3 Mee Lun Street, Central
Tel: 2815 6739
(last orders at 10.30pm), Saturday noon-2am
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
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
What else? This is a nice place to go for drinks and snacks, but lower your expectations if you want a full meal.