British

Where:
The Pawn
62 Johnston Road
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2866 3444

Price:
Mains and starters are around HKD170 – HKD250 each.  I’d estimate HKD400-500 a person for three courses, without booze.

The deal:
When The Pawn underwent renovations it made the biggest fucking deal ever in the history of all motherfucking restaurant renovations in HK (citation needed). There was the furniture sale, the final call for drinks and then began their intense marketing blitz, replete with obnoxious hashtag #IMWORTHTHEWAIT plastered across their facade which has now changed gears to #THEWAITISOVER.  I seemed unable to read anything on any of the HK lifestyle/food press that wasn’t talking about Tom Aikens.  No seriously, did you fucking hear that Tom Aikens is coming out to Hong Kong to reference Modern Britain while using goddamn local ingredients and Asian spices?  There’s going to be ‘botanicals’ (yes, definitely a superior choice to using ‘plants’) grown on The Pawn’s rooftop garden (local herbs! Salad greens! Flowers!). No I don’t think you fucking understand – TOM AIKENS who has restaurants which have MICHELIN STARS (lolz, whatevs, just come to HK, we give that shit out in the immigration line) is coming from BRITAIN to steer The Pawn into an exciting new direction by taking shit over. Tom got so fucking excited he had to tweet everything TWICE (Y U DO THIS TOM? Y U DO THIS TOM?):

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 10.08.28 am

WAHHHHHHHHHHH TOM’S MARKETING MANAGER, LURN 2 TWEET.

But fair play to their marketing team, cause I definitely did not miss the fucking memo that The Pawn was reopening and I was even watching nostalgic promotional videos (tram – CHECK. Historical HK photos – CHECK. Outside shot of the old Pawn shop sign – CHECK.  Artistic blur and street scene slowed down – CHECK.  Hong Kong guy wearing a white shirt sitting in his stylish library, flipping slowly through books on HK history – CHECK) about how The Pawn is the “voice in the neighbourhood” which redefined what the new Wan Chai is today. Whoaaaaa turn it up The Pawn, you’ve got a hardcore case of ratemyself dot com happening.

In respect of the old Pawn, it used to get mixed reviews from my homies. However, I’ve been more than a handful of times and personally gave it a fuck yeahhhh for a casual spot or when I wanted to take visitors to HK somewhere that had a specific old HK feel to it but they were just tapped out on noodles and dumplings.  The food was generally fucking solid if you were after British style eats and always reliable for balcony drinks. I’ve even had a Christmas dinner there once which hit that traditional festive Christmas thing spot on (fuck yeah, mince pies and mulled wine). This is despite the horrific fact I was forced to have boring as fuck turkey breast meat because not a single superior fuck yeah leg or thigh was available – yes, you better believe I called ahead of time just to fucking check.

The new Pawn has gone all modern dark grey walls, pale wood furniture, lamp shades with plants botanicals on it and stainless steel pots of fresh herbs botanicals on the table. It ain’t got that quirky old shit anymore but it felt a bit soulless to me, almost feeling like I was eating in a display for a furniture store. The menu is not large but the price points certainly are. There are a number of starters which are HKD200+ (and as evidenced by other sites, it looks like food for ants time – check the HKD230 venison starter back which looks fucking tiny) and some mains are even cheaper than starters.

It becomes pretty fucking apparent that The Pawn’s service is not on the fast track to success, resembling the speed of your average shopper in Causeway Bay on a Sunday, having a slow as fuck amble while ensuring that under any circumstances no eye contact is made with any outside surroundings or other people, keeping the gaze solely focussed on their mobile phone.  For a start, I waited for fucking aaaaaaaaages to order a glass of wine while I waited for Ms Chowdown as I made plenty of thirsty face at the passing waiters, who instead elected to diligently set up glassware for empty tables.  Given the economic considerations of the starters/mains, Ms Chowdown and I went for two mains to share – opting for the beef short rib to share and the duck bolognese.  After waiting another eternity  to place our orders, it took 15 minutes for the waitstaff to come back and inform us that the beef short rib was sold out so would we like to order something else.  Y U take 15 minutes??  We ordered the brined pork belly instead.

After more waiting for the bread to arrive, it offered sourdough and my continued nemesis, brioche toast.  Look, I have nothing against brioche when it’s done well but it seems fucking rare anywhere outside of France.  Why try and be fucking fancier than normal bread if you end up fucking shit up with dry-ass lame-o brioche bread?  The Pawn’s brioche toast was dry, flavourless and entirely unexciting and was a total FUCK NO for me.  I don’t even know if Nutella would have saved it.

The brined pork belly looked fucking awesome when it arrived – pretty as fuck without being unnecessarily fussy.  Two pieces of belly on top of a bed of fermented grains with fried onion rings.  The pork belly was coated with a ‘botanical’ miso glaze.  I have no fucking idea why The Pawn is so obsessed with the word “botanical” – maybe you can charge more for botanical sauce vs herb sauce?  Despite the choices in nomenclature, this was a solid FUCK YEAHHHH, with the crackling being super fucking crispy (I know, pork belly wank).  The duck bolognese was less exciting and Ms Chowdown and I aren’t sure whether the menu description really had us geared up what appeared.  It was essentially a duck shepherd’s pie, duck mince with potato mash on top (made with duck confit) and some cheese.  It wasn’t fucking terrible but it was a bit one note (both in taste and texture) and by the end of the dish, it just wasn’t that interesting anymore.  If I’d ordered this as a main just for myself, I’d have been disappointed as fuck.  No vegetables botanicals come with the mains, so you’re gonna have to order sides.

The restaurant manager or a more senior restaurant homie stopped in to ask how everything was going and I’m all about telling a restaurant when shit isn’t right at the time, versus saying “Oh my god, it’s all fabulous!” and then writing anonymous blogs online.  So after telling them that their service wasn’t snappy enough and asking why did it take 15 minutes to let us know something was sold out, he was really genuinely apologetic and asked whether we wanted a complimentary glass of wine (fuck yeah, I declined but I gotta note the fucking effort) and we ordered a sticky toffee pudding instead.  Pudding was a traditional style toffee pudding and was a fuck yeahhhh.  But that said, any British influenced establishment that can’t execute a toffee pudding should just close down immediately.  The Pawn actually comped it for us later, which was a nice fucking touch.

However, despite the feedback, it was’t like service took a turn for the better.  We waited for-fucking-ever for them to see us and bring us the bill.  When the bill arrived it was littered with errors (double charged us for the wine, added a bottle of water we didn’t have and had the wrong main).  Waited forever again for someone to notice us, discuss the bill, correct it and bring it back.  Finally, shit got sorted – but fuck me, I expected more from The Pawn given that it’s an established restaurant and a renovation shouldn’t affect service levels to the point where you’re laughing at the table because shit is really that laughably bad.  Even if you comp me dessert.

Verdict:

Per their hashtag, #thewaitisover for The Pawns’s renovation but you’re still going to be fucking waiting for fuck no service and largely average food (with botanicals).  FUCK NO.

Where:
Mezzanine Floor, LKF Hotel
33 Wyndham Street, Lan Kwai Fong
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
Soft launch until 08 September – so no phone number.  Online bookings here.

Price:
HKD1000 each – that’s with 2+ cocktails each, a HKD420 (excl 10% service charge) bottle of wine between four people and a solid three course dinner.

The deal:
I heard this rumour that Bread Street Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay (I still can’t actually fucking figure out what Gordon’s precise connection to this is, other than slapping his name on it) was in soft launch this week and wasn’t charging for food, just drinks until their official launch on Monday.  As far as I’ve been able to find out, I don’t think Gordon’s actually visited the Kong yet – which raises the point of whether he gets his HK staff to FaceTime him, dragging the iPad through the kitchen/restaurant so he can call them all a bunch of ball bags remotely.  But back to the rumour that the food costs you is your comments and FMD, as I always have a serious case of 有 FEEDBACK (yao feedback = have feedback), this seemed like this was a perfect trade opportunity for FYN because fuck yeah, free food and the ability to try shit before everyone else was talking about it.  Yeah, check my fucking stats getting a first mover jump on all those other HK food blogging assholes.  Of course, there’s no delicate way to fucking check if they’re going to comp the food in the aid of a soft launch, so caveated noms with my homies that it ‘could be free’ and convinced Mr + Mrs Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and Big Papa to roll the dice.  Which meant that despite my weary pleas post Mama San last week that I was done with that big dining group perfectly adequate bullshit, I was once again booked to sup at the Dining Concepts trough yet again.  Like the cowboys said, why can’t I quit you??

brokebackquit

Service at Bread Street Kitchen was the most well-intentioned and focussed endeavour I’ve been to all year in Hong Kong, with waiter homies everywhere busting out some attentive as fuck service.  There’s also a shit tonne of kitchen homies, counting 10+ in their open kitchen.  It’s clear they’re still working shit out with some more junior homies getting drink orders wrong or looking to crack another bottle of San Pellegrino sparkling water even when bottle #1 is still sitting almost full on the table.  However, under the watchful eye of the more experienced Dining Concept waiter homies, errant orders and incorrect cocktails were quickly whisked away and shoved out of sight.  The staff have clearly been given a really fucking clear brief on what clients should expect and this was reflected in a detailed survey we filled out at the end which listed Key Performance Indicators with specific, very deliverable and measurable times of “Did the front of house staff greet you within 60 seconds?” (the answer is yes, and with bonus intense as fuck eye contact) and “Did someone check on your meal 2 minutes after serving to see if shit was all right?”.  Mr + Mrs Ain’t No Mountain High Enough had arrived earlier than most of the patrons and noted that entering the restaurant was reminiscent of their own wedding with the Bread Street staff practically forming an honour guard to welcome them enthusiastically, all that was missing were some high fives and a bride waving her bouquet at all the fucking well wishers to the strains of “Forever” by Chris Brown (well, before he physically abused Rihanna and it’s probably not that fucking kosher to use him as the song to kick your holy matrimony off to).

The decor references the London restaurant and despite the lack of tablecloths or soft furnishings, the restaurant isn’t too fucking loud and actually contributes to it having an appropriate buzz for a restaurant right in the maelstrom of the horror that can be Lan Kwai Fong.  It’s important to fucking note that the bread at Bread Street Kitchen was a FUCK YEAH which is really fucking lucky, because you can imagine the words I’d have if a restaurant which called themselves BREAD STREET, fucked that shit up.  Cocktails were also a FUCK YEAH with our waiters adeptly answering our grilling on what their favourite cocktails were (FYI, they all said it was the Memories of Yore – can you imagine how many punters would be making jokes regarding memories / drinking to them?).  Dat Trinidad Sour was a bitter fuck yeah bitch that I want to get in my life again.  But FYN homies be warned, because those expensive suckers lulled me in with their fruity and refreshing siren’s song before wrecking me across the rocks of bankruptcy and unexpectedly high costs later in the night…

Food isn’t set up to be shared but we went with the option of choosing a starter / main each and then sharing that shit.  Starters were pretty fucking good – with the non-aqueous proteins being stronger performers than their far more lack luster oceanic compatriots – the scallops didn’t taste like much at all and texturally, veered on being tough and the seared tuna carpaccio which was ok but pretty unremarkable in almost every fucking aspect.  I don’t think the seafood ingredients were of high quality enough to be players in minimalistic recipes which relies on shit being fresh as fuck.  But praise be to the glory of dat beef short rib and the Asian-style fried Tamarind chicken wings which were a sweet, sour and sticky fuck yeah.

Our choices in main may have been framed by the unsubstantiated hope that shit “could be free” so of course HK style, we attempted to maximise our potential free noms and ordered the Lobster + Macaroni & Cheese at a hefty HKD488.  The other mains were not the most inventive things I’ve ever fucking seen but were solid fuck yeahs in the ‘desirable food in a group setting’ department – crispy pork belly accompanied by a tart as fuck side of apples (HKD198 – I fucking know right, crackling, pork, blah fucking blah), a panfried ocean trout fillet with requisite crispy skin (HKD218)  and a rib eye steak with fuck yeah red wine marrow sauce (HKD338).  Everything was priced acceptably and were all fuck yeahs.  We finished everything which is always a fucking good indicator.  But one thing we can’t swallow as easily is the FUCK NO pricing of the HKD488 lobster mac & cheese.  I mean, mother fucking lobster was involved (but barely) – but it was just some mac & cheese and a relatively small fucker of a lobster chilling by the side without any real purpose or tie into the dish.  Big Papa was outraged by the lack of lobster, given its petite size (read: small as fuck).  But let’s be real, I don’t fucking care how many lucky eights you throw in the price tag, that shit is still a SEVENTY FUCKING US DOLLAR DISH.  Holy fucking shit, if you charge that much for something, shit has got to be fucking off the chain, motherfuckers.  Shit was ok, but not HKD488 ok.  I gotta be real with you, if we we knew we were definitely paying for it, we probably wouldn’t have tried it.  Lucky for you fuckers that you won’t have to spend the $$$ to make the same, overpriced mediocre $election.

For pudding, we ordered two desserts between the four of us – the sticky toffee pudding with banana and a chocolate fondant with mint ice-cream.  I’m such a fucking purist when it comes to these traditional desserts – why mess around with sticky date toffee pudding by adding banana?  It’s in the same vein of why I’ve never been to Souvla because I don’t want to get involved with a bastardised chocolate baklava.  Sticky toffee pudding was adequate but not phenomenal.  The chocolate fondant was everything you would expect it to be – chocolatey as fuck with a requisite molten liquid chocolate core.  We also went off menu and ordered four espresso martinis, reminiscing about how this simple request sent Missy Ho’s into an absolute goddamn meltdown the last time we were there.  While Bread Street Kitchen managed to produce four espresso martinis they didn’t really smash the bonus off-menu challenge, with the espresso cocktails not bringing its shit together adequately – feeling more like vodka, coffee and too much fucking sugar in a martini glass. A bit of a fucking shame, because the menu cocktails were fuck yeah performers.

The moment of truth arrived when we summoned the bill and the rumours of FREE FOOD appeared to be entirely incorrect, with our receipt devoid of any glorious 0.00 items.  We reflected upon a very hefty HKD1000 a head bill.  Fucking hell, while shit was ok, HKD1000 is just too much for what we got food wise and clearly we had a fuck no misstep on our ordering – namely, too many expensive though fuck yeah cocktails (ranging from HKD118 to HKD138 each), dat fucking outrageous HKD488 lobster mac & cheese, and some bullshit sides we ordered (FYI, mixed greens and carrots – you don’t need to pay HKD120 for that).  Because if we hadn’t fallen foul of that shit, ordered another bottle of wine to keep ourselves liquored up, we would have walked out at HKD600ish each which is fair for the night we had at Bread Street.

We then poured ourselves into the derelict hell hole that is Lan Kwai Fong kicking off on a Friday, reflecting that while the bill was so fucking large and in charge was due to the amount of liquor, we all claimed that certainly didn’t feel that we’d drunk THAT much.  But then again, I started writing this review in bed on a Friday night, typing my ass off to the dramatic as fuck strains of Bonnie Tyler (cause together we can take it to the end of the line) before I passed the fuck out, so perhaps shit was bank breaking for a goddamn reason.

Verdict:
Resist the cocktail harpies and stick to wine only, avoid crustaceous mac & cheese and aim for a bill at HKD500+ each and then we’re back in fuck yeah territory.  If you walk out with a HKD1000 bill like we did – fuck no!

Where:
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA

Phone:
+44 20 7201 3833 or fuck yeah, online booking here

Price:
Website provides very detailed guidance (add 12.5% for service charge).  We got out at an eye watering £290 (approx USD500) for 2 people, including wine.  We didn’t follow the sommelier’s recommendation of the £400 (approx USD750 post service tax) bottle (shit son, I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller).

The deal:
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal has got some serious fuck off credentials – two goddamn Michelin stars (for whatever that’s worth these days) and a lofty as fuck number five ranking on the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant list.  Ashley Palmer-Watts currently heads up the kitchen and the concept is “the revival and modernisation of traditional British recipes, the menu…[featuring] simple contemporary dishes inspired by Britain”s historic gastronomic past and recipes dating as far back as the 16th century”. It’s at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park and it goes for a ‘casual’ vibe – it’s not quiet fine dining and there’s no white table cloths (this bothered the fuck out of me, I don’t know why I wanted some linen so fucking badly).  Just a fuck tonne of brown decor, as far as the eye can see.

For starters, we ordered the iconic Meat Fruit (fuck I know, borderline acceptability to use “iconic” but this fucking dish actually has its own meaningful #meatfruit hashtag) which even as a staunch, anti-photos at the dinner table supporter tempted me to take a goddamn snap.  I mean fuck, it’s a chicken liver and foie gras parfait in the perfect shape of a goddamn mandarin. It’s a rich, delicious little fucker too and we witnessed some lithe diners barely struggle through, but of course our table had no such issues.  I also ordered the Roast Marrowbone which saw a medley of bone marrow, snails, anchovy and parsley lined up down a sawn half of a bone accompanied by some fuck yeah baby pickled radish, onion and cauliflower – each vegetable brined in a different delicate as fuck spice profile. That protein combo inspired from the 1720s is a pretty fucking robust flavour combo and add to that the gelatinous, wobbly marrow and the chewy snails – this shit is not for the faint hearted.

For mains, I debated between the pork chop and the pigeon – but given the sheer quantity of pork I smash in HK, I opted for the sky rat and was warned that it’s served “slightly pink”. But yo, need to have some truth in advertising, because Monsieur Pigeon showed up rare as fuck.  This didn’t bother me because when I eat my steak, I have no issue with running the cow past me and I’ll grab a fucking bite out of it, but if you were expecting “slightly pink”, you would definitely be begrudgingly choking down that pigeon’s barely cooked existence like Daenerys Targaryen and a horse’s heart. It was tasty enough.  Spoiler alert – not tasty as fuck, just tasty enough.

I got the famous Tipsy Cake – which requires 45 minutes of advance warning for preparation.  Almost every review I read online has a serious stiff for the Tipsy Cake.  It’s a brioche / brown bread style pudding, soaked in salted butter caramel, pear and malted yeast syrup with a slice of caramelised pineapple.  Apparently it takes four hours to roast and smoke and caramelise each pineapple.  The brioche style pudding was a boozy Sauternes (fun fact:  a wine made from grapes which are suffering from ‘the noble rot’) soaked fuck yeah pudding but regardless of the hours of prep that goes into it, almost any sort of bread pudding soaked in a warm, buttery boozy sauce is going to be hard to fuck up.  I just couldn’t get excited about that seriously labour intensive pineapple.  End of the day it was still a warm bit of fruit with a bit of caramelisation on it – no, don’t think I like dem (pine)apples.

They threw in a complimentary chocolate mousse accompanied by an Earl Grey biscuit at the end, but it was a cloying little fucker and after my pancreas waved the white flag almost immediately, I abandoned almost all of it, in fear of the diabeetus.

So the low down is that the food was not bad and it’s clear that the Dinner by Heston homies are pulling out some complex as fuck preparation (check out the recipes here now for some of their signature dishes) and it’s a noble and innovative quest to put a 21st century spin on ye olde British noms. But while it was enjoyable enough at the time, my view is that a two starred, #5 ranked restaurant in the world needs to provide you with a dining experience which fucking floors you.  Not a congenial, pleasant first date that you debate whether to lean in for a polite good night kiss and you don’t give a fuck whether you get a fucking call back (or even a Whatsapp) the next day.

Verdict:
I fucking wanna know what love is and I want you to show me and just cause your pâté looks like a citrus fruit is not going to be whimsical enough to blind me.  Fuck no.

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