PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 April, 2007, 12:00am

Shop 2004, Podium Level 2, IFC Mall, Central

Tel: 2521 1117

Cuisine: Vietnamese-Thai

Ambience: Lian is a lovely space, designed around a lotus pool centrepiece. That aside, you can't help but feel a lack of intimacy - a common feeling exuded by shopping-mall eateries.

Price: HK$330 for two without drinks and before 10 per cent service charge.

Pros: There's a private room that can be rented for parties and other functions.

Cons: The staff were ill-prepared for questions. The waitress didn't let us taste the wine - she simply showed us the bottle and started pouring.

The food arrived out of order - our vegetable accompaniment for the main course arrived first, followed by a main, then a starter, then the second main, and finally the second starter. The food wasn't bad, but some dishes could be improved. The morning glory (HK$58) was overwhelmed by the shrimp paste it was cooked with. The king prawns with cheese and garlic (HK$138) was a strange combination. Once the shell was removed there wasn't much prawn and the cheese obliterated the sweetness of the shellfish. The salmon in red curry (HK$135), served with French bread, didn't have enough sauce and the fish was undercooked. The Jaffa souffle (HK$75) was also undercooked and so sugary I could feel the granules crunching between my teeth.

Recommended dishes: We ordered the Thai beef salad ($88,above) and chicken satay ($65) to start. The salad was nicely presented and the beef was extremely tender. The version here is rather spicy. The chicken satay was skewered on stalks of lemongrass, which got thumbs up for flavour and presentation. The dipping sauce went well with the chicken, and traces of lime gave the dish a nice kick. The intriguing wheat- and dairy-free chocolate torte (HK$65) didn't give us the impression of austerity.

What else? The restaurant is the latest in the Max Concepts group of eateries.