Ro Tam’s Either/Or percolates with fresh energy—every inch, every sip of this Scandinavia-meets-vintage coffee shop is considered: espresso flights sided by intricate snacks to crazy inventive coffee mocktails good enough to earn Portland Monthly’s tag as Best Drinks 2015.
Now Tam and her brother Simon Tam, who leads the Asian dance rock band, The Slants, are taking their love of food and mood to the next step: Tam, a seasonal pop-up won ton noodle soup restaurant blending old and new traditions at 8235 SE 13th Street in Sellwood, next door to Either/Or. Tam is inspired by the thousands of won tons their father made to survive the streets of Hong Kong as a teenager, as well as Wong Kar-wai’s In The Mood for Love, a beautifully melancholy film that captures fleeting moments and romantic longings in small spaces.
The Tams plan to open February 8, with free food for dine-in customers.
At the center of the small menu: the $6 won ton noodle soup (pork-mushroom or veggie/vegan). Presentation, temperature, and texture, they say, is key to the experience, with won tons snugged under chewy egg noodles “to cradle the noodles and keep them from overcooking in the piping hot broth.” Add-ons include Asian greens ($5) and hand-cut pork belly and shrimp won tons served in a bowl of noodles.
Ro Tam’s décor will blend Wong Kar-wai moody darkness and Either/Or’s mid-century vintage aesthetics, aided by old-school crooners like Connie Francis and Taiwanese singer Teresa Tang. Mostly, they want to honor their dad’s story, a perilous journey that inspired Simon Tam’s 2015 TEDxColoradoSprings talk, “The Innovation of Immigrants.”
If all goes well, Tam could shape up to be one of 2016’s most affordable surprises—or maybe even a place for a quick, smoldering romance.