Restaurant review: Spice Papa, Tai Hang - laksa, satay and more
Unlike most local laksa restaurants that serve only the Singaporean-style, Spice Papa in Tai Hang also offers distinctly Malaysian laksa that makes for a refreshing change.
The thick, deep brown broth of its Penang-style Papa asam laksa (HK$98) is made from European sardines braised for eight hours. The sardines are deboned, minced and put back into the broth with shrimp paste, cucumber and peppermint. The spicy and sour broth is richly flavoured.
But the Singapore katong laksa (HK$88) we tried was lacklustre. It was a curry-like broth with prawns, cockles and fish, plus other ingredients such as bean sprouts, tofu puff and egg. This version lacked the usual slightly sweet flavour of Singaporean laksa and was a bit insipid for our taste.
We liked the bak ku teh soup (HK$138 for two), which was not on the menu. The aromatic broth of pork spare ribs simmered in herbs and spices came with rice and plenty of deep-fried breadsticks.
We also liked the satay beef and chicken (HK$108 for six skewers). The skewered meat had just the right amount of char. It was succulent but a bit too salty.
After the hot food, we welcomed the tomato and cucumber salad with Thai sauce (HK$58). The salad tasted fresh and we enjoyed the sweet and sour dressing. Apart from salads, the menu for vegetables is limited to grilled okra, eggplant and mushrooms.
Spice Papa is a family operation and the service is slow, as there's only one waiter. It took a long time for the dishes to arrive at the table. However, we generally enjoyed what we tried and were happy the food was free of MSG.
There's a range of home-made sauces available to accompany meat dishes, including sweet and sour Papa sauce, satay sauce, minced garlic and butter sauce.
Spice Papa, shop A, 10 Sun Chun Street, Tai Hang, tel: 8117 4873. Open: Tue-Sun 11.30-3.30pm and 6pm-10.30pm. Closed Mondays