Seafood

Where:
Okra (fuck yeahhhh, absolutely useless HK restaurant websites)
110 Queen’s Road West
Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2806 1038 (but they don’t take bookings, but more on the reservation bullshit later).

Price:
HKD500ish for the food per person.  HKD660 per person including sake.  The bill very clearly states that the 10% service charge goes directly to OKRA’s staff.

The deal:
Chef Max Levy has recently opened up OKRA in Hong Kong, after establishing OKRA in Beijing.  If you read the press, it’s often mentioned that Chef Levy was the only non-Japanese sushi chef at Sushi Yasuda in New York.  OKRA Hong Kong is currently in soft opening and after hearing some good shit around the traps and seeing all the Instagram #foodie #foodporn shiz, I decided to get my ass down to its small, 12 seat restaurant with a few standing tables that can accommodate two to three people each in Sai Ying Pun.

When I emailed OKRA Hong Kong to ask about bookings, I received a polite and swift response that they don’t take bookings, but given their location they were fairly confident that I should get a seat.  However, another homie gave me the low down that when he’d emailed OKRA Hong Kong about bookings he’d received a detailed email about how they only take bookings for 6pm and you have to do the tasting menu.  Like thanks a lot you OKRA assholes, that’s just fucking dandy for anyone that may have a J-O-B and can’t get their weary ass down to Sai Ying Pun for super early stupid o’clock dinner times.  Seeing as I’m suffering from a crushing case of Jobitis, I resigned myself to the no booking scenario, arriving at OKRA Hong Kong around 8pm.  We were politely told that our hopes of getting a counter seat were pretty much a big fat zero given that they were five parties ahead of us (even though no one was sitting at the counter yet) but we were welcome to eat at one of the standing tables.  Fuuuuuuuck, I get it, reservations are a pain in the goddamn ass for restaurants because customers are flakey, tardy dickwads who often don’t even have the decency to call up to cancel but FUCK, as a responsible customer who never ditches a booking, it still gnaws at my inner being that I am the one who is reaping the failed crop of no-seat-uncertainty sown by rude as fuck doucheknuckles who can’t keep bookings. Taking a more positive view, at least we didn’t have to wait to get a standing table but real talk, this sad sack of bones, blood and fat barely held together by some skin is not built for endurance sports like eating an entire meal standing up.

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I calm my rattled no-booking nerves by ordering a bottle of the Kaze No Mori Nama Akitsuho Muroka Nama Genshu Junmai sake (HKD418 + 10% service charge), after some considered discussion with our fuck yeahhhh, friendly as fuck waitress.  She promises a light effervescent fizz to it and the aroma of dried yuzu peel, green banana and fresh bamboo while giving us some nice chat about the Akitsuho rice that’s used to make it from Nara.  It all makes sense and with the green banana note resonating the loudest, I try not to glare too enviously at all the seated, comfortable OKRA homies, enjoying the privilege of a chair while eating dinner.

OKRA’s menu is split into an A-side (smaller eats) and a B-side (slightly larger), with the a recommendation printed at the top to essentially order one A and one B per person.  I interrogate my waiter and he brims with unbridled delight when he talks about the food while he makes some thoughtful recommendations, which makes me pretty fucking excited for my meal. Fuck yeahhhh, waiter homies who give a fuck.

Our first dish is the Carabinero Prawn Soup (HKD78 +10% service charge) which our waiter recommended not only for the sweet, delicate flavour of the red Spanish prawn but also the fact that OKRA smoke their own Buddha’s hand (a citrus fruit that looks like a yellow claw) and then incorporate it into a dashi stock, which is poured over the prawn.  He does point out that a reason he likes it is because it “makes a cool photo”.  Ohhh, cause that’s why I order dishes:

kanyecoolphoto

However, when our dish arrives we realise that while the menu claims is “Red Spanish prawns with smoked buddha’s hand dashi” it was clearly not drafted by some particular as fuck pedantic asshole because it’s a singular prawn chilling out elegantly in a no doubt, carefully selected ceramic bowl.  Which surprised us a bit, given that the menu claims that ALL dishes are built for sharing and at no point did our waiter point out that perhaps we should order three prawns, given that there’s three of us eating.  While I’m not that into photos, I was definitely into this sweet, sweet prawn which we dissected into three pieces, its sweet, raw body gently cooked by the hot dashi broth that is poured over it.

Our serve of Sashimi Ume (HKD178 +10% service charge) is the closest to a traditional Japanese dish that we ate all night and consists of “three types of fish” from Fukuoka and is everything you can hope for from sashimi.  I bristle at the menu drafting because I am a pedantic asshole, as one of the sashimi items is a cherry prawn.  OKRA, Y U say fish when it’s a crustacean?! But inaccurate copy aside, it’s still fucking delicious and off the charts sweet, which I guess is more important than imprecise menu descriptions.

The Bafuni and Smoked Anchovies (HKD160 +10% service charge) was fucking magical, combining flavours that I’d never had before, even if it was firmly in food for ants territory.  OKRA Hong Kong use some shit hot bafun uni imported from Hokkaido and pair these creamy fuckers with paper thin slivers of salted buddha’s hand, anchovies, shredded pieces of tofu skin and shiso.  The anchovies are purposefully not particularly salty or strongly flavoured which allows each component to sit quiet and confidently in fuck yeah territory.  If only I’d had this entire bowl to myself instead of having to politely share it with my dining homies.

We move into the B-Sides and despite the claims of it being larger, I’m already contemplating the high chance that I’m gonna have to make a bang-bang stop after OKRA Hong Kong to ensure I’m not going to bed hungry.  The Unakyu Foie Gras (HKD238 +10% service charge) is a predictable fuck yeah because how can combining house made BBQ unagi (eel), honey miso duck liver and sanbaizu sauce (dashi, rice vinegar, soy sauce and mirin) not be major fuck yeah love?  The Roasted Beef Love Handle (HKD188 +10% service charge) also resonates with me and not just because I affectionately grab my own love handles while contemplating how this Black Angus Prime Chuck Tail Flap served with burnt olive oil and soy sauce is fucking delicious but how I deeply wish that my love-handled cow had really committed harder to being a fat fuck, so there’d be more fuck yeahhh roasted beef love handle for me to smash into my desperately wanting face.

The Unagi Fun (HKD168 +10% service charge) is a new menu item and it’s roasted eel over crispy sushi rice and pickles, which sounds simple as fuck but it’s executed perfectly.  I am still dreaming about the crispy sushi rice and the rich, just fatty enough, caramelised eel.  It’s at this point, I start to throw some serious shade at the menu’s claim that dishes are meant for sharing.  Maybe sharing between ants who fucking love precisely prepared and thoughtful Modern Japanese influenced cuisine?  Or perhaps for sharing between homies that don’t really eat and sustain themselves on a mixture of cocaine, cigarettes and black coffee?

As our waiter’s suggestion on the number of dishes to order was clearly off (perhaps because he isn’t a unrelenting eating machine like I am), we added some more dishes as I was still far closer to hungry than full.  We ordered a serve of the Hentai Quail Tatsuta (HKD108 +10% service charge) which sounded so fucking tiny on the menu, described as a “half baby quail marinated in a secret sauce of 2 herbs and spices and fried with preserved ginger and spring onion” but was tasty as fuck.  But let’s be real, after sharing this with three people, one-sixth of a quail is not really gonna make me the Mayor of Satiety Town.

However, my insatiable desire for MOAR FOOD paid off because if I hadn’t piled in for additional dishes, I would have missed out on the Chicken Fried Buri (HKD258 + 10% service charge).  I’m at imprecise menu drafting fever pitch now because there’s no actual chicken in this dish and it would be more accurately described as yellowtail fish/buri prepared in the style of fried chicken.  FYN Fun Fact:  Yellowtail is known as hamachi if it’s under three kilograms but it’s only when a yellowtail really commits to being a big fucker of at least five kilograms does it earn its big boy stripes as a buri.  

Japanese nomenclature aside, this dish was fucking unbelievable and it may be one of the best things I’ve eaten so far this year.  The buri is coated in a super thin, subtly spiced batter and deep-fried til it’s all crunchy and shit.  However, the buri is all white and still slightly cool and raw in the middle, served on top of a tangy, “crystal sauce”, grated fresh white daikon radish and some peppery micro-daikon sprouts.  I’m awash in fuck yeah feelings because this dish is just throwing multiple contrasting texture, temperatures and flavours at me and I’m feeling it so hard.  It’s the contrast of the temperature of the hot deep fried batter vs the cool middle of the buri.  It’s the contrast of the textures – fresh green micro-sprouts vs the buttery flesh of the buri vs the crispy batter.  It’s how all the flavours combine, the buri, piquant sauce, the batter, the peppery micr0-sprouts and the cool daikon radish.  All I know is that I’m caught in a tsunami of fuck yeah emotion and the tidal waves of buri love crash down upon me until I know that my life is now better for knowing this fuck yeah dish.

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After the epic chicken fried buri, I would have fucking loved a dessert to round off this meal and declare it THE END.  Unfortunately, OKRA Hong Kong didn’t have any sweeties going which meant that we flagged down the bill and went to find somewhere else for fuck yeah cocktails and chairs.

So when thinking about the whole deal, if not for the whole NO BOOKING palaver, I’d be so into recommending OKRA Hong Kong because these cats are doing something which they clearly believe in and are executing the fuck out of it.  The staff were passionate as fuck, knowledgeable and completed invested in making sure you were having a fuck yeah time  The food was so fresh and while clearly Japanese in origin was modern but utilised subtle flavours or techniques which were additive to the experience vs some sort of gauche frankenfusion bullshit mish mash which tries to drag well established cuisines into something imaginative.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah for the inventive but tiny food but fuck no with the no bookings unless it’s at 6pm reservations policy.  I’m just too old and lazy to be messing around with that hipster, no booking bullshit.  But trust me, when the omakaze-style private dining room opens upstairs and I can make a glorious and certain booking, I’ll be most def rounding up some like-minded homies to check OKRA’s shit out and see what else they can do.  I just wanna do it from a seat and without the chance that I’m on my feet for the whole meal or even worse, desperately combing the backstreets of Sai Ying Pun with a furious hunger in my belly,  searching for a Plan B because I got jammed at OKRA.

Where:
Moonshine & the Po’Boys
G/F, No. 4 Sun Street
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2776 2668

Price:
We got out at HKD850 a person with cocktails and the most fucking expensive oysters ever. Don’t make the same ordering mistakes and you can probably comfortable get out at HKD600ish for food and booze, if you’re getting the seafood boil.  Everything else was super affordable so maybe HKD400-500ish for food and booze if you skipped the seafood boil.

The deal:
We roll into Moonshine & the Po’Boys after hearing some promising things around the traps about its Creole and Cajun Southern style food. It’s going for that mismatched New Orleans feeling with its stylish chalkboards, clustered mason jar light fittings, metal buckets of herbs and kitschy boards. It’s not a huge space, probably sitting no more than 30 people, although there’s a second floor which they might get around to opening.  When we ask for our table, we’re pointed towards a table which is already half occupied by other people.  Not that anyone mentioned this little truth nugget when we made our booking. Fuck, I barely like some of my friends at the best of times so I feel that there should be some sort of warning before you’re forced to share a table with total fucking strangers.

We sit and look over the menu which are the most ratchet ass menus I’ve seen in a long time.  Printed on paper and shoved into all mismatched plastic sleeves, the menus are still strangely worn out even though they’ve been tackily tacked into their plastic covers by some raggedy scotch tape.  I’ve heard that the peeps who set up Moonshine & the Po’Boys are ex-bankers and as I try to decipher what to order, I ponder whether they swiped a bunch of used document folders on their way out of their last place of employment. Unfortunately the decision process was not helped by the fact that whoever designed the menus decided to use the tiniest fucking font in the whole goddamn world.  Yeah let’s squint this shit out together cause you know, 0.6pt font – I’M REALLY FUCKING INTO IT:

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It’s abundantly clear that service is all over the fucking place at Moonshine & the Po’Boys.  I’m throwing down plenty of thirsty face action in a desperate attempt to try and get someone to take my drinks order.  Waiters keep appearing and offering us the food ordered by the non-related party who we’re being forced to share a table with.  Fuck yeahhh, nothing beats seeing a waiter enthusiastically declare that you’re gonna absolutely love the Tomahawk Steak before you deflate his big steaky flourish by pointing him towards the strangers next to you who actually fucking ordered it.  It’s also really fucking rad when the waiters keep putting down someone else’s cocktails in front of you when you can’t even get the waiter to bring you the drinks menu. We observed a waitress whose sole function appeared to be to spin around in a confused manner around the floor. Finally we get our order in and after about half an hour of waiting, everything appears almost simultaneously.

Ms Two Serves and I mustered all our courage to try the Bayou Bucket, after the horrific fuck no bankruptcy inducing boil we had at the beyond awful and $oul crushing Holy Crab.  The Bayou Bucket is billed as a serving for four and it’s a Louisiana boil which combines a shit tonne of clams, mussels, tiger prawns, blue crab, Spanish scarlet prawns and king crab legs.  There’s also chunks of sweet corn, andouille sausage and new potatoes.  At HKD600 (+ 10% service charge) it’s not cheap but yassssssss there’s premium flesh laden crab and big-ass prawns for days.  There was no need to be polite and just nibble on one crab leg as you share shit around equally pretending that you’ve had enough crab because everyone got to eat their fuck yeah crustaceous fill.  While the menu offered a number of sauce choices, we weren’t actually asked what we wanted and ended up getting served with a fucking delicious Cajun garlic butter sauce and the boil sauce itself was fucking A1 great too.  The only thing that let this boil down were the molluscs – the mussels and the clams weren’t super fresh and consequently a bit bland.  But really, who gives a fuck about bullshit filter feeders when there’s fuck tonnes of crab?

crablikeigiveafuck

Next up was the half fried chicken for the very reasonably priced HKD100 (+10% service charge).  It’s served with a coleslaw which we ruthlessly pushed to one side because it was all about dat FUCK YEAH fried chicken.  It’s one of the best that I’ve had in recent memory, crispy as fuck without being greasy, well seasoned batter and this fried up motherfucker is bringing some serious juicy meat game.  It’s served with a cranberry sauce and this tart bitch helps to provide an acidic counterpoint to all of the fried chicken happiness. It’s at this point that we’re in a blissful fried chicken fugue, which allows us to forgive the abysmal service and the indignity of the mismatched, shabby plastic folder menus.

We had ordered a serve of the gator nuggets (HKD90 + 10% service charge) as a pre-dinner snack but due to the continued ineptitude of the staff, these were served well within the dinner zone.  Served with two sauces – Ranch and a Jack Daniel’s BBQ + Peach Chili puree, these would be great, I dunno, AS A PRE-DINNER SNACK.  Our other side, the Dirty Rice Jambalaya (HKD50 +10% service charge) is a carby fuck yeah, deep in flavour from the stock, sausage and the holy Jambalaya trinity of celery, peppers, and onions.  It was so fucking good that we scraped the bowl clean while one of my homies asked repeatedly if we’d tried the Jambalaya yet because she was super into it.

It’s fundamental to judge any place peddling Southern food on their grits and we ordered the Barbecue Shrimp and Grits (HKD100 + 10% service charge).  I honestly can’t believe this is only HKD100 because you get six huge prawns and normally if you even rub a prawn head on a plate in HK you’re looking at a HKD280 price tag. I was definitely prepared for grit disappointment cause well, Hong Kong, but these grits were fucking rad – creamy and with just the right amount of melted parmesan cheese.  Fuck yeahhh, the Moonshine homies most definitely pass the Grits Test.

We’d pretty much finished all of our food when our oysters finally arrive.  Ms Two Serves shoots an incredulous look at the waiter and says “I thought you’d forgotten about our oysters because we have received every other dish we’ve ordered” while I more plainly take our waiter to task asking bluntly “Shouldn’t our oysters have come at the beginning of the meal??”.  Our waiter sheepishly says he will check with the kitchen and reports back that because the first oyster they opened was bad that’s why the oysters had to came last.  O RLY Moonshine homie, is that what really happened?  Did the responsible kitchen homie open one oyster, discover it was bad and then proceed to take a break to chuff back six cigarettes before cooking five dishes for us and some food for all the other tables before he could find the courage to hold a shucking knife again to shuck six good oysters??

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With the bullshit explanation out of the way, our waiter apologised and finally agrees the oysters should have come first.  He then pauses to take my sustained angry glare in as my raised eyebrows threaten to come completely off the top of my head, smiles tightly and awkwardly leaves us. Rather than comping us oysters which, FACT, have taken more than an hour and a half to arrive at our table just as we’re starting to think about dessert.

Trying to move past the fact we’re closing our meal out on oysters, I asked where the oysters were from and was informed that they’re  from New Zealand.  They were good oysters, plump and creamy, served with lemons and some sort of a vinegar reduction (I’m not into sauce on oysters, so I can’t pass judgment).  I could have done without the finely chopped spring onions on my oysters because I just want my oysters straight up.  But it’s all a bit of a moot point because after all the strong flavours of the preceding food, I just can’t get into it.  I’ve never finished a meal on oysters and I’ll be quite happy to never ever fucking do so ever again.

However, Oystergeddon doesn’t end here – as the oyster prices weren’t listed on the menu, I’d assumed that they’d be less than the three oyster shooters for HKD300 given that the latter had fancy ass booze in them.  However, this assumption was entirely incorrect because when we check the bill it appears that each New Zealand oyster costs HKD100 (+10% service charge). It’s at this point that our entire table dissolves into seething mess of fucking outrage because as my Choice Bro FYN Kiwi Homies would understand, that is TWENTY TWO KIWI BUCKS (USD14+) PER SINGULAR OYSTER WHICH COULDN’T EVEN BE FUCKING SHUCKED IN TIME TO SERVE BEFORE ALL OF OUR FOOD?? R U for real Moonshine homies?? Kill me in the face with your punitive oy$ter prices and tardy shucking, Moonshine and the NO FUCKING WAY BOYS.

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For dessert, we split the Order the ebony & ivory (HKD80 + 10% service charge) which bills itself as a “chocolate brownie & cherries with bacon bits and peanut butter sauce”.  It’s served in a miniature cast-iron skillet and sure it’s delicious but despite all the description of cherries, bacon and peanut butter sauce, all I really get is chocolate brownie and vanilla ice-cream. Which is predictably tasty but my Moonshine homies, Y U promise me so many things and don’t deliver any salty bacon or peanut butter feelings?

Solemnly, I decide that I need to get a cocktail to try and blot away the memories of the Grand Finale mis-timed Oysters and order the Aged Manhattan (HKD120 + 10% service charge).  A waiter appears with my drink and sets in down in front of me and fuck me, call the NYPD because I appear to have been confronted with a major crime against one of the most majestic cocktails of all time:

CSImiamimanhattan

Like W T F Moonshine Homies, did you mistake my Manhattan with preparing a post-mix Coca-Cola that you’d get at fucking McDonald’s?  As soon as I see this slushie nightmare slandering the good name of the Manhattan, I ask my waiter what is this fuck no monstrosity in front of me and whyyyy would anyone want ice to rapidly melt into their cocktail to dilute it to all hell? I’m not really given any sort of proper explanation and receive yet another sheepish look, an apology and then another awkward disappearing act.  Rather than actually trying to simply fix shit by getting the bar to remake my cocktail so it’s not a total icey fuck no trainwreck.  I glumly sip on my ever diluting “Manhattan”, wondering whether it’s a watery mess due to the crushed ice or due to the tears of 1,000 NYC bartender angels who are bitterly sobbing from the booze soaked heavens above into my glass of interminable fuck no sadness.

CSImiamimanhattan copy

To be fair as a HK girl in the middle of junk season (ie. really fucking fair), a slick suited homie (who I suspect is an owner or investor) at the very end of our meal came over to ask how everything was and fresh with the horror of my crushed ice Manhattan slushie, I pointed to the watery “Manhattan” dregs in front of me and gave him more feedback.  He did sincerely apologise, offer us another round of drinks and promised that he’d make sure we were looked after the next time. A nice touch but again, why wasn’t my initial feedback taken onboard instead of the awkward to and fro between the bar, the acknowledgment that shit’s not right but doing absolutely jack all to make things better?

So aside from getting stung on the oy$ters, Moonshine & the Po’Boys is pushing out some kick ass food at super reasonable places.  It’d be a shame if they can’t tighten up their customer service to match their fuck yeah food.  Moonshine homies, I’m imploring you to get yo service shit together cause your fuck yeah food truly does deserve the best.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhhh cause the food was fucking tasty.  But Moonshine & the Po’Boys are still clearly working their shit out on the service front, so make sure you follow these FYN pro tips so you’re all fried chicken happiness and no bullshit oy$$$$$ter times:

  • Book a table for six so you’re not awkwardly sharing with random strangers.  Maybe if you’re less of an uptight fuck you can skip this one.
  • Be prepared for service to be well intentioned but clumsy.  If they fuck shit up, you better be ready to take the apology and just deal with it cause I didn’t see any efforts to fix things as they happened.
  • In case you missed the three paragraphs above, DON’T ORDER THE FUCKING OYSTERS. If you’re a loaded motherfucker, be very specific that your oysters have to come first.
  • When ordering cocktails, be specific on your ice requirements. Sorry Po’Boys, this ain’t a McDonald’s drive through and I can’t excuse that crushed ice bullshit, EVER.

Where:
Catch on Catchick (O M G, website is actually useful and the menu is almost up to date.  PRAISE BE)
G/f 93 Catchick St
Kennedy Town, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2855 1289

Price:
HKD600ish per person including wine.  For the food, it was about HKD335 per person.

The deal:
I was stuck on a Sunday night trying to find somewhere casual for dinner that wasn’t going to break bank or make me weep salty bitter tears of disappointment into some overpriced, fuck no bistro style dish.  I also decided that in the interest of not being the most predictable fucker in the world I should perhaps actually try somewhere new.  You wouldn’t think finding a casual restaurant with straight forward food is a difficult ask but fuck, as I started to sift through the new restaurant sections of various HK publications I started to rapidly lose faith in humanity that no clickbait article was gonna be able to restore. Like seriously, I’m not even fucking kidding when I say there’s a new restaurant in Central called Kettle Black which is focussed on presenting dishes which are black in colour, including a black truffle, porcini mushroom with cordyceps flower pizza.  Thank fuck, because I’ve always wanted to have a restaurant where I can reliably get black themed food and surely this concept will never lose its novelty ever. No really.

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I took my despondent self to my FY Noms FB account (yo add me if you ever wanted a homie who’s gonna read your FB drivel and give you a fuck yeah when you do something rad) and after an appeal for suggestions, a singular homie suggested I check out Catch on Catchick.  I was slightly hesitant because I’m not normally the biggest fan of Kennedy Town.  I know it’s come a long way since the MTR opened a station there and everyone’s getting onboard the party train to K-Town but I’ve just had so many ‘just ok’ meals with shitty service in Kennedy Town that I sometimes think people just get their judgment all screwed up because they’re really fucking proud that they’ve gotten out of Sheung Wan or Soho for a meal.  However Catch on Catchick’s menu looked like it was well thought out and full of fresh seafood which sounded like a fuck yeah idea on a balmy hot as fuck summer HK night.

Catch on Catchick is not large, with less than 10 tables.  We got jammed into a small table right by the accordion style door and we were bitching about it amongst ourselves when a conscientious waiter homie overheard us and asked if we’d like to move to another table. WAT, IS THIS REAL LIFE? AM I STILL IN HK?  I hadn’t even bothered to ask if we could move because I was imagining that we were going to have that HK argument where waiters won’t let you sit at an empty table for whatever arbitrary reason they’re peddling that night.

After reading Catch on Catchick’s menu, one thing that hit me was that it was giving me some strong Australian feels with the way they were presenting their ingredient combinations.  Not to say that Australians have the intellectual property rights over combos like soft shell crab and chipotle mayonnaise or barramundi and eggplant purees, but it felt like it was doing that Australian thing of taking shit from a bunch of different cultures, relying on fresh ingredients and mixing it into fuck yeah dishes.  Or maybe it’s just that Aussies like to throw a bit of chermoula or haloumi around to fancy up shit *cue Curtis Stone staring at you with his dead, dead eyes*.  I have since half-heartedly googled Catch on Catchick to see if I could find more background on the chef / owner, but I’ll confess that I lost interest and decided to rely on my own fairly baseless assumptions that there must be some sort of Australian connection given the prevalence of Australian and NZ wines and the use of ‘Stickys’ to describe the dessert wines on Catch on Catchick’s menu.

We asked our waiter homie how much we should order and he gave thoughtful, well thought out answers even giving guidance based on what specific dishes we wanted.  My homie and I decided to share everything because the menu had so many things we wanted to get involved with.  For a starter, we split a baked goat’s cheese and spinach spiral for a very decent fuck yeah price of HKD108.  I’m sure some restaurants are charging that for steamed green bean sides.  The baked goat’s cheese and spinach filo pastry spiral was fucking awesome, but I guess warm goat’s cheese and buttery pastry is a combo that’s hard to fuck up.  The strong goat’s cheese paired really fucking well with the salad, managing to keep its shit interesting with the slightly bitter endives, the acidic dressing, crisp as fuck apples and some crushed roasted hazelnuts.  This fuck yeah combination of tart Granny Smith apples with goat’s cheese made me have a vivid flashback to when Sir Crunchalot aggressively stacked on the kilos when he decided that he fucking loved eating cheese and apples right before bed to induce cheese dreams and decided the appropriate cheese quantity for this nocturnal ritual was about 500 grams to one apple. EVERY NIGHT.  Eat, cheese, sleep, repeat. Eat, cheese, sleep, repeat.

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For mains, we got the dukkah crusted salmon (HKD198) and the Jamaican jerk chicken with coleslaw (HKD168).  Fuck yeahhhh, I love dukkah.  For those of you not down with Egyptian spice blends to use on bread or to coat meat, dukkah’s a crushed up fuck yeah combination of spices and nuts like hazelnuts, macadamias or pistachios with coriander, cumin and sesame seeds.  Catch on Catchick served their dukkah salmon with cumin spiced lentils, a bit of yoghurt, raisins and pomegranate.  Yassssss, these sweet, earthy Middle Eastern flavours were fresh as all hell and most def a fuck yeah.  This dish just felt like perfect fuck yeah HK summer food because shit was tasty as fuck without being too goddamn heavy or hot.  The Jamaican jerk chicken was fucking great too – grilled so there was a bit of char with it using a citrus-based slightly spicy marinade and then served with some solid fuck yeah coleslaw.  It’d be a decent sized feed for one person but it’s not fucking crazy, probably checking in at just under half a chicken.

Given our order of a starter and two mains,we weren’t fucking stuffed to the gills so we both ordered the cardamon panna cotta (HKD68).  I’m an OCD asshole so I involuntarily twitched when I saw our panna cottas arrive in two different size containers.  I know it shouldn’t make a difference but I also prefer my panacottas to be released from their moulds, rather than scooping them direct from their container.  Petty foodie asshole preferences aside this panna cotta was a fuck yeah, delicately spiced with cardamon which was offset by a berry compote and a toasted coconut crumble.

Ultimately, I really fucking enjoyed Catch on Catchick because they just got all their shit right and it feels like it’s such a HK rarity to be able to have a no fuss meal which is still in a relatively decent restaurant but isn’t boring as fuck either.  It was also a fucking dream to receive such bang on service with not a single waiter leaving us wanting for anything.  The food was relying on fresh ingredients and flavour combos were pulled from different sources without being awkward or obtuse.  Prices were on point and thanks to the Kennedy Town MTR it’s not even too fucking hard to get there.  WTF, is this what complete satisfaction feels like?!

Verdict:
Honestly, this shit’s a HK rarity, a casual restaurant with fuck yeah service at an appropriate price point with interesting fresh dishes and not a dumbass trendy dish in sight.  Fuck yeah!

Where:
Holy Crab
3/F, Cosmos Building
8-11 Lan Kwai Fong
Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2110 0100

Price:
HKD1,100 A PERSON.  FOR A NO BOOZE MEAL IN A CASUAL RESTAURANT IN LKF.

The deal:
Ms Two Serves and I decided to check out the newly opened Cajun-Creole restaurant in Lan Kwai Fong, which specialises in crab boils.  A boil involves stuffing a plastic bag full of seafood, spices, corn, sausage and potato before boiling it at a low temperature.  Holy Crab is jiving with this cute nautical theme and they even offer merchandise emblazoned with their cheery cartoon crab logo so you could buy a t-shirt or a beach towel to constantly remind yourself of your love for a random restaurant in LKF.  However, despite the fun vibe they’re going for, on the night we went the dining room was 75% empty, as a palpable air of despair hung in the air.  NOT A GOOD SIGN, but I know Holy Crab has only been open for less than a month so I pushed these paranoid thoughts aside.

Holy Crab’s big selling point is that they fly their live seafood in from the US and you get to personally pick it from their artificial rockpools, before you send your chosen aqueous homies to their death in the kitchen.   HOWEVER what Holy Crab neglects to mention is that they appear to be flying their crustaceans via first fucking class cause fuck me, this live seafood malarky is NOT cheap.  A Dungeness crab goes for HKD1,230 a kilo.  Clams are HKD570 a kilo.  Tiger prawns are HKD520 a kilo. King Crab legs are HKD820 a kilo.  THIS IS BEFORE A 10% SERVICE CHARGE.  We selected a feisty looking Dungeness crab, six large black tiger prawns and a handful of clams before choosing which sauce and level of spiciness we wanted.  Our singular Dungeness crab clocks in at an eye watering HKD1,200. Ms Two Serves and I take a moment to fear for the impending live freighted seafood related bankruptcy that we see looming in our future.

To start, we have the Southern Fried Okra and Tomato Salad (HKD80).  The okra is battered with cornmeal and while shit’s crunchy, it’s completely unremarkable due to a complete lack of seasoning.  Fuck Holy Crab, use some salt, some herbs, just fucking do something.  The salad leaves are browning and wilted, with this fuck no flaccid affair drenched in some sort of ranch dressing which tastes like it’s come straight from a bottle. Holy Crab brought a selection of six sauces to the table and I make a futile attempt to see if the flavourless fried okra can be remedied by one of these six basic-ass ready made sauces. The only part executed well were the bacon bits in the salad but LBR, it takes a fucking special effort to fuck up bacon.

Our side of corn fritters (HKD58) arrive and these greasy lumps of batter arrive in a small metal bucket.  Immediately the warning signs go off, as they look like they’ve spent too long in the fryer, a shade too brown.  There’s barely any fucking corn in the stodgy batter and these cloying fuckers are served with this honey butter which sounds ok but had some sort of weird taste that lingered.  The last thing these greasy ballbags alleging to be corn fritters needed was a butter based dip that added MORE fucking grease.  It’s my normal modus operandi to shove as many fried carbs as possible into my pie hole in preparation for that one day in 2019 when I finally decide to go for that overdue carb-loaded run, but I didn’t even make it through two of these barely corn filled unctuous greaseballs. Fuck noooooo.

FYN note:  While ‘unctuous’ may be on my ‘forbidden’ vocabulary list, I really do mean unctuous in its true literal meaning of having a greasy feel.  Unlike all those other food blogging assholes who think every egg yolk they ever came across should be described as unctuous.

Combine the above two FUCK NO dishes with an almost empty dining room, my gut feeling before our $eafood boil arriving at this point in time was something like this:

starwarsbadfeeling

Our boil arrives and Ms Two Serves and I were fucking excited to spot our crab, despite the incoming bank breaking times.  I also have a moderate amount of understanding that a crab boil is never going to be as cheap as the US cause Holy Crab did have to fly your shit in live and kicking.  But what I can’t forgive is that despite all the LIVE SEAFOOD palaver, the finished dish wasn’t actually any fucking good.  Everything arrives in metal buckets and the crab shows up in one fucking piece.  Cut a patron a break Holy Crab and at least smash up the carapace for me.  The crab meat was good and the clams were ok but fuckkkk the tiger prawns which looked impressive were tough as fuck.  LBR, I DO NOT GIVE A FUCK where the fuck you fly your prawns in from if you overcook the shit out of them.

The biggest FUCK NO though was the seasoning used in the boil.  While some HK Lifestyle blogs are claiming that Holy Crab are using “the most flavoursome herbs and spices” they have clearly never fucking eaten here (or maybe they don’t actually possess any fucking tastebuds) because the herbs and spices used were a fucked up, nondescript wishy washy mess.  We ordered the garlic herb for the prawns, the rajun cajun for the clams and the bag o’ tricks sauce for the crab and all I can remember is the oregano overpowering everything.  The sauce was too watery which meant I gave zero fucks that they served everything in tall metal buckets with a long spoon which made it ergonomically impossible to scoop the sauce out.  Despite the fact we were dropping some serious coin, I couldn’t have given less of a fuck that there wasn’t a slice of complementary bread kicking around cause that watery oregano mess didn’t require any clean up.  Nostalgic wistful memories flood back to the last crab boil I had (Shrimp Daddy in Taipei, yeah I know I should have written it up) where the boil sauce was such a fuck yeah of epic proportions that we demanded extra bread so we could soak up all that delicious as fuck seafood and herb juice, and Shrimp Daddy lifted it to the Greatest of All Time by giving us some next level fried mantou bread.

We also ordered our sauce ‘medium’ spiciness and it was barely spicy at all.  Fair game, I get it – most people in HK are a bag of pussies when it comes to spice so you don’t want to kill most people.  I ordered some extra spicy sauce on the side and while it had a little more heat, it just didn’t taste very good, the chilli in it feeling raw and underdone.

Service was enthusiastic and well-intentioned, however I felt constantly harangued by the waiters who kept asking “Are you finished?”, as they hovered by our table ready to snatch our dishes away so they could presumably wrap shit up and go home.  Ms Two Serves and I flag down the bill and she has this reaction when she checks it:

jerrybill

OH SHIT SON, HKD2,200 TO EAT SOME AVERAGE-ASS FOOD OUT OF METAL BUCKETS AND THREE HOMEMADE BOOZELESS LEMONADES (holy shit, HKD60 each). THAT’S FUCKING RIGHT HOMIES, H K D 1 , 1 0 0 A PERSON. HOLY FUCKING SHIT, IS THIS EVEN REAL LIFE?! DID THIS RESTAURANT CONTRIBUTE TO HK’S TOP 10 RANKING IN THE WORLD’S MOST EXPENSIVE CITIES TO LIVE IN?!

I know that I’m just a greedy asshole who likes to eat and can use a keyboard,  so I have zero fucking actual knowledge on what it’s like to open a restaurant.  But I can only assume that you’d ask some of your honest as fuck friends what they think about your concept and your price point.  I imagine that before Holy Crab opened they must have had conversations like the below to see if they were in the ballpark of normalcy:

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 9.55.50 am

Verdict:
FUCK NO, FUCK NO, FUCK NO, FUUUUUUUUUUCK NO!!!  JUST CANNOT WITH SPENDING HKD1,100 PER PERSON FOR CASUAL, PEDESTRIAN AS FUCK DINNERS WITHOUT ANY BOOZE.

FYN cannot be any fucking clearer about my views on this restaurant – should ANY of your friends suggest this place to you, FYN recommends the following reaction:

nononosign

FYN can say with all certainty that if any of you have any interest in buying a crab boil place in LKF replete with branded beach towels, hold onto your scavenging hats cause there’s gonna be one going out of business in the next year that you can snap up for a couple of coffees and some peanut shells.

Where:
Le Bernardin
155 West 51st, New York
USA

Phone:
+1 (212)-554-1515 but fuck yeah, Murica, you can also make reservations online via OpenTable.  Reservations through OpenTable open 30 days to the day – if you really want to go, take this shit seriously cause shit books up quick.

Price:
The Chef’s Eight Course Tasting Menu is a very large and in charge USD198 per person.  We didn’t go for the wine matching (USD336 per person for wine and food) but went with champagne instead.  After cocktails, champagne, coffees and one glass of armagnac to finish and tip/taxes, we were out at a very hefty, USD500 a person.

The deal:
Le Bernardin is what you’d classify as ‘kind of a big deal’ with its list of accolades running long and it will give anyone plenty of name-dropping material to brag to their friends/blog readers/sychophants and establish your fucking “serious foodie” credentials.  Four stars from the New York Times since 1986, more James Beard awards than any other restaurant in NYC, three Michelin stars and the list that seems to get the biggest panty twisting reaction from food blogs, ranks #21 on the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.  Not that you should get sucked into believing the hype because stars and San Pellegrino ranking lists don’t necessarily translate into fuck yeah dining experiences (refer: The #5 ranked, two Michelin starred Dinner by Heston Blumenthal).  Our homie who had been before had noted that it was super formal and to almost dress like you were going to a wedding – that might have a been a bit far but it has a strict dress code for the men (jackets required, ties optional) and a full suit/tie is definitely not out of place.

We padded (awwww yissssss, plush as fuck carpet) into Le Bernardin for lunch and it’s no surprise that every single aspect of service from when we arrived til when we left was a superior fuck yeah.  Understated, warm and confident hostesses welcoming you to Le Bernardin.  Fleets of black suited, silent footed waiters who anticipated every need you had (some replete with almost comically over the top French accents).  Sommeliers stalk the floor with a silver tasting saucer hung from a chain around their neck (reminiscent of Flavour Flav with his clock and chain bling). For all my complaining about these new modern restaurants which just want to be stark, industrial spaces and don’t want to spring for the expense of linen under the pretence of how it’s too ‘stuffy’ (see also: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal), it was fucking awesome that Le Bernardin just goes with it and nails a sleek, formal dining room.  A massive 24-foot triptych “Deep Water No. 1” by the Brooklyn artist Ran Ortner depicts a stormy Pacific Ocean (read more detail about the oil painting here) presides over the Bentel & Bentel designed dining room of wood ceilings, plush grey carpet, towering white and green floral arrangements, dark brown leather and shiny steel chairs, soft velvet lounges and white linen.  Fuck yeah, soft furnishings – I’m having my throwback reaction to those noisy, polished concrete moments and you should all get involved so we can be ahead of the goddam trend.

As we were one of the first tables for the day, I spotted Eric Ripert in the dining room talking to the waitstaff.  I managed to keep my shit together (just) before reflecting on how all of these big celebrity chefs can lend their name to restaurants but what does it actually mean if they never actually fucking show up and see what is actually happening in their own fucking kitchen.  It’s interesting to note that while in Asia we love to add the “by” tagline, to denote who is the big name behind the restaurant that the big name restaurants in New York stand alone with no tacky “by Eric Ripert” to get you in the goddamn door.

We went with the signature eight-course Chef’s Tasting Menu because if I’m doing ‘balls to the walls’ dining, I want to have the menu which should showcase the Chef’s vision of his restaurant, his philosophy surrounding the food/ingredients and should optimally present what he thinks is a phenomenal meal.

Out of the eight tasting courses, six are seafood.  It obviously changes depending on what’s seasonal but there are some signature dishes (for our meal we worked through a Tairagai clam, kingfish with Osetra caviar, langoustine, lobster, monkfish and white tuna escolar).  This isn’t a tasting menu which is showing off endless modern technique and scientific methods or a million different references.  Almost every course follows the format of precisely cut pieces of seafood with a purposefully placed accompaniment whether that is a few eggs of caviar, a solitary microchive or a paper thin shaving of a baby fennel or a truffle before being sauced at the table.   I can imagine this simple format would cause some consternation to some people because it feels ‘samey’, but the more I’ve reflected upon this meal I think what I’ve loved was that each course let the seafood be the focal point.

Side note: I’m a slut for tableware too and it was so on point here with the dimpled white and silver Bernardaud “Ecume” tableware and the appropriately stark German Robbe & Berking Riva silver cutlery.

A highlight which wasn’t something I’d had before was the first course – three sashimi style pieces of charred raw Tairagai clam which came dramatically served on its massive black shell, topped with a piece of shaved baby fennel and a Japanese influenced apple and ginger broth. The signature lobster and celeriac lasagne was fucking incredible too, with its truffle butter sauce, shaved truffle and sylph of a microchive.  But the fuck yeah triumph was the fanciest surf ‘n turf of my life, the white tuna escolar with the Kobe beef.  The grilled escolar’s dense waxy texture is set against slivers of sweet Asian pear and topped with a soy-lemon emulsion with the turf compent provided by the only non-seafood protein of the meal, a piece of seared Kobe beef, with its melted fat and a tiny kimchi roll.  This shit was fucking off the hook and this is the dish that I will remember forever, when all the other ingredients and dishes fade into the dark recesses of my memory.

The two dessert courses were small and refined.  One was a Candied Peach Compote, Pistachio Gelato and Raspberry Sorbet “Swirl” Tahitian Vanilla Custard which provided the sharp, tart palate cleanser after disposing of so many rich, creamy seafood courses and the other being the expected chocolate closer, Le Bernardin’s take on a s’more, with a Smoked Madagascan Chocolate Crémeux, Graham Cracker Sablé Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream. I’m not one of those people who loses their shit over chocolate, but this dessert was a fuck yeah to chocolate – avoiding being too sweet or one note by using different chocolate textures, in particular an inbuilt chocolate puddle which pooled out across the plate when you breached the cremeux walls which surrounded it.

I have purposefully not given you a detailed laborious rundown of each course and its ingredients because I think that when you go to a tasting menu, you should go in with expectations but not a whole, goddamn playbook that takes away any potential for the unexpected.  This is why I’m so vehemently against those food reviews which labour through a tasting menu with a blow-by-blow of each course and a million photos from the bread basket to the petit fours.  I also think it’s such a fucking insult to the chef when he’s planned the pacing of his tasting menu and you want to slow down proceedings by taking photos while also fucking up the whole table’s meal.  It’s not that fucking hard to show some fucking respect and just focus on the actual experience at hand versus the one on your fucking camera and/or phone, so you can show people later.  So just in case some of you homies want to one day also drop some serious bank at Le Bernardin, I’ll leave some of the mystery for you to discover for yourself.

Verdict:
This is not the restaurant for someone who doesn’t enjoy seafood or wants a high end dining experience to be filled with tricks and shiz. This was a refined seafood experience which showed each ingredient for what it was in a perfect dining environment. This was the best high end “fuck yeah” seafood experience of my life.  Fuck yeah.  But most definitely on pay day.

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