GUNGA DIN'S CLUB Lower Ground Floor, 59 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong. tel: 523 1439/ 523 1276. Open 11.30am - 3pm, 6pm - 11 pm.
THIS has become an institution among the Wyndham Street Indian eateries, having recently expanded to take over the premises of its neighbour the Siddharth Club. But despite the extra space, it can still be hard finding a table later in the week without booking. On busy nights, the service can be a little slow, so order a few masala poppadams to while away the half hour or so before the food finally arrives. When it does, it's worth the wait.
The menu has been uppermost in the manager's mind as can be seen by the number and variety of dishes, and the dismal attempt at decoration which amounts to little more than a few quotations from Rudyard Kipling. The air conditioning seems to be stuck on 'arctic chill', but as the curries never quite reach boiling point - the chef comes from Bombay, an area not known for spicing things up - take a jacket.
With such a choice it is easy to over order so go easy on the starters. The samosas - vegetable or meat - are a little heavy on the pastry side but effectively stave off hunger pangs until the sizzling fish tikka arrives. The baigan bharta is legendary. Apureed, creamy eggplant dish, it is bound to impress the most steadfast meat eater, as will the malai kofta, balls of cottage cheese, raisins and nuts in a piquant sauce. Other vegetarian delights include the mild and fruity navrattan curry and cheese tomato - home-made curd cheese in a rich sauce which is especially good as a butty on your naan bread.
Meat eaters are equally well catered for with the usual array of tandoori dishes plus spicy karela kebab - chicken stuffed with meat, vegetables and spices - chicken sagwala cooked with spinach, and the excellent mutton dish rogan josh. And those in the mood for a seasonal treat should try Gunga Din's special chicken with brandy, which tastes as good as Christmas. Two people can eat too much - and you always seem to at Gunga Din's - for $120 a head, including drinks. The lunchtime buffet is $68 per head, including one drink. Take-away service is available. (3.5)