PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 March, 2007, 12:00am

3 Mee Lun Street, Central

Tel: 2815 6739

Open: Monday-Thursday


(last orders at 10.30pm), Saturday noon-2am

Cuisine: Vietnamese-inspired.

Price: About $220 per person without wine or service charge.

Ambience: A small but comfortable place in between the quiet stairwells of Mee Lun and Shin Hing streets in NoHo that once housed French restaurant Le Hibou. The dining space may be a bit too crimson for some people, but it's hard to dislike the generally calm and laidback atmosphere.

Pros: No monosodium glutamate is used in the food, and all the vegetables are organic. Although there are some more innovative-sounding dishes, it's mostly the classic Vietnamese dishes that hit

the mark.

Cons: A starter of Korean-inspired salmon on kimchee blinis with wasabi cream cheese (HK$58) sounded more exotic in flavour than it was: we could barely taste the kimchee or wasabi. Our main courses weren't that successful. Pan-grilled cod with roasted tomatoes and sauteed spinach (HK$135) was small and disappointing. Braised lamb shank with star anise and cinnamon (HK$145) needed more star anise and cinnamon. It could have used longer braising because it wasn't very tender.

Recommended dishes: We really liked the simplicity and the Southeast Asian texture and taste of the crispy vegetarian spring rolls (HK$58, above left). Bo la lot (grilled beef rolls rolled in la lot leaves, HK$65) were savoury, but could have used more fish sauce. The spiced

ginger and pumpkin soup (HK$48, above right) was wonderful - both zingy

and earthy.

What else? This is a nice place to go for drinks and snacks, but lower your expectations if you want a full meal.