RSSArchive for November, 2008

Tamarind Hill Malaysian Cuisine in New Westminster

Suanne and I consider Ed and Christina from Doesn’t Tazte Like Chicken as people with sharp mouth. No, I am not saying that they talks a lot. That is a literal translation from the Cantonese expression “Tsim Tsui”. They know food very well alright.

We had been meeting over dinners once every few weeks. It was our turn to select the location and this time, Suanne and I picked the Tamarind Hill Malaysian Cuisine located in New Westminster. The choice was a hands down choice for us as we know Malaysian food very well.

Tamarind Hill is located on 628 6th Ave. It is located right in front of the Royal City Center’s 7th St parkade entrance. There are lots of street parking but I warn you to be careful about trying to park at the Royal City Center and walking over to the restaurant. We tried to park at the parkade and noticed that there was a guy sitting in a car watching for non-customers parking in the parkade. Never wanting to take a chance, we drove out and parked in the street. Be warned.

We were all surprised to see how popular Tamarind Hill was on the Saturday night. It was unbelievably packed that night. Moreover, most of their customers were white which is unexpected for us to learn how popular Malaysian food is. We love the place. See above … they do have the coolest looking waiting area, don’t you think?

The dining room is really tight though with chairs and tables packed close one to another. We were so close to our neighboring table we could smell their food … and I am sure they can do ours too.

We got there a bit early and got ourselves drinks while waiting for Ed and Christina. Suanne ordered the non-alcoholic Mango Colada ($3.75). No rum in this one but I am sure Suanne would love it with a little rum … except that “officially” she does not drink alcoholic stuff.

I don’t know why. Even thought Tamarind Hill is a Malaysian restaurant, for some reason I felt that they are more Singaporean than they are Malaysian. The owners who came to speak to us briefly (because we have cameras!) looked and sounded more Singaporean than they are Malaysian to us.

For that reason, I ordered the very Singaporean Tiger Gold Lager. It came with a chilled glass, I liked that. It came in a really small puny bottle, I did not like that! You can’t get smaller than the 330 ml bottle. $6.

Ed and Christina left the ordering to us. For starters we ordered 2 roti canai to share. It was $5 and not bad at all. It was flaky and puffy as good roti canai is supposed to be. The curry they gave was too little but understand that it’s because Canadians will treat this as a dip. For me, I always like to drench my roti with curry.

We had three mains to share. The Beef Rendang (Suanne’s recipe here) was excellent. While I had better ones before, I know I should not hold Tamarind Hill to standards of Malaysia and Singapore. it is somewhat watered down but the plus side is that there are lots of gravy. It was not spicy at all even though it is basically a curried dish.

Because this is a dish that is slowly cooked over hours, the beef tends to breakdown a lot. To me, the hallmark of a good Rendang is the meat basically remain intact. Tamarind Hill’s Beef Rendang is quite springy … and that is good. $12.

The Eggplant, Okra and Green Bean costs $11. It is a stir fry dish with onion, garlic and tomatoes in spicy sambal chilli, shrimps and dried shrimps. We liked it a lot. It has a very unique blend of taste and is best with steamed rice. I like the way they managed to preserve the purplishness of the eggplant which shows that they are not over-cooked.

We also had a seafood dish which is simply called Mixed Seafood Asam Curry. Asam is the Malay word for Tamarind. The curry again was great with steamed rice which came at $1.25 per bowl. For $17, I wished they had more seafood meat in it. We noticed they even have cockles (Kerang in Malay) and did wonder how they managed to get hold of them. Does anyone know where we can buy live cockles?

Where Tamarind does best is their desserts. They were nothing but awesome. The Pandan Cassava Root Cake, despite it’s simplicity, was some of the best we had. The Gula Melaka (Palm Sugar) syrup adds a good touch of different sweetness to the already sweet cake.

If you only order one dessert, I strongly recommend that you order the Coconut Crepes. You will absolutely love this. The soft pandan crepes wrap is already great enough but the real treasure is in the Gula Melaka infused shredded coconut. $6 is perhaps their most expensive dish but worth every cent.

Ais Kacang is a very popular Malaysian dessert. It simply translated as Nuts/Beans with Ice. A customer came by and asked us what this was. As much as we tried to explain to them, I can see their eyes cringed purely by the looks of it. I have no idea why because to me this looked absolutely delicious. $5.50.

Cendol is another common Malay dessert. It is shaved ice and has this greenish phlemy looking thingy called cendol. I think the looks of it puts some people off but despite the looks and the reminder of phlem(!), it is really nice and refreshing. $3.75.

Total before taxes and tips came up to slightly over $90. It was a bit pricey but then we did order a lot of food. We enjoyed the meal a lot. The food was quite OK overall but then I want to say that I am holding them up to Malaysian standards. The service was great, sincere and attentive. Most importantly, the company was great (thanks again ET and Christina for coming out).

I think Tamarind Hill is perhaps one of the most successful Malaysian restaurant in Metro Vancouver. I recommend this restaurant but remember to save space in your stomach for their excellent dessert.

Tamarind Hill Malaysian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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La Petite France on Arbutus St, Vancouver

For this cake meet, Polly and I invited Angie to meet at La Petite France. Although Angie is not a big fan of cake, she will join us for cake meet once in a while. It’s the company of friends that counts.

La Petite France is located at 2655 Arbutus St, Vancouver. We find that the neighborhood is pretty quite during our visit there.

La Petite France’s decor is simple and elegant. We felt warm and cozy. The back ground music is obviously in French.

We ordered Latte and Cappucino for our drinks. They are $3.40 each.

We ordered 3 items to share. The prices here is slightly on the higher end. The cake price range from $5+ to $6+ whle their lunch menu range from $4.95 for soup to $11.75 for mains.

The above item is Mouse Aux 3 Chocolate which costs $6.25.

It is a very smooth and silky chocolate mouse enclosed in a hard chocolate shell. The chocolate mouse just melts in your mouth.

Polly and I will not leave a cake shop without trying their cheesecake if there is one. This is called Gateau De Fromma which costs $5.95.

The last item is called Noisetteine which costs $5.75. The server told us it’s made with almond and has hazelnut butter cream between the layer of cake. This cake tastes nutty and has a gritty texture. The total bill came to $29.56.

La Petite France on Urbanspoon

We had a great time catching up with one another. Let’s hope we can do this more often.

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Making Garganeli

Garganeli is a tube noodle which is rolled up from a square piece of pasta. Jane also brought along one gadget to make Garganeli. We love to learn how to use all these gadgets which we are not familiar with.

The gadget is a simple rectangle wood block with ridges and a slim rolling pin. I would not have known the usage of this gadget without the demonstration.

This is how it’s done. Place a square piece on the wood as shown above. Use the slim rolling pin to roll up the pasta to midway. Place your hands on both end and roll firmly until the pasta is totally wrapped and a tube is formed and sealed. Remove the hollow tube from the rolling pin. Cover with plastic wrap or towel until they are ready to be cooked in salted boiling water. Since this is made with fresh pasta, it will be cooked in 2 to 5 minutes.

Garganeli is best served in meat sauce as it’s catches the sauce in the tube. Just toss the cooked Garganeli in a meat sauce and garnish with some shaved Parmesan cheese.

Jane, thank you so much for showing us how to make various types of fresh pasta from scratch.

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Making Filled Pasta

Besides making angel hair and fettuccine, Jane also demonstrated to us how to make various filled pasta using the freshly made pasta. To make pasta with filing, begin cutting the pasta sheet while still moist once the pasta sheet had been rolled out to the thinnest stage.

Ravioli Tortellini (belly button or hat)

Mezzalune (half moon) or Agnolotti


  • fresh pasta
  • Grana Padano cheese (a close cousin of Parmigiano-Reggiano but cheaper)
  • cottage cheese
  • egg yolk
  • spinach
  • nutmeg

Click on Read More for the instructions.

More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Best of 604 — Nominate Your Favourite Food Site

Hey All:

I know this is like shameless self-promotion … guilty as charged! We are hoping to get a little bit of visibility on the Vancouver blogosphere. All these while Suanne and I had focused on networking with local food bloggers but we thought it would be great to expand our world a little bit more.

You see, there is a Metro Vancouver Online nomination launched this week. The local Vancouver website is currently seeking nominations for the best sites in Metro Vancouver. They are conducting the nomination process for various site categories, including food related sites located on the 604 area code (that’s Vancouver for you non-Vancouverites).

So … I was wondering if anyone of you would care to nominate chowtimes for the Best Food Site or Directory category? If you do, you can put in your nomination for your best food site through THIS PAGE. Nominations starts today and ends mid next week.

Ben and Suanne

Update 27Nov: Hi All: We did not realize that there will be so many readers who had nominated chowtimes. Thanks for all the support! I think the nomination is enough as for now! The nomination will end mid next week and immediately after that will be the voting phase. Once again, THANKS!

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Making Fresh Pasta

Jane demonstrated how to make fresh pasta in the Gilmore Park Church Community Kitchen. I had introduced Jane as a school teacher for 25 years in previous blog. Jane was married to an Italian and she had lived in Italy for 8 years. For the many years Jane lived in Italy, she told us that she still can’t pronounce Italian words with one p and double p differently as the Italian do.

As an experienced teacher, Jane started off her demonstrations with a brief introduction to the geography, culture and food of Italy. We can see that she is a good teacher.

Jane prepared the above two dough from all purpose flour and whole wheat fine ground flour early in the morning using a bread machine. Jane will demonstrate to us how to prepare the dough by hand from scratch later in the kitchen.

One important tool to make fresh pasta is a sturdy pasta machine. The above pasta machine has 3 slots, one for rolling the dough into thin sheet with adjustable thickness, another for cutting the dough sheet into wide flat noodle like fettuccine and a last slot for cutting the dough sheet into thin noodle like angel hair.


  • Flour (usually white all purpose, but you may use whole wheat fine ground hard wheat)
  • Eggs – roughly 1 egg per one cup of flour; quantity varies according to the type and humidity of the flour and the size of the eggs.
  • For our demonstration, Jane used 2 cups all purpose flour and 3 eggs and 1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) salt.

Click on Read More for the instructions.

More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Chowtimes Back On-Line

You have no idea.

You have no idea how stressed both Suanne and I were when chowtimes account was suspended for two agonizing hours this afternoon. After a frantic call to our web host support line, we were told that the account had been suspended because a traffic spike had frozen the MySQL database. They refused to reinstate the account unless we take steps address the issue or move chowtimes out of their shared servers.

We had encountered our account being temporarily suspended before … but each time, it was just for a few minutes before the admin folks restarted the site for us. The temporary suspension happens especially when we get Stumbled Upon. I guess they got fed up with chowtimes and decided to categorize us as “spam”.

After some quick research, we finally installed a plugin on WordPress call WP-Super-Cache. Oh man … chowtimes is like a speed demon now. We should have done this ages ago. I think you will like the blazing loading speed now.

It’s good now … it’s all good … life goes on.


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Breka Bakery & Cafe on Fraser St, Vancouver

Polly and I met up again for our sweet fix. It’s been a challenge for us to find a new place in Richmond as there are not many of such places for us to go.

We found Breka Bakery & Cafe from google search and most of the reviews are on the positive side. Breka is located at 6533 Fraser St and there is a bus stop just steps away from the bakery.

We were quite surprised to find out that this bakery is open 24/7. We were just wondering how many people will be visiting a bakery in the middle of the night. Breka must have good traffic to justify the 24/7.

We came to the right place. Breka is busy through out our visit. There is always a line at the counter. There are a variety of bread, cakes, pastries, pies, etc.

Polly and I ordered three items to share. The first item is a Spinach Quiche which costs $4.95. It is filled with spinach, carrot, green pea and corn. The quiche was served cold to us. We preferred to have a warm quiche and asked them to heat it up for us. It tasted much better when eaten warm.

After the savoury quiche, we had a slice of New York style cheese cake which costs $3.95. The cheese cake is creamy and not too dense.

We also ordered a Silky Chocolate to share. This bar costs $1.95. It is bitter sweet and very chocolaty. It’s a perfect ending after the creamy cheese cake.

I had a medium dark chocolate for my drink while Polly had a Strawberry, Banana and Wild Berry Smoothies. The drinks cost $2.95 and $3.95 respectively. The total bill came to $18.34. We will certainly come back to this place.

Breka Bakery on Urbanspoon

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