Situated in the village of Tupapa on Rarotonga is an old colonial home. Built back in 1910, at one time, it was even the home of the British Consul. But all that changed in 2004, when a couple of restauranteurs decided this old colonial home needed to serve up some food. Tamarind House was born, and has been dealing in Pan-Asian culinary delights ever since. When we got ourselves seated, we quickly learned that Tamarind House was going to be a unique experience, and not simply because we were in an old colonial home.
For starters, the specials are not printed on a paper or scrawled on some blackboard at the entrance of the restaurant. Instead, the extensive list of specials are written on multiple whiteboards, which the waiters place in front of each table while they are deciding what to order. After that decision has been made, the whiteboard is whisked off to a needier table or a corner. Perhaps not the most efficient means of conveying specials, but effective nonetheless.
So effective, in fact, that I decided one of the specials had to be mine. It was a Balinese fish curry, with fresh coconut, tomatoes, ground spice and rice. It was definitely a smart choice, because this dish was a thing of beauty and amazing flavor. You know how menus often leave off vegetables that come with a dish? Well, this one did just that, but it also left off additional delicious ingredients, like bananas topped with coconut shavings and a chutney that I can only assume was tamarind. Combined, this made for one amazing meal. The fish tasted fresh and offered little of its own flavor, which was cool with me because the curry was delicious. It had a little kick to it, but nothing painfully spicy. Combined with chutney and the little tortilla that came on the plate, I had myself what could only be described as a Balinese fish taco (I smell a food truck idea!).
To top it all off, Tamarind House had a cheese plate on the regular menu that we ordered for dessert. This little guy consisted of three cheeses. One was blue, one was brie and the other seemed to be some sort of gouda. They weren’t amazing cheeses by any means, but they were definitely a delicious way to close out the meal and certainly better than your typical sweet dessert.
After years of serving as a home, I think Tamarind House has found itself in a much better state as a restaurant. I can’t speak for the authenticity of the Balinese food, but I can say that it was delicious no matter how you classify it.