My initial visit to the North Vancouver location of John 3:16 occurred a little over a month ago. We had caught them on their opening week and it showed with an inconsistent meal. From all the good things I've heard about the place, it was rather perplexing for me. Fast forward to May and I was invited to a tasting organized by Sharon which would act as a fairly quick revisit to see if anything had changed. So I joined a group of other foodies to sample a large selection of dishes (after already eating Indian food for lunch... *burp*).
Well, to do a complete comparison, it wasn't difficult as most of the same dishes I had in the first meal were present. This included the Chicken Satay which was mildly charred. They were well-marinated being sweet, aromatic and smoky. I found the meat to be tender while not overly "wet". The accompanying dip was also pretty sweet laced with peanuts. Equally on point was the Roti Canai. I found these to be even better than the last time. Flaky and crunchy on the outside, these were soft and almost pillowy on the inside. They were not greasy and the side of curry dip was flavourful with a rich coconut milk silkiness.
Continuing on the theme of improvement, I found the Pulot Panggang to be head and shoulders above the previous version. These featured rice that was chewy and soft, yet not incredibly dry. Inside, the filling was unchanged except it was also not as dried out, which meant the sweet coconut was moist and sweet. Next we had the Ipoh Char Hor Fun topped with seafood. I found the noodles to be on the firmer side, which was fine by me. They were also not overly greasy. On top, the seafood was on point while the starch-thickened sauce was rather mild-tasting.
We also had the Char Koay Teow with Chinese sausage and shrimp. There was more caramelization and smokiness due to the lack of sauce on top. The noodles were also firm, retaining their shape and chewiness. There was obviously enough wok heat since the amount of grease was kept to a minimum. By virtue of the wok-fried Chinese cured sausage, there was a certain saltiness and bite to the dish. Our veggie dish consisted of the Sambal Okra, Green Beans and Eggplant that featured somewhat crunchy beans (some of them were a bit overdone) and on point eggplant. This was tasty and savoury with a slight spice.
At first, we did not know what to make of the Curry Seafood sitting on the table. It looked spicy, but in fact, it wasn't. Rather, there was a bit of tang to go with the coconut milk and slight brininess. It was pretty comforting where Jacqueline described it as a "warm hug". There was no shortage of ingredients which made it quite hearty too. For me, the best plate was the Kam Hiong Prawns. These large suckers were de-shelled except for the end tip. With a light batter, there was a consistent crunch that held in the moisture where the shrimp was meaty with a snap. Flavourwise, there was a nice balance of caramelized sweetness combined with a touch of spice.
Now when I said the shrimp was the best, their Hainanese Chicken wasn't far behind. Exactly as last time, the chicken was tender, moist and nicely seasoned. The fried garlic on top added a nice essence and crunch. I realize that there are many different versions of this dish (especially considering the different nationalities), but I would've liked a minced ginger condiment rather than the slivered version found here. Our one rice dish was the Nasi Goreng and it featured chewy rice that was properly wok-fried. I would've liked to see more impact from the seasoning as it wasn't particular memorable.
Okay, onto the dish I really didn't like last time, the Beef Rendang. I realize that the meat is normally supposed to be dry, but not to the point where it was difficult to chew and swallow. Thankfully, they improved upon that and the meat was dry, yet tender with more moisture. Flavours were still good with the richness of coconut milk. Last dish was the Kari Laksa which was solid. It was mildly thick with the richness of coconut milk. There was a light spice, but once again, I would've like to see more seafoodiness. Overall, this visit was a marked improvement over the first one. The food was appealing and well-prepared. Definitely gives Tamarind Hill a worth competitor along Lonsdale.
*All food, drinks and gratuities were complimentary*
- Solid eats
- Flavours could be amped up a bit more