Japanese

Where:
Okra (fuck yeahhhh, absolutely useless HK restaurant websites)
110 Queen’s Road West
Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2806 1038 (but they don’t take bookings, but more on the reservation bullshit later).

Price:
HKD500ish for the food per person.  HKD660 per person including sake.  The bill very clearly states that the 10% service charge goes directly to OKRA’s staff.

The deal:
Chef Max Levy has recently opened up OKRA in Hong Kong, after establishing OKRA in Beijing.  If you read the press, it’s often mentioned that Chef Levy was the only non-Japanese sushi chef at Sushi Yasuda in New York.  OKRA Hong Kong is currently in soft opening and after hearing some good shit around the traps and seeing all the Instagram #foodie #foodporn shiz, I decided to get my ass down to its small, 12 seat restaurant with a few standing tables that can accommodate two to three people each in Sai Ying Pun.

When I emailed OKRA Hong Kong to ask about bookings, I received a polite and swift response that they don’t take bookings, but given their location they were fairly confident that I should get a seat.  However, another homie gave me the low down that when he’d emailed OKRA Hong Kong about bookings he’d received a detailed email about how they only take bookings for 6pm and you have to do the tasting menu.  Like thanks a lot you OKRA assholes, that’s just fucking dandy for anyone that may have a J-O-B and can’t get their weary ass down to Sai Ying Pun for super early stupid o’clock dinner times.  Seeing as I’m suffering from a crushing case of Jobitis, I resigned myself to the no booking scenario, arriving at OKRA Hong Kong around 8pm.  We were politely told that our hopes of getting a counter seat were pretty much a big fat zero given that they were five parties ahead of us (even though no one was sitting at the counter yet) but we were welcome to eat at one of the standing tables.  Fuuuuuuuck, I get it, reservations are a pain in the goddamn ass for restaurants because customers are flakey, tardy dickwads who often don’t even have the decency to call up to cancel but FUCK, as a responsible customer who never ditches a booking, it still gnaws at my inner being that I am the one who is reaping the failed crop of no-seat-uncertainty sown by rude as fuck doucheknuckles who can’t keep bookings. Taking a more positive view, at least we didn’t have to wait to get a standing table but real talk, this sad sack of bones, blood and fat barely held together by some skin is not built for endurance sports like eating an entire meal standing up.

mjfrustrated

I calm my rattled no-booking nerves by ordering a bottle of the Kaze No Mori Nama Akitsuho Muroka Nama Genshu Junmai sake (HKD418 + 10% service charge), after some considered discussion with our fuck yeahhhh, friendly as fuck waitress.  She promises a light effervescent fizz to it and the aroma of dried yuzu peel, green banana and fresh bamboo while giving us some nice chat about the Akitsuho rice that’s used to make it from Nara.  It all makes sense and with the green banana note resonating the loudest, I try not to glare too enviously at all the seated, comfortable OKRA homies, enjoying the privilege of a chair while eating dinner.

OKRA’s menu is split into an A-side (smaller eats) and a B-side (slightly larger), with the a recommendation printed at the top to essentially order one A and one B per person.  I interrogate my waiter and he brims with unbridled delight when he talks about the food while he makes some thoughtful recommendations, which makes me pretty fucking excited for my meal. Fuck yeahhhh, waiter homies who give a fuck.

Our first dish is the Carabinero Prawn Soup (HKD78 +10% service charge) which our waiter recommended not only for the sweet, delicate flavour of the red Spanish prawn but also the fact that OKRA smoke their own Buddha’s hand (a citrus fruit that looks like a yellow claw) and then incorporate it into a dashi stock, which is poured over the prawn.  He does point out that a reason he likes it is because it “makes a cool photo”.  Ohhh, cause that’s why I order dishes:

kanyecoolphoto

However, when our dish arrives we realise that while the menu claims is “Red Spanish prawns with smoked buddha’s hand dashi” it was clearly not drafted by some particular as fuck pedantic asshole because it’s a singular prawn chilling out elegantly in a no doubt, carefully selected ceramic bowl.  Which surprised us a bit, given that the menu claims that ALL dishes are built for sharing and at no point did our waiter point out that perhaps we should order three prawns, given that there’s three of us eating.  While I’m not that into photos, I was definitely into this sweet, sweet prawn which we dissected into three pieces, its sweet, raw body gently cooked by the hot dashi broth that is poured over it.

Our serve of Sashimi Ume (HKD178 +10% service charge) is the closest to a traditional Japanese dish that we ate all night and consists of “three types of fish” from Fukuoka and is everything you can hope for from sashimi.  I bristle at the menu drafting because I am a pedantic asshole, as one of the sashimi items is a cherry prawn.  OKRA, Y U say fish when it’s a crustacean?! But inaccurate copy aside, it’s still fucking delicious and off the charts sweet, which I guess is more important than imprecise menu descriptions.

The Bafuni and Smoked Anchovies (HKD160 +10% service charge) was fucking magical, combining flavours that I’d never had before, even if it was firmly in food for ants territory.  OKRA Hong Kong use some shit hot bafun uni imported from Hokkaido and pair these creamy fuckers with paper thin slivers of salted buddha’s hand, anchovies, shredded pieces of tofu skin and shiso.  The anchovies are purposefully not particularly salty or strongly flavoured which allows each component to sit quiet and confidently in fuck yeah territory.  If only I’d had this entire bowl to myself instead of having to politely share it with my dining homies.

We move into the B-Sides and despite the claims of it being larger, I’m already contemplating the high chance that I’m gonna have to make a bang-bang stop after OKRA Hong Kong to ensure I’m not going to bed hungry.  The Unakyu Foie Gras (HKD238 +10% service charge) is a predictable fuck yeah because how can combining house made BBQ unagi (eel), honey miso duck liver and sanbaizu sauce (dashi, rice vinegar, soy sauce and mirin) not be major fuck yeah love?  The Roasted Beef Love Handle (HKD188 +10% service charge) also resonates with me and not just because I affectionately grab my own love handles while contemplating how this Black Angus Prime Chuck Tail Flap served with burnt olive oil and soy sauce is fucking delicious but how I deeply wish that my love-handled cow had really committed harder to being a fat fuck, so there’d be more fuck yeahhh roasted beef love handle for me to smash into my desperately wanting face.

The Unagi Fun (HKD168 +10% service charge) is a new menu item and it’s roasted eel over crispy sushi rice and pickles, which sounds simple as fuck but it’s executed perfectly.  I am still dreaming about the crispy sushi rice and the rich, just fatty enough, caramelised eel.  It’s at this point, I start to throw some serious shade at the menu’s claim that dishes are meant for sharing.  Maybe sharing between ants who fucking love precisely prepared and thoughtful Modern Japanese influenced cuisine?  Or perhaps for sharing between homies that don’t really eat and sustain themselves on a mixture of cocaine, cigarettes and black coffee?

As our waiter’s suggestion on the number of dishes to order was clearly off (perhaps because he isn’t a unrelenting eating machine like I am), we added some more dishes as I was still far closer to hungry than full.  We ordered a serve of the Hentai Quail Tatsuta (HKD108 +10% service charge) which sounded so fucking tiny on the menu, described as a “half baby quail marinated in a secret sauce of 2 herbs and spices and fried with preserved ginger and spring onion” but was tasty as fuck.  But let’s be real, after sharing this with three people, one-sixth of a quail is not really gonna make me the Mayor of Satiety Town.

However, my insatiable desire for MOAR FOOD paid off because if I hadn’t piled in for additional dishes, I would have missed out on the Chicken Fried Buri (HKD258 + 10% service charge).  I’m at imprecise menu drafting fever pitch now because there’s no actual chicken in this dish and it would be more accurately described as yellowtail fish/buri prepared in the style of fried chicken.  FYN Fun Fact:  Yellowtail is known as hamachi if it’s under three kilograms but it’s only when a yellowtail really commits to being a big fucker of at least five kilograms does it earn its big boy stripes as a buri.  

Japanese nomenclature aside, this dish was fucking unbelievable and it may be one of the best things I’ve eaten so far this year.  The buri is coated in a super thin, subtly spiced batter and deep-fried til it’s all crunchy and shit.  However, the buri is all white and still slightly cool and raw in the middle, served on top of a tangy, “crystal sauce”, grated fresh white daikon radish and some peppery micro-daikon sprouts.  I’m awash in fuck yeah feelings because this dish is just throwing multiple contrasting texture, temperatures and flavours at me and I’m feeling it so hard.  It’s the contrast of the temperature of the hot deep fried batter vs the cool middle of the buri.  It’s the contrast of the textures – fresh green micro-sprouts vs the buttery flesh of the buri vs the crispy batter.  It’s how all the flavours combine, the buri, piquant sauce, the batter, the peppery micr0-sprouts and the cool daikon radish.  All I know is that I’m caught in a tsunami of fuck yeah emotion and the tidal waves of buri love crash down upon me until I know that my life is now better for knowing this fuck yeah dish.

oprahcrying

After the epic chicken fried buri, I would have fucking loved a dessert to round off this meal and declare it THE END.  Unfortunately, OKRA Hong Kong didn’t have any sweeties going which meant that we flagged down the bill and went to find somewhere else for fuck yeah cocktails and chairs.

So when thinking about the whole deal, if not for the whole NO BOOKING palaver, I’d be so into recommending OKRA Hong Kong because these cats are doing something which they clearly believe in and are executing the fuck out of it.  The staff were passionate as fuck, knowledgeable and completed invested in making sure you were having a fuck yeah time  The food was so fresh and while clearly Japanese in origin was modern but utilised subtle flavours or techniques which were additive to the experience vs some sort of gauche frankenfusion bullshit mish mash which tries to drag well established cuisines into something imaginative.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah for the inventive but tiny food but fuck no with the no bookings unless it’s at 6pm reservations policy.  I’m just too old and lazy to be messing around with that hipster, no booking bullshit.  But trust me, when the omakaze-style private dining room opens upstairs and I can make a glorious and certain booking, I’ll be most def rounding up some like-minded homies to check OKRA’s shit out and see what else they can do.  I just wanna do it from a seat and without the chance that I’m on my feet for the whole meal or even worse, desperately combing the backstreets of Sai Ying Pun with a furious hunger in my belly,  searching for a Plan B because I got jammed at OKRA.

Where:
El Mercado
21F, 239 Hennessy Road
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2388 8009

Price:
We got out at around HKD350 a person (before tip, no service charge) for a moderate amount of food but more than adequate levels of disappointment.  El Mercado doesn’t have their liquor licence yet so fuck yeahhhh, BYO, no corkage and booze for days.

The deal:
I’d heard some promising things about El Mercado which has recently opened to peddle Nikkei cuisine to Hong Kong.  Nikkei is a mix of Peruvian and Japanese ingredients and flavours, the result of Japanese immigration to Peru in the late 19th century which saw migrant Japanese labourers eventually open up restaurants which catered to the local Peruvian palate while taking references from their own Japanese heritage.  Sounds really fucking fancy hey? Probably the most famous example of this is the world famous Chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa (responsible for the ever multiplying Nobu restaurant chain), who starting pumping out this blend of Japanese and Peruvian food in the late eighties to much excitement.  I mentioned to Mr Judgmental that I was interested in checking El Mercado  out and he instantly lived up to his namesake by throwing down bags of derisive judgment, declaring “It’s Peruvian Japanese? It’s 2015 and Nobu already did it in 1987.  Surely we can move on no?”

jumanjiwhatyear

Regardless, El Mercado’s menu at least looked interesting, its website promising to provide “Peruvian cuisine with Japanese influences” which pushed “creative boundaries offering diners signature treats, which combine citrus flavours with fresh fish, soy, coriander, raw onion, chillies and sweet potato”.  I just wanted to try something new and seeing as I’m boycotting all bullshit Korean fusion options in HK, it ruled out all 15 million (citation needed) of the new Korean fusion restaurants that have opened this year.

El Mercado has only just opened but it was already packed with a stack of people and you can get ready for every HK newspaper / media source to use various reiterations of ‘buzzing atmosphere’ when they describe it.  If you were dating someone who didn’t give a fuck about food and only cared about concepts and appearances, they’d be super impressed if you took them here (although, this means you have made fucking terrible choices in the dating game).  El Mercado’s interiors are cute as fuck, striking a nice balance between modern and casual through a thoughtful combination of light wood panelling, industrial light bulbs, strategic touches of green foliage and sea foam accents.  Due to being in soft open, we got to drink our fuck yeahhhh BYO no corkage booze while checking out El Mercado’s snappily short menu which is split into five sections – ‘Bocados / Light Bites’, ‘Sushi Bar’, ‘Ceviches & Tiraditos’, ‘Primer Pasos / First Courses’, ‘Entre Amigos / Sharing’ and ‘Postres  Dessert‘.  Lots of the dishes sounded rad as fuck, but I ruled out any from the ‘Bocados / Light Bites’ because they sounded fucking teeny tiny and I wasn’t given much hope of not veering into food for ant$ territory when the waiter confirmed that the Ostra Acevichada at HKD58 consists of ONE Japanese oyster which has been jazzed up with lime and squid ink foam.

In a telling omen, after chatting to our friendly waitress and placing our order, I asked her whether we had failed to order any must have dishes and all she could contribute was that we’d already ordered the suckling pig, before promising to check with the kitchen to see if we’d missed anything crucial.  She never returned with more suggestions, only leading me to conclude that she must have asked the kitchen what their star dishes were and they replied ‘Fucked if I know!’  before shrugging their shoulders nonchalantly and returning to chopping a mountain of onions.

The ‘Sushi Bar’ offers various ingredients stacked on top of rice and to put the POW into fusion, the toppings aren’t your standard Japanese raw fish / seafood fare.  We ordered the AVEGANADO, which appears looking just like a tuna nigiri but ho ho, isn’t this some clever shit, El Mercado have used a slightly dehydrated watermelon slice with a balsamic reduction (HKD38 for two pieces) to replicate the appearance of tuna and soy sauce. In a testament to never trust any dish that tucks VEGAN into its name, the Aveganado was as exciting as you could ever expect watermelon on rice to be.  That is, wake me up when you’re fucking done because it’s not fucking exciting at all.

watermeloncat

To really make it feel like we were getting into the Peruvian Japanese vibes, we decided to turn up the fusion feels by mixing shit up with some ceviche – that is, raw fish cured with some citrus.  We went all in, ordering the Ceviche de Atun (Tuna Fish, Leche De Tigre, Sweet Potato at HKD158) and the Ika Ceviche (Ohnibe Fish, Leche De Tigre, Sweet Potato Crispy Calamari Rings at HKD178).  Each dish was indistinguishable from each other, except that the Ika Ceviche had a small portion of fried squid on the side.  This meant that we got two uninspiring dishes of a shit tonne of onions, mixed with some coriander, chilli, lime, a small amount of raw fish and a couple of slices of yellow sweet potato on the bottom. It just felt like all the other low cost ingredients (ie. onions) were being used to pad out the high cost ingredients (ie. fish).  But fuck, how much do sweet potatoes cost?  Surely El Mercado could have ponied up with something more substantial than the scant amounts of fish and sweet potato we were presented with.  Fuck no to eating a dish which is almost entirely citrus covered raw onions.  Tony Abbott, Australia’s raw onion eating Prime Minister, would most definitely approve of El Mercado’s ceviche before stopping the boats or gay marriage or whatever he’s into aside from raw onions.

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Sauce

The mains / sharing dishes looked suspiciously expensive with all five dishes priced over HKD308  We ordered the Aeropuerto (Fried Rice, Octopus, Shrimp & Pork Squid Ink Omelette at HKD308) and the Cochinillo Con Tacu Tacu (Suckling Pig, Edamame Tacu Tacu and Nikkei Chalaca Sarza (special hot sauce made with peppers, lime juice, onions and tomatoes) at HKD308).  The most interesting thing about the Aeropuerto was its description on the menu because in reality, it was just fucking expensive fried rice with a grey, salty omelette plopped on top. I chewed my way through this greasy, over garlicky fried rice while wondering whether squeezing a bit of squid ink into an egg is enough to claim you’re pushing creative culinary boundaries.  Every now and again you’d come across a small piece of octopus, its small rubbery existence surely there to remind you of OMG JAPANESE INFLUENCE but there isn’t enough rubbery pieces of octopus in the world which could eve justify the HKD308 price tag for FUCK NO fried rice.

The Cochinillo Con Tacu Tacu was two small pieces of crispy suckling pig with a lump of edamame tacu tacu in the middle and two fried quail eggs.  Predictably, the suckling pig was fine (crispy skin blah blah juicy meat blah blah blah) because as always, you need to really work at fucking up roast suckling pig to make it into a fuck no.  The accompanying edamame tacu tacu was underwhelming as all hell – tacu tacu being some fancy Peruvian way of saying “fried rice and some mealy edamame beans mashed together to give a dish some heft, given how fucking small the pork was”.  HKD308 for this dish and between four people it would have only been at best, two bites of pork and a few spoonfuls of some ricey, beany concoction. A waiter swung by at this point to ask how everything was and point blank with hungry eyes, I said ‘So tiny‘ and he ignored my comment, right before we asked for the menu so we could order more food.

We ordered one more main, the Lomo Saltado and the menu describes it as “Stir Fried Beef, Market Vegetables, Soy Sauce Served With Rice” at HKD308.  I am still not sure what makes this Peruvian (or even Japanese really) but all I am really sure of is that yes, we did just hand over HKD THREE HUNDRED AND EIGHT DOLLARS to eat super salty stir fried beef with small pieces of broccoli on rice.  I start to pen a letter in my head that goes something like:

DEAR HONG KONG RESTAURANTS,

WHILE THE CONSTANT ABUSE OF EVER RISING PRICES IN THIS CITY HAVE WARPED MY ABILITY TO CONFIDENTLY KNOW WHAT A FAIR PRICE IS ANYMORE, I DEFINITELY DRAW THE LINE AT HKD308 SALTY AS FUCK BEEF STIR FRIES WITH BROCCOLI AND RICE.

BEST,
SGT NOMS
XO FUCKING XO

We look at the menu again to decide whether we want to get dessert but a table decision was made that we were all beyond unenthused about what El Mercado could do for dessert.  Why bother laying down more cash for some Peruvian Japanese delights like mango on some sticky rice, shaped like…wait for it…A MANGO NIGIRI SUSHI!! Fuck that shit to hell, so instead we settled our bill, tipped the wait staff (because they were on form most of the night, even if the waiter homie did ignore my blunt, snippy size queen related feedback) and went upstairs to Pirata to get involved in their fuck yeah vermouth selection instead.  Fuck yeahhh to drinking your dessert.

Verdict:
Fuck nooooo.  But get ready for people to tell you that El Mercado’s good because sometimes all you need is a trendy interior, cozy lighting and an edgy menu to fool people into thinking that you’re doing something new and interesting.

Where:
URA Japanese Delicacy
2F, The Wellington
198 Wellington St
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2111 9381

Price:
My lunch set was HKD148 (+10% service charge).  +HKD15 for dessert.  Other lunch sets ranged in price from HKD98 to HKD368 (+10% service charge) depending on the ingredients.

The deal:
URA Japanese Delicacy has only just opened in Sheung Wan in the last month or so.  The pictures on their FB looked pretty fucking tasty so I rounded up Ms Two Serves to try URA for lunch.  URA’s done a good job with its cool as fuck decor – all shades of grey, black and gold, neon signs and black and white photo prints of near naked tattooed Japanese yakuza gangsters.  The main reason why Ms Two Serves and I were here was that we’d seen the A4 Miyazaki wagyu steak and sea urchin rice bowl (HKD438 + 10% service charge) on Facebook and both of us wanted to smash it into our fatty boombah faces.  Check this rad looking shit out, yasssssssss:

Unfortunately, the waitress returned to let us know that they sold out of uni last night.  WTF URA HOMIES – how can you be out of uni just in time for Friday / weekend prime time?! I pushed my fuck no disappointment to one side and opted for the reasonably priced HKD148 (+10% service charge) Buta Set – the Kagoshima Kurobuta pork rice set with Ms Two Serves going for the exxy HKD368 (+10% service charge) Sukiyaki Set – A4 Miyazaki wagyu beef set.

Each set comes with a chawanmushi (steamed egg), salad, rice and a cup of hot japanese tea.  The starter organic salad comes out in a small bowl and while I can appreciate the effort gone into sourcing organic greens, I don’t appreciate that there isn’t enough dressing and it’s 90% rocket.  I don’t mind a little bit of rocket but I never want to chow through a bowl of it.  The chawanmushi is excellent, fuck yeah hunks of prawn and a silky egg custard but while it’s got some cute presentation going on, the main problem is that it’s so goddamn tiny.

The main buta pork set arrives and it’s all laid out on a wooden tray with more cute containers (ie. fucking tiny) but I’m a greedy cunt and all I can think is ‘Ohhh, is that all there is?’.  There’s a thimbleful of soft tofu which is delicious, but tiny.  The set comes with two small sushi rolls filled with deep fried ebi (prawn) and two small tamagoyaki (egg cakes) which are fine but nothing remarkable.  URA Japanese Delicacy proudly states that they fly their ingredients in daily from Osaka (fuck no, dem food miles) and the grilled Kagoshima Kurobata pork is a fuck yeah, grilled to perfection (lolzzz j/k, you fuckers officially have permission to shut my Internet access down if I ever spout such fuck no platitudes).  The pork was a little on the thin side but it had some fuck yeah charcoal times going on.  Served with a dipping sauce, this was a fuck yeah except like everything so far, the six to seven pieces of air-freighted pork were definitely not enough for me to find the satiety I so desperately fucking desired.  I even hoovered down the entire bowl of rice in a desperate attempt to try and fill the void that in no way had been filled by the tiny ass portion of Kurobata pork.

Even sadder was Ms Two Serve’s Gyu set, the A4 Miyazak wagyu beef rice set at an eye watering HKD368 (+10% service charge). The extra bucks might get you some fancy-ass beef but it’s all fucking teeny tiny.  Ms Two Serves looks at me with panicked eyes as she realises that she’s spent too much money for not a lot of food, desperately scraping at her miniature tofu pot in the quest for a few more molecules of food.

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Ms Two Serves opted to pay the extra HKD15 for the mini almond tofu dessert.  When her order was forgotten she chased it up with the waitress who after a few minutes came back to ask “Which dessert did you order?” which was a bit puzzling, given that there’s only one fucking dessert choice on the menu.  When it finally arrived, Ms Two Serves said it was fucking delicious but guess what, the trend is your friend because it was also SO FUCKING SMALL.

There is no issue with URA’s food and ingredients. Nothing we ate was a fuck no or improperly prepared.  It sucks balls that we couldn’t get the signature uni/wagyu dish (although at HKD438 for a serve that doesn’t look that fucking big, perhaps this was a blessing in disguise) but there just wasn’t anything that stood out at URA.  Most importantly, both of us needed more fucking food afterwards.  It ain’t no lie, Ms Two Serves and I stopped in at Passion by Gerard Du Bois in Central to get something to fill us up and when Passion failed to deliver, Ms Two Serves got herself some fishballs and wontons later to try and sate the beast.   Not that Ms Two Serves could really afford a second lunch after her A4 Wagyu Beef Set + dessert  combo coming in at HKD421 after service charge = fuck no, USD54!!!!!  Like srs URA, should anyone be hunting down fishballs after forking over HKD400+ for a lunch at a relatively casual restaurant??

Verdict:
Fuck nooo, cause hold me closer, tiny unremarkable lunch set.  I’d only give URA a fuck yeah if someone else was paying and they were down with you ordering two lunch sets per person.

Where:
Ore-no Kappou (Hong Kong) (website has no fucking information on HK though)
6/F, California Tower
32 D’Aguilar Street
Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2328 3302

Price:
Food and sake, we were out at HKD600 each.

The deal:
The ORENO corporation have a whole slew of restaurants in Japan which all riff on ‘Ore’(俺), Ore-no Kappou, Ore-no French, Ore-no Italian, Ore-no Yakitori, etc, meaning ‘My _____ Cuisine’. The ORENO restaurant concept is that they allow their diners access to a Michelin-starred class chef and shit hot ingredients at an affordable price point.  Ore-no Kappou is focussed on Japanese food and it has just opened their first overseas branch in Lan Kwai Fong in the new California Tower, right in the heart of this filthy LKF shithole.  I’m reminded of this as I’m walking slowly through the increasingly heavy Hong Kong heat to get to dinner, pushing past slack jawed douchebags high on machismo and David Guetta as they eye off rubber ankled girls who emit high pitched giggles from, one can only assume, being choked out by heinous polyester bandage dresses. I take a look around this supposed entertainment district, waving off the beatific smile of a Buddhist monk of dubious provenance and his bogus-ass begging bowl while I mutter under my breath:

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Ore-no Kappou in Japan maintains their profits while keeping their premium shit cheap by having stand-up bar style restaurants, meaning they can churn through three times the number of customers as a sit-down restaurant.  Don’t worry my lazy ass HK homies, ORENO Corporation realised that this shit wasn’t going to fly in the Kong so there’s only a few standing tables for show up the front of the restaurant with the rest of the seats being your traditional sit down tables.  To maintain the profitable churn while allowing HK to sit down, a dinner seating is restricted to two hours.  It’s a large space, bright, modern and at dinner time, it is jam packed with customers.  Sake is also sold at retail prices with only a HKD99 mark up, which is some fuck yeahhhh drinking value that I can get behind.

My homies and I sit down and we are confronted with a needlessly complicated menu which comes in three separate parts/folders.  Ore-no Kappou, Y U have so many fucking menus when it’s just printed paper in a plastic sleeve??  Just put that shit into one menu with sections like Starters, Mains and Drinks vs the Special Month Menu, the Special Special Drinks Month Menu and the Normal Dinner Menu.  When we place our orders, it quickly becomes apparent that our servers have been given clear instructions to upsell the shit out of their multi-part menu. We try to order sake from the special special drinks menu and while the +HKD99 mark up is a nice nod to value, the proposition falls over quickly when your waiter tells you that they’ve sold out of all the mid-range sake so you can only choose from the exxy as fuck range.  To add to the menu confusion, our server shows up with another Special Special Dishes for Tonight menu and politely points us to a HKD800+ shabu shabu hot pot option.  Sorry homes, I don’t give a fuck about whatever snow crab you’ve got on offer, I ain’t got HKD800+ spare to snack down on some hot pot extortion.

Once we negotiate past the potential for upselling foxing, our food appears really fucking quickly. The saba sushi was a vinegary, pressed oily fish fuck yeahh.  The thick slice of pickled mackerel is rad as fuck, served on a big ass portion of rice wrapped in nori, giving me some onigiri rice ball feels due to its size.  At HKD60 for two huge-ass pieces, I’m super down down with this fuck yeah value proposition.

Our other dishes arrive and Ore-no Kappou are definitely keeping up their end of the quality ingredients bargain.  The Mushi Sushi (HKD370) serves a mix of hot and cold sushi ingredients including abalone, ikura (large salmon roe), prawns and uni (sea urchin) and fuck yeahhh, shit’s super fresh and plentiful as fuck.  There’s nothing worse when you order one of these chirashi style rice dishes and when you actually go to eat the fucker you soon realise that the appearance of volume is a result of creative plating and everything’s been sliced super fucking thinly to stretch shit further.

The bukkake udon (HKD50) was also a fuck yeah and I know all of you dirty fuckers are tittering at BUKKAKE cause like WTF LOLZ did you seriously order a bowl of noodles where they put jizz all over it?!!?!?!?!  But have some decency yo, cause FYN Fun Fact: the definition of bukkake actually means pouring on or splashing at something NOT NECESSARILY WITH SEMEN. So in this instance it’s just udon with egg, sesame and nori (seaweed) strips where you pour some very cumless, though fuck yeah, broth over it.

A fuck yeah stand out on the night was the A5 Kuroge Wagyu tenderloin with foie gras (HKD480), which might sound like it’s just doing luxury by numbers but Ore-no Kappou do right by the beef and cook it fucking perfectly.  There’s a very decent serve of foie gras which has been pan-seared to give it the right level of caramelisation so you’re not just choking back an expensive, grainy cold slab of corn-fed fatty sadness. While one of the more expensive dishes that we ordered, we easily shared this fuck yeah dish between four people and considering how fucking rich it was with the beef and foie gras, I don’t think I’d recommend tackling this dish solo. But fuck, no judgment if you’ve got an insatiable lust for luxury and you want to smash this expensive fucker all on your own.

Service at Ore-no Kappou was not fucking amazing and I’m guessing that part of keeping the profit margins up with shit hot ingredients also means not hiring too many staff. There were also some weird quirks like our waiter being able to speak English when we first arrived and then when he realised we had a Cantonese speaker at our table, he later claimed that he couldn’t speak English and switched to Cantonese only.  Fine, I can live with a waiter getting shy about his ability to speak English, even if it means that the majority of our table didn’t know what he was saying.  But service went from below average to really fucking dismal when our shabu-shabu arrived.  We asked whether we will be getting any dipping sauce for our beef because our shabu-shabu broth only consisted of hot water and a piece of konbu (dried giant kelp) which surely wasn’t going to give Ore-no Kappou’s shit-hot marbled beef enough flavour.  Our waiter resolutely declared that this was correct and that Konbu-san on his own was going to magically flavour every fucking thing in the shabu-shabu.  Our table is kicking up a fuss at this stage that surely this isn’t right and another waiter is called over, who confirms that yeah, deal with it, Konbu-san is singularly gonna save the flavour day.

downtonreassuring

After half our table had eaten the konbu-water-boiled beef to confirm that shit was just super plain, we questioned a third waiter (who looked more senior) who said that he’d see what he could do about sauce and after about 10+ minutes after Konbu-gate began, Ore-no Kappou finally bestowed upon us a ponzu (citrus) sauce and a goma-dare (sesame) sauce to dip our high grade beef in.

So overall the food at Ore-no Kappou was a solid fuck yeah (except for the sauceless shabu-shabu) and there’s no fucking doubt that you are getting quality fuck yeah ingredients at a very reasonable fuck yeah price.  However, as a consequence this means you have to endure fuck no shambolic service and a bit of pushy fuck no upsell from the waiters.  So would FYN go back?  Definitely not for an important occasion and only if I was with peeps where shit-house service wouldn’t fucking kill the night.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah for lunch or on unimportant, purely food-based casual occasions.  Despite the shit house service, I gotta face facts, I definitely want dat saba sushi in my life again.

Where:
Sama Hong Kong
51A Gough Street
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2191 8850 (despite the fact it’s fucking tiny, you can actually make bookings here.  I won’t be surprised if Sama HK change their mind on taking bookings later)

Price:
HKD300 for two people, no booze.  Curries range from HKD88-108 (+10%).

The deal:
Mr Vegetables told me to go and check Sama out for its Japanese curry, predictably recommending that I should add an extra serve of vegetables.  I love a good Japanese curry but sometimes they can be so fucking disappointing – too watery, too sweet and just low on flavour.  Sama is a Japanese soup curry chain which started in Sapporo and has opened its first overseas branch in Hong Kong on Gough Street.  The HK branch is real fucking cute, cartoon bears, wooden surfaces and mismatched chairs.  I can almost imagine the interior designer being given a mood board with phrases like “modern, whimsical Japanese fairy tale” and “ps. add cartoon bears” pasted across it.

Sama HK ships its curry bases in from Japan and they then reconstitute it in the Kong with HK made chicken stock.  With your dish you choose the level of spiciness, curry base (tomato, coconut or prawn) and then the ingredients such as pork, chicken leg, a hamburger patty or more vegetables.  Your curry will arrive with a plate of rice to add some fuck yeah carbs to your meal or you can pay another HKD10 to have udon or various other additions with it.

Sama HK rates its spice levels from 1 – 30, categorised as Baby Bear (L0-5), Adult Bear (L6-15) and Crazy Bear (L16-30).  I’ve read several reviews online where each reviewer has gone for around Level 10 (ie. Softcock Bear) for their curry and have said shit like it’s “already very hot” or “satisfyingly hot”.  I even saw one review where they ordered a Level 5 curry – SRS GUISE, what’s the fucking point?? What a bunch of fucking pussies.  As I’m totally a badass spicy food baller, I ordered mine at Level 25 and while it was spicy, it wasn’t totally fucking off the charts.  Sama HK has a wall of fame for anyone who finishes a Level 30 curry but I think anyone who can eat spicy food could easily achieve this if they wanted to.  Yeah, you should totally check my big balls out:

michaeljacksonwhosbad

I ordered the coconut base with the beef hamburger patty curry.  Each soup curry is served with a fuck yeah assortment of cooked vegetables – okra, broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, green pepper, eggplant, lotus root and potatoes. Fuck yeah to not cheaping out on the veg and just using cheap ass vegetables like carrots and cabbage.  Sad times though, the half egg which comes with the curry has had the life totally boiled the fuck out of it.  TOO FUCKING SAD.  Who wants to eat a grey, hard boiled egg?  Yo Sama, you gotta get on top of your egg game and get some UNCTUOUS (lolz) soft boiled egg yolks happening.  The actual curry is fucking tasty though with several layers of flavours from the ingredients, coconut base, chicken stock and spice levels.  I fucking enjoyed it with the beef hamburg patty and shit was tight with the rice.  I could have done with it being less salty but that’s a minor point of contention.

The sides at Sama HK were squarely in the category of “ok enough at the time”, which I’m sure isn’t the end goal of any restaurant.  The chicken karaage didn’t taste of much at all and a few pieces of it were dry as fuck.  Fuck no #fatassproblems, I just seem to always be having fucking average fried chicken at the moment.  I also ordered a corn croquette that was edible and fried, but I can’t fucking remember much beyond that.  At least it wasn’t a greasy ballbag of fail like the corn fritters I had at Holy Crab.

Service was efficient and bang on for a casual restaurant.  While the dishes themselves are at a sensible price point (a curry soup goes for around HKD88-108 a bowl), I gotta make a fuck no reference to the prices of drinks.  HKD58 for a fruit lassi??  HKD78 for a Hitachino 300ml beer?  Fuuckkkkkk that’s USD11+ for a small ass bottle of beer in real dollars.  FUCK NO.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah but don’t fucking bother with the sides. Or the overpriced booze.

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