Australian

Where:
Bistro November
50 Keong Saik Road
Singapore 089154

Phone:
+65 6347 1928

Price:
SGD78 (+17% tax) for the dinner tasting menu.

The deal:
Bistro November is a pop-up dining concept by Chef John-Paul (JP) Fiechtner which is, as the name suggests, only sticking around until November 2017 when the lease runs out.  I’m not sure what Chef JP’s plan is post this date and whether he’s going to keep living that fuck yeah Singapore good life with Bistro November resurfacing in another format / location.  Regardless of the short time frame this place is going to be open, it doesn’t feel too slapped together, with the Bistro November team keeping shit simple – using existing furniture and various pieces from thrift shops to give it that modern hipster feel.  It definitely has a Melbourne feel to it, except there isn’t some Melbourne asshole next to me telling me about how goddamn liveable Melbourne is, babbling about trams and small bars and for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever – Melbourne coffee.  Every other review will probably describe its interior as “quirky” but that word makes me want to punch myself in the face, so I’ll just go with carefully put together.  The website trots out the usual tat about using “local and seasonal ingredients sourced daily from the nearby Chinatown Wet Market” and it’s this ethos which supports a handwritten menu which changes daily.

Starting with the bread which is stated as being from “friends”, there’s a few different types and it’s served with a house-made miso butter.  The bread is largely A1 good times with some fuck yeah sourdoughs, except for the inclusion of my nemesis, fucking brioche which is predictably a bit dry and a bit crap. Maybe the 1,256th time I try brioche I’ll actually think “Wow, I much prefer this dried out piece of shit over bread” but I haven’t reached that point yet.  There’s some fuss by the waiter about their house-made miso butter which sounds like it should be exciting, with the fermented miso getting along with the creamy butter but in its execution it’s a hard lump which doesn’t spread, just disintegrating into weird, hard, fatty pieces (despite it being at room temperature).   Not sure what’s going on in the House of Home Made Miso Butter, but it appears you’re the rightful King of What’s the Fucking Point and Lord of the Crumbles. Bistro November move past their butter related failures and kick a goal though, with its Fromage de Tete (head cheese) cause there’s nothing like some jellied pig head meat terrine to eat with some fuck yeah bread to get a meal really started.

One of my fave fuck yeah dishes of the night is the barley porridge.  Fuck, I know right – who serves a porridge course unless you’re at breakfast at a health retreat, in prison or at the three bears’ house? Bistro November has fermented the barley and then mixed it with the prawn head butter (ie. the flavourful gunk inside the prawn head that all fuck yeah Asians in the know suck out of the prawn head).  It’s rich, deep in flavour and fucking delicious.  Yeah, I get into the spirit of being Goldilocks flaunting her white privilege while criminally supping on baby bear’s breakfast, because Bistro November’s porridge is, as the fairy tales go, SO FUCKING RIGHT.

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FYN side note:  Does this GIF now get FYN banned in China?

Our mega main is up next, with a golden pomfret served with beurre noisette.  There’s three of us and the waitress lets us know that it’s normally one fish between two people but with three people, it’s too awkward to split so they’ve given us two whole fish. GO FISH MY GENEROUS NOVEMBER MOTHERFUCKERS, I’m into it.  The pomfret is served whole and on the bone, so if you haven’t got homies who are a) not into fish b) can’t serve / debone a fish (ie. white homies), you are shit out of luck.  Lucky for us, we had enough fuck yeah talent at our table to get shit done and it is fucking sensational.  Fresh as fuck steamed pomfret, topped with onions, edamame and mussels, served with the browned butter in the sauce taking on an almost nutty flavour.  Our table tore through both fish in its entirety.

Less successful was the side dish of homemade soy curd and sour cucumber that was served with it.  It was one of those dishes which makes sense in theory but its execution let it down.  Like, I get that the acidity of the cucumber pickle should have played out against the fat of the beurre noisette, with the tofu bringing a textural and a slightly cooling contrast to the crisp pickle and complementing the the soft flesh of the pomfret.  However, in real life, I was more like “Why am I eating slightly grainy tofu with a piece of flaccid cucumber which isn’t sour or crunchy enough to cut through shit?”.  Cool idea Bistro homies and I know you fucking tried with that home made shiz but fuckkk, shit didn’t quite get to the end goal.  More importantly, why would you want to serve anything to detract from that magnificent fuck yeah pomfret??

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Dessert is chocolate heavy – a raw cacao based cake topped with ice-cream and dried chocolate.  I don’t necessarily get that hot and heavy for chocolate but this one was a fuck yeah because it wasn’t just a slog through a sweet, chocolatey one note mess. Well balanced with a good use of textures, the addition of shiso gave it a slightly spicy, herbal note and with a touch of salt, just brought a solid fuck yeah balance to it and a solid close to the menu.

Service at Bistro November was also tight as fuck, with our two waitresses bringing big smiles all night and attentive service.  In a Singapore blessing, they were actually walking the floor AND noticing when you needed help.

Overall, Bistro November is bringing something interesting to the table by riffing on locally sourced ingredients and mixing it with different techniques, flavours and ingredients that you might not have had before.  Which is interesting and for the most part, they land it.  Of course, with such an ambitious task to change their menu as frequently as they do, you also get the feeling that this is a space for the chefs to try some ideas they’ve had kicking around in their head and to see what lands before Bistro November reaches the end of its lease and the chefs re-emerge at their next venture.  I’d recommend Bistro November for adventurous homies who want to perhaps try something new which will hit some fuck yeahs, they’ll be a few mediocre points where the experiment hasn’t paid off but at least the service will be on point and you’ll have a fuck yeah time and the experience will show you something new about food as well.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah! But get into it ASAP homies cause in the words of Axl Rose, nothin’ lasts forever, even cold hot SG November rain bistros.

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Where:
Burnt Ends
20 Teck Lim Road
Singapore 088391

Phone:
+65 6224 3933

Price:
It really is gonna depend on how much steak and wine you order, I’d estimate around SGD90 per person including 200g of the cheapest steak each, before booze and tip (no service charge included). And it’s SG, so of course booze ain’t gonna be cheap.

The deal:
Burnt Ends is the one restaurant in Singapore that I get asked about all the time by my HK homies re: whether they should bother going.  Before I moved to Singapore (yes for the blog only homies, it’s true – I’ve left HK and it’s all about Majulah Singapura.  But why be a blog only homie?  Get onto my Fuck Yeah Insta or follow the rad as fuck Fuck Yeah Noms Facebook page or if you wanna get personal, friend the fuck out of me on my personal profile), I never made it there on my previous SG visits because I was too busy throwing myself head first through all the hawker centres ever.  Burnt Ends is definitely a restaurant that has all the indications of a restaurant that international visitors are going to be all over because it always appears on those lists.  You know, those stupid destination lists you read in the airplane magazines accompanied by a moody night time shot taken from outside the restaurant with the glow of the restaurant illuminating some beardy, tattooed chef in a leather apron with his arms crossed.  It’s also #14 on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017 list (as sponsored by S. Pellegrino and Acqua Pana) which means from a FYN perspective it’s also highly likely to be overrated AF, overpriced and a total ball ache to get into.  For reals, when did we start giving any sort of weight from a problematic list sponsored by a WATER company, which doesn’t even require its “voters” to remain anonymous or pay for their own fucking meals??  Despite all of this, I ended up at Burnt Ends cause I still fucking love to check out hype beasts even if you’re odds on to be disappointed and destitute by the end of proceedings.

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Now I get that reservations are a pain in the ass for every restaurant because customers are total dick bags who like to no show without giving any warning which kills your ability to get dem dollars, but as a diligent booking honouring customer, I just want to be able to book my shit and not have to wait hours for a table.  Burnt Ends has this booking policy of only taking dinner bookings at early o’clock (ie. 6pm or 6:30pm) otherwise it’s walk in only.  I’m definitely too much of an old, grumpy fucker who needs instant gratification to be dealing with being told it’s going to be two hours before I can get a table, even if it means that I can wait at Potato Head Folk across the road and get involved in some fuck yeah cocktails. 

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After about 90 minutes, I’m well liquored with fuck yeah cocktails and our table is ready.  It’s the outside bench which faces onto the road, which I’m cool with but I’m guessing if you’re here for a special occasion or date night, you’re going to want to be inside so you can see the Burnt Ends show.  As a restaurant that bills itself as Modern Australian barbecue, it’s all about its custom built four tonne, dual cavity ovens and three elevation grills.  I can get behind what they’re trying to do, using wood ovens and grilling techniques to bring the best out in the fresh ingredients, letting the produce dictate what the daily menu should be. With everything that may be going on from a vibe and interior perspective, nothing can distract me from the fact that prices on this menu are substantial by the time you’re looking at whole point of being at Burnt Ends (ie. the roasted meats).  Sure there’s some affordable snacks which range from SGD10 – SGD20, but by the time you’e looking at the meat section it’s SGD26 per 100g for flank, SGD50 per 100g for striploin and if you want to get into some 45 dry aged Mayura OP Rib, you’re gonna be laying down SGD490 per kg.  Or perhaps you wanna try their famous roasted leek (with hazelnut and black truffle) at a mere SGD42 (+7% GST) – FUCK ME AND PAINT ME A POOR CONSERVATIVE for not wanting to get on board with laying down SGD42 to see just how good a leek can be.

Our server is friendly and efficient, talking us through the menu factually but not giving much more colour on top of that.  When ordering our starters, it’s clear that they aren’t gonna be big and they are designed to be eaten by one to two people.  The Grissini and Taramasalata (SGD12 +7% GST) is good fuck yeah times.  Taramasalata is a Greek dip made from bread, onions, olive oil, fish roe and lemon juice.  This brings back the memories of my Aussie-Greek friends would always bust this out at parties and as a mark of respect, I’d park myself right next to that dip bowl and pay it grave reverence by bowing my head and inhaling as much of this bread dip on more bread.  But fuck, Burnt Ends’ version surely is delicious but SGD12+ for one piece of crisp flatbread with some dip on it? I’m not so fucking down with that but it does make me estimate the cost of the Taramasalata Takedowns I’ve executed at my Greek homies’ parties at around SGD180.

Next up is the Duck Hearts Peri Peri (SGD8 +7% GST) which I’m excited about cause I fucking love organs and all their chewy, interesting textures.  There’s some peri peri sauce to give some contrast to the deep, iron of the hearts, but who fucking cares when these duck hearts are bitter little fuckers which have had the life cooked out of them?  I try to move past this by having some Sobrasada (SGD14 +7% GST), but as delicious as raw cured sausage is with bread, there’s just nothing exciting at all about this dish.  The Beef, Marmalade and Pickles (SGD14 +7% GST) is absolutely fine too, some braised beef which is using the acidity of the pickles and sweet marmalade on some more bread.  I deliberate and chew on this, trying to process what is exactly so exceptional about this place which causes the hype machine to praise it as a BEST EVER or MUST VISIT in Singapore, nay, ASIA.

The Burnt Ends’ Sanger (SGD20+7% GST) is one of their famous, signature dishes which can only explain why I ordered something which sounds like the epitome of basic, boring “OMG FOOD IS SO GOOD, I’M SUCH A FOODIE, FOOD IS LIFE” fare.  For reals, pulled pork shoulder – CHECK, coleslaw – CHECK, chipotle aioli – CHECK and you know it, my eternal and undying nemesis – brioche bun – CHECK.  Wahhhhhhh, get my hair shirt out and squeeze it onto my cliche filled body cause I’m obviously a sadomasochist fucker who wants to flog myself with the cat-o-nine tails of trendy food cliches.  The hits keep coming and even though it’s SGD20 and stuffed full of trendy food tropes, it’s so fucking tiny and most def food for ants.  I get my scalpel and surgical mask out so I can dissect this to share amongst us and find it hard to focus because my eyes are starting to glaze over as I choke back another yawn.  In that one bite there’s the pulled pork which is a bit dry and soggy coleslaw, which causes the brioche to lose its structural shit because NEWSFLASH, BRIOCHE IS GOOD FOR FUCKING NOTHING.  Oh, you know where this is going, FUCK NO.  But because it’s minuscule, I guess at least its lacklustre SGD20+ fuck no sting is swift?

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For our steak, I opted for the Flank with Burnt Onion and Bone Marrow  (SGD26 per 100g +7% GST) cause fuck no, I can’t afford no SGD50 per 100g + 7% GST striploin shenanigans.  Like most things I ate at Burnt Ends it was cooked well and tasty enough, but there’s nothing exceptional that sticks in my memory. Maybe it’s cause I cheaped out and didn’t go for the ball breaking SGD50/100g option? But I don’t think it’s unreasonable that I expect that a SGD26/100g steak option should leave some sort of impression on me other than “I guess it wasn’t fucking terrible”?

In this sea of high priced malaise, it’s the Bone Marrow Bun (SGD12 +7% GST) which finally manages to shake a little bit of fuck yeah excitement into my Burnt Ends #asiastop50 life.  A sesame flecked bun which is wrapped in foil and baked til it’s crispy as fuck on the outside but still soft on the inside with its fuck yeah bone marrow stuffing, all melted and buttery.  I have so many fuck yeah feelings regarding this bun, that I double down and get another order of it.

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So, I get that Burnt Ends’ jam is meant to be food which show cases the ingredients but there’s the difference in doing the ingredients right and not overcomplicating things, while still showing me something new and then just doing shit in a fine but completely unremarkable manner.  Burnt Ends is in no way terrible and these hyped up restaurants are always battling against expectation but for me, if I have to lay down the big bucks, I want something that makes me pause and think about what’s going on.  Not just that each bite is costing me too much money for a complete lack of excitement, regardless of whatever fancy as fuck grill and oven contraptions you may be slinging in the kitchen.

Verdict:
Fuck no because shit ain’t worth the bucks nor the no booking palaver.  But if you’re visiting Singapore and really wanna get involved, I recommend ordering two Bone Marrow Buns and smashing a glass of red before applying the appropriate hashtags to your Instagram post and moving along.  But I will concede, there’s a few people where you’d still be so fucking excited about Burnt Ends, such as:

  1. You’ve been in a coma for the last 15 years and someone using a grill on meat in a restaurant and eating something delicious on a piece of toasted bread is the most amazing concept you’ve ever heard of
  2. You like going to restaurants which are on lists because getting to tag your shit with #asias 50best, thank the chef for looking after you and listing which arbitrary ranking number it came in at because this still counts for something in your dull, desolate existence.
  3. You’re an old fucker who’s now living DA ASIA LYFE and you need to take your hot new young thing to DATE NIGHT to show you’re still hip with the homies but you also don’t want to feel too Old Man River eating a SGD45++ serve of sea urchin on a grey, soulless slate while an immaculate waitress listlessly serves you extra bitch face as you try to get your ancient bones to deal with sitting on a concrete slab bench as ambient techno discretely throbs in the background.
  4. Someone else is fucking paying, so who gives a fuck if you’re dropping all the bucks ever on pedestrian but still delicious, overpriced bits of meat on bread.

For everyone else, there’s most def more interesting and fuck yeah eats to spend your Sing Buckas on.

Where:
Little Creatures Hong Kong
Shop 1, G/F, New Fortune House
2-5A New Praya
Kennedy Town, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2833 5611 (you better book that shit too, cause these fucks are popular)

Price:
This was the second meal of our night, so the per person cost isn’t as large as normal, around HKD110 a person (including service charge) without booze.  Large plates seem to range from around HKD100 – 150 each (+10% service charge), with most small plates under HKD100.

The deal:
After rampaging through fuck no disappointment town at The Ribcage, we pushed grimly onto a second bang bang dinner down the road at the microbrewery, Little Creatures Hong Kong. For those people who possess self control and don’t know what a bang bang is, it’s when you complete two meals in one session. Little Creatures is an import from Fremantle in Western Australia, but of course if you’re any true blue Aussie Cunt (technical term) worth your Vegemite, you’d know that you say it correctly as ‘Freo’.  The former sugar and flour mill in Kennedy Town has been decked out to try and capture that carefree port side feeling of the Little Creatures in Freo with its high ceilings, recycled wood, airy interiors and cute purposefully retro posters blending Australia and HK references. My lungs are almost gleefully sucking down that clean Australian air just by thinking about it. It’s also really fucking huge by Hong Kong standards with a fucktonne of tables.  Despite the ample seats, we still had a wait ahead of us because we were bang bang dinner refugees without a booking and by the time we arrive at Little Creatures HK at around 8:30pm on a Friday night, it’s totally rammed with people and a long list of reservations.  The hostess is totally on her shit though, assuring us in a comforting Strayan strine that she’ll try and seat us as soon as possible.  She might even have called me darl, which went some way to calming my harried nerves. We dull our Ribcage related pain by getting involved in some Little Creatures Pale Ale, IPA and cider, as we stand around awkwardly at the limited bar space for a very reasonable twenty minutes before we’re shown to our table.

The Little Creatures HK menu is split into Sharing Plates, Small Plates, Greens Breads and Buns, Pizza, Pasta & Rice and Cheese.  We start with the Crispy Chicken (HKD125 +10% service charge) with pineapple sauce.  I’m sceptical from the start because I just don’t jive with sweet fruit and savoury meat as a general rule but in reality, the sauce isn’t as sickly sweet and offensive as I’d imagined it was going to be.  While the chicken itself is well fried, crispy as fuck on the outside and avoiding the common fate of being a dried out mess inside, it’s unfortunately underseasoned which means it relies on the pineapple sauce to bring the flavour (not that it particularly pops with any strong pineapple flavour). Luckily, I’m able to season my bland though well-fried chicken with the salty tears that I shed when I try the cliched Hand Cut Frites with truffle mayo (HK75 +10% service charge) which are just like my summer body dreams – pale, flabby and definitely full of carbs.

Next up is the Mac and Cheese (HKD75 +10% service charge), which is billed as being topped with truffle and a herb crust.  Little Creatures HK, Y SO MUCH TRUFFLE?  Shit sounds soooo fucking fancy doesn’t it?  The Mac and Cheese isn’t anything more than a creamy, herb sauce with macaroni in it and it’s as unsatisfying as a Typhoon 8 signal which gets lowered before 6am on a Friday. FFS Little Creatures HK, it’s fucking melted cheese with carbs, how fucking hard is it to get a mac and cheese right??  Did you even try?!  RETURN OF THE LITTLE CREATURES MAC, YOU LIED TO ME, YES I CRIED, YES I CRIED.

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The Pizza menu is an exercise in minimalism with titles such as Herbs, Corn, Kale and Sausage.  I wince at the nomenclature awkwardness of having to order a ‘Herbs Pizza’ and I obviously stay well clear of the ‘Kale Pizza’ because that sort of pizza bullshit seems to be targetted at half-hearted clean eating urban warriors who punch out some BikiniFit in the morning because #strongisthenewskinny before barrelling into six strawberry daiquiris at Feather Boa with their best white friends.  The Sausage pizza (HKD125 +10% service charge) is topped with bacon, fennel, sage and provolone which all sounds good in theory but when it is presented at our table I start to wonder what kind of Home Economics high school kitchen is now responsible for the food at Little Creatures HK.  The base is cardboard like in texture and appearance, you can almost imagine it being ripped out of a pre-made base box half a week ago to allow it to truly dry out before the recalcitrant, moody adolescent fingers of high school students smeared tomato paste across it and indolently topped it with pre-prepared chopped pieces of bacon and shredded cheese.  It’s horrific on all levels from the dried out base and the sloppy toppings which almost slide off in one piece to the complete lack of flavour.  I take several bites of this ‘pizza’ abomination just to really make sure this is the most soulless and flavourless pizza I’ve ever come across in Hong Kong and as I choke it back, there is no doubt in my mind that I’m completely right.  I chew slowly and deliberately, as I sort through the vague memories I have of someone telling me the pizzas are good at Little Creatures HK. Unfortunately, I can’t place which tasteless moron or press release gave me this bullshit information which is a shame because I’d be furiously texting them my views on how they are completely devoid of any knowledge as to what actually constitutes a good pizza.

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We debate whether to give Little Creatures the chance to wow us on dessert because LBR, we’re not expecting any show stoppers at this point.  As we’re greedy cunts who love a bit of pud pud, we order the Cider Green Apple Nut Crumble with whipped mascarpone (HKD75 +10% service charge).  It sounds pretty fucking fancy but in reality it’s just a straightforward apple crumble with a scoop of ice cream which might have mascarpone in it, but if you’d never told me about it, I’d never taste it.  I’m now convinced that the Little Creatures HK menu has been designed to be cooked by a small child chef who’s using a cookbook with cartoon illustrations and warnings that you should get an adult when you’re boiling water or taking things out of the oven.  The apple crumble was the only well executed dish of the night and we take the time to reflect upon our entire bang bang evening where we’ve battled through two fuck no meals, the fuck no coleslaw and average to terrible ribs at The Ribcage and now we’ve let Little Creatures HK well and truly lead us down the garden path to a fuck no flower field filled with Mediocrity Marigolds, Gauche Gladiolis and Banal Begonias.

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So the food at Little Creatures HK, excluding that godawful sausage pizza, is absolutely edible.  I can’t imagine that was written in their vision statement of what they wanted their food to be amongst the artist’s sketching of their restaurant decor.  But it really is the sort of meal that if you painted black with white stripes, people would walk all over it because it’s just so fucking pedestrian.  Every dish we ordered had some sort of execution issue (ok, except for the apple crumble – but how fucking hard is it to make a crumble?) which suggests that the kitchen isn’t tasting their food for seasoning, giving a fuck if it’s cooked properly or their management is dictating a super uninspiring, bland as fuck menu which is meant to appeal to the undiscerning masses. Judging by how many people were packed into Little Creatures HK, perhaps there’s something to be said re: economic viability and appealing to the undi$cerning ma$$es.

But real talk, it looks like Little Creatures managed to keep their shit authentic in Hong Kong because Little Creatures in Freo has basic as fuck food as well.  Take my burn Little Creatures because fuck no to the faithful copying of boring, uninspired concepts and shipping it straight across the Indian Ocean so the suffering of uninspired and poorly executed food can be truly global.

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Verdict:
FUCK NO.  However if you’re an absolutely bottom of the barrel basic and enjoy shit like Castelo Concept restaurants, drinking rosé, thinking you’re living wild in real Hong Kong because you live in Sai Ying Pun or Kennedy Town, going to the Happy Valley races on a Wednesday, love ‘your girls’ or nights out with the rugby lads, Little Creatures HK might be your newest, favourite spot in Hong Kong.

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