Wan Chai newcomer Samsen – Thai noodles from former Chachawan chef
Casual Thai restaurant offers big flavours and good value, but with no reservations you’d better be prepared to wait for a table
Adam Cliff, formerly the chef at Chachawan in Sheung Wan, has opened Samsen, a new restaurant with partner Bella Kong. Located just across from Stone Nullah Tavern in Wan Chai, the Thai noodle shop looks like a hole-in-the-wall and it opens up to the pavement, drawing in many curious onlookers.
With the weather cooling down, it will be a popular spot for a quick bite at a reasonable price.
For starters, the green papaya salad with prawns with cherry tomatoes, green beans, bean sprouts, chilli and sweet and sour dressing (HK$88) had a spicy kick. We liked the substitution of the prawns in place of the crispy pork, to keep things light and refreshing.
Fried marinated pork collar (HK$68) was served in bite-sized pieces. It was crunchybut too oily and we couldn’t finish this dish.
One of the best dishes was the signature wagyu beef boat noodles (HK$128). It features thin rice noodles, pork rinds (which need to be eaten quickly as they get soggy), and Siamese watercress, or tung choi. The tender, meaty wagyu beef and flavourful broth made this absolutely delicious.
We also thoroughly enjoyed the glass noodles, stir-fried with fermented tofu, squid, prawns and scrambled egg (HK$118). Those who have acquired the taste for fermented tofu should order this, it is full of flavour. The noodles were accompanied by fresh pennywort leaves and a mild chilli sauce.
Phat Thai noodles (HK$118) was the weakest of the three noodles dishes we tried. Perhaps it’s because it is very similar to Cantonese-style pan-fried beef with rice noodles, except here it’s made with prawns and kale.
For drinks, there are Thai, Lao, Hong Kong and Australian bottled beers as well as Thai iced teas and other non-alcoholic beverages. The fresh Thai watermelon juice (HK$40) was on the saccharine sweet side. The calamansi with plum soda (HK$38) was refreshing although the dried plum, eaten finishing the drink, was very salty.
To finish the meal, pandanus coconut dumplings (HK$52) filled with crushed nuts was enjoyable, but the salted coconut cream sauce didn’t add much to the dish.
The 35-seat casual noodle shop doesn’t take reservations so be prepared to wait.
Samsen 68 Stone Nullah Lane, Wan Chai, tel: 2234 0001