Cafe Iguana

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 September, 2009, 12:00am

57 Wyndham Street, Central

Tel: 2526 7993

Open: noon-midnight

Cuisine: Mexican.

Price: About HK$250 without drinks and before adding the service charge.

Ambience: The downstairs bar area is lively with customers taking advantage of happy hour (Monday-Saturday 3pm-8pm and all day on Sunday) and a good mix of music. If you want to have a conversation, though, head upstairs to the dining room, which is decorated in lime green, red and orange. For most of the night, we were the only customers up there.

Pros: The evening didn't start well - the Cafe Iguana sign above the restaurant had been covered, so for one panicky moment we thought it had closed; then the waitress couldn't find our booking. But the service improved quickly. The menu was brief but the fare on offer was promising: soft-shelled crabs and several choices of enchilada, which are too laborious to cook at home.

Cons: The camarones tacos - fried prawns in citrus chipotle adobo with salsa verde (HK$98) - had a sauce that was too sweet. Every Mexican cook makes a different, closely guarded version of mole - a rich, complex sauce made with unsweetened chocolate, dried chillies and (usually) nuts - but the version served here over the enchiladas with chicken (HK$118) was bland and heavy. The guacamole serrano (HK$68) had buttery-rich, ripe avocados and crispy fried corn tortillas, but it needed a lot more lime juice and salt to perk up the flavours.

Recommended dishes: I said a little prayer of hope when the carnitas tacos (three for HK$92, left) arrived because they looked so good, but I've been disappointed many times before by tacos served in Hong Kong. My prayer was answered: they were almost as good as any I've had at taquerias in Mexico and California. The chopped pork was moist, well flavoured and piled high on a soft, thin corn tortilla before being topped with guacamole. The only thing that could have improved it was if the tortillas had been heated on a griddle slick with meat drippings. Enchiladas rojas (with beef in red chilli sauce with ranchero cheese, HK$118) was a very good version - the corn tortillas had been wrapped around moist meat before being covered with a complex, mildly spicy sauce.

What else? Cafe Iguana is part of the Igor's Group and there's another branch in Elements, Tsim Sha Tsui.