Golden Bull

Eve Lam

Not having to rub shoulders with the diners at the next table is a plus for this roomy Vietnamese eatery.

The first dish to arrive was the red bean curd sauce fried chicken ($110). Wait. Didn't we order the Golden Bull platter ($150) as an appetiser? We did, but that didn't mean it had to be served first.

We dug into the chicken, which was a crispy golden brown on the outside and tender and moist on the inside. The red bean curd sauce is made from a preserved bean curd, or the Chinese equivalent of smelly cheese, so use sparingly.

When our appetiser platter finally arrived it included fried spring rolls on a leaf of lettuce. The satay beef was a disappointment because the meat was leathery, but the satay sauce was rich and flavourful. The deep-fried fish balls, however, were so tough and chewy that no sauce would have helped.

One of the restaurant's specialities is grilled Vietnamese jumbo prawn in garlic butter ($85) and it's easy to understand why. The prawn was a meal in itself, grilled to the right texture with just enough garlic to enhance its freshness without being overpowering.

It takes practice to eat fish with bones, however, and you had to be an expert to appreciate the deep-fried Cambodian fish with soya sauce ($185). One of my dinner companions, an Austrian, gave up after a struggle.

Dessert was a complementary fruit platter and Vietnamese la-yea cake ($15). The jade-green rice dessert wasn't too filling or sweet, although the amount of dye used may be a cause of concern for some.

Service was attentive without being annoying. Our plates were replaced regularly and when I pointed out a hair in my spring roll sauce, they weren't apologetic, but still quick to replace it. Dinner for three, including service charge, Chinese tea ($5 per person) and a fresh coconut ($32) came to $929.

11/F, Food Forum, Times Square, Causeway Bay. Tel: 2506 1028. Open: noon-11.30pm. $$$