Cocktails

Where:
NEO (their website is about 5% useful – only because it lists the address)
10 Shin Hing Street (it’s opposite Cocotte)
Sheung Wan Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2812 2280

Price:
Cocktails range from HKD90-130.  Bar snacks from HKD60-85.

The deal:
I’ve read some of the preliminary press on NEO, the new bar opened by the Cocotte homies, and I can already see into the future and know that everyone’s gonna be making references to how the gentle glow of the neon lights are a homage to both the retro 80s past and HK’s history with neon signage, Noho (ermagerd HK, stahhhhpp trying to make Noho/Poho a thing) and how it’s Cocotte’s cheeky or sexy little sister. Whatevs, I dragged my sweaty ass down to NEO on Friday night after schlepping my way up from Sheung Wan MTR station, pushing my way past the heavy as fuck curtains into the industrial, stripped out NEO den. The Candace Campos design is cool as fuck, stripped back concrete walls, purposefully mismatched chairs and tiny Persian rugs. NEO have totally nailed that bare concrete shiz without making it look like they’ve just cheaped out on the decor. There’s some real cute touches too – the retro foosball table, the Neo Geo arcade machine and the Playboy pinball machine. People are gonna be all over that shit when they are writing their tedious as fuck blogs and media puff pieces about NEO.

We grab a low table and as I’m a grumpy old fucker with failing eyesight I can barely fucking read the cocktail menu in the dimly lit cool vibes of NEO. However despite the lack of lighting, my value sensor can at least detect that shit’s reasonably priced. Fuck yeahhhh HKD90 – HKD130 cocktails can get SOME because fuck that bullshit of the new HK norm of HKD180+ a cocktail. Attentive bar staff homies instantly swoop and ask what I want – through my shitty eyesight I decide on the Old Cuban Float (HKD120) which lists homemade sorbet with rum, lime, mint and prosecco as its ingredients. When my barstaff homie comes back with a spoon, I soon realize that perhaps this wasn’t a tangential reference to sorbet but a full on goddamn alcoholic float. Fuck yeahhhh, shit was delicious as fuck though – even if it was too much of a dessert like cocktail to kick my night off. Texturally, the sorbet was a bit icy which at least backs up the claim that shit is homemade but hey NEO homies, you gotta speed your freezing process up or add some cream factor to avoid dem coarse fuck no crystals.

With the alcoholic powers combined of Mr and Mrs Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and Sir Crunchalot, we smashed through almost the entirety of the fuck yeah NEO cocktail list. Some FYN cocktail highlights:

  • As a total slut for Campari, the Boulevardier Compliments (HKD90) was giving me some fuck yeah feels. The salty skewered olive was totally jiving against the sweet vermouth and the bitter, herbaceous Campari. I might be seriously biased though because fuck, I love dem bitter Campari feels.
  • The Cognac Retrold (HKD130) is one of the most expensive cocktails on the menu at HKD130 (which LBR, is still pretty fucking decent for HK) but 72 hour corn infused cognac can’t come fucking cheap. A touch of pear with the acidic cider vinegar bitters cuts through shit to make sure that it ain’t a sugary mess.
  • A fucking standout has to be the Rumboy & Cardamon Mule (HKD120). I fucking love a Moscow Mule and then you take this concept and fancy shit up with spicy apple honey syrup and, while not specified, I can only assume posh as fuck ginger beer. Dem Cardamon spice feels were strong and this is the sort of innocuously dangerous cocktail that doesn’t feel alcoholic at all and then you’ve somehow smashed back four of these quite comfortably and then when you stand up to go to the bathroom, BANG, you realise that not only are you refreshed as fuck, you can’t feel your face anymore.
  • The Express Polaroid (HKD110) references another one of my fuck yeah favourite cocktails, the Espresso Martini (when they’re not being tipped all over me). Except NEO’s is some next level shit with its fancy ass ingredients like ghee buttered dark rum and tonic reduction syrup.  There’s also a high level gimmick of it coming with a polaroid photo. FYN is always down to slam a gimmick but this one was just too fucking cute for words – our Express Polaroid arriving with precious memories of our gang pegged to the side of a gimlet glass. What a fuck yeah – this is the sort of drink that when you told someone to go to NEO you’d definitely tell them to order this successfully gimmicky bad boy without spoiling the polaroid punch line.  Except I already ruined that shit for you.  OH SORRY ABOUT THAT HOMIES.
  • The Smoked Yoghurt Sour (HKD100) was probably one of the most interesting cocktails on the list and gets a fuck yeah mention for being unlike any other cocktail I’ve had before. The smoked yoghurt gives it a new depth of flavor that I haven’t had in a cocktail before and while having too many dairy based cocktails seems like how you write the first chapter in your book of ‘The Execution of Bad Ideas’, I’d be down to have this cocktail towards the end of a night when all the bad ideas have been executed already, so why not double it the fuck down?

The only low lights might be down to my own personal preference of not getting super down with sweet drinks. This meant that the NEO Hive (HKD120) with all its neon, glow stick and illuminated ice-cubes still caused my diabeetus to flare up and The Oribtal Gimlet (HKD100) with its gummy bear was enjoyed by everyone else but it was just too fucking sweet for my tastes.  I also had a violent fuck no reaction to the Mezcal’s Crack (HKD90) but I blame that one more on my deep-seated and historical emotional issues with tequila than the actual cocktail itself.

I just wish that NEO’s cocktail menu had been ordered / categorised more logically – perhaps it was a by-product of my geriatric level eyesight and impatience to get on the sauce ASAP, but if I went to NEO again, I’d definitely order my cocktails in a different fucking order and definitely not lead with a cocktail that had a scoop of sorbet chilling the fuck out in it.  Maybe I’m just a fussy fucker who has a very precise order in which I like to drink my fucking cocktails. But it’s shit like if I had my time again at NEO, I’d want to follow my normal cocktail progression of bitter aperitifs to start (yassss Campari 4 Lyfe), get my refreshing drinks on by having approximately twelve Rumboy & Cardamon Mules, then I’d take shit darker with a Corgnac Retrold before closing off shit with a Smoked Yoghurt Sour and an Express Polaroid.  Then cut to this FYN artist impression of me wobbling my drunk ass home down the Shin Hing Street slope:

beyoncebrokebitch

NEO’s also peddling bar food which is broken into three sections – Tartines, Brochettes and Dessert. Tartines is fancy French nomenclature for open sandwiches and its just bits of bread with some sort of spread and meat /cheese on it. NEO’s tartines ranged from being fine (ie. the Parma Ham and Ricotta – but LBR it’s gotta be hard to fuck up shoving a combination of fuck yeah ingredients like parma ham, fig, ricotta and bread together) to being a bit half-assed (ie. the Caprese – bread with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, basil and a soggy ass bottom, due to the olive oil and balsamic vinegar). There’s a few presentation issues, for example the Mr Croque (ham, cheese and bechamel sauce sandwich) is served with a side of salad but given there’s no cutlery and it’s meant to be finger food I wasn’t sure what we were meant to fucking do with it. Was NEO’s intention for me to use my fingers to pick up salad to eat in a cocktail bar??

The brochettes (that’s skewers for everyday folk) are not cheap and at HKD70-80 for two fairly small sticks are verging on food for ants territory. The Beef Provencal had some tiny ass beef cubes, skewered with some onions and capsicum. I don’t get down with capsicum at the best of times but the beef just felt so insubstantial all I remember is the onions. The Chicken Satay was the favourite amongst our table but I can’t get excited about HKD70 for two small, dried out chicken breast skewers. The Atlantic Salmon skewers were fine but served with a dipping sauce which was completely inaccessible due to the design of the sauce bowl. HAI NEO, Y U NO TRY TO USE YOUR SAUCE CONTAINERS BEFORE YOU SERVE THEM?! LIKE SRS – WTF WAS I MEANT TO DO WITH THIS?

neosalmon

We rounded off our night with the desserts which presented us with the options of a pineapple skewer, a creme brulee and yes, more fucking bread with stuff on it – the Chocobana Tartine.  As the pineapple skewers sounded lame as fuck we opted for the crème brulee (HKD45) and the Chocobana Tartine (HKD55). The Chocobana Tartine was a fuck yeah but in reality it’s just chopped fresh bananas and chocolate sauce on some bread.  It just felt like the sort of thing I’d make with the scant provisions in my fridge on a Sunday morning when I was being held hostage in my own house by a killer hangover.  The crème brulee had a thin caramel crust which had the appropriate crack when hit with a spoon, but unfortunately the actual crème was a sloppy fuck no mess.  I guess the life lesson here is you should really drink your dessert at NEO in the form of some fuck yeah cocktail rather than dicking about with actual dessert.

I gotta mention the fuck yeah NEO barstaff – perceptive and attentive as fuck, we never had the opportunity to do thirsty face (that’s where I look fucking parched at a waiter in the desperate hope that someone will bring me some goddamn booze) and they diligently filled up our fresh popcorn bowls approximately 1,256 times per hour as we fisted that shit into our greedy, gaping mouths. What a revelation to be able to go to a bar in HK and be able to consistently spend my money all night instead of having some barstaff asshole ignore me.

We slipped out of NEO at midnight when the increasing crowds, hard surfaces and fuck yeah tunes meant that we couldn’t hear what the fuck any of us were saying through a wall of noise. Best to leave that shit to the youths that still have their hearing intact. FYN’s prediction is that this NEO shebang is definitely gonna take off, so you should probably go now because before too long, you’re gonna be unable to get a fucking seat while you elbow your way past at least half of HK’s French community with their curly locks, cigarettes, no socks and short bright pants.  SACRÉ BLEU, MOTHERFUCKERS.

Verdict:
FUCK YEAH to the NEO cocktails – thoughtful, high quality ingredients/alcohol and fucktonnes of craftsmanship at a super reasonable price point.  In respect of the food, I don’t give a fuck if you call your tiny ass skewers French names like ‘Brochette’, I’d only get involved for survival reasons (ie. you need something to soak up the alcohol).  Just drink your fucking calories ok??

Where:
Carbone Hong Kong
9/F, LKF Tower
33 Wyndham Street
Central / Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong

Side note:  this is undoubtedly, the worst social media effort I’ve ever seen made by a new restaurant in HK.  And by effort, I mean, SFA = SWEET FUCK ALL, cause there is jackshit available about them officially online.  Edit – they actually do appear to have a website, I had to get it direct from Black Sheep Restaurants via their Twitter given that it didn’t appear after googling.

Phone:
+852 2593 2593

Price:
We got out at HKD625 each – one cocktail each plus entree + pasta + main + dessert split between two.

The deal:
Carbone NYC has brought its Italian-American red-sauced game to Hong Kong, as a result of a partnership between the US Major Food Group (Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick) and Black Sheep Restaurants (Ho Lee Fook, Chom Chom and Motorino).  I really fucking feared the worst because trendy restaurant shit usually tends to end in overpriced food which is inoffensive enough at the time, but in the taxi home you generally realise you’ve been had because when you pay that much fucking coin, you don’t want “mildly satisfying” or “perfectly inoffensive” you want to feel like shit was fucking worthwhile.

I’d been warned by someone who went over the weekend that Carbone HK was a bit stiff (as in formally stiff, not as in erotically “I’ve got half a chubby for you” stiff) and after reading about how Carbone HK is replicating that old school NYC vibe I was anticipating quiet service and mahogany wood panelling.  However, despite the brown leather banquettes, formal as fuck white tablecloths and most noticeably, the waitstaff in their highly tailored, really fucking over the top magenta tuxedos – it didn’t feel too awkward.  I was getting my nom on with Ms Siuwaaan (hey you tardy thot – update your goddamn website) for the first time ever and while our booking was slated for 9pm, they were pretty much ready to seat us at 8:30pm.  Despite this, we still took a drink at the old school bar, making thirsty face for some time before we were able to order classic fuck yeah cocktails from the barman who was resplendent in his full, stiff white jacket – making a welcome goddamn change from the HK Barman’s go-to-uniform of a vulgar display of tattoos and biceps, poured into a skinny black tee.

Once seated, a super slick, tuxedoed waiter swooped upon us, producing menus which were 500% larger than they had to be and instructed us that we should probably get a starter, a pasta main and a meat to share.  We ordered the octopus pizzaiolo, the linguine vongole and the lamb chop.  FAIR WARNING – I fucking love that Carbone don’t do bullshit serving sizes – no fucking food for ants here.

While we waited for our order, Carbone provided us with some fuck yeah freebies – garlic bread, prosciutto and hunks of 24 month parmesan cheese.  I wasn’t exactly sure if I was meant to be chowing down on this substantial chunk of parmesan “as is” – because that’s the sort of shit I’d do at home in my underwear on the couch vs what I thought should be going down in Tuxedo Land.  However, our waiter gave us the green light and I’m always DTC (down to cheese).

The octopus pizzaiola was fucking great – toasted charred bread, chillies and big ass pieces of tender octopus.  The linguine vongole was a serious fuck yeah too with our waiter splitting it into two very decent portions so we could get our share shizz on.  Fair disclosure though, it’s one of my all-time fuck yeah variations of pasta and this was a beautiful garlicy bitch with dem salty clams and Italian parsley.  But the true star of the masterpiece was the innocently described lamb chop (not cheap at a hefty HKD428).  When we had ordered the lamb chop the waiter stated that the chef recommends that the lamb chop be done medium and neither Ms Siuwaaan and I wanted to make the awkward first move, until we both broke down and blurted out at each other “GODDAMNIT, I WANT IT RARE” and “JUST RUN IT PAST ME AND I’LL GRAB A BITE OUT OF IT’.  Thank fuck for that, because I’ve fucking played that stupid ass game before when I follow the chef’s recommendation (I mean, he’s the fucking expert, right?), order it medium and when my meat arrives I’m all:

hugemistake

However, no mistake times here because while lamb can be such a goddamn disappointment in HK, this bad boy came out bloody and beautiful, with this magnificent motherfucker sliced at the table with the mint leaves chopped afterwards, in its fuck yeah juices.  With the fresh mint sauce, I wanted to have this lamb-filled kiss forever but my trademark greediness prevailed and soon all I was left with was two bones which I proceeded to gnaw clean.  If I was in charge of naming it on the menu, I would have given it an understated description such as “FUCK YEAH, BEST EVER MOLTO FUCKING BUONO LAMBCHOP MOTHERFUCKERS”.

The dessert cart was rolled out in front of us and we were presented with the lemon cheesecake, carrot cake and the banana flambé.  We were pretty fucking full at this stage but Ms Siuwaaan insisted that she’d been watching Instagram videos all week of the banana flambé and she wanted her fruit to be on fyaaaaaaaaaah.  I greedily tried to also order the cheesecake but was shut down by the waiter, who pointedly asked “How hungry are you?”, before I conceded that perhaps ordering a fucking massive piece of cheesecake wasn’t that necessary.  The shit truly is bananas and the whole show went on with the special cart which allows an at-table flambé experience, with flames fucking flicking everywhere.  The actual dessert was good but not amazing – I mean shit, it’s still just caramelised bananas, ice-cream and some fuck-yeah crumbs for contrast.  But shit hot damn, it was still quite the fucking show.  SIGNOR CHEESECAKE, IMMA COMING FOR YOU NEXT TIME.

Carbone’s service was formal and slick and for a restaurant that’s only just fucking opened, the waiter homies were on their shit.  I’m fucking tired of people making excuses for new restaurants and fucked up service.  Like fuck me, if you’re going to charge money you need to have your shit together.  I gotta say, there seemed like there were too many hostesses who were all super fucking enthusiastic about everything that I just wanted to tell them to chill the fuck out a bit.  But fuck, I’d take super enthusiastic bordering on that fake shit vs IDGAF incompetent bullshit any day.

Verdict:
FUCK YEAHHHHH – I’ve seriously been dreaming about dat lamb chop for THREE FUCKING DAYS STRAIGHT NOW.   I’d recommend going with at least four to six homies so you can try moarrrr dishes.

Where:
Ho Lee Fook (R U fucking serious??  A TUMBLR is your official website??) See also their FB Page.
1 Elgin Street (the lower bit, more towards Hollywood Road)
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2810 0860 (it’s one of those bullshit no bookings unless >6 people)

Price:
We got out at HKD460 each – between two people we had two mains + one salad and two cocktails.  In retrospect, we might not have needed two meatageddon mains.  I always go on high alert when I’m in trendy, of the moment joints which always seem to subscribe to “food for ants” sizes but no fear here, servings are fucking generous.

The deal:
I know everyone’s losing their shit over Ho Lee Fuk with Chef Jowett’s modern take on old school Hong Kong cha chaan tengs and its cavernous, trendy dark Chinatown retro New York inspired decor but I just can’t get over what a fucking stupid name it is. Ho Lee Fook actually translates to “good fortune for your mouth” but all I can think about is people going “I’ll see you at Ho Lee Fuk” OMG LOOK, IT SOUNDS LIKE HOLY FUCK. JEEEZ WHAT A GODDAMN GAS.  Every blog I read calls it quirky, hilarious and cheeky though – so perhaps I’m just a dour faced bitch who prefers it when people are straight forward with their F-bombs. It just feels like when places give their dishes stupid ass names like ‘The Big Bertha Wonderburger’ or ‘The Big O Chocolate Sinner’ and I always make it a point not to say the stupid fucking name and then some asshat waiter will repeat the full dumb ass name back at you.

We rolled into Ho Lee Fook at 815pm, with no booking because you can’t fucking book a table unless you have more than six people.  Front of house let us know that we’d probably be waiting til around NINE FUCKING THIRTY for a table.  I would normally be concerned that I would eat my arms off by then but I saw Chef Jowett Yu and the Ho Lee Fook homies smashing together Wagyu Short Ribs that I desperately needed in my life. FINE YOU NO BOOKING ASSHOLES, have it your way because I am now beholden to your beef, so we took ourselves up Elgin Street to have mojitos until they called us.  At 930pm we still hadn’t been called, but we stomped back in to demand satisfaction in no uncertain terms as they apologetically told us that a table was finishing their dessert and should be fucking off fairly shortly (ok, they didn’t drop the F bomb).  I was about to have a no booking hunger induced meltdown but Ho Lee Fook offered as a free cocktail while we waited.  Fuck yeah to alcoholic free shit to soothe my harried no booking soul.  I got their Mule cocktail (ginger beer and booze based) and despite every Asian sensation in my body being heightened by it being free, I can confirm I ordered another one later (which I paid for) and it was still a fuck yeah.

Ho Lee Fook’s menu is green with black writing on it and their restaurant is not a brightly lit fucker, so if you’re colourblind or old, sorry to say – sucks to be you, you better get your more able homies to read out shit to you.  Given that we’d ordered two main serves of their beef wagyu short rib with green shallot kimchi and their pork char siu, they recommended we get our veg on with the heirloom tomato salad with duck egg, cucumber and Chinese olive leaf.  UH OH, use of heirloom – tick another one off the hipster checklist.  But it was delicious as fuck and a good light primer before MEATAGEDDON.  The beef wagyu short rib comes cut off the bone (ready for white folk and dainty eaters), glazed in soy sauce and spicy jalapeño puree on the side.  It was fucking unreal – Ho Lee Fook showed the love to that motherfuckin’ beef rib ensuring that blogs across HK are declaring “melt in your mouth!” and “absolutely cooked to perfection!”. But ain’t nobody got time for those overwrought cliches, so fuck dem xoxo and extraneous exclamation marks off and know that this was the good shit with a special fuck yeah mention for the jalapeño puree.

We also ordered the pork char siu because we’d been told there was only one left and FOMOOGP (Fear of Missing Out on Goddamn Pork) meant we had no other option but to get fucking involved.  There was no real twist on this from a flavour perspective, pretty much being a classic charsiu but it was clearly using some fancy as fuck, high class pork.  Due to the menu being unreadable due to its colour choices, I can’t tell you exactly what this pig got up to prior to its death, but I assume that it was probably some Australian porcine princess which got its grassy nom on under the open skies, with a gentle breeze caressing her delicious belly.

For dessert, we shared a Granny Smith apple granita, with Calpis sorbet, mochi and red koji jelly which they comped given the no booking / waiting palaver.  It was an amped up, modern version of an Ice/Ais Kacang (Singaporean / Malaysian ice based dessert which mixes a number of textures / ingredients).  Given my full as fuck status from annihilating the preceding meatageddon, this tart appley bitch with its contrasting sweet and chewy textural components was a motherfucking, refreshing as fuck treat.

Special shout out to their A1 grade friendly homie, Olivia, who not only gave us free cocktails and a dessert because of the wait, she also made sure we knew which items were about to sell out so we could get our orders in and kept the service efficient as fuck.  FUCK YEAH to super fucking adorable service homies who have got their goddamn shit going on.

Verdict:
NO, I am NOT going to lazily close out my review using their name to make a “holy fuck” pun.  Fuck vindicating that shit, but FUCK YEAH!!

stop_penis_erect_archer

Where:
Fu Lu Shou (OMG I KNOW I ALREADY SEMI REVIEWED THEM BEFORE)
L7, 31 Hollywood Rd
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2336 8812

Price:
Shit’s kinda hazy but cocktails were HKD100ish and food was HKD150iish – fuckkkkkkkkk I know, two half assed reviews and I can’t still tell you how much coin to expect to drop.

The deal:
After trying about three times to book a table at Fu Lu Shou (hot FYN tip, perhaps don’t try on a THURSDAY to book a table for a FRIDAY at one of HK’s newest, hot as fuck bars) finally made my triumphant return to Fu Lu Shou (or FUK LUK SAU cause we are in Hong Kong S to the mother fucking A R after all and not CHINA). You guys are going to start to think that I’m a Fu Lu Shou shill and they’re comping me shit which is why I’m always talking up their shizzzzz.  But don’t worry, I’m still paying for my own descent into a luscious (emphasis on lush), boozey and cuddly beach bikini body with my own hard earned HKD.  Back the fuck up junk season, imma coming for you.  Seriously though, I think their Sweet and Sour Pork is even fucking better than their fuck yeah prawn toasts and chicken wings that I had last time.  I tried some of their other cocktails but while the Ham Leng Chat (Salty Lemon cocktail) was interesting, I didn’t fucking love it.  But no matter because the star of the goddamn masterpiece is their take on the Dark and Stormy – the Typhoon 8.  I necked four of those glorious gingery rum filled bastards, amounting to a destructive Typhoon 32 force of nature, in a very punchy effort on a school night (after warming up on two other cocktails and three glasses of wine – which also explains why I STILL can’t provide super accurate price guidance).

Verdict:
From the bottom of my profanity filled heart, I fucking love you guys – I hope you can weather the fickle HK bar scene and continue to keep me in nostalgia filled, FUCK YEAH sweet and sour pork on a long term basis.

azizcashmoney

 

Noticed that this appears to be the new normal.  HKD140 (+10% service charge) for nothing special cocktails – that’s almost USD20 a pop. Cocotte, Lily & Bloom, Blue Butcher – imma looking at you (just to name a few).  What is this, a mining town?? My Perth homies are going to relate to that. FUCK NO.

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