Delicious beef noodles and wallet-friendly Taiwanese snacks in Causeway Bay.
Words Tiffany Chan Food photo Samantha Sin
Newly opened by three friends in Causeway Bay, Tristar Kitchen is helmed by Taiwanese chef Steven Chou, who comes from a family of restaurateurs in Taipei. The lack of a foyer means guests step straight into the dining room from the elevator and can cause an uncomfortable build-up at peak hours but this is no fault of the restaurant’s, as this is the case for all tenants in The L Square. Aesthetically, the restaurant is all light wood dressed in a palette of muted tones, which will transport diners straight back to Taiwan, especially with the Mandopop soundtrack blaring in the background and occasional outbursts of Taiwanese from the staff.
The menu is a compilation of Taiwanese snacks, including lu rou rice, fried pig’s intestines and “KTV sausages”. Boba and red beans can be added to all hot and cold drinks. We started with fried hundred-page tofu ($42), a daily special. Simple as it was, this was one of the most surprising and delicious dishes of the meal. The tofu is firm with a bite, almost like a hybrid of gluten and fish cake, encased in a thin, crispy dry shell, seasoned liberally with salt and pepper spice mix. The outer shell is delicate but crispy, and the inside fluffy. The yan su ji ($48) – boneless, bite-sized pieces of fried chicken – was generously spiced and crispy, but the batter was slightly too thick. Most disappointing (and rather deceiving) were the salt-and-pepper French beans ($38), which turned out to be French beans stir-fried with minced garlic. There was something very Cantonese about this dish. The fried pig’s intestines ($48) were crispy on the outside and not at all chewy or spongy inside, but fragrant and addictive. The signature Tristar beef noodles ($82) are a best-seller and evidently a destination dish. Luo ro dry noodles ($48) are a noodle version of luo ro faan (rice), but far too sweet, and cloyingly so. We much preferred the rice, as the starch is able to absorb the sweetness and sauce, while the noodles were simply coated with it.
While a few dishes need tweaking, those that are done right (fried hundred-page tofu, fried pig’s intestines, Tristar beef noodles) will keep us coming back, and often. The prices are wallet-friendly, with most snacks costing $38 to $48, and the most expensive noodles priced at $82.
Spending: Under $200 per person
Highlights: Tristar beef noodles; fried hundred-page tofu
What else: They don’t take reservations. Don’t visit during peak hours. Cash only.
21/F The L Square, 459-461 Lockhart Road Causeway Bay
Tel: 2116 8300