No Corkage

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.

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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:
Shelter Lounge
Shop A, G/F.&1/F., Universal Building
5-13 New Street, Sheung Wan
Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2517 6211 (fuck yeahhhhh, took bookings and didn’t have to book a million years in advance)

Price:
We got out at HKD550 a person.  No corkage, so fuck yeah bring your own booze!

The deal:
On Thursday / Friday, I was doing a panicked call around trying to find a restaurant that a) still took bookings and b) wasn’t fully booked out.  I called Serge et le Phoque who kindly offered me a table at 10pm (!!), but fearing that I’d eat my own arms off by that point I declined.  Mama San offered to make me a booking for the next week – but seeing as I couldn’t even figure out where I was eating in less than 24 hours, committing to next week was 100% not on the FYN agenda.

After trying more than five restaurants, I managed to get a booking at Shelter Lounge at around Friday lunch for Friday dinner – it’s a fucking HK miracle!  Although the girl on the phone sounded pretty pissed off about having to take a booking in the first place.  This place is highly instagrammable if that’s your thing – the long wood tables, large as fuck white plates, the very prettily arranged foods with sauce casually smeared around like it ain’t no thing.  You know that that means though, big fuck off white plates + pretty food = small almost food for ant portions.  We had to go a round two with the ordering, because shit is not big here.  Shelter Lounge were strong on respecting their proteins and all the reliable stars of the animal kingdom began their beauty parade.  The glazed beef short rib was one of my fuck yeah highlights – with it working out even better for me when most people gave up on the bone and I got to go hands on and immaculately clean it up (some people are good at art, on the other hand some are good at eating…FYI, I can’t draw for shit). The coffee butter lamb rack must have come from a barely legal lamb as it was really fucking tiny, but they padded it out with some artistic as fuck mesclun greens, pine nuts, rosy sweet ass figs and then added some goats cheese for that salty, fuck yeah contrast against the sweet figs.  I couldn’t taste the coffee but there was enough shit going on that I wasn’t crying for its absence.  It’s always a stereotype at this stage but the sticky pork belly was a reliable performer – I can’t even find an interesting new way to describe pork belly so why don’t you just fill it in for yourself – blah blah sticky blah blah fatty as fuck blah blah juicy fucker blah blah pork belly.

The Shelter Lounge don’t have a liquor licence, so that adds some fuck yeah points as you don’t get stung on the wine. So while we had to double up on some of the dishes to ensure we didn’t starve (greedy fucks were in attendance – so if you had more dainty girls maybe one round would be enough), considering the quality of the food, fancy shiz presentation and the no corkage scenario, it’s not a bargain basement nom but on the sum of its parts, Shelter Lounge checks out on the dollar/noms value scale.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah – especially if you go with light eating girls who don’t devour everything in sight (ie. not me).

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