Review: Tintin by Tamarind (띤띤)

Vietnamese cuisine is hot and in in Korea and seemingly popping up everywhere. This Vietnamese joint, however, has been around in my hood for 2 or 3 years now, way before the trend really kicked off. Interestingly, I remember the building before it was converted into a restaurant when it was a house in which an old man used to collect all sorts of boxes from the neighborhood and stack it up all around the building.

Now though, it has a charming exterior and lovely interior which, floor-to-ceiling, really does have a nice Hanoi-esque, old-school feel to it. It also offers some Vietnamese fare that's besides your usual pho bo in Korea.

Tintin is actually an offshoot branch of Tamarind restaurant in Hannamdong. I haven't been to Tamarind but I've checked out Tintin a couple times and have found it to be one of the better Vietnamese options in the city as they don't overly cater to the taste and preferences of the locals.

And while we're on the topic of authenticity, they really go out to recreate that hipster Hanoi feel with an interior that is definitely among the best of the now flood of Vietnamese restaurants in Seoul.

Weaved into the charming atmosphere is the inclusion of the classic Tintin cartoon to its name and decor, a whimsical touch.

Favorite Hanoian dishes are on the menu such as bun cha (9K) and com suon (10K). Interestingly the restaurant doesn't dabble in the Vietnamese dish Koreans know best, pho bo, but it does offer bun hai san (11K), a spicy seafood noodle soup which, if you know, combines two favorites components in a dish for Koreans - spiciness and seafood. They also have green papaya salad (7K), stir fried morning glory (9K) and barbecued pork ribs with fries (24K) *whistle*

Drinks include the famous Vietnamese coffee (4K or 3K depending on if you get it iced or hot, respectively), soft drinks, and Vietnamese beers (7, 6, and 5K respectively for Hanoi beer, Hanoi premium, and 333).

Papaya salad is probably more associated with Thai cuisine but variations are found around the SE Asian region including in Vietnamese cuisine. The one here was nice and simple. I think it could have been a bit more bolder but I ain't complaining too much when it comes to papaya salads.

Roasted peanuts, fresh cilantro, plump shrimp, juicy tomatoes.

They don't carry any pho bo or pho ga here as mentioned. But they have something interesting called the bun hai san. Essentially a spicy seafood soup, I've never had the dish before so I can't comment on its authenticity but this is my favorite dish from this place. Very rich seafood broth and has that mixture of salty flavors with tartness, a mild sweetness that really reps SE Asian flavors. A nice spicy kick to it too makes it perfect for the taste buds of Koreans.

It's almost like a seafood hotpot made into a manageable serving size that's sure to whet your appetite. Even the fragrance of the herbs, the soup, the seafood is enough to get you salivating before your first spoonful.

And they don't skimp out on the seafood (plump shrimp, chewy squid, meaty clams) or noodles either. Love how the flavorful, spicy soup with all the richness of the oil and broth clings to the noodles.

Bun cha. Nice and smoky flavors from the grill. Fresh veggies and that fishy, sweet sauce that brings it all together. It's definitely a "cleaner" tasting sauce than the ones in Hanoi but still among the best I've had in Seoul.

And com suon.

The barbecue features nice smokey flavors and a good bit of char from their fresh grillin though the meat is a bit on the sweeter side. Still, it's flavorful and the way they get that char and smokiness on the meat easily makes it worth the KRW since this isn't something you'll easily be able to recreate in the kitchen.

And they actually serve broken rice, not regular Korean short grain rice, with a nice sunnyside up.

Look at that beautiful caramelization.

Straight up feastin.

Vietnamese coffee also offered. Not the best I've had but it will satiate a craving. 

Final Thoughts:
Vietnamese cuisine is definitely in in Seoul currently and while all these new spots tend to be hits or misses, Tintin offers solid dishes that attempts to stick to its roots, not to mention its charming atmosphere really makes it feel you've been transported to Hanoi. Don't miss out on the addictive bun hai san which Tintin may be the only restaurant in Korea that offers it! 

서울특별시 용산구 회나무로13가길 23-6
23-6, Hwoenamu-ro 13ga-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea

From the beginning of Gyeongnidan-gil. Walk up towards the Grand Hyatt for about 280 meters until you come to a three-way split with Sungdo Pharmacy (recognized by its orange sign) is visible. Head left up Hwoenamu-ro 13-gil for about 200 meters passing Tous Les Jours, Ace Mart, and the small police station along the way. You'll eventually get to Hwoenamu-ro 13 na-gil just past Water Street Cafe. Turn right into this street and walk about 90 meters and you'll see Tintin on your right. 




Various Vietnamese beers available. 

Closed on Mondays.

Break time between 3-4PM everyday.