Deciding to be fancier this year, we had two meals to celebrate V-day! For this meal, we were searching for a place that offers a curated culinary experience and an Arcadian ambience away from the crowd. And that’s how we found our way to Tamarind Hill.

Nestled on a hill amongst the greenery of Labrador Nature Reserve, walking around the premises felt like a bit of an adventure in itself. Flanked by its sister hotel, Villa Samadhi, private walking trails meander between the trees; if we’d been there closer to early evening, it would have been perfect for a stroll. However, the terrain is not kind to those of us who live in heels – I wore my lowest pair and my toes were still crying.

The restaurant is housed in a colonial bungalow, with décor drawing modern parallels to shapes and materials in vogue of that era. There are no stuffy suits for the staff here – instead, you can find everyone skilfully balancing gigantic trays with fragrant dishes perched precariously atop in flip flops and boxy pants inspired by fisherfolk of the region.

Its extensive menu features creations from its Thai and Burmese halves, including heirloom dishes kindly offered up by their chefs. Despite our initial impression of stifling prices and stiff portions, we found the prices fair, and portions incredibly generous. (When ordering, you’re advised to stick to ~3 dishes/2 pax lest you be overwhelmed. Heed it.)

Missing Thai food, our dinner of the day consisted of some of my personal favs. To whet our appetites, the Clear Tom Yum ($34) and Thai-Styled Fish Cakes ($18). To fill us up, the Deep-Fried Ocean Farmed Barramundi Fillet ($42) and the Quick Wok Sautéed Assorted Mushrooms ($18). And finally, before we said goodbye, Steamed Tapioca ($6).

It is hard to pick a fav for the night – the soup had a cornucopia of seafood and shrooms; the fishcakes were filled with actual fish and not fillers; the barramundi was sweet yet savoury, soft yet firm; bursts of spices danced amidst the earthiness of the shrooms. If the flavours were turned up a notch to mirror those back in Thailand, it would be near perfect.

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