Indian

Where:
BlackSalt (FB Page)
14 Fuk Sau Lane,
Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong

Price:
I’d estimate around HKD300ish per person, before booze/drinks.

Phone:
+852 3702 1237

FYN Hot Tip:  It’s not large and they have two seatings for Friday to Sunday service – so make sure you book if you wanna go and avoid fuck no disappointment.

The deal:
One of my FYN homies messaged me yonks ago about BlackSalt and they spoke with such passion that I was almost convinced they were a PRBot or even the owner, because they were running at the BlackSalt compliments as hard as a bunch of lads who’ve flown specifically to HK for Jonno’s Bucks at the HK Rugby Sevens.   However, after sustained grilling and being told they couldn’t comp my shit for a favourable, shit-hot review (jokes, I didn’t really ask), their story checked out and finally, months later, I got myself there.  In fact, SPOILER ALERT, I enjoyed it so much that this review is actually based on two separate visits.  Fuck, it’s like I’m becoming a pro-reviewer, taking my food writing shit seriously and not just sitting around making flippant quips on Facebook and neglecting my actual blog.  YES, THE AIR IS THIN UP HERE, WHEN I SIT ON MY LOFTY THRONE OF LIES:

rihannalovetheway

The Chef/Owner behind BlackSalt is Taran Chadha, who has done his tour of duty around various HK restaurants and has stepped out from the shadows of cooking for big soulless HK restaurant groups to live his own life – presenting his take on the Asian subcontinent, referencing the food of India, Sri Lanka and Nepal while throwing in some western influences.  The menu is split into three parts – Short Plates, Sides and Puddin’, with the recommendation that you show your homies some love and share food.  While making some critical decisions about what to order because everything looks A1 Delicious, I take down a Rum & Thums Up! (HKD108 +10% service charge), consisting of Kraken Black Spiced Rum and Thums Up cola with an orange twist.   FYN Fun Fact:  Thums Up is an Indian cola brand which was initially launched to fill the void when Coca-Cola evacuated the Indian market in 1977 rather than sell a 60% equity stake to an Indian company and was eventually repurchased by Coca-Cola in 1993, to give it a take-down position of its nemesis Pepsi during the Great Cola wars.  Regardless of the long and arduous Indian cola wars that form the base of my drink, I make light work of this delicious AF drink which gives me shades of nostalgia, tasting vaguely of all the poor decisions and youthful angst of my cheap Coke and Bundy Rum uni days but in a much posher and socially acceptable fuck yeah format.

jacksparrowrum

To start shit off, Black Salt give you some free tiny papadums, accompanied with stewed lightly spiced yellow lentils and a bit of yoghurt.  I appreciate the delicious crispy fuckers and I just wanna make sure that the HK restaurants out there know that I do notice the little touches like this at the beginning of a meal.  More and more in HK I feel that restaurants don’t wanna give you a little something to start your meal off and I can’t even be mad, because I know bread and all that jazz costs money and every tiny bit helps a HK restaurant survive in this crazy ass, sky high, ferocious rental market.  So yo, my BlackSalt homies please note that I gave thanks to the Gods of Complimentary, Thoughtful and Delicious Shit as I smashed away those thoughtful mini pappas.

My FYN homie that made the initial recommendation, insisted that we had to order the BS House Okra Fries (HKD68 +10% service charge).  Long slices of okra are coated in a tempura batter made from chickpeas, seasoned with black salt (GEDDIT?), mint and a shallot slaw, served with a side of chilli kewpie mayonnaise. Of course deep frying any vegetable in a batter exponentially increases its fuck yeah rating and these okra fries are no exception. I can almost hear the thunder of a thousand cliched HK bloggers punching “fried to perfection” into their Macbooks with perfectly manicured fingertips as they drink soy milk lattes at The Cupping Room after a “great sesh” at H-Kore.  But for real, these fried fuckers are crispy as fuck and the fresh mint is swiping right with the chilli kewpie mayo.  However, it’s also deceptively filling so order one between three to four homies as a little something something to start, cause you don’t wanna burn out too early in the BlackSalt game.

The Lamb Rhapsody (HKD168 +10% service charge) is also stellar.  I’m always starved for lamb in HK because it’s either just not available or I gotta plan to rob a bank or perpetrate a phone scam which preys on the elderly and stupid to finance such Eating Lamb Out in HK Japes.  BlackSalt’s take uses a combination of  roasted Aussie lamb rump korma and pulled lamb shank served with slices of paratha, crispy puffed rice, pomegranate and mint chimichurri. The serving size is not microscopic and once I’ve collected myself from not being bankrupt from eating lamb in HK, I thoroughly get into this dish from its textural combos and the rich, punch-you-in-the-face korma paired with the fresh as fuck mint chimichurri.

But it’s the Kathmandu Meatball Mo’s (HKD98 +10% service charge) which are mega.  Everyone knows that I get hot and heavy for the Nepalese dumpling, known as the momo, because MO MOMOS, NO PROBLEMS.   BlackSalt’s version consists of five large handmade dumplings,  stuffed with Australian grass fed pork,  smoked buffalo bits, garlic chives and spring onion.  The momos themselves are a FUCK YEAH, stuffed full of just fatty enough pork and seasoned with chives and onion.  But it’s the jhol achar which is fucking rad times in pure liquid form made from a puree of tomatoes, onion, chilli, garlic, coriander, turmeric and lemon juice to make it tangy and as bright as my undying love for the #carblife. BlackSalt’s menu states that their Meatball Mo’s are “swimming in a spicy wild sesame “jhol gravy”” and if this is what is in the pool, sign me up for swim school cause I’m ready to get my Michael Phelps on and power myself to multiple Olympic gold.

sauceplease

In the final stretch it’s the Poulet Tikki Masala, a BlackSalt signature dish and I tried to order a full chook but got cut down by the waitress who insisted that we only needed a half portion, given that we’d already ordered so much (HKD278/Full Chicken, HKD178/Half Chicken +10% service charge). A Danish Antibiotic and Hormone free chicken which is “flash roasted, palm leaf smoked and slow cooked in a rich onion jus”, accompanied by a stack of sides including the truffle garlic flatbread, pilaf, chopped salad, and a raita remoulade.  The chicken is very good, living up to its claim that it “melts off the bone” and I can’t say I’m thrilled about the breast meat but that might just be cause it’s breast meat which in my mind is always dry and boring, but I know that a lot of people (ie. white folk) are into that boneless, dull breast meat shenanigan.  However, the sides are plentiful and it’s nice to get my rice on but there’s some misses.  I can’t get that excited about chopped lettuce and tomato and in more disappointing news, considering my deep and relentless love for all Indian bread, I’m just not into Black Salt’s flatbread/paratha.  The paratha reminds me of a wanker banker trying to get laid after a long night on the piss – JUST WHYYYY with the shameless peacocking of wealth with the completely unnecessary truffle and then after all’s said and done, it doesn’t matter anyway cause it’s too floppy and not up to expectation.

I’d been eyeing off dessert because it sounded fucking amazing with all of the Indian spices and flavours, opting for the Carrot Halwa Cheesecake (HKD68 +10% service charge) and the Coconut & Rum Creme Brûlée (HKD68 +10% service charge).  The flavours of the cheesecake were bang on, cardamom spiced carrots cooked in milk, which is then whipped with cream cheese before being topped with coconut sugar coated cashews, accompanied by a side scoop of Tahiti vanilla bean sherbet.  What let this dish down though was the texture of the cheesecake, being far too gummy.  Maybe they were going for something in between a cheesecake and a kulfi (a traditional, dense Indian ice cream), but whatever it was, I abandoned eating this half way because it doesn’t matter how delicious your flavours are if it feels like you’re fighting against the texture of eating PVC glue, even if it’s punctuated by crunchy, sweet cashews.  The Coconut & Rum Creme Brûlée also suffered from the same fate of delicious as fuck Indian flavours with crappy execution.  This dish incorporates  fresh young coconut, turmeric, medjool dates and pistachio, but the caramelised sugar crust wasn’t caramelised enough resulting in it being a bit grainy, the pieces of the young coconut were still quite large and didn’t make sense in the custard and texturally, I just couldn’t get behind this.  I was bummed out by this in quite a major way cause it was like BlackSalt almost managed to pull off a fuck yeah dessert triumph by showcasing those Indian flavours but then couldn’t hold it together at the final hurdle.

titanicyoutried

Despite the execution issues on dessert, BlackSalt is doing something which is different in this increasingly bland and homogenous HK dining landscape.  Chef Taran Chadha is creating dishes which come from an honest place, based on flavours and places which clearly mean something to him and for the most part, is pulling that shit off.  BlackSalt is low on pretentiousness so  I’d recommend it if you’re looking for a fuck yeah low key place for casual, intimate dinners where you can expect food which should feel different to the standard dinner tat, decent fuck yeah attentive service and a chef who clearly gives a fuck about what he does.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhhhh, get into this fresh modern sub-continental influenced shizzzz!  But don’t get your paratha dreams up and maybe get dessert elsewhere, unless you’re more forgiving on clumsy pudding textures than I am.

Where:
Chaky’s Public House (FB page here)
2F Parekh House
63 Wyndham Street
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2810 9881

Price:
Appetisers are sub-HKD100.  Mains are around HKD128-138. We got out at around HKD270, no booze/any drinks.

The deal:
Chaky used to be the chef at The Chapel, an Indian Restaurant / Pub in Happy Valley that seems to hold a really fucking fond place in people’s hearts.  I never went but understand that The Chapel fell victim to the usual extortionate rent rises and they had to close up.  I don’t quite understand how this translates into now opening up shop in Central where surely the rents are higher but regardless, Chaky’s Public House has taken over the space previously occupied by CVCHE.  See ya later CVCHE, I for one will miss your ridiculously good value lunch sets.  Given the fiercely competitive HK dining scene it’s refreshing to see a new entrant decide that it’s unnecessary to engage in marketing or publicise its existence.  Chaky doesn’t even have a sign downstairs on street level spruiking their wares.  If it wasn’t for one of my FYN homies alerting me to it, I probably wouldn’t even have realised it was an Indian restaurant.  Yo Chaky’s, there are a shit tonne of Indian restaurants in the Wyndham Street area so you might want to look into that profile raising shizz if you want to let people know that you fucking exist.

Chaky’s is going for a casual, sporting bar vibe but fails on execution, resulting in a dining room that isn’t that aesthetically pleasing and as my FYN homie pointed out, has all the charm of a hospital waiting area.  There’s large screens playing football, easily wipeable surfaces, randomly placed novelty signs, bad lighting and dance remixes of all the latest pop hits blaring loudly that have been lifted straight from someone’s gym workout playlist.  A much more impressive sight was that as soon as we walked in, there was a massive Indian family eating dinner, which was giving me high fuck yeah hopes that shit was gonna be good.  As Chaky’s is less than a month old, they don’t have a liquor licence meaning it’s fuck yeah wallet friendly BYO times.  It is possible to order drinks from their upstairs sister bar, Bar Six, but as our attempts at ordering drinks from there seemed to end in high levels of confusion from our waitress, I’d suggest bringing your own goddamn booze until Chaky’s gets their licence sorted.

We ordered aggressively and our waitress even suggested we move tables because we weren’t going to have enough room on the high bar table we’d been given.  Yeah son, you better believe that’s the kind of ordering badass that I am.  The onion bhaji appetiser was a fuck yeah decent size and fucking great.  Crispy but not over-fried, spiced bang on – if I could be guaranteed onion bhaji of this caliber I’d order it more often.  I just find most Indian places seem to make shitty bhaji where it’s generally too fucking greasy, depressingly flaccid and bland as fuck.  As soon as we finished our bhaji, all of our mains flew out of the kitchen almost at exactly the same time and it was game on for our Indian curry extravaganza.  The waitress even changed our plates and all I could think about was how a casual sports bar serving curry offered a service that those Mott 32 assholes couldn’t.

Every dish we ordered was a solid fuck yeah.  The chicken tikka and the seekh kebabs were both perfectly smoky and still juicy. Fuck yeahhh, cause there’s nothing fucking sadder than a rock hard hunk of chicken or seekh kebab that’s been tandoored to within an inch of its existence.  I could have done with some lemon wedges with my seekh kebabs to give it that acidic punch but I didn’t ask for it either.  The fish masala was solid with the spices doing everything it had to.  But for me, the biggest surprise of the night was the butter chicken, because it’s normally a dish that I find too drearily bland and I was already wary as fuck cause Chaky’s menu claims they ONLY use premium chicken breast meat.  Fuck that dry ass white breast meat to hell.  HOWEVER, Chaky’s butter chicken was A+++ would order again rad as fuck, benefitting from a touch of tomato to keep shit interesting and I dragged my naan to get all of that sauce into my existence.

I gotta make it clear too that Chaky’s are NOT fucking around when they say that their levels of spice are 1) Spicy 2) Hot and 3) EXTREMELY SPICY (their caps, not mine).  We ordered the lamb vindaloo and left it at the default level of extremely spicy. I alway rate myself as being able to eat fucking spicy food (ratemyself.com time, I reckon I’m about an 8 out of 10 on the eating spicy talent scale) and this vindaloo was atomically, absolutely no fucking about spicy. There’s a clear warning on the menu so I can’t claim not to have been warned that this shit is gonna take your fucking head off.  I was shallow breathing and unable to talk at some point and as Chaky’s can’t do lassis yet, I could only feebly try to extinguish the pain that coursed through my mouth by spooning whatever pitiful amount of mint yoghurt I could find on the table.

However, the fuck yeah star of the  night was Chaky’s garlic naan.  ERMAGERD FUCK YEAHHHHH SWEET NAAN O’MINE, TAKE ME AWAY TO A SPECIAL FUCK YEAH PLACE.   I’m gonna make a bold fucking claim and put it out there that I think this is the BEST FUCKING NAAN I’ve had in HK.  Fire up the thesaurus cause I wanna throw as many fucking superlatives at this naan and my ability to intelligently describe this transcendent fluffy cloud-like naan adequately without sounding like a foodie blogging dickwad is definitely on Struggle Street.  Each piece of naan was fucking perfection – with not a single burnt bottom or unevenly cooked piece.  UNFFF I’m too stiff to think or cogently write more, but Chef Chaky please know that your naan game is so fucking tight that I’m actually a bit emotional right now:

whyfeels

It’s early days for Chaky’s and while I can’t say the setting and choice of blaring gym cardio tunes is that pleasing, the Indian food was an epic fuck yeah for a very decent fuck yeah price.  Yo Chaky’s, hope you can sort out your drinks situation and do some fucking promo so you guys get some decent business happening cause fuck yeahhhhh, your curry game is SUPER FUCKING TIGHT.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah, super impressive Indian eats!!  BUT FUCK YEAHHH, DEM GARLIC NAAN FEELS.  ALL DAY, EVERY DAY.

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