Gluten free Vietnamese curries from Oa Com Tam in Holloway | London | Islington | Gluten free restaurants

Oa Com Tam | Gluten Free Friendly Vietnamese in Holloway

Oa Com Tam

Location: Holloway, North London.
Address: 232 Holloway Rd, London N7 8DA
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Gluten free status: gluten free options marked on the menu / but difficult communication with staff regarding cross-contamination.
Price: about £8 for a curry or pho
Takeaway: yes

 

You can find Oa Com Tam just a few steps away from Holloway Road tube station in North London. I’ve been eyeing up this little Vietnamese restaurant for about as long as I’ve lived in the area and only just got around to trying it.

You see I’m a huge fan of Vietnamese cuisine (and Southeast Asian food in general), but with the joys of authentic food also comes difficult communication at times when the staff don’t speak English well enough. And as I’m sure you all know, that can be an issue when you have food restrictions… Have you experienced the classic “our food is not free, you have to pay!” scenario when asking about gluten free options? 😂 I will always remember that time I walked into a Vietnamese restaurant and asked about gluten free options only for them to bring me a jar of flowers. 🤔

It’s a shame because a lot of Vietnamese and Thai food is naturally gluten free. But without being able to communicate properly, especially regarding cross contamination, it can be hard to know if a restaurant is safe.

Gluten free Vietnamese curry from Oa Com Tam in Holloway | London | Islington | Gluten free restaurants

So is Oa Com Tam safe for Coeliacs?

And this is exactly the case with Oa Com Tam. The only difference is that their menu has all gluten free options clearly marked, showing that they do understand to some extent. But when it comes to discussing preparation areas and cooking methods, I didn’t really get anywhere. They just repeated that the dishes with the IGF symbol (“ingredients gluten free”) are ok.

So bear that in mind if you’re a Coeliac and choose to eat at Oa Com Tam. I decided to take a chance and have eaten there twice now. I was fine both times, but I stick to safe low risk dishes like pho and curries. I’ve never seen gluten in either of these, at least not when authentic, and they also tend to be cooked in big batches. So the cross-contamination risk is nowhere near as bad as, let’s say, a fried noodle dish that may be done in the same wok as another dish that used soy sauce. In fact beware of anything fried. They gave us complimentary prawn crackers, but without knowing if they also fry gluten in the same oil, I chose to avoid.

Another warning, beware of dipping sauces. The first time we tried Oa Com Tam was with a takeaway. We took some fresh spring rolls that come with a supposedly gluten free peanut sauce, according to the menu… but it had a suspicious hoi sin look and smell! As you can see on the picture below. I was unable to clarify this with the restaurant so I didn’t risk it. I let my boyfriend have it and he confirmed that there was a definite hoi sin flavour to it! So make sure you ask them first and if in doubt, leave it out!

Fresh spring rolls from Oa Com Tam in Holloway | London | Islington | Gluten free restaurants

What I recommend.

By far the safest (but also the tastiest!) options are the curries. We both found them to be pretty authentic and full of flavour. They have just the right amount of spices, a tonne of lemongrass, the right watery consistency and there’s a generous amount of meat in them. The portions sizes are perfect too. I hate it when restaurants only give you a tiny bit of rice, leaving you with a lot of curry to eat on its own. It’s not as if that stuff is even expensive! But they gave us a huge portion of rice at Oa Com Tam. 😊

Gluten free Vietnamese curries from Oa Com Tam in Holloway | London | Islington | Gluten free restaurants

We also had the pho as a take away recently. We did enjoy it and the ingredients were lovely and fresh, but it wasn’t as flavourful as I would have personally liked. If choosing between pho and curry, I would say curry all the way!

Gluten free Pho from Oa Com Tam in Holloway | London | Islington | Gluten free restaurants

As a bonus, there’s a bubble (boba) tea shop next door – Gonuts – that’s run by the same people (I think). Their bubble teas are available at Oa Com Tam and even with takeaway orders. They have a lot of yummy flavours and they let you specify how much sugar you want in them which is nice.

Lychee green tea boba tea from Gonuts and Oa Com Tam in Holloway | Gluten free | London | Islington

When I asked about gluten, the lady was happy to show me the ingredient labels of the different syrups and tapioca pearls. Everything looked fine and the added sugar is honey. I didn’t risk the other topping options like jellies, but the tapioca pearls are kept separate anyway. I’m also not sure about the milk powder so just ask to see the ingredients of whatever interests you. I went for the lychee green tea with tapioca pearls and reduced sugar and it was yummy! 👍

Would I go back?

Yes. Even with the lack of communication which means having to be cautious, I would happily go back. It’s a cosy little restaurant with an authentic vibe and a great place to stop by for curry. Or bubble tea! 😊

For more info, have a look at Oa Com Tam’s website {here}.

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One Comment

  1. Thank you for this post. Its very inspiring.

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