Xia Mian Guan

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 March, 2009, 12:00am

Xia Mian Guan

Elements Shopping Mall
1 Austin Road West
2196 8121


Grub: MSG-free Shanghainese cuisine. Noodles are freshly prepared by the chefs, and you can watch them work at the kitchen counter.

Vibe: Simple, modern mall eatery. There are always long queues, but don't be put off - you'll be inside in no time.

Seating is comfortable and spacious, and Teresa Tang music plays gently in the background. But the restaurant is always busy and noisy, so don't expect to recognise the songs or hold deep and meaningful conversations.

Who to bring: Friends, family - and even a date - who appreciate good food and don't expect to be heard.

What's hot: The pork dumplings in chili oil are addictive to the point of refusing to share. The noodle soup with spicy sesame sauce and deep-fried pork is incredibly tasty and big enough to share between three. Don't miss the fried shredded eel in brown sauce, which is cooked to perfection, or the crispy pork ribs in sweet and sour sauce.

There's a good range of vegetarian dishes, including soya beans and preserved vegetables, steamed vegetable dumplings and buns, and Shanghai noodles with chives.

Leave room for the deliciously delicate desserts; in particular the chilled lychee and osmanthus puddings, and the glutinous rice rolls with red bean paste and peanuts.

What's not: The marinated jellyfish with shredded turnip was bland and watery. And the xiao long bao were overcooked - even skilled chopstick masters will struggle to avoid bursting the skin.

The staff aren't super-friendly, but to their credit they're attentive and always top up your tea.

Cost: Expect to pay around HK$80 per person for shared starters, noodles and desserts.