Fuck No

Where:
11 Westside
1/F, The Hudson, 11 Davis Street
Kennedy Town, Hong Kong

FYN Hot Tip:  The entrance is not immediately apparent nor marked – so you kinda have to duck around and go up a set of stairs.

Phone:
I dunno, I couldn’t see it on their FB page and they don’t have a website.  Like, if you can’t be bothered to put it on your own fucking FB page, why should I bother looking it up?  Largely no reservations anyway.

Price:
I got out at about HKD300 (including 10% service charge), no alcohol.  I had some snacks BEFORE dinner somewhere else and I definitely could have eaten more.  I’d estimate spending around HKD400-600 on food before drinks.

The deal:
The press got all revved up in April that Chef Esdras Ochoa, a real MEXICAN who is behind being the Sonoran MEXICAN restaurant, Salazar, in Los Angeles had booked himself a one way ticket to Hong Kong to open 11 Westside, his first project in Asia which was aimed at bringing real MEXICALI food to Hong Kong in Kennedy Town. I understand that it’s the HK based, Mexican Luis Porras from the Epicurean Group who is behind this 11 Westside jaunt, who are also “famed” for their other HK Mexican restaurant, AGAVE Tequila Y Comida in Wan Chai on Lockhart Road.  I’ve also done some additional sleuthing to try and figure out whether Chef Ochoa has since bought another one way ticket out of HK, as is the standard modus operandi for these chefs who set up shit in HK before fucking right off again but I haven’t been able to find anything conclusive so it’s entirely possible the Taco King of LA is still kicking about Kennedy Town and doing his MEXICAN thing.  So I guess Chef Ochoa is still FILTH – Failed in Flown in from LA, Trying HK?

read-you-to-filth

Predictably, 11 Westside is a no reservations joint.  Currently, they only take reservations if you book out at least half of the restaurant and seeing as it seats around 120, this is going to be as 0% helpful for most people.  But seeing as these guys have got a hour plus wait to get a table anyway, I get why they’ve given the big fuck you to taking reservations and will instead direct you to a terrace area where you can chill out and get some drinks while you wait.  A lot’s been said about their decor with most people liking it.  Those fringed chandeliers and slick black surfaces sure are distracting and might trick you into thinking it’s a cool place but I just couldn’t get past this weird Mediterranean Grecian thing that they’ve got going on, with these arches and cherub mural situated behind the bar.  How does this happen?  Do you walk into discussions with your interior designer and he’s all “So what’s the story?” and you say “We’re thinking LA, Mexican, taqueria, you know, the usual shit about ~taking references from Asia and paying homage to local ingredients~, green spaces and sexy tequila nights” and your interior designer quizzically looks up from his sketch pad through a cloud of one hell of a hangover and wearily goes “Look, my geography isn’t real red hot but is Mexico in Europe?  Is it kinda like Spain but in the Mediterranean? Do you know how much I love murals with cherubs on them with some fake ass vines and shit to make it feel like you’re one step away from a vineyard? Don’t worry, I’m also gonna put some potato peelers and kitchen utensils on the wall in picture frames cause ~paying homage to local ingredients~ amirite?” before chugging back on alka-seltzer tinged with regret as he puts his shades back on to try and shield his eyes from the indignity of still being conscious when the sun’s still up.

iloveurcontinent

When we rocked up we were told to expect an hour wait, but we were lucky and got a table within 15 minutes.  I’ve heard mixed things about the staff and service at 11 Westside but I’ve got no complaints.  The front desk girls were quite lovely, even if they couldn’t seat us immediately, and our waiter was fucking excellent and completely on his shit, all night long.

It’s a concise menu, split into GSC (Gucamole Salsa Chips), Appetizers, Tacos, Entree and dessert.  There’s been much chat about the price tag on 11 Westside’s HKD150 guacamole that consists of two avocados, red onion, cilantro and chilli which is mashed up table side for you.  Let’s just rewind on that fact for a second – it’s actually HKD150 + 10% service charge for guacamole.  That’s right, USD21 for guacamole and chips.  OR if you think about what went down for us, we ordered the GSC (Guacamole Salsa Chips) with an extra serve of chips and that’s HKD180 + HKD10 (+10% service charge ) = HKD209 / USD 27 for fucking chips, guacamole and salsa!!!!!!  FUCK MEEEE, I know HK rents are expensive and all but still.  I gotta draw the line somewhere and the line is drawn here, ESPECIALLY when the guacamole needed more salt and lime to bring some brightness and acidity, and the salsa was bland as fuck.  Apparently Ochoa makes his salsa that way because HK people can’t handle spicy shit (not that anyone asked).  I know some people in HK are ok with this new price point (!!) which just proves HK makes you go fucking insane.  GUISE, CUT IT THE FUCK OUT, USD27 for chips, mediocre guacamole and super average salsa just because they smash the avocados at your table is NOT OK.

cutit

The Carne Asada Fries (HKD118 + 10% service charge) are fucking great but really, how hard can it be to fuck up mixing grilled USDA prime shortrib, melting some cheese all over it and adding jalapeno, queso fresco sauce, chiptole mayo, onion and cilantro?  This is hardly complicated culinary shit to execute cause deep fried potatoes, meat and cheese is always gonna be a fuck yeah winner.  Less successful is the Stingray Flautus (HKD78 + 10% service charge) which is a rolled up tortilla that allegedly contains stingray but honestly it could have been any sort of mystery meat.  It was fine to eat, in the way that you eat a deep fried spring roll and it doesn’t really matter what’s inside because it’s deep fried and salty.  But after all the banging on about the inspiration behind 11 Westside, who really gives a fuck about what influences you’ve taken on to make a dish if you can’t even tell what meat is inside of it?

The 11 Westside menu lists five tacos, the Al Pastor, Pollo Asado, Carne Asada, Caulifornia Veggie and the Chef Ochoa Special.  11 Westside makes their own flour tortillas which means there’s a chorus of people going “Bitch, where my fucking corn tortillas at?” and I’ve been told because Chef Oschoa is going for a LA feel where flour tortillas are the go to.  I’m neither Mexican nor from Los Angeles so I dunno what is the truth.  I checked in with one of my friends from California and she reckoned this was bullshit, given she found corn and flour tortillas all over LA as well. 

I went for the Al Pastor and the Chef Ochoa special, which was some sort of pork belly taco (HKD50 + 10% service charge per taco).  The Al Pastor uses pineapple roasted pork with auchiote (a red-yellow spice with a mild peppery flavour), topped with that infamou$ guacamole, salsa molcajete and fresh pineapple. It’s got a good fresh balance going on with the slight char of the roasted pork and the fresh, clean flavours of the pineapple.  I judiciously ensure I eat every last bit of guacamole because I’m not one to leave money on the table.  I’m also super into the flour tortillas, flaky and grilled so they’re a bit crisp on the outside but still soft when you bite through.

However, the pork belly taco is a major fucking flop.  The skin and fat is just chilling out in there as greasy, chewy lumps.  There might have been other things happening in it which I’ve completely forgotten about because all I can remember is hitting a bit of flaccid rind and chewing on that, as my back molars were getting all gummed up and for HKD50+ for a few bites, I am not here for that. 

11 Westside tacos are most definitely tacos for ants and at HKD50+, shit is gonna get expensive real quick if you intend to find satiety on these tiny-ass bites.  In a FYN exclusive, I have secured some honest to God real life footage of the 11 Westside kitchen making HKD50+ tacos:

tinytacos

There’s only two main dishes on the menu and we went with the USDA Hanger Prime Steak (HKD268 +10% service charge). It’s served with more salsa, grilled vegetables and a stack of grilled flour tortillas on the side.  It’s all, straight down the line fine.  Sure, the steak is delicious enough but after eating various variations of all of these components in other dishes, I just can’t get too fucking excited about rolling some meat in a flour tortilla and thinking it’s that different to the tacos I’ve already eaten in flour tortillas with the same salsa, or the salsa that was already with the chips and the beef that was already on the carne asada fries.  Ultimately, this dish just felt like a derivative of everything else I’d already eaten that evening.

So the food at 11 Westside isn’t a terrible car crash – as in, it’s all very edible except for a few low points like that gross AF pork belly taco.  But more importantly, there’s nothing about this restaurant that makes it memorable or food which will show you something new or interesting (unless seeing an avocado getting mashed up by your table is really that revolutionary for you).  For all the horn blowing about bringing REAL MEXICAN to Hong Kong with the REAL MEXICAN chef, I just don’t know how anyone would get it stiff for this place.  From the no reservations policy and the waiting period, the weird Grecian style interiors and then fuck, the sky high price points for guacamole and minuscule tacos.  But then you read other HK reviews which are like:

11westside

And all I gotta say is, oh HK food writers, Y U so easily impressed??

mj-laughing_zpsgflv6hws

Verdict:
HK, if something like this is enough to qualify as one of the hottest openings of 2017, you really gotta check yourself before you really wreck yourself. A snoozey, lack lustre fuck no.

Where:
Paste
3rd Floor, Gaysorn Village, 999 Ploenchit Rd
Lumpini, Bangkok, Thailand

Phone:
+66(0)2 656 1003

Price:
Including one drink, got out at around THB2100 per person (SGD90 / HKD515 / USD65) per person.

The deal:
The awfully named Paste is in the middle of Gaysorn Village, a shopping mall in Bangkok, right near the centre of all the shopping action – Siam.  It’s almost always an ominous sign, when you’re traversing the escalators up and down of a retail hellhole before you sit down for an expensive dinner. Surely this is how you lay a disingenuous trap to lure cashed up shoppers into your restaurant by proximity, convenience and taking advantage of their inability to think clearly as they’re drunk on heady consumerism? Regardless, Paste does the best it can and I’m sure every review written about it makes pithy comments about how its luxurious fit out will make you forget you’re in a shopping mall, taking you away to a hidden, culinary oasis.  It’s got the high curved partitions and ample space between tables, while a looming structure of flowers and cane, arches towards the ceiling, branches grasping desperately at feeling decadent amongst the low lights and slow flicker of tea light candles.  I spotted a number of couples taking forced romantic snaps of each other and a group of businessmen exchanging niceties and no doubt drinking pleasant wine at the company’s expense.  For all of Paste’s effort, it feels a little forced and stiff, the sort of place that might read fancy but also ticks the boxes on formulaic and uninspired.  The sort of space that makes the perfect backdrop for a generically pretty girl in an evening dress to hold a birthday cake as she tries to angle the custom chocolate piped well wishes towards the camera for that FB #anotheryear #onceinalifetimelove photo, while casually tagging the fancy restaurant her milquetoast boyfriend’s taken her to.

simple-bitch-hell

Paste’s concept by the Australian Chef Jason Bailey and the native Thai Chef Bongkoch “Bee” Satongun is to present creative dishes which are anchored in traditional techniques and provincial Thai dishes favoured by ancient kings while refining them with a modern sensibility and using seasonal, local Thai ingredients.  The Paste website suffers from a case of massive poetic diarrhoea, talking about how they are “motivated to unearth hidden culinary treasures” like they’re some sort of adventurous culinary inclined Indiana Jones and how Chef Bee is in the relentless pursuit of researching and modifying these historical recipes which sees her travelling “frequently across the diverse landscapes of rural Thailand to discover, gather and collect diverse ingredients which cause her carefully balanced dishes to shine”.  We all know that Thai food has some fuck yeah big-ass flavour profiles and I’m interested to see what this modern take on lesser known, older traditional dishes actually equates to.  Ok that sounds like I tarted up my intentions a bit, but if I really face cold hard facts, my true Bangkok pursuits are far less noble and largely consist of smashing up as many fuck yeah noms and cocktails as possible in a long weekend.  To kick off proceedings, I pick the Bangkok Mule and holy fucking shit, in true Bangkok cocktail form it’s sweet as all hell.  Billed as citrus infused vodka and lychee liqueur with locally grown passionfruit-lychee-lime, this drink’s main issue is in its complete lack of balance.  The lime can barely poke through the sickly sweetness of this drink and even when I purposefully let the ice melt to try and make this thing drinkable, it doesn’t help.  I abandon my Bangkok Mule and wonder whether it’s been called a mule not because of any resemblance to its Soviet counterpart but because the obscene amount of sugar has kicked my front teeth out.

The first starter I order is meant to be “one of the unique aristocratic Thai innovations chosen to be served at the inauguration of the temple of the Emerald Buddha in the year 1809 by King Rama 1″ and there might be a reason why this dish has not been dragged into the 21st century.  Balls of fresh watermelon are mixed with a crispy floss which consists of ground salmon, crispy shallots and roasted galangal powder.  However it’s just like my cocktail, unbelievably sweet which leaves me with the question of why am I eating crunchy tiny bits of sweet, fried fish with sweet, fresh balls of watermelon?  I curse myself for ordering this dish because really, what was I really expecting of this fried fruity fishy fuck no mess and stop to think what King Rama 1 must have thought about his subjects who thought this was a good and noble way to celebrate anything at all?

britney-what-the-hell-was-i-thinking

Our next starter is the shredded roasted duck served on rice crackers.  It looks like a fuck yeah as it makes its way to the table.  Puffy rice crackers with delicious looking shredded duck and saw tooth coriander piled on top, resting on a striking bed of bright red legumes.  Mixed with curry paste and nutmeg, these spicy fuckers are let down by the complete lack of balance in this dish with the initial rush of fragrant curry giving way to just an overwhelming fuck no crush of it being TOO SWEET.  Ughhhh, A1 presentation followed by -Z100 balance of flavours.

The first main is the old style hot and sour soup of crispy pork leg, chargrilled shallots, jack fruit seeds, roasted tomatoes in a smoky chicken broth.  This clear soup is straight up fuck yeah fire, hitting the spiciness vs the sour from the limes perfectly.  The layers of flavour are nuanced and with every spoonful, I’m learning something more about this soup and I don’t ever want it to end.  However, despite this being listed as a main which clocks in at a very substantial price point (especially considering we’re in the fairer and generally cheaper Bangkok), some of the fuck yeah feelings I have for this soup is diminished by the four tiny (though fucking delicious) cubes of crispy pork.  I chew deliberately and carefully on each tiny cube, trying to extract maximum value from this miserly portion while shooting all the side eye I can manage at the remaining two minuscule pork pieces which bob about like lonely lost survivors in the Pacific Ocean. As an extra kicker, the roasted cherry tomatoes when you bite into them explode in your mouth, spraying their insides as hot as molten lava directly into your mouth.

emojisideye

Our final main is a smoky southern yellow curry of Gulf of Thailand red spanner crab, hummingbird flowers, Thai samphire and turmeric.  This curry is also quite delicious but just like its homie the hot and sour soup, suffers from a fuck no sparseness in ingredients.  I poke a fork around the yellow curry gravy, searching desperately for whatever pieces of red spanner crab I can find.  Instead, I find the rising disappointment and the distinct feeling that Paste is taking the piss with actually providing me with the ingredients it promises.

At the end of this, they ask whether we’re interested in dessert but there’s been absolutely nothing that I’ve eaten during my meal that inspired me to say yes.  Instead, we ask for the bill and I reflect upon this meal.  About how it felt like food cooked by a kitchen who wasn’t tasting its food to see if shit was balanced correctly.  About the uninspired fit out which people who don’t know any better would think would be the hall marks of a fine dining restaurant.  About how the staff were just fine but not amazing, which isn’t appropriate for where Paste is trying to position itself as they kept forgetting to bring us new cutlery or appropriate utensils for the dishes that we ordered.  About how I imagined the owners costing out the ingredients, setting not inconsequential prices by even Singapore or HK prices and then calculating that allowing 10g of protein per person was an acceptable amount for a main dish.  Sitting in my plush chair in the middle of a mall in Bangkok it hits me in my heart about how I’ve wasted a holiday meal and my cash on something so mediocre when there’s so many cheap and tasty eats in Bangkok.

Then the final insult as I drag my disappointment into the warm and sticky Bangkok night, there it is – Paste’s doors, adorned with certificates from all those assholes like Tatler and Asia City declaring it is the BEST or TOP and I wonder, how could anyone have eaten the meal I had and be inspired to even return, let alone to sit down and bash out paragraphs of praise or even declaring it Most Loved Thai Restaurant (Fine Dining) for 2016 like Time Out did.

Which just goes to show, you can’t trust the media, #best whatever lists nor accolades for shit.

superhanscanttrust

Verdict:
FUCK NOOOO.  Put this one firmly in the category of “I endured this mediocre meal and waste of holiday calories so you fuckers don’t have to”.

Where:
Burnt Ends
20 Teck Lim Road
Singapore 088391

Phone:
+65 6224 3933

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

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

aliceinwonderlandadvice

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

idontwannadeal

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

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

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

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

gotcerseieyeroll

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where:
Little Creatures Hong Kong
Shop 1, G/F, New Fortune House
2-5A New Praya
Kennedy Town, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2833 5611 (you better book that shit too, cause these fucks are popular)

Price:
This was the second meal of our night, so the per person cost isn’t as large as normal, around HKD110 a person (including service charge) without booze.  Large plates seem to range from around HKD100 – 150 each (+10% service charge), with most small plates under HKD100.

The deal:
After rampaging through fuck no disappointment town at The Ribcage, we pushed grimly onto a second bang bang dinner down the road at the microbrewery, Little Creatures Hong Kong. For those people who possess self control and don’t know what a bang bang is, it’s when you complete two meals in one session. Little Creatures is an import from Fremantle in Western Australia, but of course if you’re any true blue Aussie Cunt (technical term) worth your Vegemite, you’d know that you say it correctly as ‘Freo’.  The former sugar and flour mill in Kennedy Town has been decked out to try and capture that carefree port side feeling of the Little Creatures in Freo with its high ceilings, recycled wood, airy interiors and cute purposefully retro posters blending Australia and HK references. My lungs are almost gleefully sucking down that clean Australian air just by thinking about it. It’s also really fucking huge by Hong Kong standards with a fucktonne of tables.  Despite the ample seats, we still had a wait ahead of us because we were bang bang dinner refugees without a booking and by the time we arrive at Little Creatures HK at around 8:30pm on a Friday night, it’s totally rammed with people and a long list of reservations.  The hostess is totally on her shit though, assuring us in a comforting Strayan strine that she’ll try and seat us as soon as possible.  She might even have called me darl, which went some way to calming my harried nerves. We dull our Ribcage related pain by getting involved in some Little Creatures Pale Ale, IPA and cider, as we stand around awkwardly at the limited bar space for a very reasonable twenty minutes before we’re shown to our table.

The Little Creatures HK menu is split into Sharing Plates, Small Plates, Greens Breads and Buns, Pizza, Pasta & Rice and Cheese.  We start with the Crispy Chicken (HKD125 +10% service charge) with pineapple sauce.  I’m sceptical from the start because I just don’t jive with sweet fruit and savoury meat as a general rule but in reality, the sauce isn’t as sickly sweet and offensive as I’d imagined it was going to be.  While the chicken itself is well fried, crispy as fuck on the outside and avoiding the common fate of being a dried out mess inside, it’s unfortunately underseasoned which means it relies on the pineapple sauce to bring the flavour (not that it particularly pops with any strong pineapple flavour). Luckily, I’m able to season my bland though well-fried chicken with the salty tears that I shed when I try the cliched Hand Cut Frites with truffle mayo (HK75 +10% service charge) which are just like my summer body dreams – pale, flabby and definitely full of carbs.

Next up is the Mac and Cheese (HKD75 +10% service charge), which is billed as being topped with truffle and a herb crust.  Little Creatures HK, Y SO MUCH TRUFFLE?  Shit sounds soooo fucking fancy doesn’t it?  The Mac and Cheese isn’t anything more than a creamy, herb sauce with macaroni in it and it’s as unsatisfying as a Typhoon 8 signal which gets lowered before 6am on a Friday. FFS Little Creatures HK, it’s fucking melted cheese with carbs, how fucking hard is it to get a mac and cheese right??  Did you even try?!  RETURN OF THE LITTLE CREATURES MAC, YOU LIED TO ME, YES I CRIED, YES I CRIED.

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The Pizza menu is an exercise in minimalism with titles such as Herbs, Corn, Kale and Sausage.  I wince at the nomenclature awkwardness of having to order a ‘Herbs Pizza’ and I obviously stay well clear of the ‘Kale Pizza’ because that sort of pizza bullshit seems to be targetted at half-hearted clean eating urban warriors who punch out some BikiniFit in the morning because #strongisthenewskinny before barrelling into six strawberry daiquiris at Feather Boa with their best white friends.  The Sausage pizza (HKD125 +10% service charge) is topped with bacon, fennel, sage and provolone which all sounds good in theory but when it is presented at our table I start to wonder what kind of Home Economics high school kitchen is now responsible for the food at Little Creatures HK.  The base is cardboard like in texture and appearance, you can almost imagine it being ripped out of a pre-made base box half a week ago to allow it to truly dry out before the recalcitrant, moody adolescent fingers of high school students smeared tomato paste across it and indolently topped it with pre-prepared chopped pieces of bacon and shredded cheese.  It’s horrific on all levels from the dried out base and the sloppy toppings which almost slide off in one piece to the complete lack of flavour.  I take several bites of this ‘pizza’ abomination just to really make sure this is the most soulless and flavourless pizza I’ve ever come across in Hong Kong and as I choke it back, there is no doubt in my mind that I’m completely right.  I chew slowly and deliberately, as I sort through the vague memories I have of someone telling me the pizzas are good at Little Creatures HK. Unfortunately, I can’t place which tasteless moron or press release gave me this bullshit information which is a shame because I’d be furiously texting them my views on how they are completely devoid of any knowledge as to what actually constitutes a good pizza.

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We debate whether to give Little Creatures the chance to wow us on dessert because LBR, we’re not expecting any show stoppers at this point.  As we’re greedy cunts who love a bit of pud pud, we order the Cider Green Apple Nut Crumble with whipped mascarpone (HKD75 +10% service charge).  It sounds pretty fucking fancy but in reality it’s just a straightforward apple crumble with a scoop of ice cream which might have mascarpone in it, but if you’d never told me about it, I’d never taste it.  I’m now convinced that the Little Creatures HK menu has been designed to be cooked by a small child chef who’s using a cookbook with cartoon illustrations and warnings that you should get an adult when you’re boiling water or taking things out of the oven.  The apple crumble was the only well executed dish of the night and we take the time to reflect upon our entire bang bang evening where we’ve battled through two fuck no meals, the fuck no coleslaw and average to terrible ribs at The Ribcage and now we’ve let Little Creatures HK well and truly lead us down the garden path to a fuck no flower field filled with Mediocrity Marigolds, Gauche Gladiolis and Banal Begonias.

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So the food at Little Creatures HK, excluding that godawful sausage pizza, is absolutely edible.  I can’t imagine that was written in their vision statement of what they wanted their food to be amongst the artist’s sketching of their restaurant decor.  But it really is the sort of meal that if you painted black with white stripes, people would walk all over it because it’s just so fucking pedestrian.  Every dish we ordered had some sort of execution issue (ok, except for the apple crumble – but how fucking hard is it to make a crumble?) which suggests that the kitchen isn’t tasting their food for seasoning, giving a fuck if it’s cooked properly or their management is dictating a super uninspiring, bland as fuck menu which is meant to appeal to the undiscerning masses. Judging by how many people were packed into Little Creatures HK, perhaps there’s something to be said re: economic viability and appealing to the undi$cerning ma$$es.

But real talk, it looks like Little Creatures managed to keep their shit authentic in Hong Kong because Little Creatures in Freo has basic as fuck food as well.  Take my burn Little Creatures because fuck no to the faithful copying of boring, uninspired concepts and shipping it straight across the Indian Ocean so the suffering of uninspired and poorly executed food can be truly global.

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Verdict:
FUCK NO.  However if you’re an absolutely bottom of the barrel basic and enjoy shit like Castelo Concept restaurants, drinking rosé, thinking you’re living wild in real Hong Kong because you live in Sai Ying Pun or Kennedy Town, going to the Happy Valley races on a Wednesday, love ‘your girls’ or nights out with the rugby lads, Little Creatures HK might be your newest, favourite spot in Hong Kong.

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

Phone:
+852 3956 4213

Price:
We got out at around HKD200 a head.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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