Thai Nong Khai
Shop 14, G/F, Ko Shing Building
9 King Man Street
Tel: 3488 7873
Grub: Thai food
Vibe: Very, VERY casual: this is a hole in the wall round the corner from the Sai Kung waterfront. Think plastic stools and folding tables at the mouth of a mini mall.
Who to take: Daytrippers, hungry hikers, those who can't deal with sending a fish to its demise at Sai Kung's famous seafood joints, and anyone who values flavour and fun over tablecloths and Michelin stars.
What's hot: This is one of several similar eateries in the area - they're far from fancy, but as many of them, Thai Nong Khai included, have actual Thai staff, they offer pretty authentic flavours.
Order a young coconut while you peruse the menu, and imagine you're actually in the Land of Smiles. There's a good range of curries, and most other Thai favourites appear here. Highlights include chicken and cashews, which was packed with flavour; and the fried rice with basil, with its great chili kick. The pad thai could do with a couple more prawns, but was fresh tasting and not too oily.
What's not: This is not a place to go if you can't handle the summer heat. You're basically sitting on the pavement; there is an electric fan, but you have to accept that you will sweat. It's pretty much a dai pai dong for Siamese delights.
As the kitchen is pretty small, food can take a while, or come out in a random order. We'll never understand why veggies are so often the last dish to arrive - at least you get a big portion here!
Cost: You can eat pretty well for around HK$100 a head, and the more in your party - although you'll have to divide into (folding) tables of four - the more you can try. Noodle and rice dishes are around HK$40-HK$65, curries are around HK$50-HK$80, seafood dishes start at around HK$80 and can get pricy, so share!