PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 October, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 October, 2000, 12:00am

Aqua has undoubtedly bagged the best pitch on Hollywood Road, its glass-fronted curving facade shining like a beacon amid the twilight gloom. Sit at the bar or reserve a table on the window side of the restaurant to ensure a bird's eye view of the street. We visited on a Monday night and were immediately struck by the friendliness of its service.

For appetisers we chose two fish dishes, both of which were enticing. The snapper carpaccio ($110) was a little pricey, but stunning for its simplicity. A generous portion of wafer thin slices of fish completely covered the plate and was served in a spicy nam jin sauce.

The deep-fried tea-smoked salmon ($88) was nearly as good. The fish had an appealingly smoky flavour and came with a salad of green mango, mint, lime and salmon roe. However, we found we needed the accompanying slice of lime to give the dish a little more zing.

There was a slight lull in service in between the first two courses but it was worth the wait. For our main courses, we ordered the New Zealand mussels ($170) and the lamb ($188). A selection of vegetables cost an extra $35, but it's necessary for those with healthy appetites. The large new Zealand mussels came with a lightly spiced, creamy sauce, and a potato wafer made an interesting inclusion. The lamb was just as satisfying. There were four pieces of cumin-encrusted loin cooked medium rare as requested and served in a wonderfully rich tomato, ginger and spiced gravy.

Desserts were equally good. The passion fruit sorbet ($20) was wonderfully tangy while the pineapple and rhubarb crumble successfully combined two fruits that do not make an immediately obvious pairing, served with a scoop of white chocolate mousse. A three-course dinner for two, with two bottles of mineral water ($48 each) and two glasses of wine (a 1999 Aotea Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand at $65 and a 1995 Saxenberg Cabernet Sauvignon at $75) came to $1,100 including service and tip.

We reckoned it was about the going rate for a restaurant of this standard but was a little more than we would have liked to have paid.

G/F 49 Hollywood Road, Central. Tel: 2545 9889. Open: noon-2am. $$$$