Red Bull, silk, “Lewis Vuitton” handbags and DVDs of the latest Hollywood blockbuster shot at a slight angle and interrupted by people dashing across the screen on the way to the bathroom… All excellent if slightly clichéd Bangkok exports.
Looking for something less Chatchuchak market, and more upmarket? Well, look no further than Bangkok export, Greyhound Café – a ‘fashion café’ and general Thai hotspot but a short MTR ride away in the IFC mall! Being out and out foodies, we’ve always been a little wary of Greyhound’s ‘fashion café’ tag, which conjures images of bored-looking stick-thin models pushing a lonely lettuce leaf around a plate. But pushing aside our paranoia, we finally decided to give Greyhound a try.
Arriving in a pretty uninspiring work outfit and after a sweaty dash from the MTR, I was relieved to find that Greyhound’s cool open space wasn’t packed with immaculate models dressed in couture, but rather that the fashion element plays out more in its slick decor. Exposed light bulbs hang in clusters from the ceilings, comfy banquettes are upholstered in clashing prints of neat polka dots and deckchair stripes and the white tiled walls are graffiti-ed with dogs in berets, flying steaks and men with antlers. The overall feel is slightly surreal and Dali-esque – very Diane Von Furstenberg AW12!
A smart waiter dressed in a shirt with ‘Hello, How are you today?’ splashed across the front in English and Thai ushered me to a banquette in the corner, the perfect spot for people watching. I sceptically tried the signature Greyhound iced-tea (usually I prefer my tea hot and of the PG Tips variety) after the waiter assured me it was a must-try. Here, the icy drink comes complete with ice-cubes made from the tea – an ingenious way to ensure that the drink doesn’t lose its flavour even as the ice melts. One sip and I was completely sold – zingy, ridiculously refreshing and utterly delicious, it was a cross between a fresh lime soda and a traditional iced-tea. No matter what the food was like, I decided right then that that tea would keep me coming back again and again!
Greyhound’s USP is simple Thai food with a twist, with traditional Thai recipes tweaked here and embellished there to create something at once familiar and unexpected. Eyeing the menu hungrily, I decided if I was going to flout the fashionista ‘food is the enemy’ mantra, I should do it properly. Slurping on the dregs of my iced-tea, I ordered up a veritable feast of Thai dishes, the likes of which would have Karlie Kloss waving the white flag after a couple of mouthfuls!
First up, salmon carpaccio in spicy hot sauce – traditionally a shrimp-based dish, Greyhound swaps in slithers of salmon and drizzles them generously with green chilli-spiked olive oil and finely sliced cloves of raw garlic. This dish had all the freshness of the best Japanese sashimi, with a dash of sultry Italian flavour and a fiery Thai kick. The perfect taster of the Thai fusion to come.
As I nabbed the last slice of salmon, a plate piled with Greyhound’s famous fried chicken wings arrived – dainty little chicken wings, marinated in fish sauce and deep-fried to crisp perfection – which I devoured in a couple of greedy mouthfuls.
Next to arrive was the Complicated Noodle, a dish so mind-bogglingly difficult to construct that the head waiter had to demonstrate the correct way of layering lettuce leaf under paper-thin square of rice noodle, bathed in plum sauce and all topped off with spicy minced pork sautéed with chilli sauce. Cramming every last crumb of the resulting parcel of deliciousness into my mouth, I wondered how anyone ever manages to get down to a size 0 when food tastes this good!
After a little breather, it was time for the main courses. The first to arrive was the spaghetti with Thai anchovy, a Greyhound signature dish of perfectly al dente spaghetti topped with a bold and briny sauce balanced nicely by sweet cherry tomatoes. Spaghetti gobbled, the fried rice with pounded prawn was brought out. This was more traditionally Thai – a mound of fluffy fried rice garnished with salty egg, papaya and a scattering of innocent looking green chilli, which turned out to be so mouth-numbingly spicy that I had to order another iced-tea to douse the furnace raging across my tongue (well that was my excuse anyway…!).
Our final dish was the Pad Thai. Everyone’s favourite Thai noodle dish brought the meal back into old-school Thai territory, but this was definitely one of the better versions I’ve sampled outside of Thailand. Light with a nice sesame flavour, the noodles didn’t have the gluey consistency that so often ruins this dish.
Beginning to feel distinctly plus-sized, I was about to pass on dessert when a waiter sauntered past in a shirt saying: “Life is short, more dessert?” My willpower is no match to such straightforward common sense! Without further ado, an array of desserts were wheeled out. I loved the mango parfait, a modern twist on the traditional mango and sticky rice, but my favourite was the chocolate banana crepe cake – a stack of crepes interspersed with layers of whipped cream, chocolate sauce and fresh bananas – out-and-out decadence on a plate.
As I mopped the last of the chocolate sauce up with a rogue slice of banana, I pondered that Kate Moss had clearly never eaten at Greyhound when she remarked, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”!
Greyhound Café, Shop 1082, Podium Level 1, ifc Mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong, 2383 1133
- Shop OTG01, Ground Floor, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, 17 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, 2383 6600; a branch in Festival Walk in Kowloon Tong is set to open soon!
Check out Natalie’s blog for all things food, fashion and fun, 3 Bad Mice.