Chili Club

Eve Lam

This restaurant is a bit of an institution in Wan Chai, and we were lucky to get a place by the window overlooking Luard Road on a busy Friday night. Not much of a view, really, but you get the feeling of having more space next to the window. Still, I could have put my arm around the woman next to me and it was entertaining to overhear the couple who were, it seemed, on a language lesson date.

We started with tom yum kung ($38) which hit the spot with its clear and peppery soup, and lashings of lemon grass. The small portion was just enough for two bowls, leaving us plenty of room for the salad of poached cuttlefish mixed with onion, Chinese parsley, chilli and lime juice ($38). The cuttlefish was actually squid, and had not quite absorbed enough of the dressing, although it was definitely fresh.

The fried rice served in whole coconut shell ($65) got top marks for presentation. With a delicious combination of peanuts, raisins and fresh coconut strips, the tomato base was sufficiently sweet to offset the slightly greasy texture.

When the fried crab with curry arrived, we realised we should have opted for steamed rice to accompany the heaped plate of shellfish smothered in a rich and piquant sauce. It required dexterity to coax the meat out of the legs, but the effort was well worth it. The only gripe was that our plates overflowed with shells and no one thought to clear them away so we could continue digging into our crustaceans in comfort.

Dinner for two with Chinese tea and service charge came to $298.

1/F, 88 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai. Tel: 2527 2872. Open: noon-3pm, 6pm-11pm. $$