To narrow down all the cuisines of the world and select my favourite would not be an easy decision to make. Thai food, however, is certainly up there, and will often be my go-to choice of comfort food. Thankfully, Thai restaurants there are aplenty in Hong Kong. Yet there are no Thai restaurants quite like Tangerine.
Its location on the quieter part of Peel Street and the fact that it claims to serve ‘Thai tapas’ didn’t fill me with hugely high hopes for this place; I expected it to be one of those that has no chance of surviving. That was until I tried it whilst doing a review for Time Out (read it here).
As its name suggests, Tangerine is significantly orange in colour, contrasted against dark wood and modern Thai touches, all presented under intimate, dim lighting, giving it a cosy yet elegant feel.
As I mentioned, Tangerine specialises in Thai tapas, although there is also a regular menu featuring many Thai favourites. Deciding that a Thai green curry could be had anywhere, we kept our focus mainly on the tapas side of the menu, comforted by the fact that, this way, there was less chance of coming face to face with our evil friend Food Envy.
An unexpected yet wholly delicious amuse bouche appeared in the form of a fresh prawn roll, before we were served the first of our ‘tapas’ – char-grilled chicken satay. According to my father, these were the best chicken satay he’s had since he lived in Singapore 50 years ago! They were beautifully presented in little shot glasses full of the creamiest peanut sauce you could ever taste, and the chicken was unbelievably tender.
Next up, the garlic and chilli sizzling prawns, although not even slightly sizzling, were delicious, packing a significant chilli and ginger punch that lingered long after the prawns had been devoured.
True to our friendly waitress’ recommendation, the stir-fried soft shell crab with garlic and chillies was exceptional. Not only were the generous chunks of crab crispy and satisfying to bite into, but so were the large slivers of garlic – definitely not a dish for a first date!
Perhaps my favourite dish of the night was the minced pork with Thai chillies and kaffir lime leaves, served on fresh lettuce. Again these were beautifully presented for individual consumption and were simply bursting with flavour. Not for the faint-hearted, these parcels of delight are even spicier than the abovementioned dishes, making them, in my mind, utterly delicious and authentically Thai.
Unfortunately the char-grilled pork neck with Esan-style chilli sauce was disappointingly chewy and far too salty for our liking – the only let down of the evening.
The last of our tapas dishes was sizzling tofu with basil and chillies, this time most definitely sizzling. If the tofu itself wasn’t hugely flavoursome, the rest of the dish, with lovely chopped green beans, crispy Thai basil leaves and of course a lot of chilli, made up for it.
The pad Thai, from the non-tapas menu, was one of the best I have tasted, with just the right balance of sweet and spicy, beautifully presented in a thin, tasty omelette.
Last but by no means least, the mango sticky rice with coconut cream, made with both black and white, amazingly sticky rice, was the perfect end to a surprisingly delicious meal. The mango here was just as I like it – slightly sharp, creating a wonderful contrast with the heavenly sweet coconut cream.
Between four of us, our meal amounted to a little over $200 a head, with only soft drinks; had it not been a Monday night, the tapas menu even offers wine suggestions to complement the dishes. Finding a place like Tangerine with excellent, well-executed food and good service that doesn’t cost the earth is a true breath of fresh air. We were such fans of Tangerine that we even ordered a takeaway from there just four days later! This may well become our go-to Thai place…
51 Peel Street
Tel: +852 2546 6162