YOU can feel it in the air, right after you pass your car keys to the valet, the enveloping tranquility and calmness surrounding the stand-alone historic colonial house.
It was alike being transported to another place and time, looking through a crystal ball down to below, seeing the mad-rush hour traffic of KL, yet remained detached and remote from it all.
The feeling of rustic charm is spelled out in the use of natural elements of fire and water within the restaurant. From the glow of hanging lanterns to the richly embroidered costume & tapestries on the wall, right to the creative placement of antique Buddhist statues around the dining area, Tamarind Hill Restaurant offers its diners an oasis of serenity within the city.
The contemporary Asean setting was inspired by the hill tribes of Indochina, as with the cuisine which is touted as “a modern twist to the traditional Thai, with mix of unique Burmese dishes, comprising strong influence of the exotic hill tribes, using authentic and local spices as originally prepared by the people” and as such, is not found elsewhere in the city.
Our culinary adventure kicked off with the Prawn and Chicken Stick.
Finely minced chicken and prawn, mildly spiced and deep fried in light batter. Tasty and light, slightly crisp on the outside, moist inside and best savored accompanied by the sweet and sour chilli sauce. . Perfect to get the appetite going.
Lime cured Tiger Prawns rolled in Salmon Sashimi.
The fresh prawns were just-so slightly cooked by the lime dressing, & retained its springy texture. Topping the roll was minced garlic with ginger, adding a very sharp, tangy dimension to the otherwise plain concoction. A refreshing twist to a raw creation.
The Spicy Grilled Wagyu Beef Salad.
As it’s name implies, it was spicy. The smell of lemongrass was pungent, and the thin slices of premium beef was tossed with onions, finely chopped green chillies and vinegar/lime juice. Mouth watering stuff!
The Clear Tom Yam soup with Snakehead Fish Fillet.
Mildly piquant and sour, it was a clear flavourful broth. Fragrant from the spices, with a slightly sweet aftertaste. The snakehead fillets was fresh & sweet, a testament to the quality ingredients used here.
Steam Fish Cake.
Yes, in case you are wondering, it is like our Malaysian “otak-otak”. This version is richer and definitely creamier than our local ones though. Soft, with bits of chicken as well as fish mixed into the paste of coconut milk & spices, there was a strong lemongrass pungency again. This was served on a bed of julienned steamed cabbage.
Squid Ink Fried Rice.
It reminded me immediately of our usual Wax meat Fried Rice that are served during the Chinese 8/9 course dinners for it tasted almost similiar (to me at least).
Not as spice-laden as the other dishes, this one has a clear distinctive flavour which is mainly salty.
The rice was chewy, and has a slight nutty taste to it, thus I think that a special type of rice grains were used, rather than the usual white rice variety.
Do not expect any “wok-hei” to it either, it was more of a gently fried rice, with soft chewy pieces of squid.
Salmon and Ginger Soup.
By now I was starting to understand what Maple and Federico meant by unique Burmese/Siam and Thai hilltribe cuisine.
I never had so much raw items in a Thai restaurant, and while seafood is prominently featured on any Thai menu, I seldom find salmon among its items.
Moreover, the dishes served so far are indisputedly out of the norm, with very complex flavours, perfect for invigorating lethargic tastebuds of the same-old Thai dishes. I for one, thoroughly enjoyed this little culinary adventure.
The salmon ginger soup was sour, again a clear based soup with very light top-note of gingery taste from the jullienned rhizome.
Thick slices of salmon, moist and sweet, makes this soup a winner.
Moa Hor. Deep fried chicken with peanuts wrapped in Mandarin Orange.
This was one of the dishes that was demonstrated by the chef that night.
Also one of my favourite as I relished the delightful burst of flavours in one mouthful, ranging from the sweet, slightly spicy tender chicken cubes coupled with crunchy peanuts, plus the refreshing zesty tang of orange juice from the orange clove. All in one little package.
That’s comtemporary Thai cuisine for you!
Last but not least, we watched the cooking process of Chicken Basil Leaves with Century Egg. Again I was taken by surprise, century eggs in Thai cuisine??
Nevertheless, it was a simple dish, easy to prepare at home and sure beats boring stir – fry chicken anytime!
Pics courtesy of Ken, Foodpoi.com.
Tamarind Hills is offering a Lunch Escape set at RM35 nett now. A steal if you ask me!
Do call in advance for reservation.
Lunch, 12.00 noon – 3.00 pm
Dinner, 6.00 pm – 10.30pm
Closed on Sundays
19, Jalan Sultan Ismail
PART II – The Lunch Escape, Exotic Aspara Dancers & Recipes from the Chef’s demo, as well as links to the others of the bloggers’/photographers who had attended that night…