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 purplish 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 phlegmy looking thingy called cendol. I think the looks of it puts some people off but despite the looks and the reminder of phlegm(!), 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.