Portland will soon have a seasonal Hong Kong wonton noodle soup shop styled after Wong Kar-wai movies—In the Mood for Love, apparently, not Chungking Express—and the owners' own family history.
Tam will be a seasonal pop-up somewhat in the vein of Smallwares' summer spin-off Lil' Wares. This winter, it'll serve up a simplified menu of wonton soups with Asian greens—but the Tams say they plan on an entirely different seasonal concept when summer rolls around.
Here's an early version of the soup:
The Tam siblings write that the idea for Tam came from their own father's life story. Sai Tam escaped Communist China at age 13 but—like a lot of would-be emigrants—was forced into a holding pattern in Hong Kong while awaiting his visa to the U.S. He "survived by making wontons for street carts and restaurants in the day and making plastic flowers in factories at night."
The Tam siblings are already known for other pursuits in Portland.
Simon Tam is founder and bassist of the Slants—an Asian dance rock band popular with the geek set that recently won a historic decision in federal court that, pending a Supreme Court appeal, would allow the band to trademark its own name. Five years before, the band had been denied this right because the name was considered derogatory—to themselves.
When it opens, Tam noodle shop will have a four-item menu with prices between $5 and $7, with a side of Asian greens, plus wontons served in a bowl of noodles. Wonton filling options will include pork belly and shrimp, pork and mushroom, and a vegan/veggie wonton. (The broth will be shellfish-free.)
The wontons will be served cradled beneath chewy egg noodles to keep them from overcooking in the hot broth, in order to maintain the proper texture and temperature. However, the dish is meant to be eaten quickly, the Tams write. So eat in, takeout junkies, or you'll ruin your own damn noodles and wontons.
On the grand opening, Feb. 8—the Lunar New Year—there'll be some free food on offer. Planned opening hours for the seasonal noodle shop are 11 am-8 pm Wednesday-Sunday.