No Signboard Seafood is a rags to riches sort of place. Started up in the 1970s as a signless (hence the moniker) seafood stall in Singapore’s Matter Road hawker centre, the few fold-up tables have since transformed into a travel guide favourite with upscale venues all over Singapore and Indonesia. And now, after way too long, Hong Kong is also getting a slice of the action with its own No Signboard branch.
The HK outlet channels a minimalistic look with whitewashed walls and Kartell ghost chairs. The menu’s been substantially simplified too, to include only the top 30 or so signature dishes from the mother brand. Their chilli crab (mp) graces the table on a deep white plate, imbibed in a thick and tawny tomato sauce. We pick up a pre-cracked claw and suck on the shell before working our way through the sweet flesh. It’s delicious, but hardly spicy enough. It’s an obviously watered down version for milder Hongkonger palates. The cereal lobster (mp), on the other hand, is fully satisfying stuff with the battered chunks of meat deep-fried until they tear easily off the shell. The whole thing is then heaped under a sweet mess of crushed cereal. It’s a complex mix of texture and flavours that intrigues the palate and keeps you devouring.
With the non-seafood dishes, deep-fried butter chicken ($150) is cooked so that even the bones crunch up. The meat, however, runs on the mild side, necessitating a generous swipe of sweet chilli sauce. Mee goreng noodles ($80) are served on the plate in thick and chewy strands but the sauce is a touch too watery to score full points in our books. The kitchen made up for these stumbles with the stellar coffee-cooked pork ribs ($100) – fat-laced pieces of meat enriched with a smoky, caramel-tinged flavour.
No Signboard Seafood does competent renditions of Singapore’s favourite dishes, but for this Hong Kong branch you’ll have to expect dishes to be tweaked to local tastes. Still, if it’s authenticity you’re really after, the Lion City is only a hop away. Dorothy So
Shop C & D, 66-72 Paterson St, Causeway Bay, 2398 9959; www.nosignboardseafood.com. Daily 11am-11pm. Meal for two: around $900.
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Shop C & D, 66-72 Paterson St, Causeway Bay