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Where:
The Coconut Club
No. 6 Ann Siang Hill
Singapore 069787

Price:
Nasi lemak, a few sides to share and a non-alcoholic drink was around SGD20 per person

Phone:
+65 6635 2999 (no bookings though and reserve the right to only seat complete parties)

Fuck naw to the straw?
When I went to The Coconut Club, they were still serving drinks with straws by default. However, I wrote to them after my meal to ask them to consider saying #fucknawtothestraw or at least going “Straws on Request” and in a stunning and amazing fuck yeah action, they went straw free practically overnight. What’s been even more inspiring has been to see how this small change has their entire operations considering how can they lead a more sustainable hospitality existence. Fucking incredible work guys and for this, FYN gives you a massive FUCK YEAH. Follow their journey on Instagram.

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The deal:
I love smashing up a local hawker feed but sometimes you want things to be a little more comfortable than being jammed into a hot and steamy hawker centre with grimy tables, dirty floors and pigeons stalking you for remnants of your meal. This is why I ended up at The Coconut Club for lunch, cause I wanted Asian eats without the sweat session. The Coconut Club had its birth after a Singaporean dude, Chef Eng Su, attended a Nasi Lemak conference in Malaysia and decided that he wanted to bring that fuck yeah Malaysia Truly Asia nasi lemak feeling to Majulah Singapura. Go on, you know you want to sing it:

malaysia-truly-asia

This is where we cue all the Malaysians out there just shaking their heads and being all,”Yo Singapore, why are you even bothering because as if they’ll even come close to Malaysian nasi lemak, or real talk, [insert any other dish here which Malaysia and Singapore both do]“.  OK OK WE GET IT MALAYSIA, your food is better and cheaper, always and Malaysia be like:

djkhaled-wethebest

I tried The Coconut Club for a Sunday lunch time slot and this is most definitely a queueing scenario. The line moves relatively swiftly for small parties but if you’re trying anything more than six, be prepared to wait around at least 15 – 20 minutes. The sign reserves the right to only seat complete parties but even while I wait for my more tardy homies, The Coconut Club’s manager is smiley as fuck and isn’t too strict on this, offering us drinks while efficiently managing the whole system which I give a major fuck yeah.

The Coconut Club has a small menu, taking the route of focussing on their star of the show – the Nasi Lemak Ayam Goreng Berempah (SGD12.80). Most Singaporeans believe this is a fucking expensive plate of nasi lemak.  Nasi lemak as a dish is simple enough – some rice cooked in coconut milk, fried chicken, ikan bilis (dried fish), peanuts, cucumber, a fried egg and some sambal.  I get where The Coconut Club is playing at because nasi lemak in Singapore can be a bit of a crap shoot. It’s often a very cheap snack, wrapped up in banana leaves for a couple of bucks, a whisper of sambal and some ikan bilils, a hawker centre dish with a runty piece of chicken and some sad ikan bilis or you can go all fancy for some nasi lemak for SGD20+ in a hotel restaurant and you’re a bit, why did I just spend so much money on a bit of rice and chicken?

My plate of nasi lemak arrives and it looks like soaring dreams and resplendent hope.  The turmeric fried chicken (ayam goreng berumpah) captures my heart beause it’s not lame ass dried out chicken breast but the far superior fuck yeah chicken thigh and drumstick, my mighty Khaleesi, Queen of the Dark Meat.  Coated with other fuck yeah spices like lemongrass and galangal, with a little bit of chilli, it’s juicy and tasty as fuck.

The Coconut Club pride themselves on having gone on an extensive coconut hunt when they were developing their recipe over two years before settling on using Malaysian West African coconuts, specifically from a plantation in Sabak Bernam, Malaysia.  They make their own coconut milk in-house to ensure peak coconut rice times and as someone who once tried to grate a coconut to make coconut milk before firmly putting into the “NEVER DOING THIS FUCKING BULLSHIT COOKING TASK AGAIN” bucket, I can fully respect the effort behind this.  The effort behind this doesn’t seem to be in vain though because The Coconut Club’s rice is pure fuck yeah magic and you all know what I’m about, CARB LIFE IS THE BEST LIFE, and this nasi is most def best life standard carbs.

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All the other elements on the plate get the fuck yeah tick of approval.  It all seems simple enough but so many places fuck it up.  There’s crisp as fuck ikan bilis, slices of cucumber which aren’t flaccid, stinky pieces of watery sadness, a fried egg with its crisp frilly edge and a runny yolk, and the peanuts are fresh and well roasted.  Importantly, there’s a very decent portion of sambal which pulls the whole thing together.  No sambal, no nasi lemak life.

The Coconut Club offers some other dishes to get, such as the market price fried fish and the sambal lala (quite well regarded, but sold out when I went).  I had a side of Otak-Otak (SGD10.50), a fish cake made from ground fish meat, tapioca starch and spices before being grilled in a banana leaf package which was fucking delicious. Sad times though, the sambal stingray was a bit mushy and lacklustre.  I’ll be real, I wouldn’t mess around with the flop stingray sidepiece next time and just stick to the Nasi Lemak main event.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the cendol because I got ambushed into having a nine people lunch (ugh, my nightmare – I don’t know why people love eating in a herd so much, I’m not a fucking antelope) meaning that I didn’t want to bother with the logistics of who wanted dessert or not.  Let me get back to you because ice ice baby, I fucking love that cendol jam.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah nasi lemak times with a fuck yeah to making changes to a less plastic straw filled future.  Expect to see this one on the list when my FYN homies ask me where they should eat in SG when they visit before they blatantly ignore me.

OK FYN Homies, it’s 2018 and it’s time for us to get real and talk about SINGLE USE PLASTIC

FIRST OFF, SMUG AND OBNOXIOUSLY SELF AWARE FYN PERSONAL ANECDOTE TIME

britneybored

Fuck don’t be like that – but I used to see the Facebook posts and videos on these Zero Waste Warriors who were all “Yes, I went to the shops the other day and forgot my bag so I just got my dried goods lady to spoon my raw almonds directly into my hand and then I just walked home, clutching my nuts, smug in the knowledge that I’d avoided using a plastic bag”.  I was just wallowing in my plastic filled life, sipping on my Slacktivist Soda with a plastic straw and was all, this sustainability shit is for overachievers amirite?

dog-overachiever

But what changed for me was I started seeing information on just how long these plastics last, where it ends up in landfill, the ocean or our food chain. Let this hot piece of 1990s Bon Jovi explain to you just how long plastic kicks around in the environment:

bonjovi-always

More importantly, it was the mental shift in how sure, some people are goddamn environmental angels who don’t use any plastics and have completely moved to using bamboo leaves to wrap everything in their lives, the rest of us should just focus on taking small steps to reduce our plastic usage as every small positive change adds to a larger change.  Then the final thing that pushed me well over the edge was the images of our oceans and beaches being completely choked by gross, fuck no plastic trash and then going to a supermarket and seeing shelves of vegetables and fruits, all wrapped in plastic on plastic trays.  It seemed that everywhere I looked, the food and beverage business seems to be all:

aqua-barbiegirl

So here it is, The FYN Guide to Being Sustainable AF as told through pop music cultural references.

ONE:  FUCK NAW TO THE STRAW

This is one of the easiest steps anyone can take to reducing their plastic footprint and I refer to this as the “gateway step” to reducing plastic, as it’s small, doesn’t change your life and easily makes a change.  Just say #fucknawtothestraw and if you really need to drink from a straw, BYOStraw (there’s many great sustainable options, made from stainless steel or bamboo.  I use a rad gift I got from a FYN homie, from Bambuhay).  Restaurants, I’m really sympathetic because keeping reusable straws clean is a complete and utter ballache, not to mention paper straws which fail at their sole purpose (transporting liquid from glass to someone’s mouth).  Real life footage of a paper straw in a drink:

bonnie-fall-apart

So, my two suggestions are reusable is great in theory, but REAL TALK for most drinks, we’re all entirely capable of using our mouths to drink direct from a glass.  And if restaurants feel it’s that essential to their customers to have straws, at least move to a “Straw on Request” model to see who really asks for them.

FYN Homies, this is where I encourage all of you to write to EVERY single restaurant / bar you go to which still serves drinks with plastic straws.  I now take this step with every place I go and sometimes you’ll get a FUCK YEAH response where they’ll actually write back and they will stop using straws overnight and other times, at least you start the dialogue.  From little things, big changes grow.  I’ve even prepared some copy-pasta for you guys to use.  Make sure you comment / tag me in any positive dialogue you get back and use #fucknawtothestraw:

Hi!

I had drinks at your establishment recently and noticed that you guys are still using plastic straws in your drinks. Globally, millions of straws are used a day which are used for a few minutes and then end up in landfill forever, never to decompose. Reducing single use plastic is a small step that restaurants, bars and consumers can take to try and reduce our plastic footprint. Can I suggest that you consider removing plastic straws from your drinks? If you really feel that straws are vital to your clients’ experience, a plastic reducing option is to make it a “straws on request” establishment – ie. Serve drinks by default without a straw and wait for someone to ask before you provide them with one. The straws that you use might seem innocent enough but you multiply this by all of the bars and restaurants in the world and that’s a lot of plastic straws which will outlive us all. Let’s see if we can all be part of the change.

Best,
YOUR NAME HERE #fucknawtothestraw

And if they’re assholes about it or don’t even dignify you with a response, pick another venue who is doing more about this to give your business to.

eminem-stan2

TWO:  DROPPING PLASTIC DRINK BOTTLES FROM YOUR LIFE

Disposal PET water/drink bottles are so unnecessary, especially when you live in a country where the tap water is potable.  It takes a bit of organisation and forethought, but BYOBottle, fill up where you can and stop being part of the cycle which sees PET bottles just breaking down into smaller, toxic particles. If you get caught without water, think about whether going without bottled water for one hour is actually going to kill you.  Pop bottles all night when you BYO and as TI notes, you can have whatever you like without being part of the single use plastic bottle problem.

ti-whatever-you-like

THREE:  TAKE AWAY, TAKEAWAY COFFEE CUPS

I am someone who is practically mainlining coffee just to drag myself through the tedious and dull existence that is known as Monday to Friday.  Those plastic coffee cup lids and waterproof paper cups aren’t going anywhere though from now until the end of time.  If your barista can’t pour your drink into your own cup (I use a KeepCup) then find one that does, before celebrating your righteous entry into truly living and breathing the sustainable Cup of Life.

rickymartin-cupoflife2

FOUR:  BE A BAG HAG

This one is obvious AF – bring your own bag and don’t take plastic bags for your food or shopping.  Fighting off plastic bags is a constant battle and I’m bellowing “NO BAG” all the time, at everyone.  But for real. is there any point in taking a plastic bag which you get to use:

fugees-onetime

But if you fuck up and you forget to bring your bag out to the shops, like no biggie – just at least try to reuse it:

fugees-twotimes

Then go back to strumming your environmentally friendly heart with your cloth tote bag.

FIVE:  BYO Container / Utensils

Ok, this one’s a little bit more intense because you’re ordering your sad little box of overpriced salad and you don’t want to upset the production line that they’ve got going on.  But how do you even know if it’s an issue?  I’ve found that most places are actually pretty chill about you bringing your own container and if they’re not, plenty more boring ass salad options around or bring your own lunch.  Single use lunch plastic bums me out so hard – I see it all in the trash, plastic container, plastic utensils and all wrapped up in a plastic bag.  My normal salad joint made the move from plastic to cardboard containers, but said they couldn’t find an affordable, sustainable lid option.  So I keep my plastic lid that fits their containers, wash it and bring it back every single time.

britney-hitme


So there you have it, that’s my five, easy fuck yeah steps to leading a less plastic filled existence.  Even if you just start with one less straw, one less coffee cup or one less plastic lunchbox this week, that’s one less piece of plastic that’s going to kick around forever.  Take a small step and see where it goes.  Support businesses who are making steps to more sustainable choices (cause that shit costs more than the cheap plastic options).  As always, let me know what works for you and believe me, together we can all be better.

tupac-change-the-way-we-eat

 

Where:
Amò Restaurant
33 Hongkong Street
Singapore 059672

Phone:
+65 6723 7733, but fuck me, Singapore is in the #digitaldisruption future and you can book this shit instantly on Quandoo or Chope.  SEND ME A FAX HK AND WRITE ME A CHEQUE, I DON’T MISS YA PREHISTORIC WAYS.

Price:
Out at SGD90 each, including one drink.  Without booze, would estimate SGD60-70ish a person.

Fuck Naw to the Straw?
Unfortunately, Amo are still handing out FUCK NAW PLASTIC STRAWS.  So make sure you specify #fucknawtothestraw when you order

The deal:
Amò is your casual though trendy Italian joint on Hongkong Street, which opened mid-2017.  I’m into its interior with its blue-grey tiled walls, white tiled floor, dark wood, just enough well thought out lighting and fuck yeahhhh, tables that aren’t sitting on top of each other.  First thing I noticed though is that their waiters are completely and totally on their fucking shit.  FUCK YEAHHHHH it’s a relief because I find in Singapore, waiters are often very friendly and well intentioned but actually getting their attention practically requires you to trip them over because they have fuck all peripheral vision.  Our waiter homie is sorting us all out on drinks and spruiks some special negroni (SGD20++) that they’re doing with grapefruit juice instead and of course I’m here for it and fuckkk it’s A1 delicious.  Unfortunately, it’s also in Singapore which means I only have one to avoid bankrupting myself before I get to the food.

We tear through our ordering with his help and he asks whether we want it all at once or as it comes. To be honest, I’m not even sure why he bothered asking because Amo’s kitchen is Usain Bolt fast, our starters and mains flying to our table within minutes of our order.  The crispy calamari with sumac and sundried tomato aioli (SGD22+) is the first dish to hit our table and it’s so fucking good.  I fucking love it when my deep fried shit comes out fryer fresh, without a chance to cool down and get a bit sad under a heat lamp.  With its crispy AF batter and the tender squid, it’s a bang on way to start shit off.  I really wanted to get the zucchini flowers with mortadella, pistachio and lemon honey but fuck, at SGD25++ for a scant two flowers, no way I could justify dropping SGD50++ to feed our table of four, a zucchini flower each.

Unfortunately, our other starter of the burrata with eggplant salad, walnuts and bottarga (SGD28++) was firmly in the fuck no camp.  You know how sometimes you see something on a menu and you think “Wow, I’ve never had that before”.  That was me with this dish, wondering why burrata would forsake his normal eternal life partner, the tomato.  So I’m riding the new combo frontier and it’s a bite of only ok burrata with a mushy mess of eggplant that has some lumps in it which you assume is bottarga (cured fish roe) and you’re all, “Yeah, I get why you guys aren’t really a thing”.  

taylor-never-ever

Lucky we get to quickly move past this low point with the bone marrow, wild garlic pesto and anchovy salsa verde pizza (SGD32++).  Amo pride itself on its naturally leavened pizza bases, made with semolina and extra virgin olive oil and rightly so, because their pizza base was a major fuck yeah.   Fantastic bite through, not too thick or too pathetically thin, it’s got a bit of char on it and they haven’t scrimped on the toppings.  There’s nothing sadder than a pizza where the restaurant decides it’s perfectly ok to allocate one piece of salami per quarter or something equally fucking miserly.  The bone marrow has been cooked well so it’s not just a fatty, gross lump and fuck me, the wild garlic pesto is just fucking great in its sharp garlic and bright basil flavours. TL:DR:  PIZZA GOOD, GET IN HOMIES.

You all know what life I’m all about and yasssss, carb life, pasta life is truly my best life.  I hesitated on ordering the caserecce with black pepper, guanciale and saffron (SGD27++) because these simple pasta dishes can be so super fucking dud if any one component of the dish is fucked up.  Regardless, Mr Vegetables was all “I don’t know two of those words in that dish but let’s get it”, which is the exact sort of attitude I require from my dining homies.  My hestitations were unfounded though because this was O M F G best carb times for sure.  Caserecce is a free form, slightly twisted pasta which means all the more surface area for the fuck yeah olive oil, cheese, rendered down fat from the guanciale (cured pork cheek) to adhere to.  Topped with a little bit of freshly ground black pepper and crispy bits of guanciale, this was my fuck yeah winner winner best in show dinner dish of the night.

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The fettuccine with beef shank, mushrooms and orange salmoriglio (SGD28++) also made my heart go boom boom for fuck yeah carbs with the tangy orange salmoriglio sauce playing nicely against the smokiness of the beef shank and mushrooms.  Some of my dining homies declared this to be their favourite pasta of the night.  Either way you swing, both pastas at Amo were definitely not a waste of your fuck yeah carb quota.

The black cod with crab cioppino (fish stew) and fregola (SGD38++) was also fucking delicious.  Two pieces of perfectly cooked black cod are served on a bed of fregola (a spherical pasta, similar to Israeli couscous), cooked into a big bodied crab cioppino stew.  Every component on this dish was a fuck yeah, which meant that we scraped this dish clean.  We also had a side of baby gem lettuce with crispy pancetta and anchovy sauce (SGD12++) in that token attempt to try and get some, sigh, greens in our life.  Don’t bother making the same #newyearnewme choices my FYN homies cause this was such a dud side.  Like why do I want to eat quartered tiny lettuces that have been drenched in what feels like mayonnaise (it’s the anchovy sauce).  It just felt like a caesar salad trying to go posh and overall just became an exercise in FUCKING WHY.  I was just all, hey gem lettuce dish thing why are you even trying?  Why are you even a thing??  Why am I not eating more delicious and more well thought out pasta instead??

right-thing

For dessert, there’s one of my all time fuck yeah Italian pud puds, the Tiramisú (SGD18++).  It looks like it’s gonna be a winner, chilling out in its fancy ass glass bowl with chocolate curls grated looking all classy and shiz.  Unfortunately, it’s ratios are all over the fucking place like the reliability of the Singapore trains and there’s just too much cream interspersed with some soggy bits of liqueur soaked sponge.  I’m sure Amò weren’t going for this but it just reminded me of when your bread crusts fall into the sink and get all waterlogged and puffy in the drain.  Our table thought the almond cake with strawberries, lemon honey and vincotto (cooked wine) (SGD15++) sounded like it was going to kick some goals but instead it just kicked us in the face by being a massive dud.  It’s this dense cake, dusted with bits of toasted nuts which doesn’t really show case anything good at all.

Fuck, it’s honestly getting to the point with restaurants and sub-standard desserts that I feel like I need to specifically ask to talk to the chef, look him or her dead in the eye to determine their commitment to pud and say “Chef Homie, level with me – I know you’re not a pastry chef and this isn’t probably your jam but are you or are you not dialling in your dessert menu?  Cause I’m not here to dish out SGD15++ for some cake that you’ve thrown on there just because you had to have something in the sweets section”.  I JUST CAN’T FACE ANYMORE SUB-STANDARD END OF MEAL CAKE:

grumpy-cat-cake

So some dud points but overall, carb life is the best life and dude, Amo romps it all the way home in the pizza and pasta stakes.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah!!! But don’t waste your time on dessert, double TRIPLE down on carbs.

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.

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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.

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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??

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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:
Meats (HOLY SHIT, a functioning website in HK – my, how you’ve grown up since I’ve left)
GF, No. 28 – 30 Staunton Street
Soho, Central
Hong Kong

FYN Hot Tip:  It’s where that piece of pedestrian trash Jaspa’s used to be.

Phone:
+852 2711 1812 or info@piratameats.hk, but lolz doesn’t matter cause fuck noooo, NO RESERVATIONS (but I get it, patrons are so fucking unreliable we’re no longer allowed the privilege of a guaranteed table.  GUISE WE BROUGHT THIS INDIGNITY UPON OURSELVES)

Price:
Chef’s menu is HKD420 for a fuck tonne of food.  Cocktails are HKD95.  No service charge, so don’t be an asshole and make sure you tip your servers (menu declares all tips go to the staff).  I’d estimate getting out at around HKD600-700ish before tip if you’re drinking.

The deal:
Meats is the fifth restaurant in the Pirata Group’s empire with the Scottish chef, Paddy McDermott at the helm.  Outside of Scotland, Paddy’s done his time in Melbourne (OMG small bars guys), Toronto and Dubai, before landing in Hong Kong.  I’m generally a big fan of the Pirata Group because I think the guys behind it, Manuel Palacio and Christian Talpo, actually give a fuck about their food and aren’t just pumping out any old shit which will bring in the HK bucks.  Which is why there’s some sort of poetic justice that they’ve set up their latest joint on the ashes of the Staunton St location which used to house Jaspa’s.  Which is probably the epitome of a HK smash and grab for cash which unfortunately works, because let’s be real, a lot of people are terrible at eating and making sensible decisions.

Meats’ ethos per their website is to present traditional and unconventional cuts of meat and show off their fuck yeah flavours by using a variety of techniques including house-smoking, rotisserie and charcoal grilling. Some are served just with raw sea salt to let shit speak for itself or they might get all fancy on yo ass, splashing about marinades made from jalapeños, Szechuan peppercorns or coffee.  I gotta be real though, even though I fucking love to eat meat, I just cannot get into the name Meats. It’s a name that sounds like it’s one badly positioned PR release away from a HK champagne brunch with topless male waiters with a tagline promising that you can get your meat while you watch your meat.  FYI HK SEXIST PR FUCK KNUCKLES, THAT IS NOT A PROMPT FOR YOU TO ACTUALLY EXECUTE THAT BRUNCH IDEA, OK?

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From a liquor perspective, Meats are running with a bourbon theme which I give a fuck yeah for meshing with its meat heavy concept.  I can also respect a restaurant whose cocktail list consists of three drinks only – the Old Fashioned, Manhattan and Whiskey Sour.  Cause fuck yeahhhhh, those are all drinks that I can fully get behind, so much so that I had two Old Fashioneds before dinner. When it comes to the wine list, in a similar style to the other Pirata restaurants, the wine list is short but with a good range of prices so you’re not gonna be bankrupt because you dared to live out a massive dream by having a bottle of wine with your meal.  Oh yeah, don’t tell me you don’t know the exact feeling that comes over you when you’re reading a wine list and you’re all “Nah mate, I’m cool, sure I’ll pick the wine.  What do you guys prefer, red or white?”  as you have to calmly mask your rising internal panic when you realise that bottles start out at a “cheeky” HKD1,000 before service charge before galloping uncontrollably towards Brokemotherfucker Mountain. 

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There’s an a la carte menu but our table went for the HKD420 Chef’s tasting menu.  The actual selection of this will change and you don’t receive any sort of formal menu which indicates what this will be but they will check whether your table has any allergies or things they don’t eat.  I took my A-team which means we left it completely up to Meats given we are a no allergy, we eat everything, hollow bellied cohort. Imma gonna tell you now – the Chef’s tasting menu consists of small plates of their dishes so you can get a taste of almost everything and while the serves themselves might not be big, there is a lot of content to cover and it ends up being generous as fuck.  DO NOT pre-game because you’re not going to need Maccas on the way home.  I’m gonna talk you through just some of the dishes we had, rather than a full blow by blow account because there were just so many fucking incredible things.

We start with some roast chicken croquettes with roasted garlic mayo, which are perfect appetisers to get things started and they reminded me of the fuck yeah croquettes you get at Pirata’s other restaurant, The Optimist. But then we’re barelling into a beef tartare which gets its seasoning from cured duck egg yolk and has pickled mustard seeds which cut through the rich beef and egg yolk with its acidity and slight heat.  No bullshit toasted brioche or pitiful dried out bread cracker to eat it on, instead Meats is serving this good shit on a crisped up beef tendon.  No gluten, no brioche, just crispy tendon tartare times = NO WORRIES MATE.

To make up for this gluten free scenario, the bone marrow is served with tarragon bread crumbs and anchovy butter.  I’m so into bone marrow, which means I always order it. Unfortunately, 80% of the time it ends in disappointment because it hasn’t been cooked enough so it’s a congealed fuck no mess or there’s barely any bone marrow in the awkwardly cut piece of bone which they’ve served to you.  No such problems here at Meats and for once, I’m not just looking at a piece of bone, desperately trying to smash a piece of bread into it as I try to extract any sort of value out of it.

So I know every western chef which moves to HK has to solemnly swear to HK Immigration as part of their visa conditions that they will “take influences from Asia” in their dishes and do a photo shoot in their chef whites, against the visceral, bloody back drop of a butcher in a wet market.  However, the two dishes that Chef McDermott has done that with aren’t too over the top in banging home the “I’m cooking in Asia bitches, check out how adaptable I am cause I’m using soy sauce”.  The beef tongue skewers are tender cubes of beef tongue cooked in oyster sauce are served with sliced fresh chilli, coriander and crispy fried garlic.  Another massive highlight are the lamb ribs – bite sized  pieces of lamb are served on the bone and are grilled with cumin, sesame and master stock.  This shit comes clean off the bone when you go eat it and if it wasn’t for the copious amounts of food coming our way, I would have hunkered down with a bowl of these and smashed way through them.

There’s some other things like Hanger Steak served with Korean BBQ Jalapaeno reslih and Smoked Bacon with miso and ketchup but they’re all footnotes next to the mighty, Iberian porchetta.  Meats take a pig, debone it, marinate the shit out of it with thyme, sage, tarragon, oregano fennel seed and white pepper which has been emulsified in extra virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar before rolling it into a pork roast.  The pork roast is them stuffed with a salsa made from the same green herbs used in the marinade before slow roasting it and then crisping up the skin. I know that I’ve sworn off ordering roast pork at restaurants because it’s often so fucking boring and poorly executed but this juicy as fuck, perfectly seasoned and yeah, of course this herbed up shit was fucking amazing.  Quote from Mr This is Bullshit who was three cocktails and half a bottle of wine in “I wanna regurgitate it so I can eat it again, so I can taste it again”

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The passionate as fuck and extremely affable, Nacho Lopez, the Meats restaurant manager checks in with us to see if we are full and of everything’s ok before serving our final dish. It’s the innocuously named Slightly Spicy Fried Rice, which uses pork and sriracha mayo, topped with a fried egg. This was my absolute everything, the fat from the pork melding with each grain of rice, with the slight spice of the sriracha, tomato and the broken egg yolk pulling it all together. It reminded me of all those Chinese banquets that always finish the meal with fried rice to signify not only the end but to add the final bookend to a meal, to ensure that you want for absolutely nothing and you’re completely replete. Which is exactly how I felt at this point in time. This is the dish that I woke up the next day and thought “It started out with a dish, how did it end up like this, it was only a dish, it was only a dish??” before I aggressively texted every food loving HK homie in my phone about how they needed it in their lives ASAP to become a better person.

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I gotta say that while all of the meat based dishes were so good, the sides at Meats weren’t as good.  For example, the carrots were a bit bland and overcooked and the fries were so salty because they added chicken salt and normal salt.  But I think a lot of this is new opening kinks which should be fixed and none of them were fatal because at the end of the day, you’re not at a place called Meats to eat fucking carrots are you??

Per FYN’s tagline, we had to power through dessert now, trying all three on the menu and fuck yeah, a restaurant which doesn’t just dial in dessert which is pretty standard these days.  The Coconut Lime Pie was very good, with the super fucking delicious coconut ice-cream romping it home and the Caffe Mocha was giving me the tiramisu feels, with its coffee cremeux, espresso sponge and Patron XO.  But the real dessert winner is the Pear Tart Tatin in all of its caramelised, skillet glory, topped with bourbon caramel vanilla ice-cream. I’d tell you to leave room for it, but real talk – you’re gonna be fucking stuffed by this point so you’re just gonna need to power through and suffer later.

Now here’s the deal, I eat out so fucking much and it’s almost as if I’ve burned out my pleasure centre by snorting my way through restaurant after restaurant, city after city, as I try and find something to make me really feel anything at all.  But fuck, when it does happen, it’s that rush which pulses through your body almost instantly and I all I can think about the next day is that one moment or a dish which sticks inside my psyche like a piece of gum to your brand new sneakers.  Post my meal at Meats I got that fuck yeah rush.  The rush when I fire off text messages to all my homies that they have got to fucking try this place with a stern instruction that when they do, we need to workshop what they have to eat.  That rare occurrence where price point, food, ambience and heart felt service just works for a place. And that’s when I remember the reason why I sit through so many mediocre and overpriced meals at new restaurants because every now and again, your heart will remember it still knows how to love with the fire of a thousand Chinese factories.  Even if that love is for a few pieces of meat done fucking perfectly and an absolutely mind-blowing fuck yeah plate of rice at a completely reasonable fuck yeah price point.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhhh!  HK FYN Homies, if you gotta get onboard a new restaurant train (which I know is your greatest want #causehk), get on board the Meats Train, get an Old Fashioned while you wait out the no reservations palaver and then ride it all the way into Fuck Yeah Town.

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