Chinese

Where:
Happy Paradise
UG/F 52-56 Staunton Street (Entrance on Aberdeen Street)
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2816 2118 (but predictably, NO FUCKING RESERVATIONS)

Price:
We got out at HKD650ish per person, including two drinks each.  The receipt claims that all service charge/tips goes directly to the staff which I give a resounding FUCK YEAH.

The deal:
May Chow’s latest restaurant, with John Javier as Executive Chef, occupies the space where the old Butchers Club Steak Frites (RIP) joint used to be, above Stanzione Novella.  Whoever would have thought that charging too much cash for steak frites when every second restaurant opening in 2015 was a steak frites place would not have the staying power to limp through the battlefield of fad hungry HK consumers and nefarious HK landlords, driven wild by the desire of always getting more?

Snippy obvious observations aside, Happy Paradise is stylistic as fuck though and you can read any number of reviews of Happy Paradise and tick off the following phrases like a restaurant review bingo board – “neo-Cantonese”, “neon filled dive bar”, “80s inspired”, “modern cha chaan teng” and “cantopop soundtrack”.  For me, it reminds me of a glossier version of the old Forever Lounge in Tai Hang (before they renovated themselves only slightly to take some of the edges out), shiny purple and pink neon but without the buckets of Blue Girl, slightly sticky worn out furnishings and the heavy, weary acceptance written across the faces of tobacco soaked older men.

Our waiter is immediately onto us all Misty Copeland style (ie. ON POINT) and setting us straight on how to order our drinks and food. The drinks menu is split into two pages, one named “easy” and the other “adventurous”.  No, it’s not just how I like my eggs paramours but Happy Paradise’s code for drinks that are best before dinner (“easy”) and ones after food (“adventurous”).  I get the “Pink Flamingo” (HKD118 +10% service charge), Jamaican rum, passionfruit, Campari and lime, which shows a fuck yeah balance between sweet, bitter and acid.  Keeping with the pink theme, I sneak a sip of my homie’s “Swoon Lee” (HKD108 +10% service charge), white rum and watermelon with a salted black lime rim, reminding me of the salty lemon lemonades I used to suck down in the cha chaan tengs.

Our first dish, is the Scallops “rice roll” (HKD110 +10% service charge) is the one dish that almost every single person who goes to Happy Paradise will tell you to order.  It’s a take on “cheung fan” (ie. rolled rice flour noodles) except pureed scallops are made into flat sheets which are steamed and then rolled.  Served with soy sauce and chilli oil, there’s only four tiny pieces. A flicker of concern dances across my psyche given that one of the concerns I had with Happy Paradise was spending all my money on stylish but tiny ass food for ants.  I guess my old fears die hard, especially given that May Chow is also behind Little Bao (yes I know, the clue is in the first half of the name).  Regardless, it is fucking delicious and an innovative take on this traditional Cantonese dish and reminds me of the upside down interpretations like the fucking amazing Mapo Tofu Burrata that you also get at May Chow’s other restaurant, Second Draft.

I was seriously jonesing for the cuttlefish toast, because it reminds me of my nostalgic Strayan childhood with bastardised versions of Chinese food like prawn toast.  But I also balk at paying HKD58 (+10% service charge) per person for tiny bits of deep fried bread.  I obviously don’t balk hard enough because I ordered it anyway and it’s fucking great.  Of course, how hard is it to fuck up deep frying things on white bread? Regardless, it’s a good combo with the sweetness of the cuttlefish brought out by the accompanying sweet corn puree and rounded out by the black garlic puree.  HKD58+ enjoyable for a few bites?  I’m not entirely convinced and make another entry into my ever increasing autobiographical tome, “The Carbs Made Me Do It“.

One of the specials when we were there was a cold steamed egg (HKD88 +10% service charge), which sounds fairly unremarkable.  But fuck, this was one of the most incredible dishes we had that night.  This steamed egg was the smoothest, silkiest thing that I’ve eaten in recent memory.  I don’t know how the fuck they got this egg into this wondrous state of being but one bite in and my heart is filled with the snaking guitar licks of Santana and before I know it, Rob Thomas is imploring me to “Give me your heart, make it real or else forget about it”.  YES, IT’S THAT FUCKING SMOOTH:

robthomassmooth

Topped with ginger, scallions and yuzu, there’s this green shoot on top which I can’t quite place.  I ask our waiter homie what is up with this slightly crunchy, not quite gelatinous vegetable and he tells me it’s ice plant that they’ve, quote, done some “special stuff” to.  Upon some research, I’ve since discovered it’s also known as kudzu and has the tendency to become an invasive species, choking ou the habitat of native vegetation.  Well, invade my heart Mr Ice Plant Man because I am most def into the way your unique, slightly stiff though yielding cellular structure is doing its thing against the smoothest, egg custard ever and is topped with the slightly sweet and vinegary dressing.

iceplantbaby

We were pre-warned that the Tea Smoked Pigeon (HKD178 +10% service charge) comes out medium-rare.  Happy Paradise are not kidding and it comes out closer to rare.  I am ok with this though and I thoroughly enjoy every meaty, just cooked bite of this sky rat, with the follow through of the smokey tea.  I also like that Happy Paradise serve the whole bird up, its head attached traditional Chinese style and its scrawny limbs all askew.  Perhaps don’t order this if you have squeamish homies.  Or maybe a better alternative, find yourself better homies.

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The Yellow Wine Chicken (HKD328 +10% service charge) is the most expensive dish of the night.   It’s a fuck yeah, the slow cooked chicken served with a broth made from glutinous rice wine, Shaoxing, and mushrooms, topped with chrysanthemum petals and crispy puffed black and Japanese rice.  A chicken claw is perched just on the edge of the bowl, like it’s trying to make some bold but ultimately futile escape from its Shaoxing infused fuck yeah fate.

To close it out, we finish with the Char Siu Rice (HKD158 + 10% service charge).  It’s inevitable that everyone will compare this to their local char siu joint and how their local haunt is soooo much cheaper.  Happy Paradise’s char siu is leaner than what you’d traditionally find at your local BBQ shop and served on top of a deconstructed egg, the yolk forming the sauce and a egg white patty.  There’s a side plate of the locally produced, sweet Kowloon Soy Company soy sauce and an earthen pot shaped like a pig, which holds liquid lard for you to mix into your rice.  In combination with the rice, soy, egg and lard, it’s obvious that this magical equation is gonna come out at as a celestial FUCK YEAH. Live lard, play hard because for the sake of my heart’s health, I’m glad that lard isn’t served this way with everything I eat but for the sake of my heart’s happiness, I sure wish it was.

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I reflect upon this meal as the pulsating synth of Madonna’s 80s pop-new wave classic “Into the Groove” shimmies across the Happy Paradise landscape, it’s here I realise that for me, I’m into a place like Happy Paradise.  Why?  Because it’s a place which acknowledges where it comes from in both a time and place while dragging it unabashedly into a decade that’s sitting closer to 2020.  I think of how fucking bold it is to put yourself in whatever form that may be out there and not give a fuck what other people might think and in the candy tinged lighting and formica tabletops, Madonna closes out our night by singing about only feeling this free when she’s dancing.  In some sort of dramatic as fuck corollary, I can’t help but think that perhaps when you’re running your own kitchen and doing something that runs right down the vein of what you are as a chef, this must be your own version of throwing your head back and unapologetically dancing free.  And I’m so fucking into that.

Verdict:
I’m not convinced this is gonna be a hit for everyone but for someone who wants to see what a stylistic, new interpretation of HK food could be without resorting to smothering shu mai in truffles and gold flakes, it’s a resounding fuck yeah.

Where:
曾記粿品 (Openrice entry)
Shop 8, Sheung Wan Cooked Food Market
1 Queen’s Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

FYN Note:  It’s next to ABC Kitchen, look for the red / white Chinese sign.  It’s only open for lunch too, so don’t try and go for dinner.

Followed by:

KFC
Shop 231A, 2/F Shun Tak Centre (ie. the Macau Ferry Terminal)
168-200 Connaught Rd
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Phone:
I don’t think you really need the phone number for either place.

Price:
HKD100 for two people at 曾記粿品 and HKD27 for the KFC Double Down.

The deal:
Mr Judgmental and I had planned to make a return to 曾記粿品, a tiny shop in the Sheung Wan Cooked Food Centre which specialises in Chiu Chow cakes (or as my SE Asian homies would call it, ‘kueh‘) and other dishes such as Chai Tow Kway (菜头粿 – also known as carrot / radish cake) and the Oyster Omelette Pancake (耗煎 – O Luak or O jian / 蠔餅 – hou beng in Cantonese). While the other dishes may be of varying quality, the Oyster Omelette is off the fucking chain.  However, somewhere between the planning for Oyster Omelette and getting some other pan fried Chiu Chow / Teochew kueh, the news came out that the Double Down had come to KFC HK.  Yes, the gut busting burger monstrosity that substitutes two deep fried chicken fillets for the standard burger bun, with cheese and bacon stuffed inside.

I gotta admit that I fucking love to get a HK New Food Scoop (lolz) but even my greedy ass limits were being tested by the idea of the KFC Double Down.  I floated it with Mr Judgmental whether we should postpone our Oyster Omelette date and go and be amongst the first to smash a HK Double Down instead, despite strong reservations that the Double Down was going to be disappointing.  He shot back instantly that we should get our Bang Bang on.  That’s where you have two full meals at two different restaurants. Sensing my calorie loaded hesitation, I got a stern talking to that this was an opportunity similar to 2010 when people went from ‘Katniss who??’ to ‘Katniss yesssssssssssss!’ and with that hard hitting pep talk I was all FUCK, I get the poetic logic of a Bang Bang double meal which involves a Double Down and I pinned my Mockingjay badge on, pulled on my hard cunt pants and declared “I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE!!“:

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曾記粿品 is as basic as you’d expect for a cooked food centre.  From previous experience, we’d already established that the png kueh (a tear drop shaped kueh filled with rice, peanuts and pork mince) is a fuck no, too much dough and not enough filling.  Mr Judgmental hadn’t been a huge fan of their carrot cake (claiming it was too sweet), so instead we loaded up on some kuehs, an oyster congee and my first, my last, my everything – DAT OYSTER OMELETTE.  For the kuehs, we ordered the garlic chive, taro and white radish ones (you need to order at least three if you want them to fry them for you).  These are quick and easy snacks, the garlic chive one being my fuck yeah favourite of the three.  Yeah, we doubled up on the Chive Kueh.  The oyster congee was fairly unexciting but DAT OYSTER OMELETTE was still the fucking magnificent beauty that I remembered.  A generous amount of large oysters fried into a crisp, tapioca starch and egg omelette which deserves all the FUCK YEAHS ever.  Oyster Omelettes can be so sad for so many reasons including tiny ass oysters of poor quality, crappy gloopy consistency due to too much tapioca starch or poor frying which means it’s just a fuck no, greasy mess.  Fuck eating poorly fried food with all of the calorific impact but none of the fuck yeah delicious, crispy times.  No such concerns at 曾記粿品 though, because this was a fuck yeah crispy oyster pancake masterpiece which I ate seasoned with a little bit of fish sauce, white pepper and my own salty tears of pure and unadulterated happiness.  How can HKD42 at 曾記粿品 purchase such jubilation? I cannot fully explain it but for anyone jonesing for a fuck yeah oyster omelette, I can’t imagine there’s a better fix available in Hong Kong.

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With our stomachs well sated by a fuck yeah budget priced lunch of HKD100ish for all of our food, we set off under the heat of a thousand suns to trek to the Shun Tak Macau Ferry Terminal, the only KFC in the Central area.  Under the bright fluorescent lights of Shun Tak, I had the sudden realisation that I’ve never actually physically been to a KFC in HK.  Praise be to the availability of online ordering or the fried chicken gathering skills of Sir Crunch-a-lot.  Not that my lack of patronage to KFC Shun Tak Macau Ferry Terminal has been hurting business because these guys were rammed, a long line of customers snaking out and around the KFC.

Sgt Noms:  Do you think they’re all here for the Double Down?
Mr Judgmental:  No, I’ve scoped the tables – I’ve only seen one person eating it.
Sgt Noms:  What about that awkward white dude who’s avoiding eye contact with everyone?
Mr Judgmental:  Yeah, he’s probably here for the Double Down.  Just as we are.

Thanks to KFC’s fuck yeah efficiency, we were soon placing our order for the Double Down (HKD27).  Mr Judgmental added a Hot & Spicy thigh piece as well as some waffle fries.  We stepped past our awkward white dude homie who was unwrapping his own Double Down and soon, we were staring down our meal which was putting the bang into BANG BANG.  Look at that glorious piece of Hot & Spicy thigh, lying all seductive as fuck in its plastic wicker basket, flanked by the innocuous looking Double Down:

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FYN Fun Fact:  Did you know that at HK KFC that cleanliness is next to godliness?  Have you been eating KFC all your life with your bare hands like some sort of wild, heathen animal?  HONG KONG, I AM TRULY LIVING IN THE GENTRIFIED FUTURE NOW.

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Do you ever read those food blogs where someone has carefully staged a photo of an avocado artfully smashed across a thick cut piece of five grain toast while a gently grilled charcoal kissed tomato sits to one side? Just to the corner, a blue and white porcelain milk jug with a sprig of wild rosemary peeks out precociously, while in the front of the photo there’s the gentle curve of a vintage mother-of-pearl handled knife which sits almost out of frame, while all of this is casually strewn across a rough hewn wooden table made from the deck of an ancient Greek fishing boat?  Yeah, well FYN food photography gets you the greasy wrapping paper of a Double Down which repeatedly declares SOGOOD SOGOOD, a greasy ass lump of fried chicken, bacon and cheese, with a plastic glove peeking out from the top left corner.  Fuck yeahhhh, behold the culinary wonders of Shun Tak Macau Ferry Terminal!

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All I could think about at this stage is why was our built to order Double Down so fucking soggy.  It’s not like we’d sat around for 10 minutes gazing at our Double Down before we unwrapped it?  I care so deeply for my FYN homies that I even took a cross-section of the Double Down so you are all now fully equipped with the deep fried chicken truth.

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Scientific dissection complete, it was time to glove up and get Doctor Chicken Takedown in the house.  I am not entirely sure what I was expecting from the KFC Double Down but from a base level I fucking love fried chicken, bacon and cheese.  How could combining these three things be a bad thing? Ohhhh but there’s always surprises in life and first of all, WHY WAS THE CHICKEN SO FUCKING SOGGY?  The flaccid bacon lay lifeless between the two soggy ass Original spiced chicken fillets with the highly processed melted cheese binding the whole mushy affair together.  But the greatest horror was the “mayonnaise” – which was so fucking sweet, with a fruity overtone.  I chewed my Double Down, pondering my life choices which have led me to this deep fried juncture, while I thought over and over “WHY DOES THE MAYONNAISE TASTE LIKE PINEAPPLES!?”.  It was like they were trying to put the Hawaiian feeling into the Double Down and trust me, the sweet mayonnaise fought valiantly for attention in the Double Down Salt Bomb Arena, taking me back to the Saltiest Ever Paella that I ate at La Paloma.

A close up of my KFC all glove no love shame:

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Despite whatever shortcomings it may have had, I still finished my Double Down in its entirety.  I stripped off my glove and in the cleanest I’ve ever been post-eating KFC, I jealously watched Mr Judgmental destroy his piece of KFC Hot & Spicy thigh while I reflected on how the Double Down could have more fully lived up to its fried chicken potential.  Why did the Double Down use Original chicken fillets, rather than what I feel would have been a superior fuck yeah choice of the Hot & Spicy Zinger burger fillet?  From my research, I understand this is an option in some other markets. It shouldn’t have been that hard to execute a Double Down – all the Colonel needed to ensure was that his homies were using crispy chicken patties, a decent slice of crispy bacon, about one-third of the cheese that we received and normal non-pineapple flavoured mayonnaise.  But then again, what expectations do you really have of a novelty chicken item that has taken five years to get its greasy ass to Hong Kong??

As sure as people will never let you exit the MTR before they get the fuck on, I felt fucking awful all afternoon.  The Double Down truly did take me down.  Maybe it was the obscene amounts of sodium.  Maybe it was the alleged cheese.  Maybe it was because I ate three times my daily recommended calorie intake in a Bang Bang lunch affair where everything was fried.  Maybe it was the inevitable guilt and shame that overcomes someone after indulging in some KFC dirty bird because that truly is the darkness that clings to your psyche, long after you’ve removed the greasy glove and moist toweletted yourself down with the faint scent of medicinal lemon. But sweet greasy KFC darkness, oh yes, I will come for you again. Just in your traditional form and not in a fuck no sandwich which uses soggy chicken fillets to substitute the bread.

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Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhh to the best fucking Oyster Omelette that I’ve had in Hong Kong.  Fuck no to novelty chicken items at KFC – but I’m not gonna lie, I could get my glove on again for a piece of that delicious fuck yeah KFC deep fried chicken thigh.  Original, Hot & Spicy – I know I’ve got room in my heart for both.

Where:
Mott 32
4-4a Des Voeux Rd
Basement of the Standard Chartered Bldg,
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2885 8688

Price:
Almost HKD500 a person.

The deal:
I finally got my ass in gear and went down to Mott 32.  I’ve heard the hype for goddamn months. “OHHHH, it’s just stunning! ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN! O M G the Peking duck is just to die for!  Of course, you MUST try the char siu!  They’ve used MOUNTAIN HONEY with IBERICO PORK!  That’s where you get Spanish pigs and only allow them to sup on fucking acorns.  I mean, how oh-so-oh-so-oh-so-oh-so sumptuously luxurious!”

The crowds are right that Mott 32’s interiors are all fucking class.  Artificial skylights (cause you’re in a fucking basement), wrought metal, rope, chains, painted facades, mirrors upon mirrors and large globular lights, all contribute to that modern, cool as fuck feel with a healthy dose of “Yeah, check my references to OLD ASIA, mate” such as Chinese medicine cabinets, mahjong rooms, Hong Kong fishing villages and street art renditions of old Hong Kong film stars.  Fuck yeahhhh, historical architectural design references taken from the authentic Orient of yesteryear – MOTT HAZ DEM.

So it’s well known that Mott 32 is charging fuck tonnes for Chinese (predominantly Cantonese influenced) food.  I fucking get it though – those acorn eating pigs from Spain can’t be fucking cheap.  After waiting almost a bit too long, our sixteen cubes of siu yuk / roast pork arrives.  It’s a fuck yeah, but I wouldn’t say it was the best siu yuk of my life.  It’s also a large HKD210 a serve. The assortment of dim sum that we got were also a fuck yeah.  I didn’t push the boat out to obnoxious luxury yum cha town when dim sum are amped up by adding ridiculously unnecessary ingredients like caviar, quails eggs, truffles or bird’s nest.   But if each individual piece of dim sum costs approximately HKD15-20ish EACH, it’s not a fucking unreasonable expectation that of course the quality of the ingredients should be better and therefore of a higher quality than the local joint down the road charging one-third of Mott 32’s prices.

It was after the dim sum order that the wheels started to rapidly come off the Mott 32 service.  While the initial greetings were slick and friendly, the interest level from the waiters was dropping off exponentially.  If you want to bill yourself as this fucking exxy top notch Cantonese dining experience, your waiters should be all over their service shiz.  Why did getting the attention of any staff seem to be such a fucking ordeal?  Why was no one all over making sure my teapot was full of boiling water?  How come no one ever offered to change my plates periodically?  I was reminded bitterly of this callous error when I was snacking down on some decidedly average fried rice which caught a bit of mustard left over from the siu yuk / roast pork that I’d had earlier. If lunch costs over HKD400+ a person, shouldn’t it be part of the service that a waiter will check every now and again whether you want anything or if shit’s going ok?!

While I’m talking fried rice – memo to Mott 32, just cause you top your fried rice with some fish roe caviar this is not a free pass to fuck yeah, next level fried rice cause your shit was bland as fuckkk.  But in a FYN Exclusive, I did manage to secure a copy of Mott 32’s staff briefing for lunch service:

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I didn’t get the much raved about char siu cause my homie, Mr Judgmental, had already ranted against how average he’d found it. To be fair, he’d also ranted about the Peking Duck too but I wanted to try shit out for myself.  Just so you homies know, you have to pre-order the Peking Duck because Mott 32 only has limited numbers of ducks per day.  There’s a fuck tonne of culinary wank off regarding Mott 32’s Peking Duck.  Blah blah apple wood roasted blah blah custom oven blah blah custom drying fridge blah fucking blah dry the goddamn duck for 48 hours.  But I fucking love Peking Duck and I love judging the results of an over the top culinary wank session, so shit hot damn my body and judgment glands were more than fucking ready for dem roasted anatidae times.

So after the whole ceremony of wheeling the roasted duck in and slicing it at the table, our chef splits it into three plates – one of just skin, one of meat and one of a combination of meat and skin.  Mott 32’s duck skin was crispy but it was just so fucking greasy. The skin felt like it had been deep fried, taking on this weird-ass puffy, scratching like texture. Let’s be real, I really don’t give a fuck if you’ve air dried your duck for 48 hours by employing a harem of long haired snowy skinned virgins to fan it with a bunch of iridescent peacock feathers and then smoked it with apple wood sourced from the pristine Tien Shan mountain ranges of Kazakhstan if your duck skin is a fuck no greasy mess.

The Mott 32 Duck Atrocities continued with the actual duck meat being so fucking bland and completely unremarkable in every aspect.  Mott 32 weren’t content to just fuck up their duck and the pancakes were fucking abysmal – cracked in parts (despite not having left the steamer) and when wrapped with the duck, the texture was too tough meaning there was no ‘bite through’ sensation. To ensure more fuck no times, there was even disappointment with how they sliced their goddamn cucumbers.  Sure, it might seem small but when I’m paying big bank for a meal, I expect shit to be super tight – so when we get a plate of cucumber sticks and the bottom layer is still ONE FUCKING HUNK of cuke, I’m giving Mott 32 the major side eye.  Not that any waiters saw me because they were too fucking busy not being busy in the business of noticing their customers.  In the final in$ult, Mott 32 gives you barely any fucking pancakes to eat with your super greasy duck skin so you’ll have to order more pancakes for HKD60.  This is when you’ve already shelled out HKD580 for the duck itself!! Beyond fucking outrageous.

I also feel that shouldn’t a HKD580 Peking Duck come with a second course!?  Just boil that carcass up and give me some soup if you’re being that much of a fucking tight ass.  Or throw it in some fried rice or noodles  Just fucking do something you money grabbing assholes to take away the memory of the heinously disappointing duck pancake course you just served me.

So if you’re into fuck yeah interiors, overpriced fuck yeah yum cha, disinterested staff providing super sub-par nonchalant service, generally bland food which have been razzed up with caviar and really fucking disappointing Peking Duck, you should definitely be recommending Mott 32 as an awesome, fine dining Chinese experience to all your homies.  Like srs guise, I cannot fathom how so many people have told me that this shit was impressive (except for the bloggers who dined there ‘by invitation’, yeah I know why you fuckers loved it).  Let’s just chalk this super exxy hypebeast down to:

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Verdict:
FUCK NOOOOO, especially to that super disappointing greasy fucker of a Peking Duck.  Shit might look cool as fuck but just remember homies, you can’t fucking eat a Joyce Wang architectural design or street art renditions of Oriental chanteuses. 

Where:
竹園重慶雞煲 (Bamboo Chongqing Chicken Pot)
2F/99 Java Road Municipal Services Building
North Point Cooked Food Market
North Point, Hong Kong

FYN Navigation guidance:  Go to the second floor of the cooked food centre and turn left.  Head right to the end and on the right you’ll see an area blocked off by wooden dividers with a brown sign with gold Chinese writing on it.

Phone:
+852 3486 6313 (I’d recommend booking, both times I’ve been they’ve been fucking busy)

Price:
I’ve been twice – both times with ample Tsing Tao beer was HKD180-HKD200 a person (including tip). Tip not expected, as evidenced by our super confused waiter.  Fuck yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, cheap eats.

The deal:
I’m all about North Point at the moment because I think there’s a shit tonne of good food in the hood and it’s such fucking good value.  The problem is, there aren’t a lot of good English resources which talk beyond Tung Po or the egg waffle place which means I’m flying largely in the dark, reduced to peering into restaurants that have a lot of people in there and taking photos for future reference.  I’ve been trying to squeeze information out of my local HK homies as to where I should try in North Point and most of them are shutting my North Point ambitions down straight away, claiming that most restaurants will be ‘too local style’ and won’t have enough English support to allow me to order any food (I concede this point).  Don’t hold out on me local HK homies, share the love cause I need to have some North Point priced eats to dollar cost average the price of all the out of control Central / $heung Wan eats.

My homie booked us into Bamboo Chongqing Chicken Pot after his optimistic attempt at trying to book the famous Tung Po restaurant on a Saturday night on a Saturday afternoon.  I wasn’t devastated because while Tung Po is rowdy fun largely due to their inimitable proprietor, Robbie, the food is only just ok. For those that don’t know, after around 9pm, Robbie will blare loud music and do the robot while he demonstrates his ability to pop bottle tops off with a chopstick and drink too much beer.  But Tung Po’s food is only ok and seems to be dropping in quality. Controversially, two of my homies, who went separately, have also gotten fuck no food poisoning post-Tung Po. Gotta be real though, Tung Po’s fuck you to food quality has had fuck all impact on its popularity as they are always packed with red-faced patrons and they seem to have taken over most of the floor now.

Chongqing Chicken Pot (gai bo) is a hot pot dish which is popular in the cooler seasons.  So sorry homies on the FYN timing, I seriously only left it ONE fucking week to write this fucking review and it means we’ve missed primo-Chongqing chicken hot pot season given this was the week when HK changed overnight from miserable, cold HK to shorts and tee-shirts HK.  We ordered the spicy gai bo and a clear soup base, with half a chicken each and despite the waiter’s attempt to upsell, FYN confirms that two half size soup bases is beyond adequate for six people, even if you’re a fat fuck like me:

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The deal with a spicy Chongqing gai bo is a black pot arrives with spicy chicken sizzling inside and the pot is kept on a flame, to keep the contents hot.  The braised chicken is cooked with a shit tonne of flavours, predominantly chilli, Sichuan peppers (to give it the ma / numbing effect), garlic and onion, with a massive bunch of coriander thrown into the pot at the table, keeping things fragrant as fuck.  You then eat whatever chicken you want before your waiter pours in a Sichuan style soup base over the remaining chicken and sauce, effectively deglazing the fuck yeah tasty chicken sauce into the hot pot soup base.  Fuck yeahhh, gimme dat chicken flavour.

Per normal hot pot procedure, you then proceed to add whatever ingredients you want to cook.  Bamboo Chongqing Chicken Pot doesn’t have anything particularly out of the ordinary but as hot pot ingredient ordering can be overwhelming for the less experienced, I’d recommend the following to get shit started:

  • fish skin dumplings
  • vegetable dumplings
  • fried bean curd skin
  • gluten balls (SMD Paleo! Just soak these in the soup til they soften up)
  • fried fish skin
  • vegetables – my pick is always corn, enoki mushrooms, some sort of green vegetable (lettuce or choy sum)
  • beef strips
  • cuttlefish balls (in my mind, superior to fishballs)
  • sweet potato noodles

Chongqing food is similar to Sichuan food, that is, really fucking spicy.  They will ask you here for everything how spicy you want your food and as someone who can eat spicy, I found the medium level not for the faint hearted.  By the time your soup boils down, you might even want them to ask them to add plain chicken stock because it gets super fucking spicy by the end of the night even by my hard ass standards.

Bamboo Chongqing Chicken Pot has a number of  side dishes to order too.  The first time, I ordered some of the fried dishes such as deep fried cuttlefish and sweet potato, which were good enough but the batter is thick, typical of the local cooked markets in HK which isn’t my favourite jam.  However, the second time I went (no less than two weeks later), Mr Vegetables got it right by ordering the fuck yeah cold Chongqing/Sichuan style dishes.  We got the cucumber, the Chinese Lettuce/Asparagus Root (also known as ‘wosun’/celtuce, but is often described simply as ‘Asparagus’ on Chinese menus.  It’s the stalk of this vegetable – Cantonese homies, let me know what you call this) and my favourite, the fuck yeahhh bean flour sheets.   All of these are covered in Sichuan peppers and chilli oil.  Much happiness that I finally had some hard cunt homies with me and we got to step shit up from medium level to hot level spicy and Bamboo Chongqing Chicken Pot are not fucking kidding with their labelling, shit was fucking hot.  I may have paid the fuck no gastrointestinal price the next day.

Given my non-existent Cantonese and the terror we’ve all experienced when you’re effectively guessing what you’re ordering as a grumpy as fuck waiter is totally put out by the communication breakdown, Bamboo Chongqing Chicken Pot has a full and accurately translated English menu and a few of the waiters have excellent English.  Bonus points territory, they are even nice about it and were super confused by our HKD100 tip (the bill was HKD998, we left HKD1,100 and our waiter really didn’t understand what was happening).  So if you want to do the cooked food market thing, it’s time to skip the decidedly average Happy Valley one that everyone loves and forego the average food at Tung Po and instead eat some spicy chicken hotpot and drink beer from Chinese bowls, for under HKD200 each.  Oh, and if you’re into being an insufferable expat, you’ll totally have enough material to brag about your local, authentic HK experience for at least one week afterwards.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhhhh, value!  Even if the turn in the warmer weather now means you’ll be sweating balls in a cooked food centre.

Where:
Qinghai Tibetan Noodles (青藏牛肉麵)
Behind the North Point MTR station
North Point, Hong Kong

Not very descriptive but this is the description I received directly from the restaurant.  There appears to be zero correct addresses for this place online – see below for the map.

Phone:
+852 3565 6553 (don’t quote me, but I don’t think this is a booking kind of place).

Price:
HKD410 for five people.  FUCK YEAHHHH, SUB HKD100 EATS.

The deal:
GUISE, I’m having some sort of existential food blogging asshole moment because I know that HK homies love to read about new shit but I just can’t find enough energy or money to try any new places.  I get all geared up to line up somewhere new to try and then I’ll get a bullshit report back from my homies who say they went and spent HKD800+ at some new restaurant where it took 4+ hours for them to work through a patchy tasting menu with basic decor and shithouse service (yeah, so FYN homies, you won’t be reading about Quest by Que any time soon here).  Or I’ll read the new opening sections of various HK news sources and my visceral reaction to every new opening these days is pretty much either “HOLY SHIT, HKD150+ FOR ANOTHER FUCKING BURGER PLACE?” or the pure abject horror that ripples through my entire being when I read about another casual restaurant specialising in some sort of Mexican-Korean-Italian bullshit trend which seems to be sweeping HK at the moment.

Like seriously in the last few months we’ve had the following open – MOYO spruiking Kimchi Tomato Bruschetta, Takorea offering a kalbi beef burrito or a taco for HKD80 before you add HKD10 for kimchi, Crafty Cow with its grilled ox tongue, kimchi and roast potato dish and then the thoroughly upsetting Boomshack which offers the Holy Kimchi, a burger containing baconnaise (stahp), corned beef (STAHP) and house kimchi (STAAHHHP) for HKD88.  FUCK ME KIMCHI KARDASHIAN, is this what the HK consuming public really wants (really really wants)??  To eat a collection of trendy foods all mashed haphazardly into some sort of carb with an HKD80+ price tag?  To all the Fusion-Korean asshole HK restaurateurs out there, it’s time to step away from your Momofuku/David Chang shrine that you’ve made out of old copies of Lucky Peach, empty sriracha bottles and dried instant ramen packets, stop watching clips of Roy Choi and his food truck and try to think of something other than putting kimchi on your mediocre food as an excuse to jack the fuck out of your prices.

davidchang

So after finally getting on a hike with Mr and Mrs Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and some other homies (versus our normal modus operandi where we plan to hike and instead we sit around their apartment drinking champagne and listening to playlists I made for the hike), we found ourselves in North Point.  After taking them for a dumping aperitif (fuck yeahhhh, dem wor tip and xiao long bao) and some ghetto Park n Shop red wine action at Mr Hutchinson, we then embarked on trying to find Qinghai Tibetan Noodles (青藏牛肉麵) in North Point.

FYN Fun Fact:  Every online address for this place is fucked up – NO, it’s not at 27A or 41A Kam Ping Street and it’s not on Kings Road.  I even called the restaurant to ask where the fuck they are and all they could helpfully provide was that it was ‘behind North Point MTR’ and that they weren’t even sure how to explain which street they are on.  To prevent similar North Point misadventures, check this helpful as fuck map I made just for you fuckers and look for the orange awning at the end of this alleyway.

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The problem with a lot of the cheap noodle shops are grumpy as fuck staff, dirty restaurants and often, no English support (both verbal and written).  If there is an English menu it can be pretty shitty, either poorly translated or missing half the items.  I fucking get it though, we’re in HK and Cantonese is the native language here – but due to my abysmal Cantonese skillz it doesn’t help me at all in being able to order food.  Fuck yeah to Qinghai Tibetan Noodles (青藏牛肉麵) not being lazy and actually providing a decent English menu and not relying on the ‘We’re a cheap noodle restaurant which is why we’re going to act “You killed my dog” level pissed off every time you ask for something or we don’t understand what you want’ HK noodle shop model.  Yeah yeah, Grumpy HK Restaurants, I know your landlord is raping you on rent every month and you’re a million years old so it’s hard to find the energy to give a fuck about my order, but give me a fucking break, I just want to eat some goddamn food

Getting into the food here, we ordered a shit tonne of stuff and only stopped when our waiter homie indicated that we’d definitely ordered enough for five people.  We ordered the dry beef noodles with home made garlic sauce (HKD39), crispy fried chicken (HKD32), deep fried veggie bean curd roll (HKD25) and the noodle salad with mutton (HKD38).  While the noodle salad was good, the bigger fuck yeah noodle times was the dry beef noodles with garlic sauce (it’s listed at #1 on the menu) – shit’s pretty simple, noodles, a chilli-garlic sauce, strips of beef and some coriander.  Get dat fuck yeah fresh flavour combination into my life.  Serving sizes are also decent – you can easily share this between four people if you’re ordering other dishes.  It’s also hard to get a fuck no out of fried chicken and the crispy fried cumin and salt seasoned dish here delivered exactly what the name promised.   Unfortunately, my deep love for chicken wings was left unfulfilled that night as the deep fried cumin chicken wings were fuck no sold out.

There’s also a list of BBQ skewers at a fuck yeah price, ranging from HKD10 to around HKD35 depending on the ingredient.  We ordered a couple of mutton skewers (HKD13), the cumin grilled eggplant (HKD25) and the beef steak (HKD30). The meat skewers were a FUCK YEAH – decent sized chunks of meat seasoned in chilli, cumin and salt.  A++ would buy again.  The cumin grilled eggplant with garlic was 50% garlic and 50% eggplant.  I fucking love garlic but even this was pushing my boundaries of how much garlic one can eat.  Maybe I was meant to push it to one side and just eat the eggplant, but my natural instinct is to eat everything on the plate.  We finished it but fair warning homies, if you’re not into garlic stay well away from this dish.

I have no deep knowledge of Tibetan food so I can’t give you any pretentious as fuck insights into how authentic shit might have been here compared to that time I spent an amazing four weeks exploring the wilds of Tibet (just amazing guys, you really need to check it out before it gets ruined by too many tourists).  But, fuck yeahhh shit was tasty and I am all about that cheap as fuck, sub HKD100 a person price point.  Yo Sheung Wan / Central, you can keep your bullshit new Frankenkorean concepts cause Lethal Weapon style, I think I’m just getting too old (or too fucking cynical) for that shit. You tell ’em Danny:

davidchang

Verdict:
Fuck yeah to cheap tasty North Point eats which also allow you to insufferably brag to your west side homies about how it’s really about getting into the ‘real HK’ outside of Sheung Wan and Sai Yin Pun.

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