68 Stone Nullah Lane, Wan Chai
Tel: 2234 0001
Grub: Thai street food
Vibe: A cosy (one might also say slightly cramped), brightly lit room, designed to look like a little atrium of the kind you might expect to find in Thailand, with green plants hanging from the ceiling, and an assorted mish-mash of vintage posters plastered on the dingy walls.
Who to take: A date, your parents, or a close friend or two – Samsen is (sadly) not made for large crowds. The tables are placed fairly close together, so be prepared to make friends with your dining neighbours.
What’s hot: Plenty of Hongkongers are willing to queue up outside this little Thai place in Wan Chai well before opening time – and for good reason. Pretty much everything, from the attentiveness of the wait staff to the food itself, is spot on – almost. We loved the stir-fried fat noodles with wagyu beef (HK$128), which had a great bite, just the right amount of grease, and a decent kick to it. The only way it could have been better was if there was a little more noodle, and a little less beef.
The green mango salad with tiger prawns and crispy shallots (HK$108) was another hit, with some seriously tasty prawns that we demolished pretty quickly. The wok-fried rice with crab meat, egg, and spring onions (HK$128) was slightly too salty, but delicious, and came in a heaped mound that was perfect for sharing.
What’s not: The Thai iced milk tea (HK$38), though tasty, was over-sweet, and the amount you get doesn’t feel worth the money you shell out. We’d also love to see the plastic straws replaced with something a little more eco-friendly, like metal or paper straws.
Samsen’s popularity means the restaurant doesn’t take reservations over the phone. At peak times, you might be told to put your name down on a list, and return in three hours or so for your table.
Cost: Salads range from HK$98 to HK$108. Sides are from HK$20 to HK$68. Mains cost from HK$108 to HK$128. Desserts are between HK$56 and HK$78, and drinks are HK$38- HK$48.