Western

Where:
Electric Ave (FB Page)
Tai Yik House, LG/F, 27-29 First Street
Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong

Phone: 
+852 2858 8883

Price:
Burgers before the extras are HKD120-HKD130.

The deal:
Electric Ave is a small, burger joint which opened up a few months ago in Sai Ying Pun.  I’ve been chatting to the owner Andy for a while on my FY Noms Facebook account (add me yo, like my page – all that good social media shit!!) and we’ve been shooting the breeze about the trials and tribulations of setting up his new shop.  Shiiiiit, I honestly don’t know how any of you restaurant fuckers do it in this brutal HK market.  The one thing I always think about when I’m eating out, particularly when it’s an independent joint without the backing of some mega-dining group, is just how many plates of X does a restaurant need to churn out every day just to make rent in this crazy, expensive city?  Answer – a metric fuck tonne, and that’s even before you figure out all the other tedious shit like staffing, sourcing ingredients, overheads and then just making sure that fickle, asshole HK punters aren’t already moving onto the next, trendy bullshit. Like for real, this is how I imagine life to be as a HK landlord:

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Sauce

I’ve been hearing good things about Electric Ave so I scheduled in a fatboy feed and waddled my fat ass down the stairs to find it tucked down an alley off First Street.  It’s cute as shit, with a white, black, red and yellow London inspired cartoon style mural painted by HK street artist Bao Ho down its green walls.  It probably doesn’t seat any more than 15 people and on a Saturday lunch session, almost every seat is taken.  From the chalkboard above the kitchen, we order the Classic Aussie Beef Burger (HKD120, +HKD15 for cheddar or stilton cheese, +HKD10 for skinny rosemary fries) and as the listed chicken burger is not available, we get the Smokey Carbonara Chicken Burger (HKD110).  For +HKD30, you can upgrade your fries to five hour hand cut chips with bone marrow and there’s no way my greedy guts can say no to that fuck yeah sounding proposition.

Our chunky chips are first out and HOLY FUCKING SHIT, this is the sort of carb related experience that will give you wet dreams in the nights to come.  Perfectly golden and crispy on the outside, fluffy as fuck on the inside and then there’s this depth and slight beefy flavour to them from the bone marrow which Electric Ave have rendered down themselves to finish off their chips.  I chatted to Andy (anonymously, he didn’t know that I was FYN because fuuuuck, what an outright wanker that would make me) about what goes into making a five hour chip and he outlined a number of steps from peeling potatoes and cutting them by hand, soaking the chips in pH 9 water with sugar and salt to get the starch out, drying the moisture off with a fan, putting the chips into the freezer until they’re almost frozen and finally, frying the chips so they can take their final glorious fuck yeah form.  Once they’re fried, they’re topped with rendered bone marrow which he’s cleaned all the blood off, served with a side of homemade ketchup with all sorts of fancy shiz going on like tomatoes, onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, cider vinegar, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, tamari, oyster sauce, fish sauce, anchovies, dark sugar and cloves.  Fuuuuck, five hours to make and then mere minutes to be destroyed but as I always say, carb life is the best life and Electric Ave’s bone marrow chips may be the closest to a carb filled FLAWLESS VICTORY that I’ve experienced all year.

mortalkombat

The only thing that stops me from inhaling every single chip is the arrival of my Classic Aussie Beef Burger.  It’s not one of those over the top gut buster size burgers but it’s also not a piddly little burger the size of a small child’s fist (HAY Burger Circus, you know what I mean). I gotta say, my expectations for burgers in HK start at a very low place but Electric Ave’s beef burger is obviously well thought out with every component bringing something to the fatty boombah table.  The patty is cooked medium rare (they didn’t ask how I wanted my burger, so if you don’t jive with this either learn to eat your burgers properly or make sure you tell them what temperature you want) and is made from prime grade Super Black Angus Australian cattle from New South Wales, a blend of chuck and brisket with a good amount of fat, seasoned with dried mushrooms, salt and pepper.  It’s a very good patty, with the fat giving it a lot of flavour and juiciness but personal preference, I would have liked my patty to have a bit more of a char on it and a touch more salt.  I can concede that I can swing more salty than some people, so once I season it to taste, I’m super into what’s happening patty wise.  

Aside from the fuck yeah patty times, there’s all sorts of fuck yeah things going on such as their custom burger sauce which is a punchy combination of their homemade ketchup blended with kewpie mayonnaise, Sriracha, garlic, cloves and sherry vinegar.  There’s no sad ass wilted iceberg lettuce either, with Electric Ave using halved baby gem lettuces.  Importantly, the pickle game is also strong, Electric Ave keeping shit real with home brined pickles that have overtones of coriander seed, dill weed and fennel.  Electric Ave also has some serious confit onion game going on, with a fuck yeah level of caramelisation going down, with just enough sweetness from the red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar and dark sugar.  Just to keep the burger components coming, it’s all brought together with some tomato jam which they’ve made from stewing tomatoes and peppers with fish sauce, ginger, vinegar, sugar and chill.  Electric Ave claims that there’s over 100 ingredients in every burger combo and fuck, I’m exhausted just thinking about everything I ate in that one burger but fuck yeahhhhh, I know that it definitely passed my burger test of when you take a bite of it and not only do you get a bit of everything that’s going on in there, it’s well balanced with lots of different layers of flavour and construction wise, holds its shit together.

I’m always sceptical about ordering chicken burgers, relegating them to the Poor Ordering Decisions Playbook, which is famous for containing bullshit plays like ordering the fish when you’re in a steak restaurant.  My homie ordered the Smoky Carbonara Burger which uses shredded chicken covered with a fucking delicious carbonara sauce made from chunks of smoked pancetta, cream, taleggio and a shit tonne of pepper.  This burger is gonna be your worst nightmare if you have qualms about eating mother / child, chicken and egg combos, because the chicken sits on a bed of arugula and a fried egg is used to top it all off and when you bite into it, the egg yolk explodes to combine itself with the carbonara sauced chicken.  Fuck the moral quandaries though because this chicken burger shiz is REAL LOVE and all of my doubts regarding chicken burgers always being the poor, ugly cousin to the beef burger are eviscerated, because I think this was even better than the beef burger.  It was downright primal, eating this messy fucker over whatever bone marrow chips remained so the broken yolk and carbonara sauce could drip all over those fuck yeah chips to become somehow, impossibly, even fucking better.

It’s at this point that I try to slow down the speed of my food inhalation because I’m hit by the terrifying realisation that like the dying days of summer, I’m running out of burger and fuck yeah chips and I don’t want my chip related happiness to slip through my fingers so all that I’m left with is a sense of loss deep in the pit of my stomach.  Except shit is just tooooo fucking good and soon I’m bereft and have nothing more to hold onto, except my desperate attempts to recall the memories of these sexy carb filled times, as my hands instead clutch remorsefully at a pile of grease smeared tissues.

ialreadyateit

So if you’re after one of the best fuck yeah burgers I’ve had in HK which is stuffed full of thought in every component, get yo ass down to Electric Ave and get involved homies. Chef/owner Andy is also super fucking friendly and works the floor when he’s not bustin’ ass in the tiny kitchen to ask how things are and to go into the infinitesimal details of how he makes his burgers.  I won’t lie to you, it’s not a cheap burger but you’re paying for the quality ingredients and the vast amount of time involved to bring this righteous fuck yeah burger time together.  And really, what’s the point of slaving away in the money mines of HK if you can’t at least spend some of that hard earned slave wages on avoiding the fuck no plight of staring down some sad-ass excuse of a burger (probably with a fucking brioche bun) which makes you want to weep for your mother or anyone who can hold you close? Yassss, spend money bitch on shit that matters.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhhhhhh and most importantly, don’t forget to pay the extra cash to upgrade to the five hour hand cut chips because for real, that shit is gonna make you into a better carb-filled person.

 

Where:
Little Kitchen HK (FUCK YEAHHHH, a properly designed and informative website!!!)
1/F, Cheung Lok Building
No. 112-114 Saiwanho Street
Sai Wan Ho, Hong Kong

Shit’s a little hard to find, so make sure you follow the instructions on their website – to which I would add that when you exit the Sai Wan Ho MTR, turn right then cross Shau Kei Wan Road at the intersection with Tai On Street/Shing On Street. Follow Shing On Street and take a left when you come to Sai Wan Ho Street. Little Kitchen is located about halfway down, opposite the Park n Shop.  You’ll see a tiny doorbell on the wall to the right with their logo on it.

Phone:
+852 5616 4114

Price:
HKD500 (no service charge).  No corkage.

The deal:
When I first moved to HK, I thought that private kitchens were so interesting and a Grade A1 way to be a boastful, know it all fuck.  Yeah, I fucking know a place – it’s a private kitchen.  But then the accreting creep of HK disappointment took the steam out of that for me as well, realising that private kitchens were often a pain in the ass to book, food which is often inconsistent in quality and even when they claimed ‘no corkage’, you ended up getting stung for it when they didn’t actually have a liquor licence. In my quest to Journey to the East (because fuck, the Journey to the West is so played out), I rounded up some of my East side homies to check out Little Kitchen HK in Sai Wan Ho.  HOLY FUCK, that’s like nine stations after Central.  I’ve been riding the East so fucking hard at the moment, so much so that I’m even obnoxiously giving the suburbs unbearable hipster names like “Nopo” for North Point and “Sai Ho” for Sai Wan Ho.

Little Kitchen is a small, straight forward dining room, sitting 24 guests with no bullshit first / second sitting palava.  The open kitchen sits in one corner, so you can see Chef David Forestell and his crew doing their thing.  He’s observant as all hell too and at one point when I’m just looking around to see what’s going on, he asks if we need anything or had any questions.

Little Kitchen has a strict BYOB policy and truly doesn’t charge corkage.  If you’re an alcohol bitch like me and have similarly lush homies, this is gonna be an exciting economic prospect.

parksandrecsaubreythankyoualcohol

The deal is simple at Little Kitchen, Chef David runs a weekly menu consisting of a recommended four course set.  On the phone he let me know that if you wanted to change particular dishes or if there were any specific dietary requirements, he could make changes (although a surcharge would apply).  The weekly menu is posted on their website and their FB page and provides for Firsts, Nexts, Mains and Finish with a focus on seasonal ingredients.  Little Kitchen HK’s website claims “no specific dish will ever be repeated”, which means, how much point is there really for me to step you through what we had there?

While we wait for our food, we smash through some fuck yeah multi-grain bread made by Bread Elements.  Everyone already knows that I have a rock hard boner for Bread Elements bread, so I take this as a promising omen of good shit to come.  I didn’t even know it was Bread Elements bread at the time, but when I got home I messaged them to ask if they were on the bread supply to Little Kitchen HK because I almost automatically assume that any time I get decent bread in HK that it’s done by those fuckers.

The Little Kitchen HK menus are described in quite an idiosyncratic manner. For example, the pork rillettes are described as “Rillettes, Meaty Softness, Vegetable Confetti, Tiny Sparks of Colours, Toasted Croutons, Like We would Forget?” where Vegetable Confetti refers to a fine dice of carrots and celery. However, my favourite dish of the night was the Main course, the “Scottish Salmon, Cold-water Farmed, Long Leeks, the Real Deal from France, Lemon Beurre Blanc, Touches of Herbs and Wine”.  The salmon was tender as fuck and each element carefully thought through, I wanted to rub my face into this dish so I could capture every last bit of the Lemon Beurre Blanc because it was so carefully nuanced, balancing the lemon, butter and white wine into major fuck yeah times.

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Our Finish (aka dessert) was the “Panna Cotta Milk meets Cream, Rhubarb Explorations, Stalks of Wonder, Warm Madeleines, a feat of Single Minded Foolishness (but tasty nonetheless)” and it’s fucking delicious.  Little Kitchen HK also gives everyone a small take away bag of chocolate sable cookies with a touch of sea salt to take home which is a real nice fucking touch and gives me something to remember our meal the next day.  As we’re finishing up, they also gave us a complimentary cup of mint tea. So thoughtful! So earnest!!

I think ultimately what I really fucking enjoyed about Little Kitchen HK is that this is clearly the singular vision of Chef David and he’s producing a weekly menu which he’s passionate about and driven by what’s seasonally working.  Service was quiet and efficient, I wouldn’t have minded a bit more explanation on what we were eating but that’s just because I’m a pretentious as fuck asshole who loves to know the wanky details of where my food grew up and who were its best friends.  But for someone that’s looking for a heart felt experience, perhaps a small dinner with four friends or an intimate casual date where you can BYOB, I’d most definitely put Little Kitchen HK on your list.  Depending if you can get your insular, parochial west-side homies to leave the common as fuck embrace of Sai Yung Pun / Sheung Wan and get their gentrified asses to Sai Wan Ho.

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Verdict:
Fuck yeah!! I BELIEVE IN YOU WEST SIDE HOMIES, you can most definitely travel to the East.

Where:
The Chop House
Level 3 Soundwill Plaza II – Midtown
1 Tang Lung Street
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2771 3177 (holy shit though, I think they support online booking)

Price:
HKD300 for a steak with some sides.  Additional sides are around HKD55.  Coffee is HKD45.  Prices listed exclude 10% service charge.

The deal:
The Chop House is going for that casual but trendy dining experience.  The menu is full of whimsical as fuck typography which humorously implores me to “Let’s get started” for starters, indulge in “The best thing since sliced bread” for…wait for it…goddamn sandwiches and to exclaim, not just with one exclamation mark but to fucking fall headfirst into “BURGER TIME!!!“. Yeah, you beautiful unique snowflake – every place in HK is gearing up for GODDAMN BURGER TIME, so take a fucking number, sweetcheeks.  You can always spot the most deplorable abuse of whimsical names by the dessert menu and The Chop House doesn’t disappoint when it leads with “Tiramisu just the way we like it” but disappointingly, closes with the very mundane “Ice-cream Selection”.  Surely that was waiting for some really fucking cornball nomenclature like “One Team, One Ice-Cream”, “Treat ’em mean, get ice-cream” or “Ice-creampie barely legal delight”.  Wait, too fucking far??

Anticipating a substantial main, I did not get things started and went with the Australian grass-fed beef 200g tenderloin which was accompanied by a sweet corn-potato cake, sautéed spinach, armagnac and black peppercorn sauce.  The steak was good, cooked rare, just as I fucking like it and the listed sides were decent and not just a half-assed serve of limp as fuck vegetables.  The extra fries we ordered were crunchy fuckers, so no complaints there.

But perhaps it’s HK dining fatigue, because despite a decent enough steak, there was just something that didn’t quite work for The Chop House and while I know it was going for a casual, good, honest dining deal, it felt partially like it sat uncomfortably between a cafeteria and a bar, with sparse, easily wipeable tables which were splashed with type boldly declaring “BEER”, “PORK LOIN” and “SANDWICHES” just in case you forgot why the fuck you were there.  I mean, I fucking get it, The Wooloomooloo Group doesn’t want The Chop House to steal the lunch out from its fancier, high class sister – Wooloomooloo Prime in the same building.  But casual can still feel intimate and fun, rather than sitting in a restaurant which feels uncomfortably like it’s trying too hard to be relaxed as it blares a mix tape which would be better placed at night in Lan Kwai Fong.  Call me a goddamn snob, but I don’t fucking want to eat a lunchtime steak with David Guetta and Avicii soullessly blaring over the top of me.

The verdict:
It wasn’t terrible but I’m not excited enough to go back.  Fuck no.

Where:
The Butchers Club Burgers
G/F, Rialto Building
2 Landale Street
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2528 2083 (no bookings)

FYI – their website also includes a FAX NUMBER (lolz, what is this, 1984?).  Maybe you could send the Butchers Club Burgers a fax of a handwritten note saying “FEELING SKINNY, COMIN’ FOR FAT BOY BURGERS IN 10 MINS.  C U SOON HOMIES”.

Price:
HKD100 for the standard burger.  HKD20 for duck fat fries.  HKD20-30 for soft drinks.

The deal:
The Butchers Club Burgers has only just opened but that was no barrier to it being popular as fuck already with it almost being fully seated when I swung by with my Kiwi noms homie.  Casual atmosphere with a fun as fuck vibe, with the blue/white/red canvas HK bags made into blinds and pumpin’ tunes.  The menu is pretty simple but they have this SECRET MENU which you have to use a QR scanner (even though the back of the paper flyer menu is emblazoned with a massive Butchers Club logo which easily could have listed the four available SECRET MENU burgers).  My QR Scanner was out of action, so I asked our ebullient A1 waiter homie to reveal the secrets – after a bit of jesting about how he couldn’t, he highlighted the Wu Tang Burger (fried in siracha and topped with cheese, kimchi, kewpie mayo and tempura sweet potato) and the Double Happiness (pretty much a double serve of everything, which equates to the ファットー・キャントー times (that’s fatto kyunto times in Japanese in case you can’t read katakana). They’re not joking around when it comes to providing a fat boy feed here though, the lowest calorie drink option is a Diet Coke – with no option for WATER as a drink option.  Be still my beating heart (literally) – shit is getting fat in herrrrrre (so fat it hurts).

I went for the Wu Tang Burger + the triple fried duck fat fries and I got to say, the burgers here were pretty fucking impressive and as they start at HKD100, fucking great value too.  I mean, you could stumble down the road to 22 Ships and get two tiny ass fucking food for ants sliders for HKD168 or one fuck off decent beef burger here for HKD100.  You already know my views on FUCK NO, RIP OFF SLIDERS.  I loved how when my Wu Tang Burger arrived, the Korean Hipsters next to me  detected the kimchi in my burger at 20 paces and their eyes got wide as fuck as they asked me ‘Is that kimchi in your burger?!’.  I explained to them that it was from the secret menu and they looked crest fallen as they had only seen the normal menu and got normal beef burgers sans kimchi.  Don’t worry kids, happy ending to this fatty boombah fairy tale, Korean hipster homies hit up the staff for some kim chi to add to their burger.  But this was such a fuck yeah burger, you know when you eat something and you’ve just got this shit-eating grin on because you’re so fucking happy?  That was me as I smashed this juicy fucker into my my life – a beautiful symphony of dry aged Angus beef for the patty with siracha, Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise, ketchup and kimchi.  I don’t think I’d order the duck fat fries again – after the promise of thrice-fried fries, I was expecting some crunchy motherfuckers but they were a bit flaccid for my taste.  Maybe they should go all out and fry them FOUR times?? Anyway, we left approximately ZERO fries behind though, so they clearly weren’t awful either.

Special shout out to the Butchers Club Burger head hamburger homie who was just livin’ large and having a FUCK YEAH of a time.  He took our order at the table (even though that wasn’t strictly allowed) and was just living to give.  I watched the bemused Korean hipsters homies next to us ask for a fork and this dude replied “Sorry, the only forks we have here are these” while indicating hands.

Gotta mention though, as I was snacking down on this behemoth of a burger when I thought I heard the strains of Gloria Estefan’s “Turn the Beat Around” (yes, I do love to feel percussion) but then it was actually Take That’s seminal first single  “It Only Takes a Minute” and I started to think “Fuck, 90s pop + tasty as fuck burgers – this is pretty fucking unreal!!” before some cruel asshole wasn’t feeling Gary Barlow and friends and skipped the track.  FUCK NO TO SKIPPING CLASSIC 90S POP TRACKS HALFWAY – GIVE YOURSELF A CLAP FOR BEING A COCKTEASING ASSHOLE!!

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Verdict:
A very fat, FUCK YEAH!

Where:
Wilber’s
62 Zhu si gang er ma Road
Yuexiu District
Guangzhou, China

广东省广州市越秀区竹丝岗二马路62号

Phone:
+86 020-37611101

Price:
CNY350 (c.USD55) for the set 5 course menu.  Including 3 bottles of Chilean red wine between 6 people (no judgment) – about CNY500 each (USD80), all-in

The deal:
A bunch of us from Hong Kong rolled into Guangzhou for the weekend, which puzzled almost 100% of everyone we told this to.  “Guangzhou??  What the fuck are you going to do there?” and we had a vague answer around a cycling tour on Saturday, potentially hiking a mountain on Sunday and yum cha on Monday. I’ll level with you – our planned mountain hike degenerated into:

  • A buffet breakfast at the Mandarin Oriental where we tried to order a bottle of bubbles, they were sold out and they suggested we try the SPUMANTE which resulted in my friend instantly handing back the menu firmly stating “Spumante is just no good” with her sunglasses hiding The Most Dismissive Look In The World;
  • Repeatedly trying to book a free flow Veuve Cliquot Champagne Sunday Roast at the Mandarin Oriental which despite the MO TV Channel declaring this as an available option, all we seemed to be able to confim was free flow Cloudy Bay Sparkling Wine (fuck no!!);
  • Buying numerous bottles of Moet from the nearest supermarket and feeling quite bad when the MO sent a heavily pregnant lady to bring us a big fuck off ice bucket;
  • Ordering a shit tonne of room service mojitos (MO Mojitos get a FUCK YEAH!);
  • Playing Deep Forest’s “Lullaby” and then Enigma’s “Return to Innocence” as I declared that this had been my planned “Reflective Top of the Mountain” jam;
  • Using Spotify to find karaoke versions of Les Miserable songs and then using The Lonely Planet’s Guangzhou Chinese History to create new lyrics for “I Dreamed a Dream”.

So after almost 10 hours of this “mountain hike” we poured ourselves into a cab and off to Wilber’s, a white three storey colonial style house which declares itself to be “The Best Little Foodhouse in Guangzhou”.  We’d already been given the heads up that Wilber’s was a LGBT friendly venue and if there was any doubt, we were led to a private room on the second floor which was covered entirely in quotes from Barbra Streisand musicals.  I just imagined HK Homies taking photos of this quote, instagramming and hashtagging it #sotrue #yousaidit #fuckyeahHK

Everybody ought to have a maid,
Everybody ought to have a serving-girl,
A loyal and unswerving girl,
Whose quieter than a mouse

– Stephen Sondheim

At Wilber’s it’s a five course set menu with a Starter / Soup / Pasta / Meat / Dessert sequence, which a choice of three for each one.  The menu was pretty fucking solid and there was a bit of inner turmoil as I decided between which course to get.  Given that we’d foregone any solid food after breakfast (except if you count the mint in the mojitos) we were beyond grateful for our handsome waiter who obligingly provided us with several serves of FUCK YEAH bread with butter and duck rilette. I ordered the mushroom vol au vent, the double boiled duck + foie gras soup, the oxtail raviolo (sold out of the Spaghetti Vongole), the rib eye with roasted bone marrow and then the lemon tart. The food itself was well presented, tasty and the waiters were well synchronised in ensuring that everyone’s meals came out at the same time. I fucking loved the rib eye with the bone marrow (ermagerd, I just want someone to give me a fuck tonne of roasted bone marrow and a loaf of bread so I can get seriously down and dirty without having to savour anything).  I gotta give a fuck no to the lemon and passionfruit tart though – just too sweet with too thick pastry.  I just can’t seem to get fuck yeah dessert courses anymore though.

Each course isn’t huge in size and I was getting concerned that I’d leave hungry – especially after my lone and solitary (though tasty) oxtail raviolo which was chilling out all on his own (just like Éponine from Les Miserable) on a big white plate.  However, given how rich some of the dishes were, it turned out to be good quantity wise and I avoided the very real daily danger I face of wasting away into a malnourished, translucent wisp of a thing.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah! Check it out when you’re in the GZ next.

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