The view atop the Tamarind Hill.

Also guest blogging at Backseat Radio: Oh look, a book review.


Tamarind Hill is no stranger to the fine culinary industry. They have been around for ten years in Ampang, and even managed to bag the Best Asian Restaurant for 2003-2004 at the Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards (HAPA). It was closed down for a couple of years, and just recently in mid-November 2008, it opened its doors at a more elevated location in the very heart of the Kuala Lumpur city.

Tamarind Hill is like the child spawn of the more recluse parents in the Tunku Abdul Razak Park in Ampang, Il Tempio and Tamarind Springs. From the moment you step into the restaurant to the moment your meals are served in front of you, you can see echoes of the two restaurants resonating throughout.

There is an instant transportation out of the city when inside the restaurant. The tall plants that surround the place blocks out the heavy traffic that often be heard along Jalan Sultan Ismail. The water feature that embraces the outdoor platforms bring out a zen-like atmosphere only the element knows how. There are also private balconies outside of the restaurant, where you can shut the doors on the public and have an intimate dining session with the people you are with.

The Samadhi family has never let me down when it comes to interior decorating. Since stopping by Il Tempio so long ago, I have liked the interior design as well as I like the food. And so far in Tamarind Hill, I am not disappointed. Until, well.

For starters, there is the Tamarind Signature Platter, a fine Thai hors d’oeuvres or appetisers, consisting of grilled scallops bathed in orange sauce, rice paper wraps of star fruits and cucumbers, deep-fried fish cakes and chopped peanuts served on mandarine slices.

I thought this is quite an interesting platter. The culinary art in Tamarind Hill is conducted by an avant garde chef, who is not afraid to venture a little left of centre. I like the combination of fruits and Thai/Burmese food for the peanuts and orange, and the scallops and orange sauce, gives a refreshing bit derived from the fruity condiment slid in between the folds.

However, things got a little disappointing for the main course after that.

There is the Buttered prawns, a famous Chinese-Thai dish, so famous it is too common to be impressed in a fine dining restaurant like Tamarind Hill. And it would be a total rip off to have something like that and pay tens more when you can have the same dish – and probably tastier too – in a chu char restaurant.

The Braised beef in Burmese tomato sauce is a tad bit better. Consisting of wagyu beef pieces that are tender on the tongue, and bathed in the chef’s specially made sauce that is sweet and sour. It may not look appetising but it does taste quite nice when you put the pieces of wagyu in your mouth. But, like I said, just a tad bit better.

When I saw it on the menu, I thought the Lychee fried rice would be something out of the ordinary. But, it is not. It is just a plate of fried rice cooked with lychees in it, much like pineapples in those Thai fried rice.

But, Tamarind Hill kind of reclaim their status once again when it comes to the desserts. They do not hold back when it comes to matters of the sweet tooth. They have a beautiful menu of desserts that will make you want to just stop by their restaurant just for the desserts.

There is the Sweet sticky rice with mango, made up of black rice drenched in coconut reduction sauce, and served with slices of mango on the side. The warm helping of sticky rice is like a comforting pat on the tummy, while the slices of mango are there to cool things down when it gets too unbearable for the tongue; a perfect combination of different polar ends.

One of the must try desserts is the Water Chestnut with Coconut Milk, a famous sweetie commonly seen in Thai restaurants all over. Instead of the usual serving in a bowl, Tamarind Hill decided to dish up the dessert in a short glass for better presentation of the layering. Hidden at the bottom of the glass is a treasure chest full of ruby reds and pearly whites, waiting for you to dig in past the scoop of vanilla ice cream and drench of creamy coconut milk, and sink your teeth into the crunchy texture of the chestnuts and tapiocas.

Other desserts to try out are the Banana Fritters with mango sauce, which I find quite delicious, and the Steamed Pumpkin Custard rained on with maple syrup.

For drinks, Tamarind Hill came up with something of their own – the Tom yam martini. Sounds a bit funny? Well, it kind of is. Just imagine your tom yam soup served cold. Enough said. So, if you are not one to venture out of the box, you may want to stay away from this controversy.

One drink that I find interesting is the Monsoon Drink, a simple gathering of ginger and lemon slices, dollops of honey and a glass of steaming hot water. It is especially good in company on a cold weather, as hinted in the name of the drink. It is also a suitable drink after a hearty meal at Tamarind Hill. The ginger and lemon helps in calming the tummy down, and gives you a cosy feeling alike to cocooning in your blanket in bed during a rainy day. But well, it is quite a simple drink to whip up at home, so I find it quite silly to pay a price just to have this drink.

In conclusion, the view atop the Tamarind Hill to me is not that impressive. Granted, it is understandable that the owners would like to tackle the lunch crowd in the KL city, and it is a very strategic area to be in. But I think they have done all they could in Tamarind Springs and Il Tempio, and this one is just pushing it a little. I would suggest diners to hear to the former two in the outskirts, because Tamarind Hill does not quite do the Samadhi family justice, sorry to say.

Tamarind Hill
(Opposite Equatorial Hotel, next to Wisma KFC)
19 Jalan Sultan Ismail
50250 Kuala Lumpur
Closed on Sundays
T: +6 03 2148 3200


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