La Taste

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 January, 2011, 12:00am

La Taste
1/F 34-38 Stanley Street
Tel 2815 8863

Grub: Vietnamese, with an emphasis on fresh ingredients.

Vibe: The decor is light and pleasant. As in most Vietnamese restaurants, the colour green is much in evidence. The best time to go is just after the lunchtime rush, when most people have gone back to work.

Who to bring: This could be a good place for a quiet afternoon chill-out with a few friends.

What's hot: Once in a while, it's nice to go into a Vietnamese restaurant and not order pho noodles. The dish is so popular that it is easy to forget that the cuisine actually offers a wide range of other dishes.

It would also be nice to avoid the familiar cold spring rolls, but they proved harder to ignore. As well as pork, the rolls are available filled with prawn, soft-shell crab and grilled beef. There is also an interesting fillet of sole option.

Also worth looking out for are the grilled prawns with pomelo salad. The pomelo is tossed with lettuce, cucumber, mint and sesame seeds and topped with grilled shallots and cashew nuts. This is served with two large, grilled tiger prawns. The prawns were perhaps a little overcooked, but the salad was tangy and refreshing.

The only dessert on the menu is black glutinous rice, which can be ordered with or without mango. It goes wonderfully well with a Vietnamese-style coffee with condensed milk. The coffee drips through a stainless steel filter onto condensed milk in the cup beneath.

What's not: A common dish at Hong Kong Vietnamese restaurants is beef cubes with red rice. The rice is nothing more than fried rice with tomatoes or tomato paste added for colour. The beef is sometimes referred to as shaking beef, bo luc lac. The 'luc lac' describes the rapid tossing or shaking of the beef cubes in the wok as their outsides are seared. This dish can only be as good as the quality of the beef, and in this case the cubes were a bit on the rubbery side.

La Taste gets very busy during the week at lunchtime.

Cost: Pho and salads are between HK$40 and HK$50. Most of the snacks are HK$20-$48; crab and prawn dishes are HK$68. Main dishes are HK$48-$98, dessert is HK$20 and drinks HK$20-HK$30.