Malaysia – Tamarind Hill Restaurant

Restaurant: Tamarind Hill
Cuisine: Siamese/Burmese/Thai/Fusion
Last visited: April 22, 2010
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Address:
19, Jalan Sultan Ismail
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (opposite Equatorial Hotel)
Tel: +603-2148-3200
Price Range: $30-50CAD (RM 70-150+)

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 5
Service: 4
Ambiance: 6
Overall: 5
Additional comments:

  • Contemporary Siamese & Burmese cuisine
  • 10+ years
  • Popular for tourists
  • Award winning restaurant
  • Beautiful presentation
  • Gorgeous atmosphere
  • Indoor/Outdoors seating
  • Fine dining
  • Gourmet
  • Luxurious dining
  • Extensive wine list
  • Creative cocktails
  • Creative desserts
  • English menu
  • Reservations recommended

**Recommendations: Stuffed Mandarin Oranges (in appetizer platter), Sea Bass, Deep Fried Shrimp, Kaffir Lime Rice, Siamese Banana Fritters, Sweet Black Sticky Rice


Tamarind Hill is part of the Tamarind Restaurant Group, a contemporary and luxurious fine dining restaurant group in Malaysia. Besides Tamarind Hill their restaurants also include Neo (global tapas), Tamarind Spring (traditional Indochinese), Il Tempio (Modern Italian), and Mandi-Mandi (Fine Thai Malay).

The Tamarind Restaurant Group believes in dining experiences that take you away from the city. From the location, design, interior and overall ambiance they ensure this philosophy in all their restaurants.

Literally “walking up to your appetite”, Tamarind Hill is located on a hilltop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The hilltop is about 30-50 steps – easy… even in heels. This is fine dining so it’s “friendly-nature” and a “friendly-hike”. I mean how “real nature” does that picture look…?

It has been a luxurious dining spot for over 10 years with modern Asian decor, fine tribal influences, and an extravagant outdoor wine room surrounded by ponds and nature (man-made of course). I had to take ‘sneaky’ pictures because unless I wasn’t IN the photos, pictures are not allowed.

This is the Tamarind Hill outdoor wine room… perhaps the nicest and best dining patio/wine room I’ve seen to date. I wish the photo wasn’t so dark, but that whole black part you see is ALL pond.

This picture doesn’t do it justice. It’s seriously gorgeous although you will probably get eaten alive my mosquitos if you dine out here. You’re just surrounded by gorgeous ponds and it’s the best atmosphere you could ask for in Malaysia.

The atmosphere at Tamarind Hill is definitely tranquil. It’s like you’re in an organic earthy hut in a private resort or a fancy jungle in some remote country. They definitely go all out when it comes to giving you luxurious ambiance and atmosphere in Malaysia.

All for me! No, I shared…sort of – mind you this was 2.5 hours after a giant meal at Vansh Restaurant AND chocolate banana cake at West 57th Street Cafe so I wasn’t even hungry – how can you say “no” to this though?!

The food is not authentic so don’t expect to look for traditional Thai/Burmese dishes. The food is contemporary Thai cuisine with Burmese and Siamese influence. It’s fusion dishes with modern twists that are unique to Tamarind Hill so one must appreciate it for just that.

Tamarind Hill claims to be innovative but pay respect to traditional – almost like Terracotta Modern Chinese or Bao Bei Chinese Bistro in Vancouver, BC.

On the table:

**Appetizer Platter – 5/6

  • Salmon sashimi, stuffed mandarin oranges, calamari & shrimp cakes.
  • A perfect way to start the meal and a great assorted sampler plate.

  • These were the best 2 appetizers on the plate.
  • Salmon sashimi5/6 lightly seared and crusted with lemongrass and what I think was fresh basil and lime leaves. It was fresh and delicious! The cutting technique for the sashimi wasn’t exactly right though.
  • **Peanut Stuffed Mandarin Oranges6/6 I really wish you could order these separately but it only comes on the appetizer platter. They’re AMAZING! The best appetizer. So creative.
  • It’s mandarin oranges stuffed with peanuts, walnuts and palm sugar.
  • It tastes like soft caramel coated peanuts and walnuts. Together with the mandarin it was almost like a nutty apricot jam with a hint of fresh herbs. It was tangy and sweet, juicy and so flavourful.  The nuts are soft and not crunchy which made for a better texture in this case.

  • Calamari 3/6 It was grilled squid and it was tender but nothing impressive. It was a bit soggy and there was a salt seasoning with a very slight spice on it.
  • Shrimp Cake2/6 I wasn’t too impressed with these. It tasted quite filler-ish. They were a bit tough and spongy. It was almost like course fish balls and it was too salty. There was a pickled daikon relish on top and it was just a bit boring, but edible.

The sea bass is the plate in the front (closer picture below).

**Sea Bass – 6/6

  • Deep fried or steamed sea bass with eggplant. (I don’t have the menu description and it’s not online yet) I think it was about RM 84 – $28CAD
  • The menu says “deep fried” but the server recommended that I order it steamed – so that’s what I did! Request it steamed. So good!
  • The fish was perfectly cooked and tender with the skin on but no bones.
  • The sauce tastes like a Vietnamese salad dressing sauce with lots of herbs like cilantro and mint, chilies, fish sauce and lime juice.
  • It was also served with a citrus and tangy sauce with lots of freshly chopped herbs on the side.
  • It was sweet, savoury, and slightly spicy – the sauce was perfect.
  • There was no eggplant though and the menu said there was.
**Shrimp5/6
  • Deep fried shrimp with Thai Basil leaves (I don’t have the menu description and it’s not online yet) I think it was about RM 50 – $17CAD
  • It was 6 deep fried prawns and they were fried to the point where the shells are edible.
  • This is a popular Malaysian meets Chinese and Indian dish that’s popularly known as “Butter Prawns”.
  • They battered and cooked the prawns in what seems like pork floss, but was actually coconut! It’s SUCH A BRILLIANT idea! It was a very aromatic dish and the yellow shreds you see are coconut. (I thought they were pork floss,  but a reader helped me to clarify).
  • The coconut was fried with curry leaves and curry powder but it was almost flavourless. They give you lots and it makes for great texture but just no flavour and I would never guess it was coconut.
  • They were nice and big juicy prawns that were very crispy. There was added crispiness with the deep fried spicy curry leaves too. There was salty garlicky flavour, but it could have been so much more.

(Chicken in the back, steamed sea bass in the front)

Grilled Chicken4/6
  • Grilled Chicken with Panang sauce (I don’t have the menu description and it’s not online yet) I think it was about RM 45 – $15CAD
  • The skin wasn’t crispy but the meat was tender and juicy. Perfectly cooked.
  • The Panang sauce was sweet, thick and syrupy – well reduced. It was under the bed of chicken so you can’t really see it in the photo. It’s not Panang curry sauce either – this one was a dark tamarind sauce.
  • The pesto-like sauce around it was very mild. It was pretty much pureed fresh herbs. Good, but surprisingly subtle in flavour.
  • The bell peppers were a sweet accent and I loved the crispy basil leaves on top.

**Pan Seared Beef Tenderloin5/6

  • Pan seared beef tenderloin layered with foie gras served with Thai eggplant & green-curry reduction RM60 – about $20CAD (This is actual description from menu)
  • The spicy green curry sauce was amazing. One of the best green curry sauces ever. It was home made green curry paste with fresh lemongrass, ginger, onion, cumin and coriander. Salty, spicy, sweet, aromatic and a whirlwind of flavour.
  • It was perfect with the yam chips and fries – so creative and a very modern idea. The yam fries were almost like cassava root – starchy and fiberous potato.

  • The pan jus had a strong fois gras flavour and was done quite well. It was quite reduced however the fois gras itself  was sandwiched in the beef tenderloin. It was a bit jelly-like and odd. Interesting, but could be done better somewhere else I think.
  • The beef was nice and tender and the mini green Thai eggplants were almost like figs. They were quite seedy and crunchier than regular eggplant. Almost like a zucchini/cucumber eggplant.

They offer exotic fried rice dishes to order as sides. Flavours include ginger, basil lemongrass, kaffir lime, and fruit fried rice.

**Kaffir Lime – 4.5/6
  • An undiscovered flavour RM12 – about $4CAD (Description from menu)
  • This was one of the chef’s recommendations and it was perfect with the steamed sea bass.
  • It was fried rice with egg, lime zest, a little lime juice and fresh kaffir (Thai lime leaf). It was very aromatic and flavorful with a fresh tang.

Fruit – 3/6

  • Fruit fried rice with pineapples, papaya, egg and I think guava or apple and pears?
  • I don’t remember the exact fruits, but it tastes like pineapple fried rice. There actually wasn’t much fruit in there. It was quite citrusy though.
  • It was tangy and sweet fried rice.

Dessert

There’s always room. I actually got a picture of the dessert menu, so I have the actual descriptions of the food.
**Siamese Banana Fritters – 6/6
  • Coconut crusted served with rum & raisin ice cream RM20 – about $6.50CAD
  • Yum! The bananas are crusted with freshly toasted coconut flakes or crumbs. It’s pan seared until they give off a nutty flavour. They’re also topped with mint for some freshness. Perfectly crispy outside with ooey gooey warm banana.
  • It was served on a bed of caramel glaze and with the ice cream it was so perfect!
  • The best deep-fried banana dessert I’ve had yet.

**Sweet Black Sticky Rice – 5.5/6

  • With mango, coconut-milk reduction & sesame RM18 – about $6CAD
  • Again, super good! The best version of black sticky rice and mango dessert I’ve tried.
  • The black sticky rice is sweetened and it’s nice and soft, chewy and warm.
  • The mango is just perfectly ripened and they serve it with a coconut milk sauce… not just regular coconut milk from a can or evaporated milk, but real fresh coconut milk! De-lish!

Tamarind Sundae3/6

  • Home made tamarind ice cream, rum raisin ice cream jack fruit, pink water chestnuts and fresh coconut RM 18 – about $6CAD
  • I had to try this! When else am I going to get it? I got it just for that reason.
  • The tamarind ice cream is the star of the show but definitely not for everyone. Expect a savoury sorbet. It’s very sour and almost pickled tasting and tastes just like tamarind. It’s not tart like lime either, it’s tart like savoury food can be tart.
  • I liked the fresh fruit to balance it out but I would have put some green apples and guava in there or even pineapples to match the tangy tamarind ice cream/sorbet.
  • I actually think they should have topped the tamarind ice cream off with ground peanuts and sesame seeds so that it would be like Rojak sauce they put on Malaysian Rojak fruit salad.
A Photo of the NEO kitchen – another restaurant/lounge/night club from the Tamarind Restaurant Group located right next door to Tamarind Hill. Neo serves Global Tapas and is “the new zen” – very luxurious dining in Las Vegas. You must stop by just to see it even if you don’t eat there. It’s just as gorgeous.

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15 Comments

  • KimHo says:

    Probably it is my own (mis?)conception but… For some reason those dishes do not seem to be worth the $$$. Now, of course, since I didn’t taste it, I can say for certain; instead, it is in part the fact they are simple dishes that, because it is “fusion”, there is a higher price tag attached to it. Am I wrong? I guess I should wait for some more regular fare to draw a better comparison… Now, having said that, I think you not having dessert… 😛

  • Mijune says:

    See I really wish I had the menu descriptions because the menu descriptions help to justify the price….they’re definitely not as simple as the descriptions I gave them…but I’m doing it from memory right now so it’s kind of hard. They were pretty detailed with the food though so I can understand the pricing…plus the atmosphere is worth it. You are part right though…the fusion thing does allow them to price it higher I think.

  • Mijon says:

    aw damn i wanna go here so bad. how could they forget the eggplant for the seabass?? weird.

  • Mijune says:

    I know right?! I didn’t even realize it until after I started otherwise I think I would have asked them about it… I’m so mad I didn’t take a photo of the menu…their descriptions were a lot better…

  • Nicole says:

    lol for a second I thought you were doing a review of the restaurant in New Westminster by the exact same name! My mom and brother, actually, my whole family loves that place; it’s right across from the Royal City Centre mall. Not sure how authentic their food is but it’s pretty good. That steamed sea bass looks really good! as does the fried rice dishes. I like how they have different flavours for the rice. Omg those siamese banana fritters!!! I think we may need to learn how to make those here because they sound really really good!

  • Mijune says:

    I have bananas at my house!!! Oh we should do it with pineapples too!

  • kanazawa says:

    Hi! tq for sharing the great experience!!
    i’m just wondering….how do u know they battered the prawns in pork floss ya?
    was it stated in the menu? …i’m just curious whether this place is suitable for my muslim friends.

    thanks!!

  • Mijune says:

    Hi Kanzawa!

    There are definitely Muslim-friendly (no pork) options. It is not stated on the menu that they prawns are coated in pork floss, but I’m pretty sure that’s what it was. I would recommend double checking with the staff that there is no pork in your dish before placing your order. They are very attentive and knowledgeable about the menu and they have a lot of tourists come in so I’m sure it’s a common question.

    Good luck and thanks for visiting Follow Me Foodie!

  • EnbM says:

    Restaurants suitable for Muslim patrons will display a sign “HALAL”.
    See Wikipedia’s explanation of “Halal” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halal

    Also s-o-m-e Muslims in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, especially businessmen who travel widely and mix with cosmopolitan crowds, may tolerate some pork flavor as long as it is not a pork chop and chunks of pork meat. But ask them first in a discreet manner.

    Hope this helps.

  • Mijune says:

    EnbM – right! Pardon my choice of words… “Halal” is what I was getting at! Thank you!

  • Ying says:

    Hi! 🙂 Just wondering, would you recommend sitting inside or outside? My friends and I are headed there tomorrow for her birthday! And I am really hoping for everything to be absolutely amazing!

  • Mijune says:

    Ying – whoops! sorry I’m late! Outside is super nice, but watch for mosquitos! The ambiance is great inside and out so you can’t go wrong 🙂

  • alice says:

    its not pork floss… if u go to typical seafood restaurant, its called Butter Prawn. the way they cook it r the same here..

  • Mijune says:

    Alice – ohhh thanks for the correction – I will update my post! It tasted just like pork floss.

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