Hong Kong Dai Pai Dong
By David Sutton
Hong Kong Dai Pai Dong
456 Jaffe Road
Tel 2838 3318
Grub: Mostly Chinese but with a selection of Western dishes cooked Hong Kong-style.
Vibe: A dai pai dong is traditionally an outdoor restaurant, but the term has often been used to refer to any small restaurant or noodle shop. Hong Kong Dai Pai Dong is definitely indoors; it occupies the ground and first floor, with a kitchen on each.
The decor is pleasantly retro. The first floor has an old window frame on one wall within which is a black-and-white photograph that depicts the view as it might have been many years ago. It's a pleasing effect, and the tables along this wall seem more popular than those by the real window.
Who to bring: Everyone will feel comfortable here, and there is enough variety on the menu to please all tastes.
What's hot: Worth trying are the Malaysian-style curries and the baked seafood fried rice with cheese. Ham and cheese sandwiches and Hong Kong-style hot dogs are also served.
A good way to get started is with a bowl of Hong Kong-style shark's fin soup. Conservation-minded people can rest assured that this soup contains no shark. It is in fact a thick, brown fishy broth with vegetables and mushrooms. Real shark fin has no flavour of its own, anyway; it merely absorbs the flavour of the broth - a job that is adequately performed by the clear noodles (fake shark's fin) that give this dish its texture.
Most of the dishes are made for sharing. This applies particularly to the deep-fried spare ribs with tangerine peel, which have a deliciously sweet tangy taste with just a hint of chilli.
There are, of course, plenty of noodle dishes: fried noodles, instant noodles and spaghetti. The braised e-fu noodles with enoki mushrooms are worth investigating but need to be shared.
There is not much on offer by way of dessert.If you have a really sweet tooth, the syrupy, peanut-buttery French toast is a classic , though not for the calorie-conscious.
What's not: A wider range of desserts would be nice.
Cost: Steamed garlic prawns are the most expensive item on the menu, at HK$98, but the vast majority of the dishes are between HK$48 and HK$60. The Hong Kong-style shark's fin soup is HK$20. Drinks are mostly between HK$15 and HK$25.