never took the time to meet ? So according to your article you have the ability to read this guard's mind and past judgment ? Then i ask you ? wasn't you doing the same thing the guard was suppose to be doing ? you was looking and assuming ? i call that hypocritical ? I would like to applaud whoever Attyrose 3 reviewer is ? constructed criticism with class. Whatever Ms Schilcutt seen,taste,smelled,heard on that visit she wasted no time to criticize it harshly. But you missed the bathroom ? which is very clean , but i doubt it makes a difference to you during that visit . And then you make a comment about staff singing Happy birthday ? in your article ? Ms Schilcutt ? I would consider that a nice thoughtful jester whats the big deal ? I have been to Mexican restaurant and when they got done singing Happy birthday to me , i could have swore they was sucking on the tequila themselves. And there's other restuants on the street " thats seen its best days gone." that i always enjoy and like within walking distance ..but im not going to curse them by posting them on here .... and yes they have armed guards walking the premises and some are very basic in ambience and decor ...... But we all have different taste and style ...which makes the world go around .....

Attyrose3
Attyrose3

Thanks, glad you aappreciated my post, despite some grammar errors. For some reason the box to write comments in is all screwed up.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Tan Tan employs a "nice thoughtful jester"? I am so sorry I missed him! I love a good jester.

Alexus
Alexus

When people not comfy about the officer because they have something in there body kinda illegal stuff. For me I feel safe when I see the officer around because I'm clean.

fat@$$=kath
fat@$$=kath

Every Thursday i'll get a houstonpress because I wanted to get LAY there a lot of BAR, Nightlife, Hooker , massage, tits clubs....sometime I even J.off on houston press looooooool

fat@$$=kath
fat@$$=kath

Katharine Shilcutt is a HATER not a writer!!!! Relax, get LAY need a man not a PEN in her @$$!!!

Gill
Gill

hee, it seems Ms Shilcutt did not have free food from Tan Tan 2.

Adrienne Byard
Adrienne Byard

Food critics don't dine for free. That's antithetical to the ethical obligations one takes upon entering the job. They paper they write for pays for the meal anyways, so it's not like she would have gained anything from getting a "free meal." This idea shows quite clearly that you don't know all that much about this side of the industry.

Kratol
Kratol

Food critics don't dine for free.But This is typical Houston Press tactics. I understand Tan Tan recently cancelled advertising in the HP so HP turns around & writes a damning review as retaliation. I've seen this Houston Press tactic in the past. HP never criticizes the businesses paying for advertising space in the paper. Typical left wing tactic from a left wing paper. THIS IS POSSIBLE TRUE !!!!

Ghara
Ghara

maybe the term of their advertising contract expired a while back? just a thought.i don't think the Press allows advertisers to run whenever they feel like it, and then just cancel...i know other media doesn't allow that.

Kratos
Kratos

BS . Where is the add on HP show me I didn't see IT.

Tandcw
Tandcw

fyi Kratol, Tan Tan didn't 'cancel' any advertising in the Houston Press.And if you've 'seen this tactic in the past' please play your hand and give us a few examples. Because I can give you plenty to contradict your baseless assertion.

ALEX_JONES
ALEX_JONES

THIS IS THE BIGGEST CONSPIRACY THEORY THERE IS ABOUT THE HOUSTON PRESS!!!! I LOVE IT. PUT YOUR TIN FOIL HAT ON NOW!!

Fhawse
Fhawse

That is just silly. The Press writes negative reviews of CURRENT advertisers all the time. And writes positive reviews of restaurants who have never advertised. The critics on the editorial side don't give a damn who is advertising or not; they write for the readers not the advertisers. Duh.

Attyrose3
Attyrose3

So strange that this poster thinks that the Houston Press is a left wing paper. I would never describe it as such but then, despite the many times I have been to Tan Tan No. 2, I have never even noticed the apparently very prominent security guard.

fat@$$=kath
fat@$$=kath

hahaha she a @$$Ho delete all my comment yesterday what a PU$$Y!!! loooool

Glennbig8
Glennbig8

It seems Ms Shilcutt.already had a vendetta or a review shakedown already in order before even stepping foot in the place. I enjoy a good review of a restaurant like anyone else however, boundaries should be applied when a review is giving by a media outlet . If you didn't like the food or service then try being a little tactful ? For example ? i have the Houston Press app on my Iphone that i read all my reviews on . The app has a 1-5 star review system , which by the way The Houston Press got 2 out of 5 ? But i like it and still use it on my phone. The egg rolls are delicious and the garlic spicy chicken is excellent ! Some days are better than others but overall i love the place ! And about the security ? i haven't made the connection ? what was the point ? " Armed guard being close by the door "? Ms Shilcutt, its the sign of the times ? Just like having school police officers assigned to middle school and high school these days . Gee the last time i was eating at Tan Tan there was two police officers eating dinner ... maybe i should stare them down and study and scrutinize them ...nah i just hope they respond when i need them . I think general Hso's chicken is in order for tonight !

Attyrose3
Attyrose3

Sorry for the misspellings in my previous post. For some reason the window to write in was very compressed and it was very difficult to read what was being typed.

Attyrose3
Attyrose3

Years ago when I was regularly writing restaurant reviews I had occasion to respond in print to a review that the then Houston Post food/drama critic wrote of The Ambassador Chinese restaurant on Richmond. The writer had panned The Ambassador on every point yet for some reason, night after night the restaurant was full of people enjoying their meal and the entire experience. As I pointed out in my review/response, the writer had failed to order any of the dishes that the Ambassador was known for and continues to serve today to a crowded house. The next week, the writer, Bill Albright published a second review, ordering all of the dishes I had suggested, and he raved about the place. Twenty five years later it is still crowded and the food is, for old fashion American/Cantonese food, excellent. In the case of Ms. Shilcutt's review of Tan Tan, one can only ask why she would base a review of what is essentially a very good Vietnamese restaurant on what has become an American/Chinese dish, General Hso's Chicken. In the case of Tan Tan, there are several dishes that I have found to be special and outstanding that are clearly very popular because they are on almost every table. Strangely, except for the House Special rice stick appetizer, which I am sure they sell hundreds of every day and is delicious, not one of the very popular dishes at Tan Tan appears to have been ordered by Ms. Shilcutt. I have eatedn at Tan Tan approximately twenty times in the past five or six months since it opened. I have not had one bad meal there except the time I went with a friend who had previously delighted in her meal but insisted that we order dishes that she could eat on her new low-fact, low carb, no protein diet. It was virtually impossible to actually find anything to order that fit into the extreme restrictions that she had placed on what she would eat. Over those twenty visits I have taken many people with me and they all love the places and all are people who have been working their way up and down Bellaire with me for years and know their Asian food. One must wonder about a food critic who orders General Hso's Chicken at what is basically a Vietnamese restaurant. Ms. Shilcutt's review also reminds me of when years ago Rob Walsh slammed the Golden Palace for its sea cucumber dish and then refused to take me up on my challenge to go have his favorite sea cucumber dish in town on me. The fallacy of that review and its discussion of the sea cucumber dish is that there is no good sea cucumber dish for anyone who was not raised on it. If Ms. Shilcutt must eat what is essentially an all-American version of a Chinese dish, she should go to Lai Lai Dumpling House on Bellaire. Perhaps next time, Ms. Shilcutt should order a bowl of rice congee with seafood and find that she has ordered something sublime or a noodle dish that is offered in few places but pay an extra dollar and a half and select the wide, flat rice noodles that are flattened into a pancake, crispy on the outside and soft and tender on the inside capable of absorbing the falvors of whatever they are topped with. I have not tried the hot pots but if a restaurant is set up where every table has a burned so that people can cook their meal she should have ordered and written about the hotpots. It is sort of like going to a Korean barbeque place and writing about its cold soba noodles and not ordering the barbeque. Very sloppy. As for the ambience of Tan Tan's new location, all I can say is that while I consider ambience to be perhaps the most essential element of the dining out experience, to each his own. I have no issue with the old location where I have been a customer since it opened many many years ago, I personally prefer the new location because it does not have the overwhelming smell of disenfectant that the old location seems to have. Maybe it lacks the forest of fake trees that the horrible lighting in the old location has, but I like to be able to spell the food as it arrives and I eat it and not the smell of Ajax.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I'm not sure if you read the entire review, but I ordered many different dishes over the course of my visits. And it is simply far too hot outside right now to order hot pot.

Attyrose3
Attyrose3

Too hot to order a hot pot? Apparently not for the hundreds of millions of people who live throughout the world and in hot and cold weather regularly eat hot soups. Why didn't you only order cold food at Tan Tan if it was too hot for a hot pot and based your review only on purposefully cold food? If your response is that it it too hot outside to order what a restaurant specializes in, instead of what has become an Americanized, pedestrian dish that you have probably never tasted made in a classical, perfect way and therefore have no basis for judging whether it is as it should be, perhaps the rest of your reviews this summer should be limited to only food purposefully served cold.

Last night, while having a delightful meal at FuFu Cafe with one of Alison Cook's former regular dining companions, I mentioned t him that you had reviewed the General Tso's Chicken at Tan Tan No. 2. He burst out in laughter at the thought that a restaurant critic in the city of Houston, with its incredibily rich array of Asian food options would ever order General Tso's Chicken anywhere. I took him to Tan Tan No. 2 recently and he was so delighted with appetizer you found so offensive he insisted we order another. And for the record, FuFu Cafe tables are also all fitted out for hotpots and unfortunately because it was only two of us last night, we had to be satisfied with the incredible Fried Rice with Salted Fish and Shrimp and the Shrimp with Candied Walnuts and Creamy Sauce which of course is really melted Miracle Whip but delicious none the less on top of flash fried, crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside large shrimp, all beautifully offsetting he saltiness of the rice dish. All round us there were large groups of apparently crazy Asians that those of us of a certain age were warned about who want to take over the world eating hotpots. My guess is that across the parking lot at FuFu Restaurant there were more crazy Asians eating hotpots and even more at the Tofu Village eating scalding hot, spicy hot tofu soup, and further down the sidewalk were more crazy Asians, eating hot dishes at the Banana Leaf. The parking lot across Bellaire was packed and since there are about fifty Asian places in that center that serve hot food I suspect that the crazy hot food Asian invasion is as big as the John Birchers said it would be. I am fairly certain that many of the people who had parked their cars in front of Tan Tan No. 1 on Bellaire were also eating hot food, including hot pots.

The spirit of Madame Mao looms large and dark over the outer reaches of Bellaire Blvd. compelling old Jews like me and fallen Methodists like my dining companion to not have the good sense to avoid hot foods during the summer months. Yes, it was as if Angela Landsbury had taken hold of our minds and lead us to the Manchurian Party Convention.

suk,me,dik,katherine
suk,me,dik,katherine

What a DAMN STINKY writer.I wonder her pen coming out from her Ass all her write is only SHIT! Houstonpress need fire her ass or put her ass on fire lool.So Katherine shilcutt BE MY HO!!! she can save her pen in her ass.kakakakakaka...

Mitchy2186
Mitchy2186

This is typical Houston Press tactics. I understand Tan Tan recently cancelled advertising in the HP so HP turns around & writes a damning review as retaliation. I've seen this Houston Press tactic in the past. HP never criticizes the businesses paying for advertising space in the paper. Typical left wing tactic from a left wing paper.

ALEX_JONES
ALEX_JONES

CONSPIRACY THEORY!!! CAN YOU PROVE IT?

Fhawse
Fhawse

Sure. You're saying that the writers never dis a film, concert or local theater production if they advertise it? Nonsense. Doesn't even merit a response.

And I guess you're saying that the recent post about The Moghul's Indian restaurant (an advertiser) was positive?

Dream on.

guest
guest

Houstonpress hired a no brainer not a writer! lol

 Shilcutt want-me-Dik
Shilcutt want-me-Dik

Katharine Shilcutt should write some porno instead of ...! RED head alway hotter if she write porno and her fat ass that be PERFECT!!!!!

Katharine Suck-me-dik
Katharine Suck-me-dik

I THINK Katharine Shilcutt is a HATER NOT A WRITER !!! HATER ALWAY WRITE SHIT!!! SHAME ON U

Phngky101
Phngky101

Please HPress! Where's Rob Walsh. Ms Shilcutt tries, but NO BUENO!

Marty
Marty

Robb Walsh can be found eating chips out of the bin at El Real Tex Mex on Westheimer and on his website at: http://www.robbwalsh.com/ --hurry, no, run and go find him at his website online, he's waiting for your wonderful comments!

 
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