Banana Leaf and Tropika - these are the first places that come to my mind when I think of Malaysian food in the GVRD. Naturally, there are other choices which may or may not be better than the aforementioned restaurants. One of these choices can be found in the heart of New Westminster. Yes, that is not a mistake, it's not where you'd think a good Malaysian restaurant would be found. Tonight, Dr. 911 joins us for dinner. I chose the nickname Dr. 911 because not only is he a dentist, he drives a Porsche 911 as well. In fact, Dr. 911 wanted to join us for a food adventure, much like HL did when we went to Ramie's.
Located on the corner of 6th Avenue and 7th Street, Tamarind Hill is a quaint little restaurant that is nicely decorated and furnished. The lighting was a bit odd at this time of day and I ended up with shadows and bright sunlight striating the food. This is where I needed a piece of white cardboard to help me redirect the light. However, I'm not sure if I want to carry a piece of white cardboard around. Mind you, I never thought I'd lug a DSLR around either. The things I do for blogging! Next I'll be carrying around a plate like Ben (Chowtimes)!
We started with the Roti Canai. It was fluffy, slightly sweet and not oily. The curry dipping sauce was mild and not overpowering. Arriving at the same time were the Chicken Curry and the Beef Rendeng. Both came with a bowl of rice, which is never enough for the amount of sauce. I really liked the chicken, it was packed full of properly cooked ingredients in a creamy coconut curry. Although the menu states there is both fennel and cloves in the sauce; I could barely detect the fennel flavour. Good thing, Viv hates licorice flavour.
A good contrast to the smooth chicken curry was the beef rendeng. Although it was a coconut-based sauce, it had a more robust flavour due to the addition of ginger, onion and lemongrass. It was spicy; yet an underlying heat which went really well with rice. The beef itself was tender; but some of the pieces were slightly dry. Of course with all this meat, we ordered the Sambal Green Beans. Mind you, they are fried and then stir fried with more oil. Not sure if that helps our health quotient or not. The beans were neither mushy or crunchy, it was somewhere in the middle. I would've much preferred that they were a little less cooked. Also, despite the sauce being quite flavourful, I found it a bit too sweet and not savoury or spicy enough. I do realize that the flavour profile of the Sambal sauce is supposed to be sweet, it's just that I like it with a bit more balance. For good measure, we also ordered a noodle dish - Ipoh Char Hor Fun, which is essentially stir-fried flat rice noodle with seafood in a light egg soy sauce. The dish is definitely Malay; but it could've easily passed for a Cantonese dish. This didn't mean it was bad, it just was a big departure in flavours from the rest of the meal. Rather than being spicy or bold, the flavours were delicate and so were the ingredients.
We were quite satisfied with our meal at Tamarind Hill. The food was solid, the prices were reasonable and the portions were decent. However, the one thing that stood out as a negative was the service, or lack of. The staff was actually quite friendly; but for most of the time, there was only one person handling the whole restaurant (about 9 tables full), the phone and takeout orders. The other server went missing for about half an hour. We hypothesized that he must've went out for deliveries. Consequently, we never got our glasses refilled, plates removed or even checked on once. Worst of all, I had to go up to the front counter to order another bowl of rice. In addition, another person had to go up to the bar and get water for her own table. Again, service wasn't terrible, there just wasn't enough of it. Despite this, the food is still good here and I will be returning.
- Flavourful dishes
- Reasonably priced
- Decent portions
- Lack of servers