Xi Yan Tastes
2/F Sharp Street East (inside GOD)
Leighton Centre, Causeway Bay
Tel: 2881 6693
Open: noon-3pm, 6pm-11pm
Cuisine: Modern Chinese with some dishes from other Asian styles.
Ambience: Bright, stark colours (red, orange, white and black) and minimal decor other than what's on the walls (including some paintings of food). Despite a lot of hard surfaces, the noise level when the restaurant's full is fairly low.
Price: About HK$200 per person without drinks and before 10 per cent service charge.
Pros: The servers are competent and will advise on the more popular specialities. The food, especially the cold dishes and appetisers, is light and refreshing, so it's perfect in this hot weather.
Cons: The drunken egg in Shaoxing wine (HK$18) didn't have much wine taste. When the waitress asked how hot we wanted the Sichuan spicy chicken (HK$108) we asked for moderately spicy, but the cook's palate must be wimpier than ours because we didn't detect any chilli heat. The savoury menu is fairly limited, with a lot of dishes that are served cold or at room temperature.
Recommended dishes: Japanese tomato with sesame sauce (HK$36) was delicious because of the perfection of the simple ingredients: a light sauce that enhanced the delicate sweetness of the tomato. Cold bean curd with shrimp and crab paste (above, HK$78) was another dish we'd happily order again. The richness of the topping (which included crab roe) contrasted beautifully with the bland smoothness of the bean curd. Grilled pork neck (HK$78) showed its Thai roots with its seasonings and light fish sauce-based sauce. The bowl of smoked duck noodles with prime soup (HK$58) was comfort food, with simple flavours, slippery noodles and soothing broth. Guava ice cream (HK$28) had a delicate pink colour and subtle flavour of the distinctive fruit, while lychee sorbet with osmanthus wine (HK$28) was refreshing and brightly flavoured.
What else? The man behind Xi Yan Tastes, celebrity chef Jacky Yu, also runs a private kitchen, Xi Yan, and Xi Yan Sweets.