WHETHER you are just visiting patients, or a patient yourself, two of the better hospital menus in town are those at the Matilda and War Memorial Hospital and the Hong Kong Sanatorium Hospital. Both kitchens serve extremely lean, low-fat Chinese and Western dishes which are surprisingly tasty, given that all those popular but fattening and unhealthy ingredients are left out - MSG, salt and lots of grease. For those with a penchant for Chinese food, the Sanatorium is the place to visit a sick friend. Its fourth-floor kitchen offers a wide variety of Chinese dishes and it has the added attraction of a good view of the Happy Valley race track. The 11-page menu offers a fine assortment of soups, seafood, meat, vegetarian dishes, noodles, rice and congee; and all are reasonably priced. With a budget of $80 we decided to put three simple but popular dishes to the test: braised beef with rice and vegetables, fried noodles (chow min) with pork and mushrooms, and a typically Hong Kong-style club sandwich. The portions were a little smaller than expected but all were tasty. The beef dish was quite lean, with tender and smallish cuts of meat - ideal for those in the sick bed - with plenty of Chinese vegetable (choi sum) to go with it, and a tasty gravy sauce. The noodle dish chosen was simple but also flavoursome, with big pieces of vegetables and mushrooms, and surprisingly dry noodles considering this was a fried dish - a real winner. The club sandwich is arguably the most popular Western snack among Chinese diners, despite its high fat content. But the Sanatorium's kitchen has managed to come up with a somewhat smaller club sandwich than those served in most other diners. Using only two slices of toast, a little meat and vegetables, this lean version leaves out all the greasy special sauces, dressings and fries that are usually associated with the sandwich, and tops off the Sanatorium's fine line between low fat and greattaste. For the more ardent Western food-lovers, the Matilda and War Memorial Hospital offers a different Western set-meal every day, and has a few interesting fast food snacks like hot dogs and hamburgers, which will come as a surprise to some visiting the hospital or admitted as patients. But these favourites are not quite like those you might find in the legion of fast food outlets in Hong Kong - dripping with grease and fat. These are hospital specialties; lean and mean. The set meal the day we visited the hospital was pizza, but it was nothing like regular fast food fare. The pizza slice was not too big, with a variety of vegetables and light meats in its topping, and came with a bumper side-dish salad that really was the highlight of the meal. The set meal was also accompanied by a tasty but not too rich coffee-flavoured mousse and a bottomless pot of tea - provided you were happy to walk to the counter and pour it yourself. The price tag of $70 was a little steep but, with the generous servings and a magnificent view overlooking Aberdeen and Lamma Island, the Matilda's kitchen will certainly have you on your way to recovery.