Vietnamese cuisine—healthy, tasty, and with ingredients that are simple and always familiar—is well loved on Saipan. Which is why Pho Tam Restaurant, which is located across Horiguchi Building in Garapan, is such a welcome addition to the CNMI’s culinary scene. The restaurant opened its doors in mid-July to bring nothing but authentic Vietnamese dishes that is sure to tickle your palate and appetite.
According to owner and chef Richer Ta, he doesn’t know anyone who doesn’t like Vietnamese food, with many praising the cuisine’s freshness as well as its healthfulness. “One highlight about this cuisine is it’s…light and at same time flavorful,” he said.
Ta said that Vietnamese food has been getting a lot of traction in the Los Angeles foodie scene for the past six years “and when I came here in February this year, I saw the opportunity to open one.”
He said that Pho Tam’s menu consists of food that he and his family love to eat. “We are happy with how the community welcomed us since we opened. I knew that the people were waiting for something different and we are happy to bring that to them,” he added.
If Ta’s name sounds familiar, that’s because he is one of eight children of businessman Ta Bun Kuy and Nenita Ta. He graduated high school from Grace Christian Academy on Navy Hill, took up culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, worked under Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Besides Pho Tam, he also manages two restaurants in Los Angeles that serve Mexican food.
The name Pho Tam is a combination of two Vietnamese terms: the flavorful Vietnamese broth or soup called “Pho” (pronounced as ‘fu’) and Tam means “eight” in Vietnamese.
According to restaurant manager Danny Yuso, their menu is complete, ranging from appetizers, to pho dishes, banh mi sandwiches, salads, and house specials. “Our bestseller is the Pho Tam Special that goes with rare steak with brisket, tendon and meatballs. …Our pho is cooked for several hours that includes Chef Ta’s special spices. That is why even though we only opened, we are happy to see repeat customers who comment on how unique our pho is,” he said.
He said many of their customers also like the restaurant’s “Build Your Bowl” concept, where they can make their own Vietnamese bowl either with rice or vermicelli, then choose their meat (lemongrass chicken, lemongrass sliced pork, lemongrass pork chop, or garlic shrimp).
They also serve Banh Mi, a popular Vietnamese sandwich with different choices of filling like “The Original” or Vietnamese ham and pork loaf, barbecue chicken or pork, braised or crispy pork belly.
“We bake our own French baguette so our bread is guaranteed fresh every day,” he added.
Pho Tam is not only winning the taste buds of the community but also creates a great ambiance with its eastern culture décor and a well-lit and spacious dining area that makes customers feel welcome and relaxed.
“I just want our customers to love the food, the atmosphere, and the service. Being in charge of the kitchen, I want to keep the quality and consistency of our product,” Ta said.
Pho Tam is open Tuesday to Sunday for lunch from 11am to 2pm and dinner from 6pm to 10pm. For more information, call (670) 233-7878 or check their Facebook or Instagram accounts.