PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 June, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 June, 2000, 12:00am

The Square To avoid being branded conventional, many Chinese restaurants have made an effort to steer clear of traditional designs. The Square is obviously one of them. Apart from the delicate knick-knacks on display - which have a strong Chinese flavour - the interior is modern and Westernised. The mix of subtle colours and soft lighting creates a comfortable ambience and tastefully decorated booths tailor for those looking for an intimate dining experience.

But Western elements are nowhere to be found on the menu, which features traditional Cantonese favourites. While vegetarian choices are somewhat limited, the overall selection is good. So we were very disappointed to learn that three of the dishes we ordered - some of which were our waiter's recommendations - were not available.

Being an outlet of catering giant Maxim's, we expected quality roast meats. But the suckling pig was way below expectations, the skin so hard it proved a challenge for our teeth.

The deep-fried prawn balls were delicious, but smothered in so much mayonnaise that we had to scrape off the excess. Nonetheless, the prawns were fresh and the thickness of the batter was just right. We enjoyed the 'pan-fried shredded beef in Chinese style', served with a generous helping of onions. The beef was succulent and the sauce had an intense flavour. But the braised pork 'Emperor Style' failed to im-press. The meat was fatty and left a greasy trail in the gravy.

The house fried rice was delightful. The mix of crab meat, green vegetables and egg white gave a light texture, while dried scallops added flavour. There is no doubt that The Square offers an excellent dining atmosphere and good service. But there is room for improvement in terms of the food.

3/F, Exchange Square II, Central. Tel: 2525 1163. Open: 11am-3pm, 5pm-11pm. $$