Modern

Where:
Zurriola
18/F, The One, 100 Nathan Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2253 7111

Price:
HKD850 (+10% service charge) for the Chef’s tasting menu.  We got out at HKD1500+ per person including wine and fancy water. No, you can’t have tap water.

The deal:
Zurriola has relaunched itself under the executive hand of Chef Daniel Birkner about two months ago. I never ate at Zurriola before but if I make some entirely judgmental assessments (that’s right motherfuckers, why stop now?), the pics online look like that unnecessarily fussy cuisine which declares itself to be ‘modern contemporary’ under the guise of some foamy sauces with a ridiculous porcine Stonehenge fashioned out of tiny fucking cubes of pork belly and a crispy pork rind arch. Executive Chef Birkner was previously the Head Chef at The Butchers Club and I’ve had his fuck yeah food before at The Butchers Club T-Bone Tuesday and Wellington Wednesday so I was pumped to see what his fine dining game involved.

After getting my Mid-Levels and Sheung Wan homies to aggressively workshop their fears of leaving The Island for, sigh, The Dark Side (srs guise, is this really still a thing??), we managed to get our rarefied Island asses to Zurriola which is in The One shopping mall.  The Zurriola dining room itself hasn’t completed its formal divorce proceedings from its sister restaurant, Tapagria, the Spanish joint next door. A portrait of a matador’s butt keeps a careful perky watch over a wrought steel chandelier as a blaring flamenco soundtrack stamps across the room. Ole motherfuckers, but this led to some confusion as my Island homies who hadn’t been given the full pre-dinner brief assumed we were having Modern Spanish for dinner vs the broader remit of Modern European. Misplaced Mediterranean interior overtures aside the most impressive sight is predictably the Hong Kong harbour. Fuck me, however many years I’ve been living in the Kong and shit hot damn, that skyline still gives me the fuck yeah feels.

I wanted to see Chef Birkner’s highlight reel which is why I bullied the table into going for the  eight-course Chef’s tasting menu. Just so you know FYN homies, most of the dishes we had as part of the tasting menu were on the a la carte menu which I took as a good sign.  I’ve outlined this before, but I hate writing up a tasting menu dish by dish cause where’s the goddamn fun if you homies actually decide to go?  However, I will say that Zurriola’s food was everything that I fucking love in a Chef’s menu and I was so pumped that we’d put our trust in the chef.  ALL of the food we were served at Zurriola was so fucking precise, beautiful as fuck and there was no fucking lowlight dishes which struck out, which can curse some tasting menus.  I fucking loved that Zurriola were using non-standard ingredient combinations but not in that fuck no failbags way when a chef tries to be edgy and you just end up crying into a super fucking awkward dish of an avocado slice sprinkled with matcha powder and cayenne pepper on a dark grey slate, with a stupid ass petal on the side.  Over the courses, there was a real ebb and flow to the sequencing of each dish and I really fucking loved how much detail and thought went into the finer points of the meal.  Overall, I just thought the whole tasting menu affair showed the centre of what a chef loves and is inspired by and fuck yeah, there was clear thought behind every ingredient on the plate without relying on stupid-ass gimmicks or trying to elevate shit by simply shredding a truffle over everything.

Which was a big relief because do you know what really fucking grinds my gears at the moment? It’s lazy-ass luxury fine dining. That’s where chefs take it upon themselves to unnecessarily update or complicate shit, just to show off technique, presentation or ingredients which ends up in a off the charts wank-off factor and mega buck$ flying out of the customer’s pocket with sweet fuck all being done to improve a dish’s flavour or composition.  Fuck no to chefs just relying on the equation of fine dining = expensive ingredients, with the meal becoming an exercise in luxury by numbers. Like srs, sometimes dining just feels like add +HKD99 for black truffles to cover up the fact that you’re being served mindlessly uninventive food. Add +HKD200 for A5 wagyu because fuckkk, surely pampered grain fed Japanese cows should taste better. Add +HKD99 for foie gras cause nothing says delicious, gourmet nom noms than adding fatty geese liver as the table cries “OMG guys, I just totally adore foie gras!! How truly decadent!”. Add +HKD250 for caviar cause fuck yeahhh, surely fish eggs can drag a classic dish kicking and screaming into 2015.  Now add in some pea tendrils, splooge some bisque foam on the side, scatter a few viola petals about and some sort of molecular gastronomy caviar pearl (olive oil? balsamic vinegar?) and you’ve got the rights to bleat on about how fucking inventive and modern your shit is.

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Thank fuck Zurriola aren’t playing that game because I’m done with that bull$hit.  Expensive and fatty as fuck doesn’t always result in a your shit being an automatic modern, innovative, high end or most importantly, a fucking ferocious culinary slam dunk.

So as I’m not doing a blow-by-blow account, here are some of my fuck yeahhh highlights.  To start, I had strong feelings that shit was gonna be rad after the bread course.  I always judge a restaurant on its bread because while it’s free and automatically expected by the customer, fuck yeah bread shows that the chef can still deeply care about the free shit, it’s a fuck yeah leading indicator of good shit to come.  Zurriola passed the bread test, as its bread is a serious fuck yeah, flecked with fennel, paprika, cayenne and black pepper which was only enhanced by my greedy ass covering it with French Beurre d’Echire butter which melted to give me dem nutty, buttermilk fuck yeah feels.  Other examples of the off the hook precision in Zurriola’s food was the first course, plainly billed as a ‘garden salad’.  However, this was one of the most fucking beautiful and thoughtful garden salads I’ve ever eaten, with its precision cut batons of carrots, baby corn and other vegetable items forming this artistic as fuck vegetable garden style formation.  Contrast these crisp vegetables with the texture and temperature of the chewy octopus, cold avocado ice-cream and small crispy crouton-like cubes of veal and shit’s getting beyond real.  How many feels is a salad meant to give me?!

There’s also unconventional ingredient pairings which still make sense, as demonstrated by the third course of the scallops which were topped with black pudding, against a crisp green apple sliver and a celeriac mash. Or the prawn which has been battered with crushed pork rinds which fuck yeahhh, is the sort of next level cardiac arrest batter I can full heartedly get behind.  This fuck yeah crunchy-ass prawn is served with a vibrant green garlic risotto where every grain is firm yet tender. I’m veering into food wank territory here but fuck yeah, presentation!

I also fucking loved the small details in both the presentation and ingredient choices.  The final savoury main is a line caught sea bass with its skin fried in such a manner that it looks like a series of scales, all stuck up, served with the finest wisp of Italian wild fennel with a liquorice side.  It’s the tiny details like the sprig of fennel which were so fucking impressive to me, because it was barely fucking there but it just added so much.  Every dish in the tasting menu demonstrated a fuck tonne of technique but more importantly, each dish was a major fuck yeah and showed you something new and fresh. Which is rare but impressive as fuck cause it clearly demonstrates a chef’s vision to show you ingredients that you know in a new light.

After seven savoury courses (excluding bread, an amuse bouche and a palette cleanser) I had to pony up hard to get through the cheese course.  Zurriola’s cheese course was not fucking about, with Chef Birkner serving us a selection of French raw milk cheeses (Chaource, Langres, Reblochon de Savoie, Saint Nectaire au cendre and Crottin de Chavignol) on thinly sliced homemade toasted apricot fruit bread.  I’m normally not down with apricot at all but I can make an exception for Zurriola’s fuck yeah fruit toast. Fuck me, I’d be pretty pleased with myself if I just came for champagne and the cheese course so I’d have more capacity to follow my usual FYN cheese game plan – that is, eating cheese until my entire being is a combination of coagulated milk protein caseins, deep physical pain from my distended stomach and self-loathing.

The final dessert course was a riff on 杨枝甘露 (yueng zi gam lou), a traditional Cantonese cold dessert soup made predominantly from mango, pomelo, coconut and evaporated milk.  I always maintain that Chinese desserts are never the strongest point in Chinese cooking, cause I’ve never been convinced that some ground up nuts, sugar and almond essence in a hot grainy soup is ever going to rival its Western dessert homies.  However, 杨枝甘露 is one of my fuck yeah favourites even if Chef Birkner’s take on this dessert isn’t too literal or overwrought – serving a small cube of mango cake with a coconut puff with pomelo, passion fruit and coconut in a few forms and textures. It wasn’t big but at this stage, an appropriately sized, light and tangy dessert was the perfect fuck yeah ending I needed after smashing my way through a very large in charge tasting menu.

The only thing that doesn’t make Zurriola a perfect dining experience was the restaurant itself, which doesn’t feel like it’s quite figured out what it wants to be.  It’s serving Modern European food in a restaurant decked out in old school Spanish decor.  I’ve well documented my love for having proper linen tablecloths and Zurriola has gone with no tablecloths and tacky plastic woven placemats which just didn’t sit with the food we were served.  I know that every restaurant thinks they can keep their restaurant modern by eschewing tablecloths (yo SAAM, imma looking at you with your pebble filled dishes and declarations of no tablecloths), but Zurriola’s decor just isn’t modern enough to attempt this modern dining without the stiff service bullshit.  Yo Zurriola, let’s be real – if you’re going to refuse to serve me tap water (fuck no!), have an expensive as fuck wine list (starting prices at around HKD700 a bottle and skyrocketing upwards exponentially) and punch out fuck yeah fine dining food and service, why won’t you just embrace that your shit isn’t casual and get rid of that tacky as fuck plastic placemat and give me a proper white tablecloth?

I always know when I’ve had a serious fuck yeah meal when I’m dreaming of that motherfucker the next day.  Or week.  Mission accomplished Zurriola, cause I’ve got dem fuck yeah feels for your precise, modern though no wanky bullshit eats.  Imma gonna come back for you, just as soon as my fat fucker pants fit again.

Verdict:
I know that most of you Sheung Wan / Sai Yin Pun assholes aren’t ever gonna cross the harbour for this shit but fuck yeahhhhhh on pay day, cause shit wasn’t cheap but this was one of the most thoughtful, innovative and impressively consistent tasting menus I’ve had this year. Get your Zurriola jam on for special occasions or when you’ve got out of towners when you need a restaurant with dat HK harbour view.  Imma gonna make a big FYN call, I expect to see this one in my 2015 fuck yeah HK highlights.

Where:
Mano (half marks on your website Mano, Y U no have full menu??)
The L Place
Ground Floor, 139 Queens Road Central
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2399 0737

Price:
The five-course chef’s tasting menu was about HKD900ish and with a few extra items, drinks and coffee, we were out at around HKD4,000 for three people.  I’d give you better guidance if Mano’s website had all the relevant info. BUT IT DOESN’T.

The deal:
Ms Two Serves organised for us to have dinner at Mano because she went last week and fucking loved it.  I’d never gotten my ass down to Mano because I never knew exactly what the fuck they were trying to be.  I know they started off as some sort of casual, sandwich and coffee lunch time place and then last year in July, Chef Frederic Chabbert the former Chef de Cuisine of the formerly Michelin starred Petrus was shipped in to fancy up Mano’s shit a bit. Identity crisis aside, Mano is nailing its website wank, turning up its description bullshit off the goddamn charts by claiming that they’re a “pick me up in the morning”, “a hearty mouthful of wholesome lunch” and whoa, get your rose tinted literary prose glasses on at night cause this is when shit goes from “sunshine to moonshade” (Mano, noooo STAHP) and Mano transforms with “[h]ushed whispers and fragrant fusions [which] curl their way into Mano’s complete fine-dining dinner service”.

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Yo Mano’s copywriters – RU FUCKING FOR REAL?? MOONSHADE??  FRAGRANT FUSIONS??  But hey if you ever wondered where you need to go in HK to experience the tendrils of transformation which bring with it a “mysterious new energy”, it’s the ground floor of The L Place. No really. As an aside, I’ve never understood The L Place – it’s centrally located and as a concept it works, but the building has got bad feng shui or some fuck no mojo shit going on, because it always feels a bit dead and sad to me.

Bullshit copy aside, Mano appears to be gunning for a casual, not quite fine dining bistro vibe.  That translates to prices that aren’t fucking ludicrous, miniature herbs, big floral arrangements and predictably, no tablecloths.  When I arrive, Mr and Ms Two Serves are already smashing back champagne and gougères.  FUCK YEAH cause it’s a fact that life’s rad as fuck when you’re drinking champagne and chasing it with fuck yeah choux pastry filled with creamy cheese.  We decided to go for the five course tasting menu, with the cute description of “Fred’s Playground”, leaving the selection of the courses totally up to the Chef .  While we waited for our food, our bread arrived and that crusty loaf was a serious fuck yeah of epic proportions.  That gluten filled bastard arrived straight from the oven, steam escaping when we broke the loaf open and the pat of butter that it came with was FUCKING AMAZING.  I’m sure there was a story behind the fuck yeah butter, it was probably hand churned by nuns in Northwestern France from a herd of cows who are only allowed to eat clover during dusk but no explanation was forthcoming.  Instead, I focussed my entire being on the overwhelming feeling in my heart which assured me that there was nothing more that I wanted in this mortal coil than to eat numerous loaves of Mano’s FUCK YEAH bread.  Given that we were about to smash a Chef’s tasting menu, we only ate two loaves between us as my gluten based desires raged against my common sense.

The kitchen sent out a chestnut and mushroom soup as an amuse bouche, with a small plain pastry puff topped by a sliver of black truffle.  I was fearful that it was going to be one of those soups where it’s essentially cream with a touch of the actual ingredient, but fuck yeahhh shit was tasty and not too heavy.  Our first course was white asparagus with a hollandaise sauce which sounds boring as fuck, but Mano used some Japanese flavours such as micro shiso leaves, yuzu in the hollandaise and a slice of Japanese salty-sour plum which cut straight through the creamy rich sauce for some fuck yeah contrast times. Whoever is importing yuzu into HK atm must be making some serious bank cause yuzu is cruising right up kimchi’s ass to be the latest trendiest ingredient that every restaurant fucker is adding to their dishes for a bit of predictably trendy flair.  Can’t lie though, I’m still such a fucking sucker for it though.

Our second course was a fuck yeah scallop served in a lobster bisque dotted with toasted red quinoa.  Bisque seems to be one of those go-to broths that every fine dining restaurant seems to just keep on standby to pour on ingredients to fancy shit up but at least Mano’s captured that seafood flavour and used lemongrass to subtly hint at a Thai style curry.  While the dish was a fuck yeah, it was becoming apparent that Mano’s service was patchy as fuck.  Mano’s more experienced waiters were slick as fuck but there was a definite second class of greenhorns that were pleasant but not on top of their game.  Given that we’d given carte blanche to the chef, I found that more than half of our dishes weren’t presented with any explanation or it would only be directed to one person at the table.  When I had questions about the food we were served, I’m not entirely convinced that the staff had even tried the food themselves.  For example, I asked the waitress what was the toasted seed in our scallop dish and she answered ‘peppercorn’.  As I’m a total foodie douchebag I challenged her answer given that the seeds were fairly neutral in taste and she then returned to say it was quinoa after checking with the kitchen.  Fuuuuck me, I’m a pretentious fuckface when I want to be but if you don’t know what shit is in a dish, don’t give me a fuck no bullshit answer.

Our third course was a pasta dish consisting of twisted casarecce pasta in some sort of a salty, thin sauce and covered in shaved black truffles.  I assume the pasta was made by Mano but as we were given fuck all explanation about this dish, I don’t really fucking know.  This dish was a fuck no and the weakest dish of the entire night.  The pasta itself was merely passable in texture but I just couldn’t jive with the one dimensional sauce which was just too fucking salty and was too fucking thin to catch properly onto the pasta.  Sure, it was covered in a shit tonne of black truffles but fuck, I’m just not down with covering up poorly executed dishes with a shit tonne of diversionary black truffles in an attempt to luxury the fuck out of an underwhelming dish.  I guess this is what happens when you get a French chef to make pasta?

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Ms Two Serves was all about Mano’s beef rib that she’d previously hyped up to me in a barrage of relentless messages last week.  Two ribs were served to be shared by the table with a portion of yuzu and jalapeno salsa on the side.  However fuck nooo, Ms Two Serves wasn’t in love with it as much this time around and I gotta level with you, shit was fine but I thought it erred on the side of being overdone.  I’ll caveat that statement with the fact that I like my meat rare as fuck though.

The dessert course was a trio of different plates (a chocolate based one, a mandarin flavoured one with a serve of clementine ice-cream and some sort of Granny Smith apple sorbet in a meringue shell) for us to share which were solid performers but nothing that was absolutely fucking mind blowing.  FYN’s tip is to skip dessert and eat five extra loaves of bread instead.  Make dem calories count, homies.

Ultimately, I wish Mano’s vision for itself was a bit clearer and at night, instead of half assing this fine dining with a casual feel, I’d rather they just went for it, with more consistent food, tablecloths and more on point service.  While the service was clunky in parts and the pasta was a fuck no, these were not fatal flaws with the other dishes showing some interesting ideas which were executed well with fuck yeah ingredients.  It fucking kills me, because it feels like Mano’s shit is almost there and it has the potential to be really fucking great.  Or maybe I just got charmed by how fucking friendly and sincere Chef Chabbert was.  Overall, I think Mano’s shit was interesting enough to warrant a return visit and in Mano’s favour there wasn’t a gimmicky kimchi throwback in sight.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah on pay day, but I wouldn’t do the Chef’s tasting menu again.  I’ll level with you, I’m fucking tempted just to go back and have an epic fuck yeah of a time by just smashing through the following all by myself – an entire serve of gougeres, eight loaves of DAT BREAD, washing it all back with a bottle of champagne and closing with Mano’s fuck yeah espresso.

Where:
ON Dining Kitchen & Lounge
29th Floor, 18 On Lan Street
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2174 8100

Price:
Lunch set for two courses is HKD288 and three courses is HKD328.  For the a la carte menu, entrees range from HKD148 to HKD328 and mains from HKD298 to HKD588. Ordering a la carte, we were out at a hefty HKD1000 a person.

The deal:
ON Dining Kitchen & Lounge is another new restaurant on On Lan Street which only opened in December last year.  The kitchen is headed up by Chef Philippe Orrico, from Upper Modern Bistro.  Aside from the Chef, it’s meant to be a heavy hitting famous four of sorts with Jeremy Evrard (General Manager, former director of restaurants at the Four Seasons), Nicolas Deneux (Operations Manager & Sommelier, former head sommelier at Grand Hyatt HK and Alain Ducasse) and Giancarlo Mancino (Head Barman, ex Bar Consultant of Otto e Mezzo and Il Milione). Fuuuuuuuuuuck, after listing dem credentials out I’ve pretty much run out of space for the rest of this review.

ON Dining is set across two floors – the top 29th floor is for the Lounge and the 28th floor is the main dining room, with fuck yeah views across Central and an outdoor terrace.  I didn’t inspect the terrace for on-trend magical pots of carbon footprint neutralising herbs so sorry homies, I can’t comment on whether On Dining is getting in on that hot as fuck sustainable local herb trade like every other new HK restaurant.  It’s bright and airy, going for a trendy, informal vibe with geometric printed carpets, red velvet curtains, white marble walls and no tablecloths.  I know, I’m all fucking hung up on linen with every single review I write at the moment.  Don’t worry, I got this homies, I’m registering fuckyeahlinen.com right after I finish this FYN shit up.

While the lunch set looked ok, I’m a sucker for slow cooked onsen style eggs so I opted to go a la carte.  I’ve never eaten at Upper Modern Bistro but I understand that this 63 degree Celsius egg shebang is one of Chef Orrico’s signature dishes.  At HKD188 that’s a pretty exxy egg and overall there’s a lot of shit going on with this dish.  This multi-component dish consists of a just cooked egg with a foamy lobster bisque and a touch of yuzu, under all of this is some sauteed mushrooms and lobster chunks, with the whole deal topped with croutons, chopped chives and hey, why the fuck not, finely chopped black truffles.  While I could quite happily live a full and satisfied life where I never ate another fucking foamy sauce ever again, this shit was pretty right even if it was bordering on being too fucking OTT.  I get what they were going for here though – a dish of contrasts motherfucker, crunchy crouton vs gooey egg yolk, acidic citrus yuzu vs creamy lobster bisque and soft lobster vs bitey mushrooms. So clever, amirite?  Should just add some caviar and gold leaf to really make this dish fucking pop.

For my main, shit was right up my alley cause I fucking love to eat tiny birds.  I vacillated on whether to get the Quail and Lobster Pie or the Roast Pigeon.  I’ll be real with you, I might have been so fucking keen on ordering the Quail and Lobster Pie (aka Luxury Pie) because I imagined Chef Orrico devising it in a scene something similar to this (drizzle it, drizzle it):

However, the Luxury Pie sounded like it was going to be rich as fuck, given that it was also stuffed with bisque sauce and piquillos.  I’d also just gotten mah bisque on with the egg so I went with the roasted pigeon with artichokes, baby spinach and lemon chutney.  I predictably went for the whole bird option and HOLY SHITBALLS, a whole sky rat is gonna set you back a very large and in charge HKD398 (+10% service charge).  Sometimes I wonder if the HKD and the prices ending in eights mask just how much shit costs because prices always seem more obscenely eye-watering when I convert that shit to USD and it’s a horrifying realisation that this dish rounds up to SIXTY real dollars (fuck yeah, MURICA).

While the waiter had asked how I wanted it and I followed the Chef’s recommendation to have it ‘medium rare’, the pigeon ended up at medium well, with the faintest blush of pink. The artichoke cubes were an unappetizing fuck no shade of grey – I don’t know if it was because the artichokes had oxidised prior to cooking or maybe the wrong metal utensils were used (FYN fun fact – iron or aluminium will cause an artichoke to go blue, black or grey), but some miniature viola flowers on the side wasn’t enough to distract me from those depressingly grey ‘chokes.  The pigeon was coated in a lemon chutney based sauce and I get it was going for that sweet sour thing (yo Chef, again with the contrasts) but I found the whole thing a touch too cloyingly sweet and by the end, one dimensional.  I imagine that HKD398 + 10% service charge + being bored probably wasn’t the kitchen’s desired outcome.

We also ordered a side of the potatoes with melted Munster cheese and cumin (HKD128) which came topped with some sort of shaved meat. I didn’t think it was possible to make potatoes and melted cheese into anything less than a spectacular fuck yeah but somehow, On Dining found a way.

For dessert, there was a communication mix up and while I’d ordered the fresh mandarin sorbet and tuile biscuit (HKD138!!) the madeleines showed up instead (normally HKD128).  The waiter was smooth as fuck though and even when I said the madelines was fine (as it’d been my second choice), he absolutely insisted on bringing me a second dessert of the mandarin sorbet as I had ordered.  The madelines were warm, slightly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.  Shit was nice but this is really a bit of sponge, some chopped up apples and cream (even if you fancy that shit up and call it ‘Chantilly’) and fuck no, I can’t jive with its HKD128 (+10% service charge) price tag even if in this instance they comped this, given the order mix up.  The mandarin sorbet dessert was more successful  – the sorbet was refreshing and all that good jazz, accompanied by some fresh mandarin supremes, concentrated tart citrus gels with a touch of real vanilla bean (black specks yo) and a crisp as fuck, wafer thin tuille.  IT ALSO CAME WITH MORE MINIATURE VIOLA FLOWERS.  ON Dining, Y U gotta get floral garnishing all up on my shit? Two out of three dishes is too high in the floral percentiles for me. I just don’t fucking give a shit about garnishing that has NO FUCKING FLAVOUR.

Props has got to go to the fuck yeah heartfelt service level at ON Dining though – all of the hostesses and waiters were totally on their A Game. Waiter homies were gently checking on our shit all the time without being obtrusive and unlike some HK restaurants where you practically have to break out into the goddamn Macarena to get someone to take your order or bring you the bill, you had to so much as raise half an eyebrow and someone was immediately there making shit right. The way they handled the dessert misorder was fucking exemplary and I just wish that I’d found the actual execution of the food to be on par with the fuck yeah quality of the front of house. Too fucking sad.

Verdict:
Fuck no, cause fuck me, if you’re dropping HKD1000 for a boozeless lunch, shit should be off-the-chain righteous and not just enjoyably ok and disappointing in parts. FYN recommends taking it down 25 floors and going to Arcane instead.

Where:
Arcane
3F/18 On Lan Street
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2728 0178

Price:
HKD270 for the two course lunch set, HKD350 for the three course lunch set (+10% service charge).  Does not include coffee.  I did the two course set, an a la carte dessert and coffee and was out at around HKD500.

The deal:
Despite my grandstanding in a previous post about HK’s predilection for hot young things and my new year’s resolutions to be less of a new restaurant slut, it’s true what they say – you can’t teach an old slut new tricks, regardless of however hot and dirty those old tricks may be.  WAIT, IS THAT HOW THE FUCKING SAYING GOES?  Arcane opened in November 2014 on the hot as fuck On Lan Street, where there are now approximately five restaurants opening every week.  I shit you not, I read a press release last week about a Mexican-Korean taco place abysmally called Takorea is opening on On Lan Street.  Who are these fucking monsters? IS THIS REAL LIFE?

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Shane Osborn has got some chops yo and is the first Australian chef to achieve one and two Michelin stars at his former gig at Pied-a-Terre in London.  Prior to Arcane, he was at St Betty’s in the IFC.  Filled with natural light, the Arcane dining room is super tastefully done – contemporary art work, oak parquetry floors, a fuck yeah lush outside terrace area and you know what reliably gives me a stiff – heavy white crisp linen tablecloths and the crockery slut in me was all about their fat bottomed Zalto glassware, Bernadaud matte white plates and the David Mellor brushed cutlery.  Fuck yeah to restaurants who actually give a proper shit about their decor and don’t rely on slapping a “contemporary dining room with a purposefully informal, relaxed attitude” label on their design ethos which really just translates to “We fucking ran out of cashola so thought we’d strip shit out, use grey paint and cheap out on tablecloths by claiming we’re about modern dining which dispenses with stuffy, formal experiences”.  Yeah tight asses, I see what you did there.

While I waited for my lunch, I got stuck into Arcane’s warm bread they served with a jagged lump of butter, displayed artfully on a slate.  Fuck yeah, that open crumbed brown sourdough bastard was fucking magnificent and I know this is true because I ate another two pieces just to make sure my fuck yeah feelings were justified.  For the first course, I selected from the set lunch menu and ordered the warm veal rillette on a bean cassoulet.  I had fears that Arcane was going to be one of those beautiful and tiny food for ants affair but Arcane surprised on the upside cause shit was remarkably hearty.  The veal rillette arrives with a gentle smear of herb sauce and the bed of stewed beans were creamy and cooked to al dente, benefiting from a slow gentle cook with a rich stock.  Fuck yeah, shit was awesome.  Other than the fact that this was served inappropriately in a fucking bowl which meant that using a knife and fork (even if it was a beautiful as fuck, perfectly weighted knife and fork) was super fucking awkward as I angled my cutlery into the bowl to cut shit up.  Y U choose bowl, Arcane homies? Shit may have looked fancier but won’t someone think of the user experience??

For my main course, I ordered the Fukuoka snapper fillet  The other option was some boring ass chicken breast which I just can’t get fucking excited about. The fish was perfectly done and artfully placed on a bed of toasted quinoa couscous, surrounded by a perfect ratio of white plate, dotted with a green herb pesto.  Artful micro herbs punctuated the fish but I can’t fault this main.  The couscous wasn’t your standard restaurant filler given that they’d dry roasted the quinoa before cooking it up in a stock giving it this fuck yeah nutty flavour.  I fucking loved that Arcane’s dishes got their seasoning levels and their textures spot on.

Where:
Penthouse by Harlan Goldstein (fuck me, did I fall into a slider and now it’s 2004 and I’m  browsing a website because I’m interested in buying an apartment and a spinning effect is still impressive?  WTF is this panoramic spinning website bullshit? STAAAAHP HARLAN STAAAAHP)
30/F, Midtown Plaza (Soundwill Plaza II)
1 Tang Lung Street
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2970 0828

Price:
HKD258 (+10% service charge) for the lunch set.

The deal:
Harlan Goldstein’s name is thrown around all the time with adjectives like ‘brash’, ‘cocky’, ‘larger than life’ and by his own description the ‘number one celebrity chef of Hong Kong’.  When he’s not jawboning Gordon Ramsay into having a boxing match with him, he’s running four restaurants in the Kong – Gold, Comfort, Sushi To and Penthouse which seem to split people down a fuck yeah / fuck no divide.  Penthouse opened about 6 months ago and it’s the top floor of the new Soundwill Plaza II / Midtown Plaza complex which means you’ve got fuck yeah views of Victoria Harbour displayed through floor-to-ceiling windows.  With a name like “Penthouse”, you can imagine that it’s gonna have the typical Goldstein fancy shizz vibe going for it – massive lighted Penthouse sign, wooden parquetry flooring, marble walls and raised leather banquettes.  It’s Christmas time too so shit was decked out with gold baubles and pine wreaths – I can’t deny it, I fucking love classy festive shit. Despite all the industrial fittings and wooden floors, tables are amply spaced out and with the high ceiling, acoustics get a fuck yeah. Fuck yeah to being able to hear conversation over food!

Penthouse’s lunch set is HKD258 (+10% service charge) but that includes antipasti/appetiser buffet, choice of main, desserts buffet + tea or coffee.  You can add extras (soup, truffles and shiz, steak, fresh juice) for extra bucks if you want, but I fucking eat shit tonnes and I was fine on the standard budget-ass lunch set.  The menu describes the appetiser buffet as a ‘5’ Meter Long “HG” table and I gotta confess that I fucking love a salad / antipasti buffet at lunch because you get to pick the shit you want.  Penthouse’s selection was rad times – no pitiful bowls of corn, capsicum and some really sad looking cucumber.  Fuck yeah boards of salami and prosciutto (melon on the side if you want to do that fruit + prosciutto bullshit, but why average the awesome fuck yeah times of top grade prosciutto down with rockmelon or honeydew?  I DON’T FUCKING UNDERSTAND, but I always see people piling up plates of melon at buffets so I’m missing the goddamn cantaloupe joke somewhere), fresh as fuck salad (menu claims organic), homemade foccacia (but I skip that carb jazz cause I fill up on value proteins at a buffet), fresh pesto, dressings, roughly hewn pieces of parmesan (fuck yeahhhhhhh, but fuck no to only being able to eat one piece due to there being so many other fucking options) and roast vegetables.

For main, inspired by the vases full of Christmas baubles and the wreaths, I ordered the slow cooked turkey with yams for main.  Or perhaps, rather than the festive decorations guiding my decisions, it was my deep fucking love for eating giant birds.  OK, I fucking love eating tiny birds like quails and pigeons too.  OK YOU GOT ME, I PRETTY MUCH LOVE EATING ALL ANIMALS. But true story, when I was at the British Natural Museum of History, I stood at the prehistoric animals section, gazing at a stuffed replica of a Moa and I could only look at dem thighs and ruminate how fucking tasty would a Moa be?? MOA, Y U have to be extinct, so I will never know the beauty of supping on your extinct flesh? I was concerned though that a slab of dry ass boring as fuck turkey breast was about to come my way, because that’s what everyone seems to like.  I always ask people (ie. white folk) why they prefer boring ass breast meat and I always get bullshit answers like “I dunno, I guess it’s easier to eat” and I always want to shout back “Baby food is easy to eat, that doesn’t make it any fucking good though??”, followed by:

OITNBwtfiswrong

But my waiter homie had given me the heads up that they’ve been slow cooking their turkey for six hours and he promised me it was going to be ‘so tender’.  Fuck yeah shout out to the waiter homies at Penthouse who were totally on their shit, water glasses always full and attentive but not in your fucking face. This is truly a Hong Kong Miracle.

When my turkey arrives, it’s presented on a wooden board.  I gotta say because I’m a pedantic crockery homie, I am not down with eating my meal off a chopping / bread board.  I blame Jamie Oliver for starting this trend with his ‘tasting planks’ or whatever the fuck he called them. I’m happy to take my bread off a bread board but fuck me, what’s wrong with a plate for non-bread items? At least Penthouse’s board has a groove around the edge so your turkey juice / crumbs aren’t going to run all over the goddamn place.  But crockery (or lack thereof) aside, the main consists of sliced turkey breast, a turkey thigh roulade, some mashed yam and homemade cranberry sauce.  Dat turkey was a major FUCK YEAH – probably the best festive bird I’ve had in HK for a while and not just because it’s the first one that actually had some dark meat on it.  The thigh is rolled into a roulade which means there are no bones to keep the lazy eaters happy and the breast meat was actually tender and juicy as fuck.  IT’S A FUCKING CHRISTMAS MIRACLE.  The cranberry sauce was made by Penthouse and not out of some lame ass jar, so it avoided the sugar bomb effect and kept that fuck yeah tart cranberry flavour.  The yam (sweet potato) mash was mixed with some pureed apple to keep shit interesting but it didn’t have so much apple that you ended up with some feral fruity sweet yam mash disaster. Dat yam was giving me some serious fuck yeah feels. Fuck yeah to mains which are a slam dunk of fuck yeah components.

I rolled my turkey filled ass straight into the desserts buffet and there weren’t any offerings which looked super fucking rude.  By ‘rude’ I’m referring to when you’re at a dessert buffet and there’s these mini desserts where they’re just too fucking bright, gelatinous or it’s trying to do a “twist on a classic” which means all of a sudden you’re faced with an abomination of an apricot tiramisu or a lavender mint cheesecake. Slight disappointment that something which looked like a mini piece of Christmas Pudding with creme anglaise turned out to be pretty much a brownie (which was still a fuck yeah, but I wanted festive pud pud times after warming up with a turkey main), a fuck yeah mini apple crumble and fuck yeah millefeuille times.  For once, I’ll give big ups to food for ants portioning because after smashing up so much in the preceding rounds, I just wanna be able to have a taste of a few fuck yeah desserts rather than slogging my way through a massive slab of some mediocre dessert.

Finished up with a choice of tea or coffee which is included (vs. getting the HKD50+ extra sting for coffee at the end of the meal) and overall, shit was tight.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhh – attentive service, slick venue, lunch set value and for the first time in my life, I didn’t pass out from boredom and hatred after eating turkey breast. WHERE IS MY DARK MEAT GOD NOW?

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