Fuck No

Where:
Black Ant
60 2nd Ave (between 3rd & 4th St.)
East Village, NYC 10003
USA

Phone:
+1 (212) 598-0300 or online reservations are available here (fuck yeah, OpenTable)

Price:
USD70+ for two people, after 20% tip/tax, excluding drinks.

The deal:
It’s so fucking hard to get decent Mexican in Hong Kong, I temper that statement with the hard fucking facts that I’ve never been to Mexico, I’m not Mexican and I have no Mexican friends who are showering me with Mexican food.  But I can only assume that good Mexican food shouldn’t taste like bland mushy textures, sadness and the optional extra of bankruptcy (given the price of Mexican noms in the Kong).  We went to Black Ant because I wanted something spicy to push out the jet lag and the niggling suspicion of coming down with a cold after 15 hours of fuck no germ bag times on the plane.  Black Ant was packed and people were eating some pretty impressive looking noms.

The first thing I knew I had to get in my life was their guacamole.  Everyone knows that while I’m all aboard the Fuck Yeah, HK train that the one thing I fucking miss in the Kong is being able to buy decent fucking avocados (check my interview over at The Branded if you want to see what’s up) – this is pretty much my reaction every time I buy an avocado and I’m fucking excited that imma gonna have guacamole and then when I finally cut that fucker open, it’s inevitably a black, rotten motherfucker inside and I’m all:

nooooo

The Black Ant Guacamole (USD13) was the fuck yeah answer to my parched avocado existence, smashed up creamy beautiful avocados with orange segments, passila (a type of chilli), crispy shallots, fresh radishes and lime juice.  I wept joyous tears as I delicately shoved crispy tortilla chips into my greedy, wanting maw, only pausing to shout self-serving abuse at Mr Noms that he was messing up his guacamole to tortilla chip ratio and if he kept that up, we were going to be out of dip before tortillas.

We ordered a serve of the Tacos de Cocochas / cod cheek tacos (USD13) which looked really fucking good with its colourful slaw and microherbs but I just wasn’t feeling it.  The cod cheeks (a slice of meat taken from a cod fish jaw) just had too much fucking batter going on and the cod cheeks were too rubbery, taking on a calamari like texture.  The taco had this fuck no earthy undertone – I wasn’t sure if it was the fish or the beet sprout elements in the slaw but there was just too many fucking flavours going on that weren’t working together.  The Enchiladas de Conejo (USD24) was a spicy braised rabbit and chilacayote ragout which was ok, but again, it just seemed like a whole bunch of flavours were thrown together which should work together but shit just didn’t seem to gel together.

For dessert, we saw everyone ordering the Churros Fondue (USD10) and what’s not to love about fuck yeah deep fried cinnamon style doughnuts which you dunk in three different types of sauces (cajeta/caramalised sweet milk, orange blossom flavoured cream and salty chocolate sauce)?  It was FUCK YEAH dessert times.

However, the best fuck yeah moment of the whole meal (apart from dat guacamole) was listening to the Class A1 wanker at the table next to us (and the Black Ant is noisy as fuck and you are crammed together, so we got front row seats to the show) who was telling his lady friend how he pretty much knew everything, ever, from how to seat people at a wedding, why people ate grasshoppers (high protein content which made them perfect carriers for flavours…not because cows are in short supply in any of those grasshopper countries) and then even punctuated an opinion with repeating “I AM AN ENTREPRENEUR” four times in one minute (not even fucking exaggerating).

Anyway, I’m on fucking holidays and I’m already feeling the arduous as fuck toil of writing about NYC NOMAGEDDON so fuck writing some meaningful and well constructed conclusion and check this graph I made of my meal at Black Ant in lieu of a proper summary:

blackantchart

Verdict:
Shit wasn’t terrible – but no dice for a recommendation/return unless you’re going for the guacamole only.  Fuck no.

oprahbees

In the first four sentences of this review, each sentence used a variation of “buzz” to bring out the buzzy buzzing buzz buzz of that new hot as fuck destination, the Police Married Quarter (PMQ).  To ensure that I was in total fuck no conniptions by the end, the “review” then went on to have total disregard for proper use of “it’s” vs “its”.  I can’t even with this motherfucking buzz related apiary realness.  SEND HALP, I DON’T WANT TO GO ON ANYMORE.

Where:
MAMA SAN by Will Meyrick
1/F, 46 Wyndham Street
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2881 8901

Price:
HKD550 a person, including drinks and an ok amount of food.  Fuck yeah, better than expected price point.

The deal:
Although the name is “Mama San by Will Meyrick”, as far as I’ve been able to tell he just designs the menu, oversees the set up and then he fucks off back to Bali.  Chef Meyrick’s Bali credentials are pretty fucking serious with Sarong and Mama San behind him in Bali.  I haven’t eaten at either but have heard good things.  FYN truth tea time, I fucking love Balinese food – fuck yeah to SE Asian influences, fresh island ingredients and dat fuck yeah spicing.  But I know that Mama San isn’t meant to be Balinese food per se, but souped up modern South East Asian taking a predictable reference to Asian street food.  Mama San HK is name dropping influences like a rapper displaying just how culturally diverse their love for beautiful women can be – yo check it Australia, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Mama San HK’s decor is what you’d expect from a new Dining Concepts restaurant – suitably on trend with its moody fucker interiors – dark wood tables, strategic red accents, and black and white photos of Asia taken by Will himself while he was predictably learning authentic street food techniques.  A large retro style portrait of what presumably is Mama San herself, keeps a submissive, demure downcast glance across the room.  Whatever they paid Will Meyrick to design the menu has paid off, because it all sounds tasty as fuck.  If I rattle off what we ordered, it’s all going to sound like fuck yeah noms – such as “tuna betel leaves with lemongrass green tomato sambal matah and bumbu pasih”, “crispy salt bush lamb with ginger, coriander, lemon segments and pomegranate sauce”, “crispy whole snapper with three-flavor sauce – wild ginger, turmeric, pineapple, chilli and tamarind” (yeah I know, I counted five fucking flavours there but let’s not dwell on semantics – their menu, very offensively, doesn’t even use commas), “slow cooked crispy pork belly with green papaya, dried shrimp, apple, eggplant, peanuts and black vinegar caramel” and the “Cambodian duck with sweet potatoes, shallots and peanuts”.  Serving sizes weren’t particularly large and the food certainly didn’t look as fucking impressive as the photos I’ve seen on the HK food blogs around the traps or the glossy press photos.  But really, shit was ok too, with enough coriander, lemongrass and chilli to adequately tick off the Asian influences card. It’s almost trendy Asian food by numbers – #1) raw fish with coriander and lime in some sort of a wrap #2) protein with ginger, coriander and lemon grass sauce #3) some sort of whole fish – baked in salt or glazed in a sweet + sour sauce #4) some sort of a beef rib with more lemongrass and #5) some sort of slightly watery curry with duck or chicken in it.  Someone asked me a few days later what was the best thing I ate at Mama San HK and I struggle to remember a dish which elicited a solid fuck yeah or a vivid memory of any description.

So, my ongoing weariness and malaise with Mama San and all the other new restaurants which follow that typical big dining group in HK model – everything is just so fucking adequate, aided by smoke and mirrors in the form of sleek, modern interiors with industrial decor.  Before you get there, you read the press releases about Mama San with some big name chef that really has minimal responsibilities past designing the menu but props, the menu sounds new and innovative with its references to riffing on Asian street food from around the region with references to nahm jim jauw dressing, pounded chilli kaffir lime leaves and pomegranate sauces. There’s the social conscience angle as Mama San HK gives local Balinese staff from its Balinese restaurant the very noble opportunity to work in HK for better wages, without being trapped on a floating hell of a cruise ship.  Then you add the economic element – the price point is either just slightly above what is comfortable or the serving sizes or just that touch smaller than what they should be.  But this is the business and this is their game – you make everything slightly different enough to get punters in the door and then you add in a couple of drinks with a few ‘modern Asian’ cocktails that have slices of chilli, kaffir lime leaves or smashed up lemongrass in it.  Add some non-confronting food which delivers what it promises (but only just) and with the trendy decors and enough punters in there to give it a bit of a buzz, everything is comfortable enough that with a big group of friends who you actually fucking like, no one is going to have a miserable night. But when the Saturday night buzz of cocktails and fuck yeah homies has dissipated, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m being fucking gamed – because while everything is perfectly fucking acceptable, it’s not anything more.

Chef Menu Designer Meyrick’s bio proudly lists working in Australia at Longrain and Jimmy Liks, and the influence is pretty fucking evident (refer the very exotic sounding tuna betel leaves with lemongrass green tomato sambal matah and bumbu pasih – which totally rips off Longrain’s signature smoked trout betel leaf).  But shit’s not a good fucking sign because while I have fuck yeah memories of Longrain, Jimmy Liks was always Longrain’s less attractive, though well intentioned sister.  So by the time we get to Mama San HK, we’re already onto the third most attractive pan-Asian influenced sister and imma gonna have to Tinder style, swipe left on what is starting to feel like a photocopy of a photocopy.

The verdict:
So. Shit wasn’t terrible and if a friend organised a dinner there, I wouldn’t cause a fucking fuss and demand a change in venue, but I’m not enthused enough to go back on my own volition. Especially if you’ve been to the superior Longrain or the less-superior-but-still-more-impressive Jimmy Liks in Sydney.  Fuck no – I don’t wanna play this just adequate though economically sensible HK dining game anymore.

omarallinthegame

Where:
The Chop House
Level 3 Soundwill Plaza II – Midtown
1 Tang Lung Street
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2771 3177 (holy shit though, I think they support online booking)

Price:
HKD300 for a steak with some sides.  Additional sides are around HKD55.  Coffee is HKD45.  Prices listed exclude 10% service charge.

The deal:
The Chop House is going for that casual but trendy dining experience.  The menu is full of whimsical as fuck typography which humorously implores me to “Let’s get started” for starters, indulge in “The best thing since sliced bread” for…wait for it…goddamn sandwiches and to exclaim, not just with one exclamation mark but to fucking fall headfirst into “BURGER TIME!!!“. Yeah, you beautiful unique snowflake – every place in HK is gearing up for GODDAMN BURGER TIME, so take a fucking number, sweetcheeks.  You can always spot the most deplorable abuse of whimsical names by the dessert menu and The Chop House doesn’t disappoint when it leads with “Tiramisu just the way we like it” but disappointingly, closes with the very mundane “Ice-cream Selection”.  Surely that was waiting for some really fucking cornball nomenclature like “One Team, One Ice-Cream”, “Treat ’em mean, get ice-cream” or “Ice-creampie barely legal delight”.  Wait, too fucking far??

Anticipating a substantial main, I did not get things started and went with the Australian grass-fed beef 200g tenderloin which was accompanied by a sweet corn-potato cake, sautéed spinach, armagnac and black peppercorn sauce.  The steak was good, cooked rare, just as I fucking like it and the listed sides were decent and not just a half-assed serve of limp as fuck vegetables.  The extra fries we ordered were crunchy fuckers, so no complaints there.

But perhaps it’s HK dining fatigue, because despite a decent enough steak, there was just something that didn’t quite work for The Chop House and while I know it was going for a casual, good, honest dining deal, it felt partially like it sat uncomfortably between a cafeteria and a bar, with sparse, easily wipeable tables which were splashed with type boldly declaring “BEER”, “PORK LOIN” and “SANDWICHES” just in case you forgot why the fuck you were there.  I mean, I fucking get it, The Wooloomooloo Group doesn’t want The Chop House to steal the lunch out from its fancier, high class sister – Wooloomooloo Prime in the same building.  But casual can still feel intimate and fun, rather than sitting in a restaurant which feels uncomfortably like it’s trying too hard to be relaxed as it blares a mix tape which would be better placed at night in Lan Kwai Fong.  Call me a goddamn snob, but I don’t fucking want to eat a lunchtime steak with David Guetta and Avicii soullessly blaring over the top of me.

The verdict:
It wasn’t terrible but I’m not excited enough to go back.  Fuck no.

Where:
Jamie’s Italian
2/F, Soundwill Plaza II- Midtown
1 Tang Lung Street
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 3958 2222 (don’t bother though, they’re booked through to the end of September and refer below to the clusterfuck of fail experienced)

Price:
Starters around HKD70.  Pasta mains are around HKD110 – HKD165.  No service charge, tip what you think is fair.  That’s if you ever get in the fucking restaurant.

The deal:
Whenever I watch Jamie Oliver’s 15-Minute Meals on TV, I get extremely fucking agitated about his alleged bullshit claims that yes, you too can whip up your own Chicken Stir Fry and Coconut Buns (including making dough from scratch – like mixing goddamn flour and water together) in FIFTEEN FUCKING MINUTES.  My most indignant moment was when he made something with black olives in it and he started bish bash boshing about an immaculate kitchen full of Jamie Oliver Tefal ware while he announced confidently to the camera that you don’t even need to buy pitted olives, just smash them with a knife and the pits will come out, real pukka like.  R U fucking kidding me, Jamie?!  You’ve only got fifteen fucking minutes and you’re telling people to manually fucking PIT their own olives??  I can’t even remember what the fucking dish was because I ended up shouting “Lies, lies from tiny eyes!!” at the TV before falling into a rage blackout, no doubt missing the instructions on how to make a fucking Jacobean Banquet in just fifteen minutes.

So despite the lies, I thought I’d try Jamie’s Italian – not because I thought it was going to be the best meal of my life, but despite my dour attitude, sometimes I just want to try new shit in this town that everyone is excited about so I can have vindicated fuck yeah / fuck no opinions.  I tried to book a table at Jamie’s Italian and upon calling them, was told that only 20% of their seats can be booked and tough shit, they are booked up til 27 September.  However, with 80% of their seats saved for walk-ins and they have 200 seats, I figured with 160 seats for the taking odds were not fucking impossible.  Arriving at about 15 minutes before open at 12pm, shit didn’t look too hopeless.  There didn’t appear to be 160 people in a line, which was starting to snake the fuck down Tang Lung Street.  The staff then appeared, asking people how many you were and later, they returned to us and the following exchange occurred.

Jamie’s Italian flunky:  Hello miss, we cannot guarantee that you will be in the first sitting.

Sgt Noms:  What do you mean?  You’ve got a list of names / numbers, when you add it up how close are we to the 160 seats that you have spare in your restaurant?

Jamie’s Italian flunky:  It depends on how the tables before you pick their seats.

Sgt Noms:  But surely you guys designate where people sit, to ensure maximum use of your space?

Jamie’s Italian flunky:  Yes, but people might decide they don’t want to sit a particular way.

Sgt Noms:  But, we don’t look that far back in the line though – so how long before we actually get into the restaurant and you can tell me whether or not we fit into the first sitting?

Jamie’s Italian flunky:  One hour.

Sgt Noms:  ONE HOUR before we even get in the restaurant?!?!  This isn’t even after a sitting??  Don’t you guys open at 12pm?  It’s only 12:05!!!

Jamie’s Italian flunky:  Yes, my manager has told me that even if you are in the first sitting it is estimated that from where you are now, it will be one hour before you will actually enter the restaurant.

Sgt Noms:  I don’t understand – how can it be one hour til we actually sit down if we are in the first sitting if you open at 12pm??

Jamie’s Italian flunky:  While we open at 12pm, people have been lining up since 10:30am.

I still don’t fucking understand.  How can you take one hour to seat us, if we were in the first sitting and there’s not even people eating in the restaurant yet??  Given the fact that reviews aren’t exactly that complimentary of Jamie’s Italian (and this is coming from mainstream publications which generally love to suck cock of every hot new thing in HK), shit really can’t be that good.  I read a review which not only egregiously uses some fuck no phrases of “ingredients speak for themselves” (only acceptable if ingredients were actually vocalising shit) and describes a name for a brownie as “boisterous”, concludes that Jamie’s Italian had Great recipes, with unfortunately poor execution – what does that even mean and how does something like that even score 2 out of 5 stars?  I thought the whole goddamn point of going to a restaurant is to have good execution, otherwise why not just photocopy your recipes and pass them out to punters and write “HEY WE FUCKING TRIED, TIP PLZ?” in tomato sauce on the plate, next to an artful smear of red wine jus.

So based on the fucking bullshit debacle of actually trying to get into a mid-market restaurant (Jamie’s official positioning, not my judgmental as fuck assessment) and some seating system I still don’t fucking get, I’m now reviewing restaurants without actually eating their food, Lonely Planet writing country guide styleez.  But FYN is based on “Would you go back – fuck yeah or fuck no” and FUCK NO, I’ve concluded ain’t nobody got time for that.  WELL, I guess somebody got time for that – given some people are fucking losing their shit for this celebrity chef concept and were lining up at TEN FUCKING THIRTY AM for mid-market Italian food.

Verdict:
Fuck no.  I’ll just assume it was fucking pedestrian and poorly executed and pit some olives in my kitchen.

NEWS JUST IN – Jamie Oliver has provided his response to FYN’s review:

dryingtearsmoney

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