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.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.