BBQ

Where:
Meats (HOLY SHIT, a functioning website in HK – my, how you’ve grown up since I’ve left)
GF, No. 28 – 30 Staunton Street
Soho, Central
Hong Kong

FYN Hot Tip:  It’s where that piece of pedestrian trash Jaspa’s used to be.

Phone:
+852 2711 1812 or info@piratameats.hk, but lolz doesn’t matter cause fuck noooo, NO RESERVATIONS (but I get it, patrons are so fucking unreliable we’re no longer allowed the privilege of a guaranteed table.  GUISE WE BROUGHT THIS INDIGNITY UPON OURSELVES)

Price:
Chef’s menu is HKD420 for a fuck tonne of food.  Cocktails are HKD95.  No service charge, so don’t be an asshole and make sure you tip your servers (menu declares all tips go to the staff).  I’d estimate getting out at around HKD600-700ish before tip if you’re drinking.

The deal:
Meats is the fifth restaurant in the Pirata Group’s empire with the Scottish chef, Paddy McDermott at the helm.  Outside of Scotland, Paddy’s done his time in Melbourne (OMG small bars guys), Toronto and Dubai, before landing in Hong Kong.  I’m generally a big fan of the Pirata Group because I think the guys behind it, Manuel Palacio and Christian Talpo, actually give a fuck about their food and aren’t just pumping out any old shit which will bring in the HK bucks.  Which is why there’s some sort of poetic justice that they’ve set up their latest joint on the ashes of the Staunton St location which used to house Jaspa’s.  Which is probably the epitome of a HK smash and grab for cash which unfortunately works, because let’s be real, a lot of people are terrible at eating and making sensible decisions.

Meats’ ethos per their website is to present traditional and unconventional cuts of meat and show off their fuck yeah flavours by using a variety of techniques including house-smoking, rotisserie and charcoal grilling. Some are served just with raw sea salt to let shit speak for itself or they might get all fancy on yo ass, splashing about marinades made from jalapeños, Szechuan peppercorns or coffee.  I gotta be real though, even though I fucking love to eat meat, I just cannot get into the name Meats. It’s a name that sounds like it’s one badly positioned PR release away from a HK champagne brunch with topless male waiters with a tagline promising that you can get your meat while you watch your meat.  FYI HK SEXIST PR FUCK KNUCKLES, THAT IS NOT A PROMPT FOR YOU TO ACTUALLY EXECUTE THAT BRUNCH IDEA, OK?

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From a liquor perspective, Meats are running with a bourbon theme which I give a fuck yeah for meshing with its meat heavy concept.  I can also respect a restaurant whose cocktail list consists of three drinks only – the Old Fashioned, Manhattan and Whiskey Sour.  Cause fuck yeahhhhh, those are all drinks that I can fully get behind, so much so that I had two Old Fashioneds before dinner. When it comes to the wine list, in a similar style to the other Pirata restaurants, the wine list is short but with a good range of prices so you’re not gonna be bankrupt because you dared to live out a massive dream by having a bottle of wine with your meal.  Oh yeah, don’t tell me you don’t know the exact feeling that comes over you when you’re reading a wine list and you’re all “Nah mate, I’m cool, sure I’ll pick the wine.  What do you guys prefer, red or white?”  as you have to calmly mask your rising internal panic when you realise that bottles start out at a “cheeky” HKD1,000 before service charge before galloping uncontrollably towards Brokemotherfucker Mountain. 

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There’s an a la carte menu but our table went for the HKD420 Chef’s tasting menu.  The actual selection of this will change and you don’t receive any sort of formal menu which indicates what this will be but they will check whether your table has any allergies or things they don’t eat.  I took my A-team which means we left it completely up to Meats given we are a no allergy, we eat everything, hollow bellied cohort. Imma gonna tell you now – the Chef’s tasting menu consists of small plates of their dishes so you can get a taste of almost everything and while the serves themselves might not be big, there is a lot of content to cover and it ends up being generous as fuck.  DO NOT pre-game because you’re not going to need Maccas on the way home.  I’m gonna talk you through just some of the dishes we had, rather than a full blow by blow account because there were just so many fucking incredible things.

We start with some roast chicken croquettes with roasted garlic mayo, which are perfect appetisers to get things started and they reminded me of the fuck yeah croquettes you get at Pirata’s other restaurant, The Optimist. But then we’re barelling into a beef tartare which gets its seasoning from cured duck egg yolk and has pickled mustard seeds which cut through the rich beef and egg yolk with its acidity and slight heat.  No bullshit toasted brioche or pitiful dried out bread cracker to eat it on, instead Meats is serving this good shit on a crisped up beef tendon.  No gluten, no brioche, just crispy tendon tartare times = NO WORRIES MATE.

To make up for this gluten free scenario, the bone marrow is served with tarragon bread crumbs and anchovy butter.  I’m so into bone marrow, which means I always order it. Unfortunately, 80% of the time it ends in disappointment because it hasn’t been cooked enough so it’s a congealed fuck no mess or there’s barely any bone marrow in the awkwardly cut piece of bone which they’ve served to you.  No such problems here at Meats and for once, I’m not just looking at a piece of bone, desperately trying to smash a piece of bread into it as I try to extract any sort of value out of it.

So I know every western chef which moves to HK has to solemnly swear to HK Immigration as part of their visa conditions that they will “take influences from Asia” in their dishes and do a photo shoot in their chef whites, against the visceral, bloody back drop of a butcher in a wet market.  However, the two dishes that Chef McDermott has done that with aren’t too over the top in banging home the “I’m cooking in Asia bitches, check out how adaptable I am cause I’m using soy sauce”.  The beef tongue skewers are tender cubes of beef tongue cooked in oyster sauce are served with sliced fresh chilli, coriander and crispy fried garlic.  Another massive highlight are the lamb ribs – bite sized  pieces of lamb are served on the bone and are grilled with cumin, sesame and master stock.  This shit comes clean off the bone when you go eat it and if it wasn’t for the copious amounts of food coming our way, I would have hunkered down with a bowl of these and smashed way through them.

There’s some other things like Hanger Steak served with Korean BBQ Jalapaeno reslih and Smoked Bacon with miso and ketchup but they’re all footnotes next to the mighty, Iberian porchetta.  Meats take a pig, debone it, marinate the shit out of it with thyme, sage, tarragon, oregano fennel seed and white pepper which has been emulsified in extra virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar before rolling it into a pork roast.  The pork roast is them stuffed with a salsa made from the same green herbs used in the marinade before slow roasting it and then crisping up the skin. I know that I’ve sworn off ordering roast pork at restaurants because it’s often so fucking boring and poorly executed but this juicy as fuck, perfectly seasoned and yeah, of course this herbed up shit was fucking amazing.  Quote from Mr This is Bullshit who was three cocktails and half a bottle of wine in “I wanna regurgitate it so I can eat it again, so I can taste it again”

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The passionate as fuck and extremely affable, Nacho Lopez, the Meats restaurant manager checks in with us to see if we are full and of everything’s ok before serving our final dish. It’s the innocuously named Slightly Spicy Fried Rice, which uses pork and sriracha mayo, topped with a fried egg. This was my absolute everything, the fat from the pork melding with each grain of rice, with the slight spice of the sriracha, tomato and the broken egg yolk pulling it all together. It reminded me of all those Chinese banquets that always finish the meal with fried rice to signify not only the end but to add the final bookend to a meal, to ensure that you want for absolutely nothing and you’re completely replete. Which is exactly how I felt at this point in time. This is the dish that I woke up the next day and thought “It started out with a dish, how did it end up like this, it was only a dish, it was only a dish??” before I aggressively texted every food loving HK homie in my phone about how they needed it in their lives ASAP to become a better person.

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I gotta say that while all of the meat based dishes were so good, the sides at Meats weren’t as good.  For example, the carrots were a bit bland and overcooked and the fries were so salty because they added chicken salt and normal salt.  But I think a lot of this is new opening kinks which should be fixed and none of them were fatal because at the end of the day, you’re not at a place called Meats to eat fucking carrots are you??

Per FYN’s tagline, we had to power through dessert now, trying all three on the menu and fuck yeah, a restaurant which doesn’t just dial in dessert which is pretty standard these days.  The Coconut Lime Pie was very good, with the super fucking delicious coconut ice-cream romping it home and the Caffe Mocha was giving me the tiramisu feels, with its coffee cremeux, espresso sponge and Patron XO.  But the real dessert winner is the Pear Tart Tatin in all of its caramelised, skillet glory, topped with bourbon caramel vanilla ice-cream. I’d tell you to leave room for it, but real talk – you’re gonna be fucking stuffed by this point so you’re just gonna need to power through and suffer later.

Now here’s the deal, I eat out so fucking much and it’s almost as if I’ve burned out my pleasure centre by snorting my way through restaurant after restaurant, city after city, as I try and find something to make me really feel anything at all.  But fuck, when it does happen, it’s that rush which pulses through your body almost instantly and I all I can think about the next day is that one moment or a dish which sticks inside my psyche like a piece of gum to your brand new sneakers.  Post my meal at Meats I got that fuck yeah rush.  The rush when I fire off text messages to all my homies that they have got to fucking try this place with a stern instruction that when they do, we need to workshop what they have to eat.  That rare occurrence where price point, food, ambience and heart felt service just works for a place. And that’s when I remember the reason why I sit through so many mediocre and overpriced meals at new restaurants because every now and again, your heart will remember it still knows how to love with the fire of a thousand Chinese factories.  Even if that love is for a few pieces of meat done fucking perfectly and an absolutely mind-blowing fuck yeah plate of rice at a completely reasonable fuck yeah price point.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhhh!  HK FYN Homies, if you gotta get onboard a new restaurant train (which I know is your greatest want #causehk), get on board the Meats Train, get an Old Fashioned while you wait out the no reservations palaver and then ride it all the way into Fuck Yeah Town.

Where:
Burnt Ends
20 Teck Lim Road
Singapore 088391

Phone:
+65 6224 3933

Price:
It really is gonna depend on how much steak and wine you order, I’d estimate around SGD90 per person including 200g of the cheapest steak each, before booze and tip (no service charge included). And it’s SG, so of course booze ain’t gonna be cheap.

The deal:
Burnt Ends is the one restaurant in Singapore that I get asked about all the time by my HK homies re: whether they should bother going.  Before I moved to Singapore (yes for the blog only homies, it’s true – I’ve left HK and it’s all about Majulah Singapura.  But why be a blog only homie?  Get onto my Fuck Yeah Insta or follow the rad as fuck Fuck Yeah Noms Facebook page or if you wanna get personal, friend the fuck out of me on my personal profile), I never made it there on my previous SG visits because I was too busy throwing myself head first through all the hawker centres ever.  Burnt Ends is definitely a restaurant that has all the indications of a restaurant that international visitors are going to be all over because it always appears on those lists.  You know, those stupid destination lists you read in the airplane magazines accompanied by a moody night time shot taken from outside the restaurant with the glow of the restaurant illuminating some beardy, tattooed chef in a leather apron with his arms crossed.  It’s also #14 on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017 list (as sponsored by S. Pellegrino and Acqua Pana) which means from a FYN perspective it’s also highly likely to be overrated AF, overpriced and a total ball ache to get into.  For reals, when did we start giving any sort of weight from a problematic list sponsored by a WATER company, which doesn’t even require its “voters” to remain anonymous or pay for their own fucking meals??  Despite all of this, I ended up at Burnt Ends cause I still fucking love to check out hype beasts even if you’re odds on to be disappointed and destitute by the end of proceedings.

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Now I get that reservations are a pain in the ass for every restaurant because customers are total dick bags who like to no show without giving any warning which kills your ability to get dem dollars, but as a diligent booking honouring customer, I just want to be able to book my shit and not have to wait hours for a table.  Burnt Ends has this booking policy of only taking dinner bookings at early o’clock (ie. 6pm or 6:30pm) otherwise it’s walk in only.  I’m definitely too much of an old, grumpy fucker who needs instant gratification to be dealing with being told it’s going to be two hours before I can get a table, even if it means that I can wait at Potato Head Folk across the road and get involved in some fuck yeah cocktails. 

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After about 90 minutes, I’m well liquored with fuck yeah cocktails and our table is ready.  It’s the outside bench which faces onto the road, which I’m cool with but I’m guessing if you’re here for a special occasion or date night, you’re going to want to be inside so you can see the Burnt Ends show.  As a restaurant that bills itself as Modern Australian barbecue, it’s all about its custom built four tonne, dual cavity ovens and three elevation grills.  I can get behind what they’re trying to do, using wood ovens and grilling techniques to bring the best out in the fresh ingredients, letting the produce dictate what the daily menu should be. With everything that may be going on from a vibe and interior perspective, nothing can distract me from the fact that prices on this menu are substantial by the time you’re looking at whole point of being at Burnt Ends (ie. the roasted meats).  Sure there’s some affordable snacks which range from SGD10 – SGD20, but by the time you’e looking at the meat section it’s SGD26 per 100g for flank, SGD50 per 100g for striploin and if you want to get into some 45 dry aged Mayura OP Rib, you’re gonna be laying down SGD490 per kg.  Or perhaps you wanna try their famous roasted leek (with hazelnut and black truffle) at a mere SGD42 (+7% GST) – FUCK ME AND PAINT ME A POOR CONSERVATIVE for not wanting to get on board with laying down SGD42 to see just how good a leek can be.

Our server is friendly and efficient, talking us through the menu factually but not giving much more colour on top of that.  When ordering our starters, it’s clear that they aren’t gonna be big and they are designed to be eaten by one to two people.  The Grissini and Taramasalata (SGD12 +7% GST) is good fuck yeah times.  Taramasalata is a Greek dip made from bread, onions, olive oil, fish roe and lemon juice.  This brings back the memories of my Aussie-Greek friends would always bust this out at parties and as a mark of respect, I’d park myself right next to that dip bowl and pay it grave reverence by bowing my head and inhaling as much of this bread dip on more bread.  But fuck, Burnt Ends’ version surely is delicious but SGD12+ for one piece of crisp flatbread with some dip on it? I’m not so fucking down with that but it does make me estimate the cost of the Taramasalata Takedowns I’ve executed at my Greek homies’ parties at around SGD180.

Next up is the Duck Hearts Peri Peri (SGD8 +7% GST) which I’m excited about cause I fucking love organs and all their chewy, interesting textures.  There’s some peri peri sauce to give some contrast to the deep, iron of the hearts, but who fucking cares when these duck hearts are bitter little fuckers which have had the life cooked out of them?  I try to move past this by having some Sobrasada (SGD14 +7% GST), but as delicious as raw cured sausage is with bread, there’s just nothing exciting at all about this dish.  The Beef, Marmalade and Pickles (SGD14 +7% GST) is absolutely fine too, some braised beef which is using the acidity of the pickles and sweet marmalade on some more bread.  I deliberate and chew on this, trying to process what is exactly so exceptional about this place which causes the hype machine to praise it as a BEST EVER or MUST VISIT in Singapore, nay, ASIA.

The Burnt Ends’ Sanger (SGD20+7% GST) is one of their famous, signature dishes which can only explain why I ordered something which sounds like the epitome of basic, boring “OMG FOOD IS SO GOOD, I’M SUCH A FOODIE, FOOD IS LIFE” fare.  For reals, pulled pork shoulder – CHECK, coleslaw – CHECK, chipotle aioli – CHECK and you know it, my eternal and undying nemesis – brioche bun – CHECK.  Wahhhhhhh, get my hair shirt out and squeeze it onto my cliche filled body cause I’m obviously a sadomasochist fucker who wants to flog myself with the cat-o-nine tails of trendy food cliches.  The hits keep coming and even though it’s SGD20 and stuffed full of trendy food tropes, it’s so fucking tiny and most def food for ants.  I get my scalpel and surgical mask out so I can dissect this to share amongst us and find it hard to focus because my eyes are starting to glaze over as I choke back another yawn.  In that one bite there’s the pulled pork which is a bit dry and soggy coleslaw, which causes the brioche to lose its structural shit because NEWSFLASH, BRIOCHE IS GOOD FOR FUCKING NOTHING.  Oh, you know where this is going, FUCK NO.  But because it’s minuscule, I guess at least its lacklustre SGD20+ fuck no sting is swift?

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For our steak, I opted for the Flank with Burnt Onion and Bone Marrow  (SGD26 per 100g +7% GST) cause fuck no, I can’t afford no SGD50 per 100g + 7% GST striploin shenanigans.  Like most things I ate at Burnt Ends it was cooked well and tasty enough, but there’s nothing exceptional that sticks in my memory. Maybe it’s cause I cheaped out and didn’t go for the ball breaking SGD50/100g option? But I don’t think it’s unreasonable that I expect that a SGD26/100g steak option should leave some sort of impression on me other than “I guess it wasn’t fucking terrible”?

In this sea of high priced malaise, it’s the Bone Marrow Bun (SGD12 +7% GST) which finally manages to shake a little bit of fuck yeah excitement into my Burnt Ends #asiastop50 life.  A sesame flecked bun which is wrapped in foil and baked til it’s crispy as fuck on the outside but still soft on the inside with its fuck yeah bone marrow stuffing, all melted and buttery.  I have so many fuck yeah feelings regarding this bun, that I double down and get another order of it.

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So, I get that Burnt Ends’ jam is meant to be food which show cases the ingredients but there’s the difference in doing the ingredients right and not overcomplicating things, while still showing me something new and then just doing shit in a fine but completely unremarkable manner.  Burnt Ends is in no way terrible and these hyped up restaurants are always battling against expectation but for me, if I have to lay down the big bucks, I want something that makes me pause and think about what’s going on.  Not just that each bite is costing me too much money for a complete lack of excitement, regardless of whatever fancy as fuck grill and oven contraptions you may be slinging in the kitchen.

Verdict:
Fuck no because shit ain’t worth the bucks nor the no booking palaver.  But if you’re visiting Singapore and really wanna get involved, I recommend ordering two Bone Marrow Buns and smashing a glass of red before applying the appropriate hashtags to your Instagram post and moving along.  But I will concede, there’s a few people where you’d still be so fucking excited about Burnt Ends, such as:

  1. You’ve been in a coma for the last 15 years and someone using a grill on meat in a restaurant and eating something delicious on a piece of toasted bread is the most amazing concept you’ve ever heard of
  2. You like going to restaurants which are on lists because getting to tag your shit with #asias 50best, thank the chef for looking after you and listing which arbitrary ranking number it came in at because this still counts for something in your dull, desolate existence.
  3. You’re an old fucker who’s now living DA ASIA LYFE and you need to take your hot new young thing to DATE NIGHT to show you’re still hip with the homies but you also don’t want to feel too Old Man River eating a SGD45++ serve of sea urchin on a grey, soulless slate while an immaculate waitress listlessly serves you extra bitch face as you try to get your ancient bones to deal with sitting on a concrete slab bench as ambient techno discretely throbs in the background.
  4. Someone else is fucking paying, so who gives a fuck if you’re dropping all the bucks ever on pedestrian but still delicious, overpriced bits of meat on bread.

For everyone else, there’s most def more interesting and fuck yeah eats to spend your Sing Buckas on.

Where:
The Ribcage (FB Page)
Shop J, G/F May Sun Building, 1 Smithfield
Kennedy Town. Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 3956 4213

Price:
We got out at around HKD200 a head.

The deal:
The Ribcage has been open since March 2016 and I’d heard the standard PR story about how the owner was disappointed by the ribs in HK and decided that he was gonna show HK how to do shit right.  With such a bold claim and a few people telling me that The Ribcage had good ribs, I decided to check out whether a) most people continue to be tasteless morons and b) whether The Ribcage was truly slaying the HK rib game.  It’s a relatively spartan shop front, with high benches and only one high table in the middle, which makes dining largely awkward if you come in a group any larger than two homies and if you lack any core strength to support your sad sack of shit body on a backless stool.  The super straight forward menu is written on blackboards on the wall, listing only five food items – three types of ribs all slow smoked with hickory and apple wood – USA pork baby back ribs (half/full), Canadian AAA beef (full only) and lamb (full only) ribs and two sides, beef fat skinny fries and coleslaw.  I guess if I wanted to spin that shit, F&B PR style, I’d bill it as a carefully curated selection of items which The Ribcage promise to deliver on, but as I’m just an asshole dickhead blogger, I’m just gonna call it a fucking tiny selection.

Ms Two Serves had warned me that the only liquor The Ribcage serves is beer and they don’t have any ice available for soft drinks.  This was in fact over promising the booze situation because despite the empty beer bottles on top of the counter, we confirm with the staff that they don’t have the right licence at the moment, which means they are dry as a bone.  WHYYYYYY HK RESTAURANTS, Y U never let me have easy access to alcohol with my meals anymore?! GODDAMNIT, MY EVERYDAY LIFE JUST MAKES ME SO THIRSTY.

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Ignoring my shaking hands, I settle for a coke and just as Ms Two Serves stated, there was no ice available either.  Fuck, I rarely drink soft drinks without hard liquor and at the very least, I want that sugary shit frosty cold.  With my iceless coke in hand and given that there’s only five food items on the menu, we decide to comprehensively give The Ribcage a red hot go and order everything that’s available.

Service is super fucking amiable and our beef fat skinny french fries (HKD38) and Canadian AAA beef ribs (HKD298) appear first, served casually on aluminium baking trays.  The pile of shoestring fries are fucking great and The Ribcage haven’t been tight asses with their portions either.  There is nothing worse than ordering fries before realising you’re gonna need at least four serves to fill the potato shaped hole in your fatty boombah heart.  The Ribcage fries are sprinkled with paprika, crispy and hot which makes for fuck yeah spud times which we rapidly shove into our faces.  But like FOR REAL, how fucking hard is it to cook pre-bought frozen french fries?  Well, maybe it’s harder than I give it credit for because I’ve certainly had my share of sad, flaccid fuck no fries in this fat fuck life time.

Getting involved with our first proper food item, the beef rib sure looks like the business – it’s been cut into boneless pieces and re-arranged along a massive rib bone which has been stripped clean.  It’s fuck yeahhhhhh beef feels as it’s all pink and juicy as fuck, a hint of smoke and a good char on the outside.  The allegedly home made BBQ sauce is a little bit lame and despite its claims of being home made, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid if you told me it was squeezed out of a bottle somewhere.  Regardless, we’re slamming down some fuck yeah deep fried carbs and a well executed beef rib, so we start to think that despite its lack of booze and ice, The Ribcage might be able to pull this purveyor of fuck yeah ribs shit off in HK.

But it’s at this point that my rib related dreams take a battering when I try The Ribcage’s coleslaw (HKD28).  In general, I don’t exactly get a raging boner or even a semi-chub for coleslaw, because just how turned on can you get for shredded cabbage, carrot and some creamy dressing?  My reasoning is that if you’re gonna spend calories why would you spend it on mayo drenched cabbage when you could spend it on far superior fuck yeah noms like fried carbs or meat?!  The Ribcage does nothing to dissuade me of this belief because even by bullshit coleslaw standards, The Ribcage’s coleslaw is brimming with EXTRA bullshit.  The shredded cabbage and carrots are barely coated by the dressing, there’s no acidity from vinegar or lemon and just to add some next level coleslaw bullshit, it’s been decoratively topped with a thin slice of pear which is giving an extra “fuck you” by going brown around the edges.  All of this cabbagey mess tastes like dank ass and it’s obviously been carefully matured left to go stale and soggy as fuck by the “kitchen” for at least three days. It’s at this point, I start to ponder just how much raping and genocide I must have committed in a past lifetime to receive this karmic coleslaw related punishment.

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So it might seem insignificant as it’s just one side dish at a place that’s meant to be punching out killer ribs.  But I was so fucking upset by The Ribcage’s coleslaw because The Ribcage only has FIVE things on their menu which means this FUCK NO coleslaw atrocity is TWENTY FUCKING PERCENT OF THEIR MENU.  If you’re going to have such a limited menu there’s absolutely an expectation that you should be nailing the fuck out of every single item. It’s even more insulting because it’s not even fucking hard to make coleslaw – The Ribcage would have been better off to have kept their shredded cabbage fresh, squeeze in some kewpie mayonnaise and add some lemon juice, before using salt and pepper to season the fucker.  Instead it’s absolutely clear that they DO NOT give a fuck about this dish and I can’t imagine that whoever is in charge could have ever tried that coleslaw and gone “WINNER WINNER CABBAGE DINNER, this is absolutely good to go in my restaurant”.  I know that working in a kitchen is hard fucking work and shit happens, shit goes wrong and sometimes a kitchen just has a shocker of a night.  But this isn’t complicated shit, it’s a tub of pre-made coleslaw that has been made before service and all that’s involved is dishing it out as people order it.  The fact that it’s so seriously fucked up is just beyond the fucking pale and all I can do is imagine shit going down in The Ribcage’s kitchen like this:

Ribcage Kitchen Homie #1:  Fuuuuuck, I’m not sure about this massive tub of coleslaw.  I think it’s a soggy ass mess and the dressing is bullshit.

Ribcage Kitchen Homie #2:  Yeah, anything else you wanna comment on you opinionated know-it-all asshole?

Ribcage Kitchen Homie #1: I think we made it a couple of days ago too, like maybe we should make a fresh batch?

Ribcage Kitchen Homie #2: Fuck me Mr Opinion Get that Freshness into my Goddamn Face, just slice up a nashi pear and make it all fancy and shit then.

Ribcage Kitchen Homie #1: I’m really not sure if that’s gonna fix it though…

Ribcage Kitchen Homie #2: *waves arms and sends coleslaw out of the kitchen*

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From the glory of the fuck yeah beef ribs, we eat our half serve of USA pork baby back ribs (HKD148) which are absolutely, right down the middle of the line, fine.  I would describe them as completely inoffensive, not really falling off the bone and very passably edible.  In a moment of existential elegance, I eat them simply because they’re there.  It’s hardly a glowing recommendation when the only thing you can think is “I am so fucking glad that this is only a half serve of ribs because there is nothing about this dish here that is exciting enough to make me want to eat more”.  It’s sad times though because after the beef ribs, I was expecting some fuck yeah feelings from the pork ribs.

We conclude our sweep of The Ribcage’s entire menu with the Australian lamb ribs (HKD178).   The lamb ribs are absolutely the fucking worst of all the ribs, bringing to a close our maddening and rapid descent into solid fuck no territory while raising so many bewildering questions.  Why is the lamb dressed in the same sweet barbecue sauce? Why is there so much fucking rosemary which doesn’t go at all with the barbecue sauce?  Why is shit so gristly and fatty?  Most importantly, DEAR RIBCAGE, Y U CLAIM U SMOKE UR SHIT FOR FOUR HOURS BLAH BLAH SPECIAL FUCKING SMOKER BLAH BLAH APPLE HICKORY BLAH WOOD BLAH BLAH AND THEN GIVE ME SUCH CHEWY NON-TENDER LAMB RIBS??

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We finish our food and our friendly waitstaff, efficiently clear our trays and broken dreams away.  However their fuck yeah service and efforts can’t solve all our problems and it’s with a belly full of disappointment and lies, we glumly slip into the streets of Kennedy Town in search of a second dinner to bang bang the pain away.

Verdict:
Fuck noooooooooo because it’s simple fucking maths – only five items on the menu and sixty percent of it is mediocre to flat out bullshit.  Most importantly, no one deserves that thoughtless, fucked up coleslaw in their life.  NO ONE.

Where:
Rhoda (FB page)
Shop 1A, Upton, 345 Des Voeux Road West
Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong

FYN hot tip:  I think HKU MTR station is closest, take Exit B1.

Phone:
+852 2177 5050 / ask@rhoda.hk (fuck yeahhhhhhhhhh, making bookings without having to talk to people)

Price:
We got out at around HKD650 per person, including booze and before tip (service charge not included).  I went with my A-team of Olympian Level Good Eaters though, so take that into account when you’re trying to estimate $$$.

The deal:
Nathan Green, the former head chef of 22 Ships, has set up new digs in Sai Ying Pun in collaboration with Yenn Wong / the JIA Group.  It’s touchingly named after Chef Nathan’s grandma, Rhoda, who per the interviews I’ve read Nathan says was a bomb-ass home cook.  But fuck, I can’t believe I’m writing about yet another new Yenn Wong restaurant (see also: Mak Mak, Kaum at Potato Head).  It’s as if Yenn sat down at the end of 2015 and wrote her 2016 New Year’s resolution to be ‘Open a new restaurant in HK every month, before rolling forward onto inevitable global domination‘. I enjoyed the actual food at 22 Ships when Nathan was there but I just didn’t get that into it as a concept because I’m entirely too jaded to be dealing with no booking teeny tiny restaurants which serve food for ants with a big side serve of bankruptcy.

The first thing that hits you is just how striking Rhoda is from an aesthetic perspective.  It’s got a kick ass layout – a casual bar at the front, the restaurant tables in the middle and the chef’s counter / open kitchen at the back if you want to check out what the team is doing with your food.  Rhoda have enlisted Joyce Wang to get her fuck yeahhhh interior styles on and not just bash out yet another new HK restaurant with more stripped back bare concrete, minimalist stainless steel industrial vibes.  Joyce Wang is known for doing a number of fuck yeah interiors around town, including Vasco (RIP) and Mott 32 (where the interiors are most definitely more memorable than the super blah food). Rhoda is all references to red brown shiny copper and the light green patina that forms when copper oxidises, mixed with earthy and burnt wood materials – which no doubt tie into the fact that Chef Nathan is all about keeping things straightforward, eschewing fussy cooking equipment for cooking over wood charcoal and fire to make “modern comfort food”. It’s fucking beautiful with its mix of different materials, the repurposed washing machine drums made into light fittings, the grey concrete cladding, elegantly draped rope, the metallic copper fittings and just-so distressed wood furniture, all bathed in a warm, amber glow.

We’re a party of four and we’re seated at the end of the large communal tables which could hold up to ten people.  The table itself is a thing of gorgeous beauty, made in Iceland with melted copper poured into the cracks of the wooden table top.  Unfortunately, it’s just a touch too wide which means that it’s not the greatest for actually being able to converse with people across the table unless you give it the full lean and shout a bit.  We move past this issue pretty quickly when we’re distracted by Rhoda’s bread – a beer bread made from Suntory dark ale which arrives hot hot hot from the wood fire oven on a bed of twigs with a side of nori seaweed butter. We’re starving and we tear our bread roll apart, quickly realising that Rhoda smashes the FYN bread test out of the goddamn park (ie. the test that if a restaurant serves good bread, it’s a key leading indicator that they probably give a fuck about the finer details about everything else they do).  The crust is crisp as fuck, slightly smoky from the oven and when you rip it apart and slather that just dense enough inside with the slightly mellow though briney nori butter, it’s truly an insight into what my purest carb based night time fantasies are made of.  I understand that you get one complimentary serve of bread per two people and then it’s HKD29 a serve, but fuck who cares because where else could someone find such unadulterated happiness and beauty for HKD29??  We ended up totalling four serves of bread between four people and I’ll level with you, if we hadn’t been prewarned to make sure we had capacity for dessert, we probably could have smashed a few more.

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Rhoda’s menu is split into a few different parts and changes daily, depending on what shit’s good.  The categories include Snacks, Cold, Grill, Something a Little Bigger, Sides, Desserts and Cheese.  From the Snacks section, we kick off with the crispy lotus root chips with chicken liver cream (HKD38).  The chicken liver cream is a fuck yeahhh but the lotus root chips could really be any sort of fried vegetable carrier.  We also go with the much blogged and written about, slow cooked octopus (HKD138) from the Grill.  It’s absolutely fine and executed really well, topped with thin slices of cucumber, fresh mint and pickled shallot but it just wasn’t that interesting or different to me.  However, the sweet corn with clams (HKD128) is where shit starts to get real, where grilled kernels of sweet corn are served with shelled clams, katsuboshi (dried, fermented, and smoked flakes of skipjack tuna) and a slow cooked egg.  When you break the egg and mix its yolky glory through the dish, it’s a fucking sensational mix of contrasts of textures and flavours – the creamy yolk, briney clams, slightly smoky sweet corn and the subtle umami hint of fish from the katsuboshi.  I just fucking love it when someone combines ingredients that you’re familiar with and serves it in a way that makes it bigger than its individual parts.

Our waiter homie highly recommends the Mangalica pork chop (400g) (HKD548).  The Mangalica pig is a wooly haired pig which lives a pampered life in the grassy fields of Hungary, snacking down on pumpkin, beets and acorns before they’re slaughtered for their fuck yeahhhh high quality fatty though delicate tasting meat.  Our Hungarian porcine friend has been marinated in soy and garlic, before being grilled over charcoal which results in some epic fuck yeah caramelised fat.  Ms Two Serves was so into this that she used the accompanying green spring onions to wrap the pork fat to make some sort of glorious and fucking delicious burrito style carrier that went straight into her mouth.  Although, we watched in horror as the skinny though miserable looking heathens next to us cut all of the caramelised fuck yeah fat off their pork chop and pushed it to one side of their plate before they laughed blandly at what must surely have been tedious conversation.  Y U DO THAT MY SAD SKINNY FRIENDS? Y U NO DO MANGALICA PORK JUSTICE?

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I’m always partial to chicken, even if getting good quality chook in HK means paying a fucking bomb.  Rhoda is offering Brink’s farm free range chicken with spring onion and ginger dressing (HKD498) and it’s so fucking good.  The only issue is that I can’t get excited about breast meat which meant that by the time we’d decimated the far more delicious thighs, drumsticks and wings we were left with so many slices of breast meat.  I know there’s no bones and white people are super into it, but even with the killer ginger dressing, all I could do was dream of darker meat times.  Yes, I know it’s not Rhoda’s fault that chicken have breasts.

We were also loving the side of sugar snap peas with pancetta and quail eggs (HKD68), even if there was MORE spring onions.  Spring onions at Rhoda seem to be like rocket/arugula at other restaurants, every fucking dish we ordered seemed to have them.  Regardless of the spring onion overload, the snap peas are sweet and fresh as fuck and it makes me think of the numerous times I’ve paid HKD78+ for some sad ass side of green beans because some health conscious bastard wants vegetables.

We also ordered a side of the Maitake mushroom risotto with new season Australian truffle (HKD158).  It’s interesting, made from six different grains – pearl barley, buckwheat, spelt, rye, quinoa and millet.  It’s also rich as fuck though and while fucking delicious, I’ll level with you – I’d rather have spent my carb quotient on MOAR BREAD.

In a stunning stroke of good luck, the FYN Gods smiled upon us and where you normally need to order the 12 hour slow cooked Hawke’s Bay lamb shoulder with vegetables, 48 hours in advance, Rhoda had a half-shoulder kicking around.  This NZ lamb is slow cooked and served with carrots and onions, with a massive bouquet of herbs (including thyme, Italian parsley and fresh mint). This is when our table collectively loses their shit.  The lamb is everything a slow cooked lamb should be, fork tender and it has taken on the flavour of the herbs, the sweet carrot, tomatoes and onions, while still showing off its superior fuck yeah provenance.  All that clean air and lush Kiwi grass has most def been kind to the flavour of the lamb.  It’s served with a mint gremolata, a more sophisticated take on mint sauce, and it’s all fuck yeah fresh green zingy tones from the mint, lemon zest, olive oil, salt and garlic.

But fuuuuuck, it’s the gravy that sits in the bottom of the dish which causes all sorts of emotions to burst through to the surface for us.  Ms Siuwaaan, who’s a total slut for gravy, got far more graphic in her wanton desires for MOAR GRAVY.  In between her losing her senses and babbling about how she wants to do all sorts of unspeakable things with said gravy (including executing a body slide with gravy), she decides that gravy fantasies are cheap and instead hits our waiter homie up for more gravy.  We laugh at her doubting whether this is possible, but eventually the clouds of doubt clear, the jus related heavens part and she’s given not one but TWO jugs of gravy.  Without hesitating, she downs one jug like she’s chugging a beer before she stops to take a breath, roll her eyes, place both hands on the table and exclaim “Praise be to Grodin – God of Gravy!“.  It’s at this point, we realise that we’ve gotten our lamb eats totally wrong at Rhoda and form a new plan to do the remainder of our lamb shoulder the sweet justice it deserves.

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So, this is where I will present to you The Definitive FYN Guide on How to Eat Yo Lamb at Rhoda:

  1. As mentioned above, you have to pre-order the lamb 48 hours before you go.  DON’T FORGET THIS.  At present, I think Rhoda is only officially offering the full shoulder which is probably appropriate for eight people but check to see if the half-shoulder is available if you’re a smaller group.
  2. Order more bread.  That shit’s gonna come straight from the oven with a side of nori butter.
  3. Butter up your bread.  Don’t be restrained.
  4. Take your bread and start to form an epic lamb sandwich – start with some lamb, tear some fresh herbs into that shit, maybe get a couple of pieces of the braised onion into there if that’s your jam.
  5. Mint gremolata yasssssssssssssssssss.
  6. Pour gravy all over what’s possibly one the most epic things you’ve ever held in your mortal hands to date.
  7. OPTIONAL:  Put some more crusty as fuck bread on top.  Or just eat it open faced.
  8. Shove this glorious lamb sandwich creation which you made with your own two hands into your wanting face, remembering to breathe while your eyes are wet with tears of joy.
  9. If the gravy escapes your sandwich and runs down your wrists, there’s no shame in licking your wrists to tidy that resplendent fuck yeah gravy up.

PLEASE TO LISTEN UP HOMIES, THIS IS THE PATH TO GREATER LAMB ENLIGHTENMENT.  Girl, you know it’s true:

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After crushing our lamb, our super smiley waiter homie realised that we were truly having a moment and actually seemed to be so excited that we were so into our food.  We had firm plans on dessert because I’d been given a heads up from one of my FYN homies that the vanilla cheesecake (HKD108) was a major fuck yeah and our waiter homie let us know that Chef Nathan’s favourite is the Summer berries (HKD98).  The vanilla cheesecake is fairly simple, with a texture that’s almost like a pudding with a base which is reminiscent of a buttery shortcake biscuit, with some stewed rhubarb and yamamomos (Chinese bayberries / waxberries) on the side.  It’s delicate and rich, and if you’re into cheesecake I recommend you get involved.  I gotta admit, I thought the Summer berries might be a little lame, the sort of dessert you get when you’re trying not to be a massive fat fuck.  But I was completely wrong, it was far more interesting than its description and it was a refreshing fuck yeah mix of a just tart enough cherry granita, creme fraiche with just a whisper of lemon over a super punchy combo of A1 quality fuck yeah berries, including cherries, blueberries, yamamomos  and strawberries.

At the end of the meal, we’re going through our play by play highlights of the meal and marvel at the fact that perhaps it is possible to go to a new restaurant in HK and not be decimated by the crushing disappointment of trendy bullshit and half-assed executed food which has been designed to pander to the masses.  The meal we had at Rhoda, is the sort of meal that comes from food which actually means something personal to the chef and then it touches some sort of nerve inside of you and leaves an impression.  So much so that even after we all go our separate ways, we hit the group chat up before we fall asleep to continue to talk about how much we fucking enjoyed it and in the morning, as the sun ushers in yet another new day in HK, the fuck yeah bread and lamb related chat continues.

So yes, this is what it feels like, when someone executes their dream down to the nth detail and in that process, pours their heart and being completely into what they do, while making sure that the entire team gives as much as a fuck as he does.  And what a fucking privilege that as a customer you get to be a part of that.

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Verdict:
FUCK YEAHHHHHHH!!  Rhoda is only one week old and I think I’d go as far as saying it’s one of the most interesting openings in HK this year.  I cannot fucking wait to see where it goes from here.  GET INTO IT MY FYN HOMIES, but make sure you don’t forget to eat your lamb the FYN way (aka the best way).

Where:
Yue Kee Roasted Goose Restaurant
9 Sham Hong Road, Sham Tseng
New Territories, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2491 0105

Price:
HKD250 for half a roast goose (which is fucking huge).  Approximately HKD120 a person for everything else + beers.

The deal:
So, we ended up in Sham Tseng post a fucking massive six hour Sunday hike, with three of those hours hiking through a stream.  Which sounds idyllic as fuck, until you realise it actually involved clambering through algae covered slippery rocks, scaling overgrown side tracks, grabbing tree branches that turned out to be thorny fuckers, bugs biting the shit out of our legs and then dat HK summer sun continued to be hot as balls.  Context y0, we’d also been promised a three hour hike involving gentle slopes (um, of the incline variety not of the racial epithet variety).

In order to sustain ourselves through this leisurely weekend activity, we motivated ourselves with the promise and dreams of Yue Kee Roast Goose and icy cold Kirin beer.  Roast Goose is a bit of a big deal in the Kong and I always get really fucking upset when people (generally tourists and white folk) announce that they want to try Yung Kee so they can have (allegedly) the best roast goose in HK. Almost every single Singaporean has fallen into this trap and they even get roast goose vacuum packed so they can enjoy more mediocre roast goose in the comfort of their chewing gum free, country.  Catch no ball, my Singaporean homies – Y U continue to love Yung Kee so much?

Aside from all those “Top Restaurants in HK” lists which seem to automatically include Yung Kee (hot FYN tip:  If you see Yung Kee on the list, you should discount the list as fucking invalid and write that shit off, especially if they declare themseles to be a HK Local Expert) – another Yung Kee wankfest which makes me ball tearingly fucking angry is this Esquire video which features some snuffly American asshole losing his shit over Yung Kee’s roast goose, plumply declaring “I’ve been eating Cantonese BBQ my whole life, and I’ve never had anything like this“. Hey asshole, did you forget to add the fucking qualifier that you’ve probably been eating Cantonese BBQ NOT in HK / Guangdong for most of your life, so your opinion isn’t really too fucking valid?  Then he rounds off with “It’s worth coming to HK for” – O RLY, IS THAT WHAT YOUR JUNKET LADEN ASS THINKS, right before the logo of the HK Tourism Board and the “special thanks” to Yung Kee flashes in the credits.

When we got off the mountain we made our dreams come true, Yue Kee’s roast goast is legit – a fatty fucker with crispy skin and fucking juicy as meat, replete with home made plum sauce.  Half a goose was fucking huge too and while some pieces were inevitably bony, but DWI motherfuckers cause such is the fate of eating goose.  I have to qualify that perhaps my judgment is somewhat clouded given the extreme amount of physical activity that I’d endured in the shameless endeavour just to allow me to smugly point out to my colleagues on Monday with a beatific smile and an exalted, superior as fuck tone that “There’s so much of the real HK out there, but you just have to make the effort to find it“.

Aside from the duck, the other dishes were your standard Chinese fare.  We went with the sweet and sour pork, vegetables and nothing too out of the ordinary.  Except when someone on our table insisted on getting the Sichuan Style Deep Fried Salt + Pepper Prawns and shit hot damn, we ended up ordering another serve of those crispy, numbing chilli tinged bastards.  Despite being full as fuck at the end, I was still taking that pepper / chilli / black bean mix and eating it with rice because that spicy shit was just too fucking good to waste.

There is nothing fancy about Yue Kee, so if you’re coming for friendly staff and trendy ambience, you’re probably in the wrong fucking place. But if you’re after stark fluorescent lighting, brusque staff, fuck yeah roast goose + Sichuan prawns then get fucking involved if you just happen to be in the hood.  Check out the detailed as fuck transport options on their website on how to get here – but note that they haven’t listed the six hour stream hike as a transport option just yet.  I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s the Best Goose in all of HK but it’s fucking better than that basic bitch, Yung Kee.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah!  I don’t think I’d fucking trek all the way out for it in Sham Tseng but if you happened to be in the hood, get this shit into your life.

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