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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tamarind Hill Singapore

 Channel News Asia SINGAPORE: Nestled in a little-known corner of Labrador Park - an area famous for its secret tunnels and pre-war relics - there's a new restaurant in the middle of the park's lush greenery.

From cold tom yum martini to grilled tuna steak with lime and chili vinaigrette, the owner of Thai restaurant Tamarind Hill describes its menu to be a combination of traditional Thai flavours with modern interpretations.

CEO of Samadhi Retreats, Federico Asaro, said: "We have a foie gras dish with a mango salad which is very traditional Thai, but the mango salad - the mango is actually puree, and it sits on top of the foie gras. So it's very Thai in flavours but yet not."

But what Mr Asaro wants to sell is not just a meal rather, a dreamy holiday you can take to a green haven without leaving Singapore's shores.

Tamarind Hill has several branches in Malaysia, and the one in Singapore is the latest to open after some five years of planning.

Federico said: "All the Tamarinds are surrounded by nature. And that's one of the strongest criteria. We call ourselves rustic, rustic luxe. We provide spaces, and the concept is not just about food, but it's an overall experience.


"People will say to me that they don't feel like they're - whether it's in Kuala Lumpur or in Singapore - we've had many people come through the door now and say, wow I feel like I'm on holiday somewhere. And it is a holiday for them because the average person sits in the restaurant for about three hours."

The natural settings is enough to have urban dwellers believe they've stumbled upon an untouched part of urban Singapore.

Labrador Park is just a stone's throw away from Singapore's city centre, but at Tamarind Hill, it feels quite like another world amid the lush greenery.

And to add a touch of mystery to the place, nobody really knows who built the house, or why it was built, except that it was once used as the Malay regiment quarters.
It took the owners four months to refurbish the black and white colonial house.


Director of Samadhi Retreats, Maple Loo Asaro, said: "To me, it's really fate that we stumbled upon Labrador Park because it's so scarce in Singapore to find a gem, a gem spot like this that fits right into our philosophy in the company - surrounded by greens. At heart, we're very much nature lovers, me and my husband."

The restaurant is peppered with antiques and accessories - personal trophies for the couple who love road trips in Southeast Asia.

Staying true to their love for nature, the restaurant's furnishings are made from recycled wood even if it costs some 30 per cent more than new wood.

Federico Asaro said: "We definitely don't want to cut down green spaces just to build our properties. What we use - recycled woods - these are woods that have been used to build other structures in the past, such as shop blocks in Malaysia, a lot of the small towns in Malaysia.

"Eighty years ago, they were built with wood. Today, they are moving from wood to bricks. So I have a group of people in Malaysia that go around and buy up old houses, buy up factories, shop blocks, any kind of wooden structures. We buy them, we bring them back to Kuala Lumpur.

"I have a team there that then restores the wood, and we use the wood for our construction.

"We also work with two communities in particular in Malaysia, Orang Asli, one in Negri Sembilan and another one in Pahang, and so we work with the Orang Asli or the aboriginal communities in Malaysia to source for materials such as wood, thatched roofs and other sort of natural materials, rattan, things like that."

Even if Tamarind Hill is slightly off the beaten track, Mr Asaro isn't too worried about not having enough patrons.

After all, with only 29 tables spread over 10,000 square feet, the irony is, quietness is what they hope will draw customers back.

Watch the video here!

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