For consecutive years, boxing day has always been "Christmas Party Leftovers days" for our family. This year fortunately no more. The three of us decided that a fresh start was needed, and we were delighted to try Palki at Tin Hau. Previously tried the same joint's Chicken Tikka Masala in Shau Kei Wan -- that was another story. This time I was determined to ditch that bad experience. Arriving past noon there were nobody there. The Bollywood music was flowing but not a soul could be seen. I walked straight into the kitchen as the manager popped his head with joy and greeted us. We found a table near the corner. The manager was sunny of a man shuffling the loose menus. He arranged them neatly as he settled by our table, he nodded and introduced the specials.
I had my "uh-oh" moment to see "Masala Lobster' and "Masala Crab" on the chalk board as daily specials. The concept never crossed my mind, I couldn't stop wondering whether the lobster will still taste remotely a member of the crustacean family, or will it be over-smeared with spices and turned into something that tasted like chicken? I swallowed my own questions, and ordered. Quickly enough we ordered Pappas, then a plain naan to go with Chicken Korma (Chicken cooked in a mild cashew based sauce), Palak Paneer (Cheese cubes in Spinach sauce), samosas (half vegetarian, half lamb), and above all, a Lamb Vindaloo (Lamb with fiery hot curry sauce). The manager nodded with certain respect that we're fearless to try the three-chili rated vindaloo. He disappeared into the kitchen while we looked around.
The decor was typical -- ethnic beading and embroided cloth piled neatly and hung up from the ceiling. The Bollywood music consisted of some catchy tunes I heard from some famous Indian movies in recent years. In a flash our food arrived. The Pappas were roasted crispy like chips. Served with two sauces -- a tangy plum sauce with subtle heat, and a mint-coriander yogurt sauce that's thinner than most but tasty throughout. The combination of hot plum sauce, quenched by the minty yogurt is refreshingly enough. The samosas were the chef's easy way out. Instead of the thicker stretched dough we usually have, these were made with "spring roll wrappers". Before we had time for disappointment, we bit into one samosa. The vegetarian one was filled with fluffy mashed potato with pigeon peas throughout. It tasted like potato, not a mush of leftover vegetables from the night before. The peas crunched like petite pois from Spring. Lamb samosas are surprisingly dry and crumbly on the lamb's part, but not crumbly enough to get all over onto the plate and bounce off onto your shirt. Not like that at all. The lamb was a flavorful mince with plenty of cumin added to it.
The Curries arrived next. Chicken Korma was the colour of custard yellow, unlike most Kormas that come out golden like mango lassi. In this Korma, cashews were toasted, ground and cooked over heat with various spices before adding pieces of chicken tenders. Cooking with cream thickened the sauce quite a bit, making it the perfect dish to mop up with the naan bread. The chicken pieces were moist and juicy throughout. The naan came out fresh from the kitchen, smelling like freshly baked bread. The bread was soft and pillowy and there was not an ounce of staleness you can detect from naans alike elsewhere. Lamb Vindaloo arrived next -- the sauce is a crimson shade with a fiery quality that smelled of stimulating heat. One taste, the tongue felt a ticklish sensation and in no time the entire mouth was filled with a tomato-base spicy curry, with an eruption of lingering heat throughout. The lamb was in bigger chunks that may need an extra pair of teeth to chew them into pieces, but the sauce was so rich and delicious and hot that we didn't care much for the meat. The sauce was Great!
Palak Paneer (Palak = Spinach while Paneer = cheese) looked disappointing before we dipped our spoons into it. We've been used to the ones when the spinach was cooked through into a mush while cheese cubes were lightly fried and blended throughout. This one was surely different, as the cheese were fried crusty while the spinach wasn't quite cooked down to a puree or in fact, tasted of spinach at all. It tasted very much like baby food warmed up with fennel and fenugreek seeds. The yellow and green bits blended throughout a thick sauce did not make this very appetizing to look at either. Finishing the meal was easy, we ordered one more naan to mop up the last bit of everything.
We purposely didn't order a lassi, as we have set our next stop around the corner for an old-style HK milk tea. We held our breath slowly as we paid our check. Pondering the possibilities of those spices and candies served in joints like Branto and Viceroy. There weren't any, but the manager smiled at us sincerely, asking for our comments before we leave we certain degree of satisfaction. The meal has been good throughout, even for post-Christmas fare it's wonderful. There's no doubt about it. Now that the review's coming to an end, I would strongly suggest my dear readers to avoid any froufrou foodstuff -- anything that's too complicated or you've never heard before, or too outrageously strange may turn out to be "too complicated" and "outrageously strange" to be considered Indian Food. And for desserts, there are plenty of desserteries in Tin Hau. I'm not sure a lot of people here love Gulab Jamun, especially when served hot! You can always go across the streets for conventional choices of Chinese/ Western desserts alike.
Nutty Chicken Korma
Heat from Lamb Vindaloo
Not very Green, Nor Cheesy.
Chicken Korma, Naan (Plain), Lamb Vindaloo
Spending per head: Approximately HKD80(Lunch)Other Ratings:
Value for Money 3