I didn't leave this 'Pan Asian' restaurant/ bar wanting any more food. But annoyingly, I did want more of everything else.
After a freak occurrence of being alone with no children for 2 hours, I decided to treat myself to lunch out so I ventured down to the 'restaurant strip' at the bottom of Seaview Crescent to see what exciting lunch set menus they had to offer.
I passed The Next Chapter as I go there all the time, then the Chinese Cha Chang Teng as I go there all the time too. Next up was Mint & Basil, a 'Pan-Asian' bar/ restaurant which I never go to, so thought I'd try that.
Everywhere else I passed was teaming as it was lunchtime, but not Mint & Basil. There was one other table eating. I don't always read too much into this as a marker of a good restaurant so decided to dive in. I scanned the app then stood in the doorway for a good 30 seconds before a staff member stopped faffing and looked at me like I was there to paint the ceiling. "Just me thanks", I offered as a prompt. Perhaps she'd forgotten here role in this show. She finally gestured to a corner table and off I went to sit down.
A medley of menus were placed on the table without a word. I was after something quick and reasonable. The set menu - Set Menu B on this occasion, was looking great. See below from their website.
I went for the coconut soup with chicken and the butter chicken curry. The soup was... nice. It's not going to win any awards and it didn't disappoint, but it's not as good as some of the other restaurants nearby. My Thai's coconut soup is a masterclass for example and also available on their lunch menu.
Next up was the butter chicken. I adore this as a dish. I'm trying to eat more healthily to avoid a slow, premature and painful death, so when I do order something artery clogging it needs to be worth the pain. Dear readers, it wasn't. The chicken itself was well marinaded and tasty, but the sauce was all spice and no flavour. I was looking for a depth of buttery sweetness that coated my mouth and left me salivating but it didn't deliver. It was a little bitter when all I wanted was a lot of butter.
The pilau rice was a travesty. It smelt good, but the texture was like chewing on chopped up tooth picks. The rice would make excellent ammunition for an air gun but it didn't cut it as an accompaniment to a curry. The naan bread was great though, and there was plenty of it.
The place has the ambience of an overhead luggage compartment. Why is there a TV on showing cricket? I'd prefer an old black and white movie, or a video showing the vibrancy of the sub-continent... or simply no TV at all. The decor is nice enough but has no soul. I overheard a lady on the only other table sum it up well when she said to her colleague "This is Thai food, but that picture over there is of a Chinese street, or is that an Indian street?". Maybe it's best to focus and do one thing well, as opposed to trying to be a sports' bar and a restaurant that serves Thai, Indian and Vietnamese food.
The staff at Mint & Basil also seem a little confused as to why they're there - I believe it's to cook and serve good food in a friendly and genial manner. The staff didn't utter a single word to me on my visit. I appreciate it's hard to see a smile behind a mask but you can tell a set of smiling eyes, and I didn't see a set of them either. I enjoyed watching the staff argue about who was going to bring in a delivery, but I would have preferred it if they have been more attentive and bought me my bill.
About the bill... It's very reasonable. In fact it's the same deal as the now defunct Kimos used to offer - $88 for a starter and main with a drink, but I always left Kimos feeling happier in myself. I don't like to bad-mouth a local business, but surely they can do better than this, especially given all the competition. I hope I was just there on a bad day and Mint & Basil are usually hot-bed of delicious food and stunning service, and if this is the case, please do let me know in the comments and I'll try again.
Website to book https://mintandbasil.hk/tung-chung or just walk in as there's probably space.