1/F, 88 Lockhart Road
Tel: 2527 2872
Vibe: Soulless canteen, with overly bright lights, closely packed tables, brusque (but efficient) servers, and Spartan table settings. Luckily, what it lacks in atmosphere, it more than makes up for in flavour.
Who to bring: The upside of a canteen-style setting is that they can put together long tables, so bring a big group of friends with asbestos tongues.
What’s hot: The menu is extensive. Sometimes this suggests a restaurant doesn’t know what it’s doing, but that’s not the case here. Pick a few starters, but don’t get carried away, because you’ll need room for the mains. The green papaya salad is fresh and crisp, but super hot, even if you don’t accidentally eat all the chili slices – they don’t dial down the heat here – and the pomelo salad is fresh.
The grilled meats are always tender – the pork neck has a delicate charcoal tang, there’s a range of tasty satay, and the deep-fried chicken with lemongrass is pleasingly non-greasy and a real appetite whetter.
Some like it hot, as they say, and those people will be in their element here. While there are some milder dishes, the majority are tongue-tingling.
There’s a massive range of curries – you’d have to go nearly every day for a month to get through them all – and it’s worth trying at least two or three. (Yet another reason to come with a gang.)
The red curry with chicken and eggplants is comforting – spicy but not overwhelmingly so, so a good one for newbies, especially with some flavourful pineapple rice on the side. The fish curries are a revelation: firm, almost meaty white fish with a complex-tasting sauce; you may need a second order.
What’s not: Again, the atmosphere is not exciting, and the staff don’t want to be your BFFs, but you’re there for the food, not the interior design. Suck it up.
Cost: Appetisers start at HK$50, and mains average HK$80, excluding the seafood dishes. Assuming you don’t only eat shellfish, four people can stuff themselves silly for HK$100-150 per person.