Fuck No

youretackyandihate

Hey Maximal Concept assholes, using boobs and chicks in lingerie to sell your fucking tail-end-of-the-trend Double D Burger and double entendre of “in your mouth soon” is really fucking cutting edge and sexy as fuck. WHOA, WE GOT A BADASS OVER HERE.

FUCK NO.

Where:
Neighborhood
61-63 Hollywood Road
Central, Hong Kong

The entrance is actually behind Hollywood Road, so enter off Peel Street and look for Pak Tsz Lane Park

Phone:
+852 2617 0891

Price:
For two people, you need to order around 6 dishes which range from HKD130-HKD160 each. Excludes service charge. We got out at HKD650 each for food + sharing a bottle of prosecco (including 10% tip).

About:
David Lai, the chef behind On Lot 10 has opened Neighborhood (sic if you’re from British School of English, fuck yeahhh Murica if you’re not). I can’t claim to be a long term patron of On Lot 10 but I’ve had dinner there and shit was good. I would have given it an official fuck yeah on FYN if I hadn’t been such a lazy cunt and actually written it up. Neighborhood opened two months ago and I’d seen some photos of tripe gratin that Ms Siuwaaan and I wanted in our lives. Chef Lai has said that he’s going for that ‘homely’ feel but I’m not sure what’s homely about a sparse dark grey space with mirrors to make shit feel bigger (ho ho, you certainly fooled me you clever interior designer). Sure, the tableware and short tumblers are custom designed and personally selected by Chef Lai from goddamn fancy pants PARIS but it doesn’t matter if you’re still eating shit off a table clothless, laminated fake wood table rimmed with steel. I dunno if a custom designed knife from PARIS can distract me from dat cheap table.  Especially when they don’t change your cutlery between dishes and you have to put your used dirty cutlery back on that laminated table clothless table which kinda skeeved me out.

Neighborhood is a small space, it only sits 20ish people. So it was a bit fucking surprising that I had to wait 5 minutes for them to set up my table when I arrived. Like homies, you’ve only got about 10 tables and you’re not rammed, why aren’t you on top of this shit already? However, this was fairly indicative of the rest of the night as Neighborhood’s service was well-intentioned but ultimately brusque and clunky as fuck.  There is a total lack of anything soft in there too, so shit gets noisy which might explain why our waiters needed us to repeat everything we said at least three times.

I’m really fucking judgmental and the font choice and the egregious use of ” (like your water is either Antipodes water or it’s not, Y U say “Antipodes”?) of the Neighborhood menu really fucking upset me – so much so that I sent it to a friend who immediately responded with “Why are they using the X-files font? Woo woo woo woo WOO woo” and produced this:

xfiles

After establishing that there was no tripe available that night (wahhhhhhhhhhhh), we ordered a number of dishes – the ceviche, the wagyu tartare with truffle, rabbit ballotine, potato gnocchi with wild boar ragu and the daily fish in “bouillabaisse”.  The food gets a fuck yeah on presentation and it’s highly Instagrammable.  If that’s your jam, you can totally post that wagyu tartare with shaved truffles on Instagram and be guaranteed replies of “YUMMMMMMM” and “Where is that??”.  Dishes aren’t huge and you can comfortably share one dish between two people to get an adequate taste.  Shit was ok, I enjoyed it enough at the time but I didn’t find any dish hit me over the head and would be something I’d want to order again or tell someone that they HAD to have it.  The wild boar ragu and the ambiguously quotationed marked “bouillabaisse” was the closest to a solid fuck yeahhhh.  But neither dish was a slam dunk – cause while that wild boar sauce was fuck yeah times, the gnocchi wasn’t firm enough, so it just felt like eating little mashed potato balls in a gnocchi shape. For the “bouillabaisse”, use of quotation marks aside, a slice of fish is served on a piece of bread with the broth poured over it.  The broth was rich and while I prefer my bouillabaisse to hit me in the mouth with the taste of the goddamn ocean, my bigger issue was that it felt a bit empty on other ingredients – maybe I just wanted some shellfish to come chill with my decent portion of threadfin fish.

To finish we ordered the chocolate palette which has been getting mad props on the internet.  Even though I’m not the biggest chocolate fiend, this dessert was pretty fucking rad.  It’s a soft chocolate ganache that isn’t too fucking stodgy and there’s a slightly salty chocolate crust at the bottom to do that reliable though generally successful  salty / sweet contrast thing.   Fuck yeah on execution on this one – I imagine if you were super into chocolate you’d fucking lose your shit over this one.

At the end of the meal, Neighborhood send out some complimentary canelés, or as I call them CAT ANUS CAKES.  Look, I know I always say no fucking food photos on Fuck Yeah Noms, but imma gonna make an exception when shit looks like a fucking cat’s anus:

catanuscakes

FYN fun facts: A canelé originates from Bordeaux in France it should have a caramelised crunchy sugar crust with a vanilla and rum flavoured custard inside and they’re hard as fuck to make.  If you want to be a total unbearable food asshole, when you are served canelés you should ask your waiter “Excuse me, does your chef use the traditional copper moulds or the silicone ones?  Do you use beeswax to help with the release of the canelé?” and after you smile smugly at your dining companions, bathed in your ocean of superior food knowledge you can then firmly punch yourself in the groin for being such a fucking douchebag.  Per my internet research, I understand that Neighborhood use silicone moulds so save yourself a groin punching this time.

I have no issue with canelés but Neighborhood’s had this fucking feral aftertaste that was so fucking terrible that Ms Siuwaaan and I had to take multiple bites to try and identify what the fuck was going and and confirm that shit was as bad we thought it was (no, it didn’t get better and no, I couldn’t figure out what that weird ass aftertaste was).  This required double tasting was reminiscent of when I ate that coconut water macaron at Mejekawi in Bali, which still maintains the title of  The Worst Thing I’ve Ever Eaten in a Restaurant.  I get really upset by shit like this so as soon as I got home, I fired up Whatsapp and was bitching to numerous people including Ms Waterfalls and Caribous:

waterfallscatbum

SIDE NOTE – HOLY FUCK WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ME – IT WAS A FREE AND TINY CAKE AND NOW I’VE SPENT SEVERAL PARAGRAPHS, MULTIPLE WHATSAPP CHATS AND HOURS OF MY LIFE RUMINATING ABOUT THEM.

Anyway TL:DR – So maybe it’s because I’m not a “dear and personal, long-term friend” of Chef David Lai which explains why I’m not jizzing in my pants about Neighborhood. Maybe I just can’t get over their terrible choice in typography. But yeah, shit was perfectly adequate, very Instagrammable, service was awkward and I got given a free though fucking awful cake that looked like a cat’s bum.  Overall underwhelming for the price point.

Verdict:
FUCK NO.  I just cannot with spending HKD600+ on dinner in Hong Kong to be underwhelmed.  I also can’t forgive that fucking vile cat’s anus canele thing.  I don’t give a fuck if it’s from Bordeaux and uses cane sugar, that shit was just NO FUCKING GOOD.

Where:
The Pawn
62 Johnston Road
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2866 3444

Price:
Mains and starters are around HKD170 – HKD250 each.  I’d estimate HKD400-500 a person for three courses, without booze.

The deal:
When The Pawn underwent renovations it made the biggest fucking deal ever in the history of all motherfucking restaurant renovations in HK (citation needed). There was the furniture sale, the final call for drinks and then began their intense marketing blitz, replete with obnoxious hashtag #IMWORTHTHEWAIT plastered across their facade which has now changed gears to #THEWAITISOVER.  I seemed unable to read anything on any of the HK lifestyle/food press that wasn’t talking about Tom Aikens.  No seriously, did you fucking hear that Tom Aikens is coming out to Hong Kong to reference Modern Britain while using goddamn local ingredients and Asian spices?  There’s going to be ‘botanicals’ (yes, definitely a superior choice to using ‘plants’) grown on The Pawn’s rooftop garden (local herbs! Salad greens! Flowers!). No I don’t think you fucking understand – TOM AIKENS who has restaurants which have MICHELIN STARS (lolz, whatevs, just come to HK, we give that shit out in the immigration line) is coming from BRITAIN to steer The Pawn into an exciting new direction by taking shit over. Tom got so fucking excited he had to tweet everything TWICE (Y U DO THIS TOM? Y U DO THIS TOM?):

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 10.08.28 am

WAHHHHHHHHHHH TOM’S MARKETING MANAGER, LURN 2 TWEET.

But fair play to their marketing team, cause I definitely did not miss the fucking memo that The Pawn was reopening and I was even watching nostalgic promotional videos (tram – CHECK. Historical HK photos – CHECK. Outside shot of the old Pawn shop sign – CHECK.  Artistic blur and street scene slowed down – CHECK.  Hong Kong guy wearing a white shirt sitting in his stylish library, flipping slowly through books on HK history – CHECK) about how The Pawn is the “voice in the neighbourhood” which redefined what the new Wan Chai is today. Whoaaaaa turn it up The Pawn, you’ve got a hardcore case of ratemyself dot com happening.

In respect of the old Pawn, it used to get mixed reviews from my homies. However, I’ve been more than a handful of times and personally gave it a fuck yeahhhh for a casual spot or when I wanted to take visitors to HK somewhere that had a specific old HK feel to it but they were just tapped out on noodles and dumplings.  The food was generally fucking solid if you were after British style eats and always reliable for balcony drinks. I’ve even had a Christmas dinner there once which hit that traditional festive Christmas thing spot on (fuck yeah, mince pies and mulled wine). This is despite the horrific fact I was forced to have boring as fuck turkey breast meat because not a single superior fuck yeah leg or thigh was available – yes, you better believe I called ahead of time just to fucking check.

The new Pawn has gone all modern dark grey walls, pale wood furniture, lamp shades with plants botanicals on it and stainless steel pots of fresh herbs botanicals on the table. It ain’t got that quirky old shit anymore but it felt a bit soulless to me, almost feeling like I was eating in a display for a furniture store. The menu is not large but the price points certainly are. There are a number of starters which are HKD200+ (and as evidenced by other sites, it looks like food for ants time – check the HKD230 venison starter back which looks fucking tiny) and some mains are even cheaper than starters.

It becomes pretty fucking apparent that The Pawn’s service is not on the fast track to success, resembling the speed of your average shopper in Causeway Bay on a Sunday, having a slow as fuck amble while ensuring that under any circumstances no eye contact is made with any outside surroundings or other people, keeping the gaze solely focussed on their mobile phone.  For a start, I waited for fucking aaaaaaaaages to order a glass of wine while I waited for Ms Chowdown as I made plenty of thirsty face at the passing waiters, who instead elected to diligently set up glassware for empty tables.  Given the economic considerations of the starters/mains, Ms Chowdown and I went for two mains to share – opting for the beef short rib to share and the duck bolognese.  After waiting another eternity  to place our orders, it took 15 minutes for the waitstaff to come back and inform us that the beef short rib was sold out so would we like to order something else.  Y U take 15 minutes??  We ordered the brined pork belly instead.

After more waiting for the bread to arrive, it offered sourdough and my continued nemesis, brioche toast.  Look, I have nothing against brioche when it’s done well but it seems fucking rare anywhere outside of France.  Why try and be fucking fancier than normal bread if you end up fucking shit up with dry-ass lame-o brioche bread?  The Pawn’s brioche toast was dry, flavourless and entirely unexciting and was a total FUCK NO for me.  I don’t even know if Nutella would have saved it.

The brined pork belly looked fucking awesome when it arrived – pretty as fuck without being unnecessarily fussy.  Two pieces of belly on top of a bed of fermented grains with fried onion rings.  The pork belly was coated with a ‘botanical’ miso glaze.  I have no fucking idea why The Pawn is so obsessed with the word “botanical” – maybe you can charge more for botanical sauce vs herb sauce?  Despite the choices in nomenclature, this was a solid FUCK YEAHHHH, with the crackling being super fucking crispy (I know, pork belly wank).  The duck bolognese was less exciting and Ms Chowdown and I aren’t sure whether the menu description really had us geared up what appeared.  It was essentially a duck shepherd’s pie, duck mince with potato mash on top (made with duck confit) and some cheese.  It wasn’t fucking terrible but it was a bit one note (both in taste and texture) and by the end of the dish, it just wasn’t that interesting anymore.  If I’d ordered this as a main just for myself, I’d have been disappointed as fuck.  No vegetables botanicals come with the mains, so you’re gonna have to order sides.

The restaurant manager or a more senior restaurant homie stopped in to ask how everything was going and I’m all about telling a restaurant when shit isn’t right at the time, versus saying “Oh my god, it’s all fabulous!” and then writing anonymous blogs online.  So after telling them that their service wasn’t snappy enough and asking why did it take 15 minutes to let us know something was sold out, he was really genuinely apologetic and asked whether we wanted a complimentary glass of wine (fuck yeah, I declined but I gotta note the fucking effort) and we ordered a sticky toffee pudding instead.  Pudding was a traditional style toffee pudding and was a fuck yeahhhh.  But that said, any British influenced establishment that can’t execute a toffee pudding should just close down immediately.  The Pawn actually comped it for us later, which was a nice fucking touch.

However, despite the feedback, it was’t like service took a turn for the better.  We waited for-fucking-ever for them to see us and bring us the bill.  When the bill arrived it was littered with errors (double charged us for the wine, added a bottle of water we didn’t have and had the wrong main).  Waited forever again for someone to notice us, discuss the bill, correct it and bring it back.  Finally, shit got sorted – but fuck me, I expected more from The Pawn given that it’s an established restaurant and a renovation shouldn’t affect service levels to the point where you’re laughing at the table because shit is really that laughably bad.  Even if you comp me dessert.

Verdict:

Per their hashtag, #thewaitisover for The Pawns’s renovation but you’re still going to be fucking waiting for fuck no service and largely average food (with botanicals).  FUCK NO.

Where:
Gaucho
5th Floor, LHT Tower
31 Queen’s Road
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2386 8090

Price:
Three course business lunch set was HKD270 (excluding 10% service charge).

The deal:
Gaucho is a London based Argentinian steakhouse which has just set up shop in HK in the old Carnevino space.  All of the food bloggers who went to the soft opening last week have been talking Gaucho HK up, complete with close up photos of the free-range Angus grass-fed beef sent straight to Instagram.  Hey restaurant assholes – when you want someone to come and potentially not blog your shit, not take photos, ungratefully drink all your fucking malbec and not copy and paste your PR release, you know where to fucking find me.  Gaucho HK has been modelled straight off its London interiors with the black + white cowhide walls, black + white leather furniture, silver chrome finishings and audacious crystal chandeliers.  I’ve been reading reviews which say it’s “tastefully done” but it’s not really my jam, I felt like I was eating in a fucking nightclub.  It gave me flashbacks to when I was apartment hunting in HK and you’d open the door to some tacky as fuck chrome everywhere, purple gauze and chandelier filled nightmare where the owner has clearly spent a shit tonne of coin to fulfil his lifelong desire to live in Privé nightclub. Shots shots shots shots shots EVERYBODY.

With some new restaurant jitters, there was some bumps in the service.  A lot of waiters spinning around but not looking to make eye contact with patrons meaning there was a lot of brow wiggling to get orders taken or well, cutlery.  The bread came out to start and dem cheese buns were pretty fucking rad.  I fucking love bread and fuck yeah melted cheese – so shove those two together and shit’s off to a good start.  There’s also fresh chimichurri and yeahhhh son, fuck yeah times on that front.  When deciding between two courses or three courses, the waiter helpfully and honestly let me know that the starters are “really tiny“.  So giddy up, fatty pants over here went for three courses.  The menu reads with enough interesting dishes and I went with the Ecuadorian Ceviche (cooked prawns marinated in a roasted tomato and pepper sauce, with thinly sliced red spanish onions and coriander) and the Mini Empanadas (one beef, one cheese).  Shit was ok – perfectly enjoyable enough at the time but you’ll forget this meal in a few weeks and if you never ate these dishes again, you wouldn’t care.  The empanadas had a fairly thick dough but again, pastry and melted cheese, how do you really fuck that shit up?

As Gaucho bills itself as a steak restaurant and certainly fucking talks enough about its wet-aged Argentinian grass fed beef, I went in for the Churrasco de Chorizo as a main, billed as a “Sirloin, spiral cut and marinated, served with a tomato salad”. The tomato salad was essentially just diced green and red raw tomatoes with a light olive oil dressing which arrive piled unceremoniously on the steak which really isn’t that fucking exciting.  The steak itself was entirely unremarkable that I can barely be fucked writing about it.  I ordered my steak “rare” and it was cooked inconsistently and slightly overdone.  Some parts were medium, most of it medium-rare and there might have been a rare patch in the middle.  Overall, it was pretty fucking pedestrian. Sure, if I’d waved my hands around and told someone my steak was overdone, I don’t have any doubt that Gaucho would have got me a new one because they seemed like they wanted you to have a good time.  But tough shit, when you’re a fucking steak restaurant your deal is that you just have to get your steak shit done fucking RIGHT.  Especially when you’re a business lunch venue because people haven’t got time to let their clients / dining companions race ahead to their meal conclusion while you wait another 15 minutes for your redone, accurately cooked steak to appear while everyone else sits there awkwardly, watching you eat on your own.  However, moot point because not a single waiter stopped in at any point during or after the meal to ask how things were fucking going.  You better believe it, I don’t just blog about dis shit, I’m just as fucking opinionated IRL too.

But seriously Gaucho homies, here’s some FYN hot tips.  If you want to become a go-to business lunch location (which I’m guessing is your plan given your Central location) you have got to get all over your snappy service shit.  A fuck no example on shit that’s not gonna fly with the business set – after our plates were cleared, we sat there for a bit and I waited patiently for someone to appear to ask if we wanted coffee or dessert.  No one appeared.  Time marched on and with impending meetings, I abandoned all hope of having enough time for an after lunch coffee (wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, fuck no).  Continue to wait for someone to notice that we needed the fucking bill.  Still no one noticed.  After making eyes at almost every single waiter in the whole fucking place, finally someone gave us the bill.  Wait some more for someone to collect the card. Wait.  Hum “Don’t you forget about me – don’t don’t don’t don’t” while you watch more Gaucho waiter homies blithely sail past.  Finally have card collected.  Wait some more.  A ray of fucking sunshine emerges from behind a cloud, a chorus of angels sing and finally your card is returned to your possession.  You then exit Gaucho while the waves of mediocrity and indifference from a pretty fucking average lunch wash over you as you despondently stomp your way back to work.

Verdict:
FUCK NO – cause you’re doin’ it wrong if you’re a steak restaurant but your goddamn cheese bread is more memorable than your fucking steak!

Where:
Dim Sum Square
No. 27 Hillier Street (Walk there via Jervois Street though)
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
(蘇杭街舊店對面 opposite to the old shop at 88 Jervois Street)

Phone:
+852 2851 8088 (lol, it’s not a booking place though)

Price:
It’s fucking cheap – I ordered shit tins and it was HKD100 a person.

The deal:
Everyone can be such a know-it-all asshole in Hong Kong when it comes to recommending a yum cha place. You can either go for that balls to the wall high end dim sum experience or it’s going to some local place where the service is brusque but the food should be on track for fuck yeah awesome times.  Locals will hesitate to recommend somewhere to expats outside of Maxim’s City Hall, thinking that the places they go to are “too local” and an expat will spontaneously burst into flames if they were somewhere that didn’t have a tablecloth and it’s full of grumpy fuckers who don’t give a fuck if you’re asking for chilli sauce or an extra pair of chopsticks.  Can’t blame them, some expats probably would.

Dim Sum Square is pretty consistently reviewed by any expat who lives in Sheung Wan (“Oh my god guys, Sheung Wan – it’s like the best of old meets new in Hong Kong.  And there’s just cool little coffee shops but still old Chinese guys selling dried seafood.  Best ever!”) , bloggers, newspapers and Guides to HK.  Shit’s going all right for the homies at Dim Sum Square, they’ve moved across the road from their original tiny storefront to a much bigger place across the road.  Business is good yo – the place is jammed and there’s a line pretty much every time I walk by with a mix of largely local and some expat patrons.

Eating at Dim Sum Square is dirt cheap – most items range from HKD16 – 24 per plate.  But I just didn’t think the quality was that good.  Everyone goes how fresh it is because it’s all steamed to order (by an old lady out the back! How authentic!) but I just wasn’t that fucking impressed.  The prawn in the har gao / prawn dumpling felt undersized and not connected.  The HK favourite of the pineapple bun style char siu bao had its balance off between the sweet topping – the crust was just tooo fucking sweet.  The lotus leaf wrapped sticky rice didn’t have enough pork or filling in it (yeah, it was only HKD24 but fuck, just charge me a bit more and stuff it properly, buy some goddamn chestnuts and some Chinese sausage ok?).  The skin on the xiao long bao soup dumplings was too fucking thick.  Oh, and they don’t sell beer either which I have to take some FYN points off for – fuck no to not having the option of a beer with your siu mai.

A consistent problem I find with dim sum recommendations in Hong Kong is that a lot of people get really fucking overexcited by cheap dim sum that they seem to lose all grip on whether the food is actually good or not.  Something about not paying a lot lets people feel like they’re really getting down and local, and therefore, shit must be good. I mean, it’s fucking good enough for the Michelin Star peeps who roll into Tim Ho Wan, pay almost nothing for some char siu bao and they slap themselves on the back for really fucking getting amongst it and then slap a star on it.  I think Dim Sum Square falls under this category because some of it was ok and none of it was terrible, but just because an old lady makes it and shit’s cheap, doesn’t mean that it’s that good or authentic.

Verdict:
Fuck no, because this is Hong Kong, so why settle for just average dim sum, FFS just charge me a bit more and get your fillings goddamn right.  But hey ho, if you’re completely price driven, this will be a fuck yeah for you.

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