You’d never know it was there unless you knew where to look. The entrance is subtle, easy to miss. Just an archway opening out to a red wall, with a fountain trickling softly at the front. A path leads down, shaded by overhanging branches, lit on either side by candles in little glass cups. Diners eat in the open air surrounded by foliage, which is cleverly arranged to give you the impression that you’ve stepped out of the city and into peaceful, meditative seclusion.
Our appetiser is Vietnamese pan-fried salmon parcels (RM32), every bit as exquisite as the name suggests – more so, in fact. They’re wrapped in slightly crispy shells that give way to full, fishy salmon with just enough lemongrass to leave a resounding aftertaste. We follow it up with Laotian beef salad (RM42), which we quickly realise is strictly for spice lovers. The beef is rich with the taste of chilli and the zing of lemongrass, with a faint whiff of coconut. For something purporting to be a salad, it’s mostly beef, with only a few leaves of cabbage to balance it out. In the lull between courses, the fire from the beef salad fades down to a pleasant warmth in our skin. We listen to the soft chiming of gongs, mingling with the steady chirrup of tree frogs calling to one another in the branches.
Along come our mains, beginning with deep-fried jungle ferns (RM32). They’re a little smoky, and thankfully not very oily. They arrive with a roasted green chilli dip – a full, fresh taste that rounds out the fried veggies wonderfully.
The Vietnamese caramelised chicken (RM36) is tender and sweet – a little too sweet, though it goes well in the same spoonful as the jungle ferns. That’s the great thing about shared dining: If one dish doesn’t quite stand on its own, you can just pair it with another.
The Andaman tuna in Laotian wild ginger sauce (RM55), on the other hand, definitely stands on its own. It comes apart easily, crushed against the roof of the mouth. It’s not even the least bit gingery though – more peppery, since it’s served with bunches of peppercorns interspersed throughout, giving it some heat and a fruity aftertaste. Noah Nazim Upper Level, Jalan 1, Taman Tun Abdul Razak, Selangor (03 4256 9300/www. tamarindrestaurants.com). Daily, 12noon–3pm; 6pm– 12midnight.
Best for Romantic dinners out, especially for anniversaries and popping the question.