Tammy Pham and Sam Chung are proud to present their latest culinary endeavor, ASPARAGUS, a unique restaurant and lounge; a masterpiece rooted by the authenticity and business experience of this well-established and highly respected restaurant family from Vietnam. The success of this spectacular new dining establishment is borne out by the fact that ASPARAGUS was declared the 2008 Restaurant of the Year by the South Shore Convention & Visitors Authority, just 14 months after it opened its doors!!!
ASPARAGUS distinguishes itself by offering a rare opportunity to experience fine dining in a serenely elegant, Zen-like environment while savoring dishes freshly fashioned from the cuisines of Thailand, Vietnam and the Americas, all informed with classic French culinary artistry.
The menu’s distinctive character comes from a flawless blend of talent and creativity. We are delighted to offer everything from Seafood Pad Thai to Honey Kumquat Quail and Wasabi Herb-Crusted Lamb Rack to Hoisin Marinated Pork Chop and Five Peppercorn Grilled Rib-eye Steak as well as our signature lobster mango spring roll and a variety of satays. Each of the items can be enjoyed with specially selected wines from Sam’s extensive wine collection or paired with one of Tammy’s signature drinks such as the popular La Passion Martini or her Asparagus Mojito.
The serene eatery accommodates 250+ guests, not to mention the Lemon Grass Room, a private dining room for parties and meetings with up to 70 guests, as well as the intimate Waterfall Room, 16-person private dining room adjacent to the sumptuously appointed lounge which is equipped with a beautiful baby grand piano. A variety of world-class musicians provide live entertainment every Saturday night in the lounge from 7:00 until 11:00 pm.
The establishment’s décor, like the menu, is an artful fusion of design elements embracing classical, modern, Asian, colonial and French influences. Michael Smith and Valerie Rietveld of Triad Design Associates in Griffith, Indiana, worked on every element of the restaurant during its major refurbishment. “We wanted the visitor to feel invited and welcomed in an environment that complemented the menu.” The visual invitation begins when you enter the front foyer, where you are greeted by a wall of cross-cut bamboo of differing sizes and depths. The dining rooms’ color scheme echoes the colors of the asparagus, rich creamy yellows and greens, with hints of purple, augmented by brocade curtains, bamboo and dried grass. The lounge is richly appointed with ebony woods, sumptuous dark gold patterned wallpaper, imported light fixtures and art, with a show-stopping wall of a giant bamboo behind the bar. Throughout the restaurant the diner will be delighted by a rich assortment of unique Asian art acquired by the owners on their travels: a beautiful collection of paintings, sculptures, and antique artifacts, all surrounding and rounding off your distinctly one-of-a-kind dining experience.
The history of the highly successful and well-loved trio of restaurants, ASPARAGUS, Siam Marina I, and Siam Marina II, can only be appreciated when understood in the context of the individuals who created and oversee these venues.
Now a married couple with one child, Tammy and Sam each immigrated at different times to Chicago from Vietnam in their early teens. Sam came with his mother and siblings in 1979. Tammy arrived by herself in 1985, a refugee sponsored by Red Cross, all the while working hard to finish her degree in Electrical Engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology while working to support herself at the Star of Siam restaurant in the River North district of Chicago. After graduating, Tammy took a job at Sony where she first met Sam, who was managing the department in which she worked. Sam also earned a degree in Electrical Engineering, acquired a few years earlier from University of Illinois Chicago Circle.
Tammy soon discovered she was too confined in the corporate world at Sony. Her creativity and passion insisted that she find a more satisfying outlet. Just about that time, a former co-worker at Star of Siam contacted her. He had opened a little Thai restaurant in a strip mall in Calumet City. He wanted to go back to Thailand and wondered if she’d like to purchase the restaurant so he could go home. They struck up a deal where she could learn the menu, wait on tables, and slowly earn the money to purchase the restaurant while working for him. Within a year she earned enough money to purchase the restaurant, and, more importantly, her native talents as a chef blossomed allowing her to significantly improve the recipes she inherited. As important, her considerable artistic gifts helped bring about the transformation of a linoleum-topped take-out storefront to a lovely, intimate, restaurant where customers fell in love with the chef, the food and the surroundings, and 15 years later, are still coming back.
By the time 1999 came around, Tammy and Sam had been dating for some time. They became engaged and soon thereafter, they undertook the opening of Siam Marina II in River Oaks Mall. It too became a local favorite, developing a loyal and growing customer base who keep coming back year after year for the flavorsome and attractive menu in the lovely, welcoming environment.
Tammy and Sam have surrounded themselves with family, beginning with their only son, Saffion, born in 2002. Tammy’s sister Thi Thi waits on tables and provides managerial oversight at Siam II and Asparagus. Nieces Que and Quan and nephew Hieu can be seen working daily at any of the three locations.
Family values of loyalty, dedication, commitment to serve you to the best of their ability, and taking pride in creating a memorable, quality product are all hallmarks of Tammy and Sam’s history as restaurateurs.
ASPARAGUS accommodates over 250 guests. Private parties and meetings may be hosted in the Lemon Grass Room, which holds up to 70 guests, and in the 16-person Waterfall Room. For more information, please visit the Private Parties section of the website.