Restaurant review: H.E.A.T

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 January, 2013, 10:06am

LG/F, 83-85 Hollywood Road, Central

Tel: 2857 7683

Open: noon-1am

Cuisine: Vietnamese

Price: about HK$170 without drinks or service charge.

Ambience: tables are packed quite closely together, but it didn't feel crowded because there were only a few other groups on the night we visited.

Pros: for the most part, service was friendly.

Cons: Vietnam is one of my favourite countries to travel to for food, but the dishes here didn't have the bright, clear, refreshing flavours we hoped for. Many, including the lotus stem and fresh shrimp salad (HK$65), soft-shell crab and avocado rice paper with wasabi mayonnaise (HK$70), caramelised spicy prawns with sautéed onions and mixed vegetables (HK$148) and crispy prawn spring rolls with mango salsa (HK$68), tasted too sweet and/or too salty. The chargrilled calamari didn't have any chargrilled flavour at all, and it was undercooked.

Recommended dishes: our first attempt at lemon grass pork cake with pepper leaves, lettuce and herbs (HK$115) came undercooked - the minced pork balls were pink in the centre. The manager took back the order, apologising several times, and we were served a fresh batch that was much better, with well-flavoured meat that we wrapped in the accompanying lettuce leaves. Lemon grass buttered chicken wings tasted neither like garlic butter nor lemon grass, but they were well-fried, hot and crisp. The spinach with garlic (HK$78) was fine on its own, but was served - oddly - with chunks of tepid fried tofu that seemed like a separate entity, rather than part of a cohesive dish.

What else? The daily lunch set price starts at HK$88 and includes an appetiser buffet, main course and soft drink, tea or regular coffee. According to its website, H.E.A.T. stands for Happiness, Entertainment, Art and Taste.