As you take a walk up the layered concrete steps laden with bamboo guiding your path and Chinese lanterns over your head, you are overwhelmed with a sense of serenity. You walk continuously towards the top reaching the entrance whilst being greeted with wooden awnings and a pond. This is Tamarind Hill, one of the most exquisite Thai and Burmese cuisine restaurants you will find in Kuala Lumpur.
Tamarind Hill has been opened since 1999 with the concept of being out of the city, while in the city. This rustic luxury dining restaurant is an escape from the bustle and instantly feels like you’ve been transported to the depths of a jungle resort in northern Thailand. The ambiance here is reminiscent of a luxury villa where you can spend time with family and loved ones, or as the perfect quiet business meeting venue.
The kitchen at Tamarind Hill is helmed by Executive Chef Phiyun Thongyun and assisted by Assistant Executive Chef Nipaporn Duangjaisantisuk. Chef Phiyun was born and raised in the coastal city of Pattaya, her Indochinese and Laotian background has greatly influenced her cooking techniques, which was later extended by training under Chef Wanthana Nikonsaen of Tamarind Hill Singapore. Chef Piyun’s continuous experimentation with Thai and Laotian cuisine is apparent in her cooking, from her Laotian style laksa and the use of budu, a fermented fish sauce. As Chef Phiyun grew up in her home village, she has always been a believer in sustainable cooking but using local and freshest available ingredients. When asked what flavours are prominent in Northern Thai cuisine, also known as Isan or Mekong cuisine, as compared to Southern Thai cuisine, she stated: –
“Tamarind Hill served Thai and Burmese cuisine, which basic flavours are spicy and sour as keynotes. Everthing else is made from scratch, from our curry pastes to other sauces.” — Phiyun Thongyun, Executive Chef of Tamarind Hill.
As with most South East Asian cuisine, Thai cuisine is made for sharing. Most appetisers come in individual portions, but mains are usually shared. This is a mirror of Asian hospitality, to bring people closer together. Main dishes are commonly cooked in sharing portions and usually are served with a common spoon for serving. Tamarind Hill has chosen to elevate the Asian dining experience, and this can be seen with their approach to cooking. When asked, what are the strongest influences outside of Thai cooking and what profound ingredients are used, Chef Phiyun said: –
“We do incorporate the use of Burmese herbs into our flavour palette and combine them with Thai flavours. Also some of our curry powders are Burmese too. There are a few vital ingredients, and fresh coconut milk is one of them. Also our own blend of curry pastes and Tom Yam pastes are also made from scratch, as well as the use of real raw Thai herbs.”
The appetisers of the meal was the Tamarind Hill Platter, consisting of four different Thai hors d’oeuvres. This platter consisted of small balls of Mahor, a chicken peanut candy with orange. The unique sweet, savoury and nutty mix has interesting textures and flavours. The Lemongrass Chicken is fried to perfection with the right bouncy texture, drizzled with a sweet chilli sauce. The Fresh Duck Roll, more typical of Indochinese cuisine, has the strong taste of smoked duck which is balanced out by the fresh crisp lettuce and pickled vegetables in a rice roll. The Thai Crispy Prawn is latticed in nest of crispy flour, giving it that extra crunch and dimension that emphasises the naturally sweet prawns.
The first soup to be served was the Clear Tom Yum with River Lobster, a dish that highlights the river lobster, also known as the Malaysian fresh water prawn. This light clear tom yum soup helps the prawn sing its sweetness while being complimented by sourness and spiciness from the helps and spices. The freshness of the prawns is further emphasised by the delicate flavours of the complimenting sweet vegetables.
The second soup served was the Stewed Beef Brisket Soup With Aromatic Thai Herbs. This soup has the deep and earthy flavours of the beef brisket, usually a dish cooked in its own style. The tenderness of the slow cooked beef, which usually cooked in a savoury stock base, is spiced up with aromatic herbs, found with complimenting flavours such as lemongrass, giving it a delicious twist of flavour. This dish is a must try and is highly recommended.
The salad dish that was served was Glass Noodles with Seafood, a common Thai salad with many variations. Also known as som tam in Thai, this dish is made with glass noodles, which are made from mung beans. The key ingredients of this dish are squid, prawns, bird’s eye chilli and fish sauce, which are pronounced and balanced well, simple and spicy.
The first seafood dish was the Deep Fried Tiger Prawns With Spicy Chilli Sauce, another stand out dish. This dish is served with succulent pieces of deep fried prawn in a light batter on a bed of a sweet chilli based relish, giving it a burst of sweet, tangy and spicy flavours.
The second seafood dish that was served was the Fried Squid & Cherry Tomatoes In A Spicy Tamarind Sauce. For fans of Italian calamari, this is a must try because of the Asian twist. Tamarind is a very common ingredient in Thai cuisine, and Tamarind Hill has managed to elevate the ever-common calamari for this experience. The squid is batter deep fried in a spiced batter, and drizzled with a spicy tamarind sauce. The cherry tomatoes add a sweetness to the dish, complimenting in both texture and flavour.
The third seafood dish served was the Deep-Fried White Cod Topped With Red Curry. The succulent pieces of cod are deep-fried, giving it a crunchy texture on the outside, whilst still soft and firm on the inside. This dish is complimented by the rich and creamy red coconut curry which balances the dish, giving it that rich creamy and spicy morsels of flavour.
The meat dish that was served was the Beef Ribs Served In A Dry Green Curry, a very unique interpretation of a classical Thai dish. The beef ribs are slow cooked to tender perfection, and served with a modern take on the green curry. This dish, which is usually served in a more runny consistency, is dried out transforming in flavour and texture.
The rice dish that was served to compliment the mains was the Chilli & Roasted Rice, a Northern Thai style rice which was hot and smoky. This rice dish was very flavourful and could be eaten on its own, but further compliments all the dishes served. The smoky flavour adds a great dimension to a simple dish, definitely a must try.
The dessert of the night was the Tamarind Platter, a selection of well known Thai desserts. The iconic Mango Sticky Rice never fails to impress with a generous amount of sweet ripe mango on a bed of glutinous rice and dollops of coconut milk. Siamese Banana Fritters are then fried in a crispy batter complementing the honey sweet banana. The Steamed Pumpkin Custard is made perfectly where the custard flavoured with pandan is set on the inside of slices of pumpkin, ensuring a nice balance of the different types of sweetness, sugary sweetness from the custard and the savoury sweetness from the pumpkin.
The Tamarind Hill Experience
Tamarind Hill’s philosophy to food is very well thought out, giving diners not merely a meal, but an experience. When asked what their philosophy to dining is, they stated: –
“We serve our authentic cuisine in beautiful surroundings and all this culminates in our guests enjoying our signature Samadhi Experience. Tamarind Hill is a place for our gusts to take ‘a holiday for the night” where they can leave their stress at the entrance and transition to a state of mind where they feel they are somewhere else for a few hours.” — Candice Foong, Public Relations Manager of Tamarind Restaurants and Samadhi Retreats.
For an elevated south east Asian dining experience, do visit Tamarind Hill for your pick of Thai and Burmese fare. The dishes here are quite unique compared to most Thai restaurants, mainly due to its fusion of Burmese cooking and the fact that they chefs continuously explore flavours that are uncommon.
19, Jalan Sultan Ismail,
50250 Kuala Lumpur.
+60 3-2148 3200
Opening Hours: 12.00 pm to 3.00 pm, 6.00 pm to 11.00 pm
| PHOTOGRAPHY BY: NICHOLAS NG &SAMADHI RETREATS | WEBSITE: TAMARIND HILL |