Pork

Where:
Happy Paradise
UG/F 52-56 Staunton Street (Entrance on Aberdeen Street)
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2816 2118 (but predictably, NO FUCKING RESERVATIONS)

Price:
We got out at HKD650ish per person, including two drinks each.  The receipt claims that all service charge/tips goes directly to the staff which I give a resounding FUCK YEAH.

The deal:
May Chow’s latest restaurant, with John Javier as Executive Chef, occupies the space where the old Butchers Club Steak Frites (RIP) joint used to be, above Stanzione Novella.  Whoever would have thought that charging too much cash for steak frites when every second restaurant opening in 2015 was a steak frites place would not have the staying power to limp through the battlefield of fad hungry HK consumers and nefarious HK landlords, driven wild by the desire of always getting more?

Snippy obvious observations aside, Happy Paradise is stylistic as fuck though and you can read any number of reviews of Happy Paradise and tick off the following phrases like a restaurant review bingo board – “neo-Cantonese”, “neon filled dive bar”, “80s inspired”, “modern cha chaan teng” and “cantopop soundtrack”.  For me, it reminds me of a glossier version of the old Forever Lounge in Tai Hang (before they renovated themselves only slightly to take some of the edges out), shiny purple and pink neon but without the buckets of Blue Girl, slightly sticky worn out furnishings and the heavy, weary acceptance written across the faces of tobacco soaked older men.

Our waiter is immediately onto us all Misty Copeland style (ie. ON POINT) and setting us straight on how to order our drinks and food. The drinks menu is split into two pages, one named “easy” and the other “adventurous”.  No, it’s not just how I like my eggs paramours but Happy Paradise’s code for drinks that are best before dinner (“easy”) and ones after food (“adventurous”).  I get the “Pink Flamingo” (HKD118 +10% service charge), Jamaican rum, passionfruit, Campari and lime, which shows a fuck yeah balance between sweet, bitter and acid.  Keeping with the pink theme, I sneak a sip of my homie’s “Swoon Lee” (HKD108 +10% service charge), white rum and watermelon with a salted black lime rim, reminding me of the salty lemon lemonades I used to suck down in the cha chaan tengs.

Our first dish, is the Scallops “rice roll” (HKD110 +10% service charge) is the one dish that almost every single person who goes to Happy Paradise will tell you to order.  It’s a take on “cheung fan” (ie. rolled rice flour noodles) except pureed scallops are made into flat sheets which are steamed and then rolled.  Served with soy sauce and chilli oil, there’s only four tiny pieces. A flicker of concern dances across my psyche given that one of the concerns I had with Happy Paradise was spending all my money on stylish but tiny ass food for ants.  I guess my old fears die hard, especially given that May Chow is also behind Little Bao (yes I know, the clue is in the first half of the name).  Regardless, it is fucking delicious and an innovative take on this traditional Cantonese dish and reminds me of the upside down interpretations like the fucking amazing Mapo Tofu Burrata that you also get at May Chow’s other restaurant, Second Draft.

I was seriously jonesing for the cuttlefish toast, because it reminds me of my nostalgic Strayan childhood with bastardised versions of Chinese food like prawn toast.  But I also balk at paying HKD58 (+10% service charge) per person for tiny bits of deep fried bread.  I obviously don’t balk hard enough because I ordered it anyway and it’s fucking great.  Of course, how hard is it to fuck up deep frying things on white bread? Regardless, it’s a good combo with the sweetness of the cuttlefish brought out by the accompanying sweet corn puree and rounded out by the black garlic puree.  HKD58+ enjoyable for a few bites?  I’m not entirely convinced and make another entry into my ever increasing autobiographical tome, “The Carbs Made Me Do It“.

One of the specials when we were there was a cold steamed egg (HKD88 +10% service charge), which sounds fairly unremarkable.  But fuck, this was one of the most incredible dishes we had that night.  This steamed egg was the smoothest, silkiest thing that I’ve eaten in recent memory.  I don’t know how the fuck they got this egg into this wondrous state of being but one bite in and my heart is filled with the snaking guitar licks of Santana and before I know it, Rob Thomas is imploring me to “Give me your heart, make it real or else forget about it”.  YES, IT’S THAT FUCKING SMOOTH:

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Topped with ginger, scallions and yuzu, there’s this green shoot on top which I can’t quite place.  I ask our waiter homie what is up with this slightly crunchy, not quite gelatinous vegetable and he tells me it’s ice plant that they’ve, quote, done some “special stuff” to.  Upon some research, I’ve since discovered it’s also known as kudzu and has the tendency to become an invasive species, choking ou the habitat of native vegetation.  Well, invade my heart Mr Ice Plant Man because I am most def into the way your unique, slightly stiff though yielding cellular structure is doing its thing against the smoothest, egg custard ever and is topped with the slightly sweet and vinegary dressing.

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We were pre-warned that the Tea Smoked Pigeon (HKD178 +10% service charge) comes out medium-rare.  Happy Paradise are not kidding and it comes out closer to rare.  I am ok with this though and I thoroughly enjoy every meaty, just cooked bite of this sky rat, with the follow through of the smokey tea.  I also like that Happy Paradise serve the whole bird up, its head attached traditional Chinese style and its scrawny limbs all askew.  Perhaps don’t order this if you have squeamish homies.  Or maybe a better alternative, find yourself better homies.

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The Yellow Wine Chicken (HKD328 +10% service charge) is the most expensive dish of the night.   It’s a fuck yeah, the slow cooked chicken served with a broth made from glutinous rice wine, Shaoxing, and mushrooms, topped with chrysanthemum petals and crispy puffed black and Japanese rice.  A chicken claw is perched just on the edge of the bowl, like it’s trying to make some bold but ultimately futile escape from its Shaoxing infused fuck yeah fate.

To close it out, we finish with the Char Siu Rice (HKD158 + 10% service charge).  It’s inevitable that everyone will compare this to their local char siu joint and how their local haunt is soooo much cheaper.  Happy Paradise’s char siu is leaner than what you’d traditionally find at your local BBQ shop and served on top of a deconstructed egg, the yolk forming the sauce and a egg white patty.  There’s a side plate of the locally produced, sweet Kowloon Soy Company soy sauce and an earthen pot shaped like a pig, which holds liquid lard for you to mix into your rice.  In combination with the rice, soy, egg and lard, it’s obvious that this magical equation is gonna come out at as a celestial FUCK YEAH. Live lard, play hard because for the sake of my heart’s health, I’m glad that lard isn’t served this way with everything I eat but for the sake of my heart’s happiness, I sure wish it was.

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I reflect upon this meal as the pulsating synth of Madonna’s 80s pop-new wave classic “Into the Groove” shimmies across the Happy Paradise landscape, it’s here I realise that for me, I’m into a place like Happy Paradise.  Why?  Because it’s a place which acknowledges where it comes from in both a time and place while dragging it unabashedly into a decade that’s sitting closer to 2020.  I think of how fucking bold it is to put yourself in whatever form that may be out there and not give a fuck what other people might think and in the candy tinged lighting and formica tabletops, Madonna closes out our night by singing about only feeling this free when she’s dancing.  In some sort of dramatic as fuck corollary, I can’t help but think that perhaps when you’re running your own kitchen and doing something that runs right down the vein of what you are as a chef, this must be your own version of throwing your head back and unapologetically dancing free.  And I’m so fucking into that.

Verdict:
I’m not convinced this is gonna be a hit for everyone but for someone who wants to see what a stylistic, new interpretation of HK food could be without resorting to smothering shu mai in truffles and gold flakes, it’s a resounding fuck yeah.

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:
Johnny Gurkha (FB page which is actually informative with menus)
GF/45A Graham Street
Soho, Hong Kong

FYN hot tip:  While officially listed as GF/45A Graham Street, it’s actually not adjacent to 45 Graham Street (the godawful Cencalo’s) nor on the ground floor.  Next to The Globe, look for a staircase and the clearer signage for Japanese restaurant Toriyama.  Head up the stairs and turn right into Johnny Gurkha.

Phone:
+852 6293 4941

Price:
HKD150 a person before tip.  I reckon with a bigger group you’d probably look at HKD120 – 150.  But what’s HKD30 for all you big dick swinging HK ballers?  No service charge.

The deal:
I’d been given a big hitting recommendation to check out Johnny Gurkha from a bona fide FYN Nepalese homie, so of course I took that hard hitting shit to heart.  After receiving reports that they were open for business again post a “renovation”, we swung in for dinner on a Saturday night.  At 8:30pm, the restaurant is empty and dead silent, and initially there’s no background music to break up the awkward silence.  While no one else joined us for dinner, at least the kitchen seemed to be doing an ok takeaway trade with the Foodpanda dudes popping in periodically to collect orders. It’s a basic dining room and I’ll be real, the floor could be a little cleaner, but it seems positively salubrious in comparison to the Saw-like grimey apartment ambience of the super ghetto Up 9 Nepalese “restaurant” in LKF.

Johnny Gurkha only opened earlier in 2015 and in a fuck yeah indicator, all of the staff in the restaurant and the kitchen are Nepalese. The friendly owner comes over to walk us through the menu and make some thorough and well explained recommendations which forces us to reconfigure what we were initially going to order.  I am filled with immediate regret that I’ve only got one homie with me, rather than dragging along a couple more so we could more comprehensively bang our way through all the fuck yeah sounding dinner options.

We get started with some complimentary pappadums and tomato salsa and order some mango yoghurt lassis (HKD42).  They’re cute as all hell, served in handled mason jars with tin lids and a solid reuseable stripy plastic straw pierced through the top.  I fucking hate cute but functionally useless stripy paper straws that become instantly soggy upon contact with a liquid (surely this is crucial properties for a fucking straw to have) so I can get behind this sustainable choice.  Unfortunately it wasn’t quite my thing as the mango lassi needed more fresh mango and I think there was some sort of syrup in there which gave it an artificial fuck no taste.

The kutta ko achaar (pork trotters slow cooked in a tomato based gravy, HKD68) had been recommended to us with a promise that it’s quite spicy.  Given that it’s chunks of pork trotters, if you’re one of those slack jawed pussies who can’t deal with fatty meat or bones in their food, don’t order this dish and go and order a chicken breast from somewhere.  But if you’re into pork trotters that have been slow cooked until they’re a tender, gelatinous delicious as fuck combination of pork skin and meat in a fucking glorious spicy sauce, slightly reminiscent of those spicy Sichuan chilli dishes, you need to most definitely get involved.  The sauce is an epic masterpiece, deep with the flavours of pork bones and fat, tomatoes, chillies and ginger with a vinegary acidic kick at the end.  If only I’d had the foresight to order some roti so I could have captured every last bit of that magical fuck yeah sauce.  Rules to live by, always and forever – carb life = best life.

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We also ordered the Yak Cheese (HKD88) which comes from the milk of spoilt Nepalese Yaks who appear to be living a life better than my current HK life, as the menu claims that they are breathing clean air, drinking pure water and eating wildflowers. Very biblically, it’s served with dried apricots, walnuts and honey (although in reality, strawberry jam appears to have been substituted for the honey). It’s similar to a mild to medium cheddar and a good palate cleanser after the amazing kutta ko achaar but I’ll be real, I’d rather have ordered another curry dish in its place and as much as I love Nepal, it’s not exactly known for its cheese prowess.

The next dish is what we’ve all been waiting for, Nepalese dumplings which are well loved by all and available in pork, chicken or vegetable.  YASSSSSS MOMOS.  The steamed pork momos (HKD60 for 10) are fucking delicious – thin skinned and stuffed with a fragrant coriander and pork filling.  As always, I want to suck back all of the spicy acar sauce that’s served with the momos, a blended cooked sauce of ginger, onion, garlic, tomatoes, ginger and red chillis with a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten it all up.  It’s only too sad when I’ve finished all my momos cause as the saying goes, NO MOMOS, MO PROBLEMS.

We split an order of the Himalayan soup (HKD32) made from fermented greens (gundruk) and other vegetables.  I’m not sure what the green vegetable they used (normally mustard greens or spinach are used), but whatever it was its stems were  fibrous fucks which detracted from the very tasty sour and spicy soup.  Maybe this would have been better if it’d come out at the start of the meal but either way, if there’s an option on fried chicken wings marinated in herbs and coated in crispy panko breadcrumbs vs a fermented woody stemmed soup, you can probably guess which way I’m gonna swing next time I’m at Johnny Gurkha.

Our final dish was the Trucker’s Thali, a solid value proposition of only HKD78 for a mixed plate of lamb curry (option on pork, chicken or vegetable curry), rice or roti, lentil soup, two types of seasonal greens, tomato acar sauce and a papadum.  Unfortunately, we weren’t asked whether we wanted rice or roti which meant we ended up with the inferior breadless choice of rice and I was forced to console my roti-less situation with fork tender, generous chunks of fucking delicious lamb curry.  All of the components were jam packed with fuck yeah flavour – the slightly spiced potatoes which had most definitely been cooked in some sort of delicious fat (ghee? The answer to superior fuck yeah deliciousness is often clarified butter), curried green peas and a yellow lentil soup. Who knew that such value was available for only HKD78 in Soho??

Johnny Gurkha isn’t anything fancy in terms of its decor and it’s not pulling any punches in terms of the food it’s selling.  But I can most definitely get behind a straight up, family owned business making affordable and super delicious Nepalese food in a Central HK location.  I hope they’re turning over a good volume of home deliveries because it’d be too sad if Johnny Gurkha fell victim to HK rents simply because no-one fucking knew about them and the idea of the Nepalese family sitting forlornly in their empty restaurant night after night is just too fucking much for me to bear.  Don’t worry Johnny, I will do my bit to give you my patronage but largely it’s for self-serving selfish reasons because let’s face the hard hitting facts, I desperately need your tasty Nepalese eats in my life again soon.

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Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhh!  I need to get back to Johnny Gurkha to more systematically take down their menu.  As always, MO MOMOS NO PROBLEMS!

Where:
URA Japanese Delicacy
2F, The Wellington
198 Wellington St
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2111 9381

Price:
My lunch set was HKD148 (+10% service charge).  +HKD15 for dessert.  Other lunch sets ranged in price from HKD98 to HKD368 (+10% service charge) depending on the ingredients.

The deal:
URA Japanese Delicacy has only just opened in Sheung Wan in the last month or so.  The pictures on their FB looked pretty fucking tasty so I rounded up Ms Two Serves to try URA for lunch.  URA’s done a good job with its cool as fuck decor – all shades of grey, black and gold, neon signs and black and white photo prints of near naked tattooed Japanese yakuza gangsters.  The main reason why Ms Two Serves and I were here was that we’d seen the A4 Miyazaki wagyu steak and sea urchin rice bowl (HKD438 + 10% service charge) on Facebook and both of us wanted to smash it into our fatty boombah faces.  Check this rad looking shit out, yasssssssss:

Unfortunately, the waitress returned to let us know that they sold out of uni last night.  WTF URA HOMIES – how can you be out of uni just in time for Friday / weekend prime time?! I pushed my fuck no disappointment to one side and opted for the reasonably priced HKD148 (+10% service charge) Buta Set – the Kagoshima Kurobuta pork rice set with Ms Two Serves going for the exxy HKD368 (+10% service charge) Sukiyaki Set – A4 Miyazaki wagyu beef set.

Each set comes with a chawanmushi (steamed egg), salad, rice and a cup of hot japanese tea.  The starter organic salad comes out in a small bowl and while I can appreciate the effort gone into sourcing organic greens, I don’t appreciate that there isn’t enough dressing and it’s 90% rocket.  I don’t mind a little bit of rocket but I never want to chow through a bowl of it.  The chawanmushi is excellent, fuck yeah hunks of prawn and a silky egg custard but while it’s got some cute presentation going on, the main problem is that it’s so goddamn tiny.

The main buta pork set arrives and it’s all laid out on a wooden tray with more cute containers (ie. fucking tiny) but I’m a greedy cunt and all I can think is ‘Ohhh, is that all there is?’.  There’s a thimbleful of soft tofu which is delicious, but tiny.  The set comes with two small sushi rolls filled with deep fried ebi (prawn) and two small tamagoyaki (egg cakes) which are fine but nothing remarkable.  URA Japanese Delicacy proudly states that they fly their ingredients in daily from Osaka (fuck no, dem food miles) and the grilled Kagoshima Kurobata pork is a fuck yeah, grilled to perfection (lolzzz j/k, you fuckers officially have permission to shut my Internet access down if I ever spout such fuck no platitudes).  The pork was a little on the thin side but it had some fuck yeah charcoal times going on.  Served with a dipping sauce, this was a fuck yeah except like everything so far, the six to seven pieces of air-freighted pork were definitely not enough for me to find the satiety I so desperately fucking desired.  I even hoovered down the entire bowl of rice in a desperate attempt to try and fill the void that in no way had been filled by the tiny ass portion of Kurobata pork.

Even sadder was Ms Two Serve’s Gyu set, the A4 Miyazak wagyu beef rice set at an eye watering HKD368 (+10% service charge). The extra bucks might get you some fancy-ass beef but it’s all fucking teeny tiny.  Ms Two Serves looks at me with panicked eyes as she realises that she’s spent too much money for not a lot of food, desperately scraping at her miniature tofu pot in the quest for a few more molecules of food.

lotrgollumstarve

Ms Two Serves opted to pay the extra HKD15 for the mini almond tofu dessert.  When her order was forgotten she chased it up with the waitress who after a few minutes came back to ask “Which dessert did you order?” which was a bit puzzling, given that there’s only one fucking dessert choice on the menu.  When it finally arrived, Ms Two Serves said it was fucking delicious but guess what, the trend is your friend because it was also SO FUCKING SMALL.

There is no issue with URA’s food and ingredients. Nothing we ate was a fuck no or improperly prepared.  It sucks balls that we couldn’t get the signature uni/wagyu dish (although at HKD438 for a serve that doesn’t look that fucking big, perhaps this was a blessing in disguise) but there just wasn’t anything that stood out at URA.  Most importantly, both of us needed more fucking food afterwards.  It ain’t no lie, Ms Two Serves and I stopped in at Passion by Gerard Du Bois in Central to get something to fill us up and when Passion failed to deliver, Ms Two Serves got herself some fishballs and wontons later to try and sate the beast.   Not that Ms Two Serves could really afford a second lunch after her A4 Wagyu Beef Set + dessert  combo coming in at HKD421 after service charge = fuck no, USD54!!!!!  Like srs URA, should anyone be hunting down fishballs after forking over HKD400+ for a lunch at a relatively casual restaurant??

Verdict:
Fuck nooo, cause hold me closer, tiny unremarkable lunch set.  I’d only give URA a fuck yeah if someone else was paying and they were down with you ordering two lunch sets per person.

Where:
Penthouse by Harlan Goldstein (I’ve said it before but fuckkk, WTF is this panoramic spinning website bullshit? STAAAAHP HARLAN STAAAAHP)
30/F, Midtown Plaza (Soundwill Plaza II)
1 Tang Lung Street
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

FYN hot tip:  If you’re getting a cab here, ask to go to Times Square and walk the rest of the way.  If you’re getting the MTR to Causeway Bay, as if you’d ever go to Exit A “Times Square” also known as “The Never Ending MTR Exit to Hell”. Exit F “Hysan Place” all the way, baby.

Phone:
+852 2970 0828

Price:
We were out at HKD800ish a person, including wine.

The deal:
I read about how bona fide restaurant critics who write for reputable publications like the New York Times have to visit a restaurant several times, just to make sure somewhere is genuinely and consistently shit or good.  I’m trying to hold Fuck Yeah Noms to these same exacting standards which is why I made sure I went to Penthouse by Harlan Goldstein THREE fucking times for dinner before I actually wrote it up.  OK, I’ll level with you homies – the lack of recent FYN content is more attributable to HK being relentlessly hot as balls atm which has rendered me completely useless and unable to do anything other than try and get my core temperature to return to normal by listlessly binge watching an entire season of TV in one hit in my underwear on the couch, worshipping at the altar of air conditioning.

FYN artist impression of my last month in HK:

catshallow

I’ve written up Penthouse by Harlan Goldstein before for its fuck yeah lunch set before.  But it deserves a review of its dinner menu because it’s become one of my new favourites in HK as it’s killing the whole package – consistency, ambience, attentive staff and fuck yeah inventive but not ridiculously awkward modern food.  From an interior perspective, it’s impressive with its fuck yeah views of Victoria Harbour displayed through floor-to-ceiling windows (although this has been slightly marred by the inevitable construction of another skyscraper in front of it) and is jiving for a trendy but not stuffy vibe.  Yeah yeah, you know what that means – no tablecloths, but I’m not gonna get my linen grump on cause Penthouse actually are achieving that relaxed dining atmosphere without cheaping out on all the other interiors with enough wooden parquetry flooring and marble walls to keep shit classy.

For all the slams that Harlan may get for being all bombast and bleating about being a celebrity chef, at least he’s fucking in his restaurant and not just emailing in a menu design from another goddamn continent.  Last week when I swung by, Executive Chef Joe was actually on the floor checking in with tables and on this night, he enthusiastically took our table through the menu, effectively telling us that everything’s really special and the only things that we shouldn’t order are the soup, pizza and the ham because we can get stuff like that anywhere.  Everything sounds rad as fuck, even if we have to make some tough decisions to ensure we don’t explode from overeating.  One of the things I fucking love about Penthouse is that their menu changes regularly which means you’re not going to be eating the same old shiz all the time but they don’t do innovation just for the sake of trying to be inventive, which means you avoid staring down a bullshit plate of some red hot Mexican-Korean mess.

We got shit started with a tuna tartare, made from Spanish bluefin tuna and a slow cooked egg (HKD228).  I don’t want to get my egg-wank on but that egg’s yolk was such a fuck yeah – intensely golden and creamy and fucking incredible with the fresh as fuck tuna tartare.  The Spanish chicken behind it probably spent her life as a happy fucker, pecking at the finest golden kernels of corn under a blazing Spanish sun to produce dat deep golden yolk.  Just to pretend we’re going to make some healthy choices, I ordered one of my favourites, the Organic Beetroot Salad (HKD168).  Despite the fact that quinoa shit is some ancient gluten free pseudo-grain and trendy as fuck atm, Penthouse take red quinoa and mix that shit up right.  Fuck yeahhhh, dem fresh flavours – earthy red and golden beets, fresh coriander and cooling cukes are slamming up against the slightly tart cumin spiced Greek yoghurt honey dressing and piquant red Spanish onions. Some blogging assholes would say it was a ‘fiesta of colours’ but I’ll just say shit was fucking gorgeous and refreshing as fuck.

The seared Italian baby squid (HKD188) was served with Lebanese eggplant, tiny rounds of crispy chorizo and saffron aioli was another solid starter.  However, this is all just warm up for my favourite at Penthouse, the pasta round.  I may have already mentioned that Penthouse’s black truffle and uni pasta is one of the best fucking things I’ve eaten this year but I didn’t see it on the menu this time and instead we ordered the Spaghetti Chitarra and the Pork Cheek Taglioni.  The Spaghetti Chitarra is a hand made spaghetti served with Spanish red prawns in a secret red sauce with shaved Bottaga Di Muggine cheese.  I enjoyed this dish a lot and was down with its fuck yeah, bisque like flavour derived from cooking this sauce with stock made from prawn shells.  However, once the rush of carbohydrates had subsided I realised that I’d paid an eye-watering HKD448 (before the 10% service charge) for some pasta with three to four whole prawns perched on top. I made sure to get every last dollar value by sucking out the prawn heads to get all dat briney sea flavour into my life.  But fuckkkkkkkk no, I just can’t get behind a USD60+ prawn pa$ta dish from a value proposition perspective.

Sliding back a bit on price, the cured pork cheek tagliolini clocks in at a far more respectable HKD288.  I fucking love fine textured pastas like tagliolini cause they have so much surface area to catch sauce.  OK, I’ll be real, I fucking love ALL pasta cause I’m an equal opportunity carb whore.  But the problem with taglioni is that if it’s cooked too long (eg. Giando), it turns into a textureless fuck no mess.  Penthouse’s taglioni was a fuck yeah and comes served with all the good shit – a slow cooked egg, cured pork cheek, white truffle butter, pecorino cheese and porcini mushroom powder.  DAT SAUCE though was an epic fuck yeah and once the pasta was gone, I asked for more bread because as a table, we had a responsibility to ensure every last bit of that fuck yeah sauce was taken care of.  As the bread was baked to order, I spent the next five minutes fending off eagle-eyed waitstaff who were trying to do the right thing and efficiently clear our table of our plates while I aggressively defended my white truffle and pork sauce smeared territory from being unceremoniously washed down the sink instead of being rightfully in my belly.

We didn’t order it this time but I gotta give a fuck yeah shout out to Penthouse’s Spanish suckling pig.  If you’re into fuck yeah pig, I gotta highly recommend that you get involved as this bad boy is slow cooked for 12 hours before finishing it off at a high temperature to get that pig skin crispy as fuck. The accompaniments are a massive fuck yeah and move it past from the usual default awesome status of roast pig to being something pretty fucking epic.  Penthouse serve this with a serve of fennel mustard green salsa which has a mellowness and depth to it when paired with the pork.  It’d be too fucking easy for this gang to just serve up pork and some sort of appley sauce, wouldn’t it?  It comes with a whole roasted head of garlic and you should smear it all over whatever bread you can find.  All of this is served on a shredded cabbage salad which has been tossed through with a vinaigrette to give you some acid to cut through dem fatty pork times.

Through all of my Penthouse experiences though, I gotta be real with you and say you’ve got shit for brains if you don’t fucking listen to me and make sure you power through dessert.  It’s a crucial FYN pro-tip for life that you ensure that you order the ridiculously named Harlan’s Surprise Dessert Platter for Two-Three (um, I may have fucked the exact name up) for HKD358.  It’s a mix of all sorts of fuck yeah desserts with the centrepiece being some sort of peanut butter sorbet which had been subject to some liquid nitrogen, to give it a meringue like appearance. The flavour changes and I’ve had it in an equally fuck yeah summer berry incarnation.  The liquid nitrogen means that the sorbet is a light as fuck treat which melts as soon as it comes in contact with body heat.  Just to keep shit interesting, there’s puddles and spoonfuls of different sauces and flavours for contrast.  Powdered dusts, chocolate mousse, banana tiramisus, gelato and white chocolate lava cake, leaving you to change up your dessert experience depending on how you want to mix that shit up.  It’s interactive which makes it sound like it should be a massive wank off but our table did take a quiet moment just to eat and experience all the fuck yeah emotions that were going on.

intenseemotion

So Penthouse’s shit is not cheap but I can get down with the fact that the quality of the ingredients is reflected in this (except for the Spaghetti Chitarra, cause fuckkkk USD60+ pasta dishes).  I always have a fuck yeah time at Penthouse and the staff are on their shit which means you’re always well looked after.  It’s got a bit of atmosphere without being stuffy which I think makes it a fuck yeah venue for hot dates and fun homies.  I know I’m a supporter for a restaurant when I go home and I instantly whatsapp my fellow greedy ass homies to ensure that they know they have to get their ass to a restaurant.  Proof’s in the pudding yo cause after I went last week, I went home and texted five homies that they had to get their asses down to Penthouse.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah on pay day, if you haven’t been already you better get yo ass down to Penthouse and try this shit out with your best homies.  You better believe it, this is one of my favourite dessert experiences in all of HK.  DEM LIQUID NITROGEN DESSERT FEELS.

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