By David Sutton
29 Thompson Road
Tel. 2528 3848
Grub: Contemporary Vietnamese.
Vibe: The place mat tells the tale of a railway station hawker who made the best bowl of pho that anyone ever tasted. Despite offers of money and employment he kept his secrets and now they are preserved in the kitchens of Cafe Locomotive. This is a small and cosy place, service is prompt and the staff are friendly and helpful.
Who to take: Plan adventurous eating with a group of friends.What's hot: The classic beef pho is, of course, available and can be ordered with both raw and cooked beef. The menu also offers a vegetarian option.
There are four or five other noodle dishes to choose from, but Cafe Locomotive bills itself as offering contemporary Vietnamese cuisine and there are many other intriguing things to try. You can, in fact, eat a whole meal without ever getting past the starters.
Popular starters include items such as the cold rolls made with soft shell crab, king prawn, beef with lemongrass or plain and pickled vegetables. And they are tempting, but there are even more possibilities for the adventurous: spicy quail, beef jerky and green papaya salad and fried frog with garlic butter.
Chicken wings might seem a little plain after all that, but these wings are a cut above the usual. Cooked with lemongrass and butter, they are served piping hot, smothered in garlic and are rich and delicious with a zesty flavour.
Another good starter to look out for is the prawn and pomelo salad. Grilled prawns on skewers are stacked over a salad of carrot, cabbage and lettuce mixed with fresh, tangy pomelo pulp. All the starters are big enough to share.
Fried rice is also good to share. Here it is cooked with pickled olives and minced pork, then topped with flakes of fried garlic.
The desserts aren't very Vietnamese. The bread pudding is popular so if you don't want to be disappointed go early. If you do miss out, then try the ginger lemon creme brulee served with cinnamon french toast and ice cream.
What's not: It's a small place that gets really busy at lunch times so go early or late or go for dinner.
Cost: Noodle options start at about HK$50, starters and sides are mostly between HK$40 to HK$60. Mains are from about HK$100, while desserts are HK$40 to HK$50. Expect to pay about HK$150 per person.