Behind the Review: Tan Tan

It's safe to say this week's cafe review of Tan Tan's second location on Westheimer is a tough one. It's not all bad...but it's mostly bad.

The original Tan Tan on Bellaire Boulevard isn't a gleaming shrine to either Chinese or Vietnamese cuisine, but it's a reliable standby. Especially for late-night food on a Saturday, and especially for banh bot chien. In fact, when I wrote a Food Fight post in March 2010 that pitted Cafe TH and Kim Tai against one another, people wrote to complain that I hadn't included Tan Tan in the banh bot chien battle.

O how the mighty have fallen. Not even the wonderful banh bot chien from the original Tan Tan made it over to the new location. In fact, the only familiar things from the old location are the name and the novella-length 25-page menu.

Bad banh bot chien is just one of the many issues I encountered while reviewing Tan Tan for this week's print edition. There were also armed guards to contend with, fake fruit trees, exploding soda bottles and the saddest birthday party I ever witnessed.

I think it's safe to say that I won't be headed back to Tan Tan any time soon.

In the meantime, however, where is your favorite banh bot chien found? I need to get the taste of Tan Tan's out of my mouth.

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Katharine Shilcutt