Thai

Where:
Paste
3rd Floor, Gaysorn Village, 999 Ploenchit Rd
Lumpini, Bangkok, Thailand

Phone:
+66(0)2 656 1003

Price:
Including one drink, got out at around THB2100 per person (SGD90 / HKD515 / USD65) per person.

The deal:
The awfully named Paste is in the middle of Gaysorn Village, a shopping mall in Bangkok, right near the centre of all the shopping action – Siam.  It’s almost always an ominous sign, when you’re traversing the escalators up and down of a retail hellhole before you sit down for an expensive dinner. Surely this is how you lay a disingenuous trap to lure cashed up shoppers into your restaurant by proximity, convenience and taking advantage of their inability to think clearly as they’re drunk on heady consumerism? Regardless, Paste does the best it can and I’m sure every review written about it makes pithy comments about how its luxurious fit out will make you forget you’re in a shopping mall, taking you away to a hidden, culinary oasis.  It’s got the high curved partitions and ample space between tables, while a looming structure of flowers and cane, arches towards the ceiling, branches grasping desperately at feeling decadent amongst the low lights and slow flicker of tea light candles.  I spotted a number of couples taking forced romantic snaps of each other and a group of businessmen exchanging niceties and no doubt drinking pleasant wine at the company’s expense.  For all of Paste’s effort, it feels a little forced and stiff, the sort of place that might read fancy but also ticks the boxes on formulaic and uninspired.  The sort of space that makes the perfect backdrop for a generically pretty girl in an evening dress to hold a birthday cake as she tries to angle the custom chocolate piped well wishes towards the camera for that FB #anotheryear #onceinalifetimelove photo, while casually tagging the fancy restaurant her milquetoast boyfriend’s taken her to.

simple-bitch-hell

Paste’s concept by the Australian Chef Jason Bailey and the native Thai Chef Bongkoch “Bee” Satongun is to present creative dishes which are anchored in traditional techniques and provincial Thai dishes favoured by ancient kings while refining them with a modern sensibility and using seasonal, local Thai ingredients.  The Paste website suffers from a case of massive poetic diarrhoea, talking about how they are “motivated to unearth hidden culinary treasures” like they’re some sort of adventurous culinary inclined Indiana Jones and how Chef Bee is in the relentless pursuit of researching and modifying these historical recipes which sees her travelling “frequently across the diverse landscapes of rural Thailand to discover, gather and collect diverse ingredients which cause her carefully balanced dishes to shine”.  We all know that Thai food has some fuck yeah big-ass flavour profiles and I’m interested to see what this modern take on lesser known, older traditional dishes actually equates to.  Ok that sounds like I tarted up my intentions a bit, but if I really face cold hard facts, my true Bangkok pursuits are far less noble and largely consist of smashing up as many fuck yeah noms and cocktails as possible in a long weekend.  To kick off proceedings, I pick the Bangkok Mule and holy fucking shit, in true Bangkok cocktail form it’s sweet as all hell.  Billed as citrus infused vodka and lychee liqueur with locally grown passionfruit-lychee-lime, this drink’s main issue is in its complete lack of balance.  The lime can barely poke through the sickly sweetness of this drink and even when I purposefully let the ice melt to try and make this thing drinkable, it doesn’t help.  I abandon my Bangkok Mule and wonder whether it’s been called a mule not because of any resemblance to its Soviet counterpart but because the obscene amount of sugar has kicked my front teeth out.

The first starter I order is meant to be “one of the unique aristocratic Thai innovations chosen to be served at the inauguration of the temple of the Emerald Buddha in the year 1809 by King Rama 1″ and there might be a reason why this dish has not been dragged into the 21st century.  Balls of fresh watermelon are mixed with a crispy floss which consists of ground salmon, crispy shallots and roasted galangal powder.  However it’s just like my cocktail, unbelievably sweet which leaves me with the question of why am I eating crunchy tiny bits of sweet, fried fish with sweet, fresh balls of watermelon?  I curse myself for ordering this dish because really, what was I really expecting of this fried fruity fishy fuck no mess and stop to think what King Rama 1 must have thought about his subjects who thought this was a good and noble way to celebrate anything at all?

britney-what-the-hell-was-i-thinking

Our next starter is the shredded roasted duck served on rice crackers.  It looks like a fuck yeah as it makes its way to the table.  Puffy rice crackers with delicious looking shredded duck and saw tooth coriander piled on top, resting on a striking bed of bright red legumes.  Mixed with curry paste and nutmeg, these spicy fuckers are let down by the complete lack of balance in this dish with the initial rush of fragrant curry giving way to just an overwhelming fuck no crush of it being TOO SWEET.  Ughhhh, A1 presentation followed by -Z100 balance of flavours.

The first main is the old style hot and sour soup of crispy pork leg, chargrilled shallots, jack fruit seeds, roasted tomatoes in a smoky chicken broth.  This clear soup is straight up fuck yeah fire, hitting the spiciness vs the sour from the limes perfectly.  The layers of flavour are nuanced and with every spoonful, I’m learning something more about this soup and I don’t ever want it to end.  However, despite this being listed as a main which clocks in at a very substantial price point (especially considering we’re in the fairer and generally cheaper Bangkok), some of the fuck yeah feelings I have for this soup is diminished by the four tiny (though fucking delicious) cubes of crispy pork.  I chew deliberately and carefully on each tiny cube, trying to extract maximum value from this miserly portion while shooting all the side eye I can manage at the remaining two minuscule pork pieces which bob about like lonely lost survivors in the Pacific Ocean. As an extra kicker, the roasted cherry tomatoes when you bite into them explode in your mouth, spraying their insides as hot as molten lava directly into your mouth.

emojisideye

Our final main is a smoky southern yellow curry of Gulf of Thailand red spanner crab, hummingbird flowers, Thai samphire and turmeric.  This curry is also quite delicious but just like its homie the hot and sour soup, suffers from a fuck no sparseness in ingredients.  I poke a fork around the yellow curry gravy, searching desperately for whatever pieces of red spanner crab I can find.  Instead, I find the rising disappointment and the distinct feeling that Paste is taking the piss with actually providing me with the ingredients it promises.

At the end of this, they ask whether we’re interested in dessert but there’s been absolutely nothing that I’ve eaten during my meal that inspired me to say yes.  Instead, we ask for the bill and I reflect upon this meal.  About how it felt like food cooked by a kitchen who wasn’t tasting its food to see if shit was balanced correctly.  About the uninspired fit out which people who don’t know any better would think would be the hall marks of a fine dining restaurant.  About how the staff were just fine but not amazing, which isn’t appropriate for where Paste is trying to position itself as they kept forgetting to bring us new cutlery or appropriate utensils for the dishes that we ordered.  About how I imagined the owners costing out the ingredients, setting not inconsequential prices by even Singapore or HK prices and then calculating that allowing 10g of protein per person was an acceptable amount for a main dish.  Sitting in my plush chair in the middle of a mall in Bangkok it hits me in my heart about how I’ve wasted a holiday meal and my cash on something so mediocre when there’s so many cheap and tasty eats in Bangkok.

Then the final insult as I drag my disappointment into the warm and sticky Bangkok night, there it is – Paste’s doors, adorned with certificates from all those assholes like Tatler and Asia City declaring it is the BEST or TOP and I wonder, how could anyone have eaten the meal I had and be inspired to even return, let alone to sit down and bash out paragraphs of praise or even declaring it Most Loved Thai Restaurant (Fine Dining) for 2016 like Time Out did.

Which just goes to show, you can’t trust the media, #best whatever lists nor accolades for shit.

superhanscanttrust

Verdict:
FUCK NOOOO.  Put this one firmly in the category of “I endured this mediocre meal and waste of holiday calories so you fuckers don’t have to”.

Where:
Samsen (FB Page)
68 Stone Nullah Lane
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

FYN Hot Tip:  It’s pretty much opposite Stone Nullah Tavern and next to the 7-11.

Phone:
+852 2234 0001 (I suspect they probably don’t do bookings because they’re pretty tiny and they’re already rammed, so why would they want to take bookings from you HK flakey assholes??)

Price:
We went as a party of two and got out at HKD300 a person.  If you went with more people, it’d probably be less than that though (maybe HKD200 – 250?).

The deal:
Adam Cliff, formerly of Chachawan fame, has set up a small Thai joint in Wan Chai.  I have always fucking loved the food at Chachawan but I don’t actually go all that often because I’m a grumpy fat fuck who hates waiting so the whole no booking palaver and then being jammed into a tiny, noisy as fuck space doesn’t jive with my corpulent existence.  Ms This is Bullshit and I are dead set keen for fucking delicious Thai food all of the time so we tumble into Samsen on a Friday night, which has only been open for five days. It’s a cool spot which doesn’t seat all that many people, with an open kitchen which allows you to see the chefs hauling some serious ass.  The interior is cute as fuck, all stripped down concrete with Thai-style cabinets holding Thai themed curios as potted devil’s ivy plants trail downwards in the space above the dining area.  Samsen is already pretty packed despite having no social media blitz or publicity, but we manage not having to wait for a table and sit down to examine Samsen’s straight forward menu which is split into five categories – wok fried dishes, sides, soup noodles, drinks and sweets.

As it’s FRI-FUCKING-YAY, we’re all about getting some hard liquor into our lives ASAP and unfortunately there’s only beer under their alcohol section.  We ask our extremely sweet though ultimately not very helpful waitress if there’s any non-beer alcohol options and she kindly points us to the fruit juice section.  I ask again, perhaps thinking she didn’t understand me and she directs me to the non-alocholic fizzy section.  Not willing to take the health hint, I look at her, eyes wild and tongue parched, frazzled jobitis desperation seeping from every pore as I ask whether they can give me some rum or vodka to put in some juice and she offers me a young coconut instead.  FUUUUUCK, I don’t need electrolytes or your judgment Samsen, I just need hard liquor to take the pain away of my everyday working for the goddamn man existence.

vodka

I ask another waiter just to make sure and he politely apologises because they’ve only been open for five days and I accept my boozeless fate as I glumly sip down on a healthful calamansi lime soda as we make some choices for dinner.  Our waitress appears again with a stack of notes to indicate off-menu items and to also cross off half the soup noodles which aren’t available.  She’s extremely endearing but her ability to explain the dishes is not amazing, but it doesn’t matter because she’s smiling like it’s going out of fashion and considering the normally very sullen landscape of HK waitresses, I’ll take any shred of enthusiasm and beatific smiles that someone will hand out to me.

The dishes fly out of the kitchen at break neck speed with all three of our dishes arriving within seconds of each other.  We start with the fried marinated pork collar with tomato and chilli dip (HKD68).  Crispy as fuck pieces of pork are fried with garlic and whole kaffir lime leaves and the tomato and chilli dip is spicy, piquant and with just enough sweet to make it pop.  I could have shovelled this into my face like some sort of porky, low carb savoury popcorn treat all day.

We also predictably ordered the Pad Thai with prawn (HKD118) because as I outlined in my Mak Mak review, I use the phrase “Shoulda had the pad thai” to explain that feeling when you try to lead a new and adventurous life and do something different to mix your boring, shit up and then all you’re left with is the fuck no sinking feeling of disappointment and wistful dreams of fuck yeah, reliable favourites.  Why would I take any chances at Samsen and be all too bad so sad, shoulda had the pad thai while  staring down a plate of pad siew or some omelette when I’m all about that sweet, sweet pad thai option? Thank fuck for being predictable because Samsen’s pad thai is fucking MAJOR.  It looks fucking awesome, shreds of fresh green papaya, white de-tailed beansprouts, fresh spring onions and crushed peanuts all piled onto the flat rice noodles.  The prawns are a very decent size, plump and juicy as fuck and there’s a bang on balance between sweet and sour, more flavour from the dried shrimps, fried cubes of tofu for texture and a good amount of wok hei / char in the noodle.  There’s some green leaf on the side which I’m not sure what it is and I can’t get any explanation from the waitstaff but it doesn’t matter because fuck yeah pad thai is life and who cares about learning shit about vegetables when you’ve got carbs and you’re alive??

But as Rihanna sings in my favourite summer jam of 2016, BABY THIS IS WHAT I CAME FOR – the Wagyu beef boat noodle (HKD128).  Ms Siuwaan had sent me photos a week ago and I was all “This needs to be in my face naooooo”.  Beef boat noodles (kua tiao ruea) originates from being sold from boats on the canals of Bangkok and it’s rice noodles in a strong flavoured soup, with many accompaniments.  The soup gets it colour and viscosity from using cow or pigs blood and is seasoned with dark soy sauce.  Samsen’s boat noodle is just on fire with so much flavour that I’m getting emotional writing about it right the fuck now.  The fairly thick soup stock is already bold from the beef stock, blood and soy sauce but then it’s also spiced with all sorts of good shit – I’m just an asshole food blogger with no actual knowledge as to what’s going on in Samsen’s fuck yeah broth but I’m guessing there was potentially lemongrass, pepper, coriander, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and galangal (maybe??) getting all up in the soup stock club.  Either way, it’s deep soup love and you then combine that with the thin rice noodles, the fuck yeah spiced chunks of tender Wagyu beef, beef balls, fried pork rinds and the large stems of Thai watercress / morning glory / kang kong and it’s mighty fuck yeah noms emotional times for me.  YASSSS, LIGHTNING DOES STRIKE EVERY TIME YOU MOVE.

incomingfeels

We didn’t pile in too heavy on the mains because Ms This is Bullshit and I know that there’s three Thai desserts that we wanna slam down.  There’s a special item on, the tab tim krob (HKD52), which was explained pretty poorly to us as “red rubies” and that was about it, but we get it anyway.  It’s fucking delicious and refreshing as fuck – a cool slightly sweet coconut milk soup, with some pandan overtones, over crushed ice with pomegranate and these slightly gelatinous red dumpling-esque items floating about.  I try to grill the wait staff on what the red dumpling things are and one of them tells me it’s a “red ruby” from Israel and they think it’s a fruit.  Through some FYN investigation I can tell you there’s some crossed wires going on with their waiters.  I think what the waiter meant to tell me is that the pomegranate seeds are from pomegranates that Samsen have sourced from Israel and the red dumpling things chilling out in the soup are the “tab tim krob”, which translates to crunchy rubies or pomegranates and are actually small pieces of red dyed water chestnut covered in tapioca flour, to give it that gelatinous bite.  Technicalities aside, it’s super appealing, icy fuck yeah times and perfect for hot as hell HK summer times.

Ms This is Bullshit is all about the young coconut ice-cream (HKD58), which is two scoops of coconut ice-cream topped with toasted peanuts, shaved coconut meat and sweet corn, all served in a coconut shell.  We round off our triple dessert efforts with Thai mango and sticky rice (HKD52) which is always one of my fuck yeah Thai faves despite its simplicity.  Yasssss, get that condensed milk, sweet mango and sticky, glutinous rice into my life and then make sure you drink any sort of liquid to ensure that it swells up in my stomach and has me rolling around all night feeling like I’m gonna burst from good times and replete happiness.

fat-cat-roll

With that we roll ourselves out of Samsen, straight into Stone Nullah Tavern for whiskey and reflect upon how much we fucking loved Samsen and just how rad the food was.   Sure, the service is slightly clueless and a bit all over the place, but our waitress was so well intentioned and smiley that I can’t even be mad.  But ultimately, there’s a fuck tonne of love and care being poured into what they’re doing and in this city littered with privileged bankrolled no-thought bullshit ‘concepts’ opening all the time, you just need someone to give a fuck about what they do at an affordable price point to make you feel that it’s all gonna be ok.  Even if you can’t get hard liquor to wash it all down with.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhhhhhhhhh! It’s probably gonna be a total shit show to get a seat but fuuuuck, I need to get my fuck yeah boat noodles on again ASAP.

Where:
Mak Mak (FB Page)
Shop 217A, 2/F, Atrium, The Landmark
15 Queen’s Road Central
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2983 1003

Price:
HKD430 per person including wine.

The deal:
Mak Mak is another Yenn Wong JIA Group restaurant which seem to be opening a restaurant in HK at least every two months, adding Mak Mak to its substantial stable of HK restaurants including 208 Duecento Otto, Chahchawan, 22 Ships and Fish School.  Mak Mak is on the second floor of the Landmark shopping mall, occupying the space where the Pringles of Scotland store was, which never had anyone ever fucking in it.  To keep shit interesting and I guess give it a talking point, Mak Mak have installed a SECRET DOOR which looks like a shelf containing condiments.   Omg guys, just fucking love when I’m going to a secret retaurant.  So much so that I’m thinking of opening my own new restaurant concept called “THE OPEN DOOR” which is going to have THREE secret doors disguised as a graffiti mural, an ATM and a dried seafood shop (the door lever will be a shark’s fin) and I’m going to serve all my curated food on secret doors and my curated cocktails in hollowed out secret door knobs. You better fucking believe it that when it’s time to leave you will need to navigate at least FIVE secret doors before you’re back outside. Fuck yeahhhhhh, clandestine door noms.

arresteddevelopmentlucilleeyeroll3

Tired door related gimmicks aside, Mak Mak’s interior is predictably cool from the retro Thai posters, the cabinets of Thai sauces and ingredients, the hot pink neon OK sign and the stripped back concrete, lush green pot plants and sea-green glass.  We visited Mak Mak shortly after they opened and despite this, their staff were totally on their shit.  Fuck yeahhhh, restaurants which hit the ground running when they open.  Our smiling waiter efficiently took our order and when I pressed him for recommendations, he cheerfully reeled off what the most popular dishes were (ie. the beef curry) before I told him to cut the bullshit and give me what his favourite dishes were (ie. the Massaman Lamb Curry), which he knowledgeably spoke about.

As Mak Mak’s sister restaurant, Chachawan, is pumping out Issan Thai food this means that Mak Mak’s menu is green lit all the way to pick up the Thai food related slack by containing all the bog-standard Thai hits that we have come to expect such as green curries, red curries, green papaya salads, pad thai and stir fries.  I can’t begin to imagine how many fucking times punters must have asked the Chachawan waiter homies whether they can get a pad thai or a green curry.  There are a few plays on the classics in Mak Mak’s menu but I can’t deal with any of that originality and kick shit off with a dependable serve of the Pandan Chicken (HKD98 +10%) which is a solid appetiser and doesn’t make me suffer through the indignity of fuck no deep fried, stringy breast meat.

I have a soft spot for pad thai and whenever I order Thai food, I always get the pad thai.  I take this as a life lesson from all the times when I’ve ordered Thai food and I think ‘Fuck, I always get the pad thai, perhaps I should order the suea rong hai or the mu phat phrik khing for something different” and then BOOM you’re staring down a plate of crying tiger beef which is fine but you know deep down that all you really fucking want is that sweet noodly goodness and that’s where you go “FUCK! SHOULDA GOT THE PAD THAI!“. In fact, I’ve named this specific feeling in my life “Shoulda got the pad thai” for when you always order the same fucking dish and then, in the interest of changing shit up, you decide to order something new, only so you can be wistfully pining for your ye old faithful favourite dish.

Mak Mak’s pad thai is not fucking cheap, weighing in at HKD128 (+ 10% service charge). It’s served attractively with decent sized prawns, scattered with peanuts, bean sprouts, lime and coriander and an obligatory square of banana leaf.  The pad thai is serviceable enough, lacking a bit in the fuck yeah stir fried ‘wok hei’ taste of the wok feelings, but perhaps it’s because Mak Mak is so brand new and their woks haven’t had enough time in service yet or maybe the heat wasn’t strong enough.  But that’s only a small issue because fuck, my biggest criticism about Mak Mak’s pad thai was the total lack of actual pad thai because it’s fucking tiny.  Maybe I’m just a size queen, because at HKD128 I expect more than an appetiser sized serve of noodles which would work for maybe one to two people.

richardpryorsmall

Taking our waiter homie’s advice on board, we ordered the Massaman Lamb Curry (HKD208 +10% service charge) and it’s one of the best dishes we had on the night. Mak Mak use a slow cooked lamb shank which is accompanied by roasted baby potatoes, crushed peanuts and fried shallots.  The coconut cream based sauce is a fuck yeah, spiced with cardamon and cinnamon and the fish sauce and sweet tamarind sauce providing dem salty and sweet contrasting feels.  Mak Mak have some sort of bullshit plain rice arrangement where you can either have HKD30 unlimited rice per person or HKD30 per bowl.  I don’t quite understand how Mak Mak enforce this rice pricing system – like, if you order the HKD30 unlimited rice option per person, do you get slugged with another HKD30 if they catch a non-designated primary rice consumer taking a spoonful out of the bowl?  Either way, we avoid this awkward rice situation by ordering the khao op nam liab (stir fried jasmine rice with chicken, garlic and salty black olive – HKD108 + 10% service charge) which is tasty enough but really finds its purpose when it’s paired with the lamb Massaman curry sauce.

We also order  the kheaw wan poo nim (green curry soft shell crab, HKD228 + 10%).  I wasn’t onboard with ordering this dish because soft shell crab is normally just an exercise in being charged more for an underwhelming mushy, fried, flavourless crustacean.  But in an effort to let my fellow dining homies enjoy some democratic feelings every now and again, I acquiesced and let Mr Vegetables fulfil his desire to try the green curry soft shell crab.  Once it arrived, it was a stark reminder of why the Democratic People’s Republic of FYN is the best autocratic eating regime where everything is sunny and there is less disappointment for all.  The fried soft shell crab is greasy and relatively neutral in taste, which isn’t the end of this dish as the green curry sauce is flavourful enough to carry it.  But fuck, why bother with greasy-a$$ soft-shell crab when it could have been interchanged with fried chunks of plain batter for much the same effect? UGH ORDERING DEMOCRACY, YOU TASTE LIKE FREEDOM, SADNESS AND DISAPPOINTMENT.

Mak Mak very valiantly have an extensive vegetarian menu.  My token effort to trying this is a serve of the larb tofu salad (HKD88 +10% service charge), where the chicken or pork mince is substituted with tofu cubes.  Despite the lack of meat this dish still keeps its shit together by punching out some well balanced fuck yeah Thai fresh flavours with the mint, chilli, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and lemon grass.

As Mak Mak’s dishes are very modestly sized, if you have a group of four to six people you can try a decent selection of the menu.  We order a number of other dishes including the pla salmon (flash grilled salmon with a Thai dressing salad – HKD128 +10% service charge), red curry duck (HKD168 +10% service charge) and the whole steamed seabass (HKD268 +10% service charge) and each dish is absolutely down the line of fine but nothing that I’d say you definitely had to order.

For dessert there’s a few options and while it doesn’t push the envelope that much, we pile in for the mango and sticky rice and the Khanom Mak Mak trio (HKD98 and HKD118 respectively, +10% service charge).  The Khanom Mak Mak is glutinous rice cooked with sugar and coconut milk and then paired with three different toppings, wrapped up in banana leaves.  It’s all quite striking with the yellow mango set off against the green bamboo cones and the blue glutinous rice, which Mak Mak achieves through using dyeing their rice with pea flower.

FYN FUN FACT:  The butterfly pea / blue pea flower is used to dye food, in particular glutinous rice in Malay and Thai desserts.  The scientific name for the genus of the butterfly pea is Clitoria ternatea takes its name from “clitoris” because the flowers resemble the shape of human female genitals.  It’s a good thing I’m not a botanist because I totally would have suggested Cuntus ternatea but all of that aside, I see what they’re getting at:

Clitoria_ternatea_butterfly_pea_flower_at_Bhadrachalam_02

Sauce

Back on the Khanom Mak Mak, the mango topping is a reliable favourite and it’s the first to get smashed through at our table.  The other two toppings are one of fried shallots and a mixture of sun-dried fish and tiny prawns, giving it that savoury / salty mix with the fried shallots being slightly sweet, given the caramelisation of the sugar in the shallots during the frying process.  I’m into it, but if you’re not into that sweet, salty, fishy dessert combination than this dessert could be disastrous for you.

We flag down the bill and given the small dishes and how many we’d had to order, I was expecting a bill around HKD500-600 per person and was given a fuck yeah surprise of finishing up at HKD430 per person, including wine.  Our meal at Mak Mak would be best described as “very pleasant”, but there’s nothing here which grips me by my greedy as fuck heart and sees me imploring anyone I know who gives a fuck about food to put this on their list and get their ass down to Mak Mak pronto.  The very fact it’s taken me almost a month to write up this review is indicative of the lack of strong feelings this place elicits from me.  Mak Mak also suffers from the inevitable comparison to Chachawan and if you lined the two up and asked me to choose one, it’d be Chachawan every time which is just hitting it harder in the originality and flavour stakes.  Was it on Mak Mak’s vision board to be described as reliable, uncontroversial and achieving mass appeal?  Perhaps not, but I’m guessing there’s a spot for Mak Mak in HK as a convenient restaurant where everyone’s going to be happy enough at a fair price point.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah for mid-week casual dinners, dinner with the parents and early Tinder dates where you need an uncontroversial trendy enough venue that is producing solid food with fuck yeah service.  You’re probably not going to experience any life changing moments at Mak Mak but I don’t think that’s what they’re playing at either.

Where:
Chachawan
206 Hollywood Road
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2549 0020 (no bookings though – yeahhhhh hip as fuck)

Price:
Allow HKD400-500 per person, excluding booze.

The deal:
I fucking get it, every food blogger worth their salt (ho ho ho) was writing / gushing effusively about Chachawan in August 2013.  But as Prince may or may not have sung once, two zero one four party over, oops, out of time, I finally got my shit together and got my lazy ass down to The Cha.  Don’t judge me too fucking much – I attempted to go to Chachawan on a very ill fated night last year when a four person dinner that was meant to meet at 6:30pm ended up being an EIGHT person affair when everyone met too late and we had to abandon all hope of going to a no booking restaurant at 8:00pm on a Friday night and ended up at ONE OF THE WORST “MEALS” I HAD IN 2013.  I STILL CARRY THOSE MENTAL SCARS AND I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU WILD GRASS.  Yeah, I’ll be real, that night is still emotional SHIT for me.

Fuck, one paragraph in already and I haven’t even gotten to the food, what the fuck is this turning into, Noms & Peace?  What can I say that hasn’t already been said about The Cha except it’s the good shit.  The grilled chicken thigh (Gai Yung) was the star of the masterpiece.  I’m always saying this but why are white folk so into chicken breast?  I don’t fucking get it – I’m going to put it down to WHITE NONSENSE.  We ate heaps of other good shit – Larp Moo (minced pork, lettuce), Pla Phao Glua (salt crusted seabass), some fancy shizz omelette and fried rice (sounds boring but was a fuck yeah).  Rolled myself straight into dessert and overestimated my nom capacity, smashing up some sticky rice + mango (one of my favourite Thai desserts of all time) and some Kanom Dtom (coconut dumplings with ice-cream).  Almost burst later, because I forgot the magical properties of glutinous rice (despite the childhood guidance I received from my mum) because you’re cruising along, shoving as much sticky rice into your body as you possibly can, everything’s all good and then BOOOOM the rice finds some liquid in your stomach and LIGHTS OUT, you’re about to give birth to a Sticky Rice Baby.  I can’t blame Chachawan for that though, rather my inability to stop myself.

I gotta be real though – I just CANNOT deal anymore with those stripey fucking paper straws that everyone is into these days (add a mason jar and I will want to punch you in your goddamn face).  Sure, they are the hip thing atm but they get soggy pretty much instantly, collapse and then fail at pretty much what is the sole and most fundamental purpose of a straw (ie. allow you to sip liquid through them).  FYN is taking a definitive stand – FUCK NO TO HIP, STRIPEY PAPER STRAWS.

lolpaperstraws

Verdict:
It ain’t cheap for Thai food but fuck yeahhhh!  HOWEVER, FUCK NO TO PAPER STRAWS

Where:
Thailand Chatachuk Noodles
Shop 7, G/F, Lee King Mansion
83 Electric Road
Tin Hau, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2806 1010

The deal:
First of all, load up this track in another tab to set yourself up for reading this review. Chatachuk Noodles is a small, casual place – essentially a roadside style shop.  They do noodles a variety of deep fried snacks and some glutinous desserts.  The deep fried snacks are various meats in various shapes – I don’t know if I’d write home about them but the clue’s in the names, noodles.  There’s two styles – a cold noodle and a soup style.  The star pick here is the cold noodle bowl which is unlike any noodle I’ve had in HK (trust me, there’s been a few).  Pick your base as either normal, a little spice or very spicy and you get a bowl filled with arrowroot noodles, jellyfish, cucumber, pork and a spicy, chilli sauce.  I love arrowroot noodles, they are a clear, toothy noodle.  The soup noodles are also good too, but probably not too different to what you can get elsewhere.  They’ll give you a range of condiments to mix it to your taste too (peanuts, chilli, sugar, chilli sauce).  For reasons I don’t fully understand, the whole restaurant is set up in Jamaican colours, blares reggae music and has Bob Marley images everywhere.  Surely there must be some special dish you order so you can puff the magic dragon, but in the mean time, the arrowroot noodles are going to have to do.  In closing, Chatachuk Noodles, Jamaican me crazy but for HKD35 for a bowl of noodles, I see you in my future.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah!

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