Almond Jade Seafood Restaurant, G/F Jubilee Centre, 18 Fenwick Street, Wan Chai. Tel: 529-2123. Hours: 11am to 11.30pm daily. THE Almond Jade in Wan Chai is not your typical, sprawling swimming pool of a Cantonese restaurant. By local standards it is definitely on the posh side: lots of crisp white linen, expertly folded napkins and light, varnished wood inlaid with brass and marble. These all combine to give the place a modern, Western feel which almost demands hushed dining. In fact the most noticeable sound is of new arrivals panting as they clamber to the top of the precipitous staircase which leads to the restaurant proper (gents beware: you have to endure a further two flights of steps if you wish to avail yourself of the little boy's room). There is a good English menu (which they won't bring unless you ask for it), that is well written with none of the hilarious spelling errors or descriptions one often finds in Hong Kong. It is not, however, complete. Like so many Cantonese restaurants set meals and special price dishes are not included. But if you want to know what the daily specials are just ask one of the black-suited waiters who are friendly and speak excellent English. Most set meals include three courses plus one soup, which will come to about $188 for two: good value when compared to the a la carte. No great surprises on the first two or three pages which abound with the usual sharks fin, abalone and bird's nest specialities that range from $100 to $500. The interesting and exotic dishes appear - thankfully - in the lower priced beef, pork, chicken and miscellaneous districts of the menu. There are surprisingly few heavy, overly rich or stodgy dishes here. However, taste definitely takes a back seat to presentation (quite unusual for a Cantonese restaurant where the reverse is normally true), revealing that the head chef has at least a nodding acquaintance of nouvelle cuisine. We decided to start with fillet steak with almond ($55). This sounded great but turned out to be a bit of a let-down. The steak was chunky and very tender, rolled in almond flakes and steeped in a lemon sauce; but for some reason it tasted strangely bland and definitely craved the side dish of oyster sauce. Sauteed diced vegetables with nuts in taro nest ($55) was a distinct improvement. The vegetables had been cut a little too fine to be handled with chopsticks, but they had been expertly and lightly fried. Cashew nuts, snow peas, Chinese leek, carrot, asparagus tips, ginger, sweet corn and macadamia nuts were all tossed together, and while the dish appeared small it eventually proved to be more than a match for two. Steamed chicken with black mushroom ($45) looked promising but again misfired on the taste side. Large cuts of chicken (admittedly only good stuff - no necks or tail ends here) on a layer of Yunnan ham and fat, juicy Chinese mushrooms. Unfortunately, the Yunnan ham ruined the dish: it was sliced as thick as gammon steaks (ideally, it should be shaved like Parma ham) and had the chewiness of seasoned pigskin. Other dishes worth exploring include deep fried shrimp balls with almonds ($80), roasted pigeon with OK sauce ($70), and pan-fried soft duck in lemon sauce ($65). I wanted to try the very grand sounding ''pudding'', double boiled imperial birds nest coconut milk, but at HK$260 a head I convinced myself that it probably wasn't worth it. Service at the Almond Jade is excellent. Waiters are very smartly dressed (more like advertising account executives than restaurant staff), and are always on hand to assist with a smile. But the prices do verge on the expensive side, and the dishes tend to be a little too elaborate for their own good. Still, it's worth it for the very un-Cantonese atmosphere and is certainly a good spot for business dinners and one-on-ones. Lunchtime, however, is a different story (if you haven't made a reservation, forget it) when the place is mobbed with dim sum devotees. A meal for two with a couple of beers will cost between $250 and $300.