The latest restaurant to grace the Lee Theatre, in Causeway Bay, is a smash hit from over the border. Established six years ago, South Beauty, which operates 18 branches on the mainland and specialises in fiery Sichuanese and light Cantonese fare, is now confident enough to open its first Hong Kong branch. With decor inspired by traditional Chinese theatre and opera, the eatery's red colour scheme is accented by gleaming chandeliers. The lavish design boasts two display kitchens, private rooms and balcony seats on the second level, with large banquet tables and a glass wall at the entrance level. The group's philosophy is to infuse 'fine art, design, culture, nature, tantalising food, harmony and joy' into contemporary Chinese cuisine. South Beauty's menu pays homage to well-known provincial fare as well as more innovative dishes. A celebrated example is tea-smoked chicken (bottom; HK$108): a fresh marinated chicken is smoked over Sichuan wu mei tea leaves and served with Sichuan chilli sauce, radish and wu mei plum tea. Other interesting offerings include spotted garoupa poached in superior soup (above left; HK$450 for four to six persons); spare ribs with chilli and spices (HK$168); sliced Mongolian fatty beef cooked in hot oil on a bed of Yangtze River stones (HK$188); and the royal kitchen of the Ching dynasty's recipe for braised fish maw in bisque (HK$68 a portion). Some dishes are so special they're not listed on the menu, such as the pan-fried Hokkaido king scallop (above right; HK$63 a piece, minimum two orders), which is cooked in front of diners. The signature dessert is 'four treasures of the scholar's studio' (below left; HK$30 a portion), which comprises a quartet of creative sweets commemorating the skills of ancient Chinese painters and calligraphers: the 'paper' is made of mashed chicken and egg white; the 'brush' is edible soy bean threads mixed with lotus seed paste; the 'ink' is Chinese cakes wrapped in black sesame seed cake; while the 'paperweight' is condensed fried egg threads. It must be ordered one day in advance. South Beauty is at 5/F, Lee Theatre Plaza, 99 Percival Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2241 4222.