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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?

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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.

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?

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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.

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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”.

So one thing I get asked all the time by my FYN homies is for recommendations.  Now ignoring the fact that 95% of these fuckers just ignore everything I say, end up going to bullshit tourist places and then send me super dross “OMG so sorry, just ran out of time!” messages which results in me cataclysmically lose my shit.  The reason I get so fucking bent out of shape is because I take recommendation requests super fucking seriously and spend a fucktonne of time writing them.  It’s cause I care about my FYN homies and I don’t want to be the reason for people having a shithouse time (especially when they’re on holidays) but even better, I wanna be the reason why people have FUCK YEAH NOMS when they’re living the good holiday life.

I’ve never written country guides before because I tend to only holiday for a short amount of time and I can’t give what I would consider to be a comprehensive, all encompassing guide to a place.  But then I realised, fuck it, who wants to read another bullshit sponsored travelogue piece with one hundred mediocre places to go to and a shit tonne of pictures of blissed out, dull to the max girls who want you to feel their blessings when you just wanna find somewhere good to snack down and not burn any of your limited meals at hype monsters.  So while this might not be the be all and end all guide to Helsinki, this is a list of some of the good shit I saw in FUCK YEAH HELSINKI.

TL:DR FUCK YEAH HELSINKI

So, I never hear that many people going to Helsinki – everyone preferring Iceland, Denmark and all that jazz.  I mean, I get it – Iceland has all that fuck yeah scenery going for it and Björk, and Copenhagen has bronze mermaids and food shiz like Noma and its compatriots.  But fuck, you guys should also get on the HEL YEAH Helsinki train for a cheeky fuck yeah stopover if you want a small, very walkable city which has to offer many fuck yeah noms, clean as fuck Scandi aesthetics and super friendly fuck yeah Finns.  I think three to four nights is probably a good bet and if you had more time you could probably do some nature based day trips outside of Helsinki or catch a ferry to Tallinn in Estonia).  Either way, I was way into Helsinki and give it a HEL YEAH FUCK YEAH.

FUCK YEAH PICS

For all of you fucks who can’t be bothered to read my shit, you can just check out the very handy FYN #fynhel hashie on Instagram.  Fuck yeahhhhhh, no reading required.

FUCK YEAH FLYING HIGH

Do you know what fucks me off about travel reviews?  When blogs blab on about the great experience they had on X airline.  Fuck me, put me in business or even premium economy for free and I’ll write you a review so glowing you’ll be able to put my ass in a lantern and use it to show you the way through the dark mines of bullshit blogging commercialism. However, I’m a tight ass and I always fly at the back of the plane so I can save more money for eats and I’m more often than not, in the middle seat, so this is gonna be some FYN Real Flyin’ Talk.

I flew Finnair for the first time and made a short stay in Helsinki as part of a European trip and guys, it was so fucking good (even from my very unblessed long haul economy position).  After years of enduring #lifewelltravelled Cathay We Have Systematically Destroyed All the Value in Our Brand and Customer Loyalty by Gutting the Fuck Out of the Marco Polo Program and Completely Eliminating Any Service Proposition But it’s the Fuel Prices Which Caused Our Bad Profits No Really Pacific, I almost didn’t know what to do with myself.  From the above average plane meal, good natured hosties, offers of multiple snacks (Oh Cathay, don’t think I haven’t forgotten how you wouldn’t even give me a fuckin’ cup noodle on a 7+ hour flight because you claimed that you only serve meals), a decent amount of space and my fuck yeah, Marimekko themed blanket, this was as good as it could be for any 12+ hour flight in the cheap seats.  OH and there was fuck yeah wifi in the sky for EUR19 for the whole flight.  Fuck no to ever enduring long haul without wifi ever again:

nowifi

Even better news for my faithful HK Cathay Pacific Hos who can’t quit that abusive relationship, Finnair are oneworld so you can still get those minimal airmiles.  Nevertheless, Finnair, imma coming for you again.  FUCK YEAH.

FUCK YEAH LOGISTICS

Who the fuck wants to read pages of information in I’m so Lonely Planet or a bunch of poorly designed government pages?  Here’s the real skinny on the good shit to get you out of the airport and into Helsinki ASAP:

  • Language:  The official language of Finland is Finnish.  However, Finland has fuck yeah levels of English.  You’re going to be so fucking spoilt – signs and websites are all in English and everyone speaks flawless English.  Fuck yeahhhh, easy language times!!
    yourworldis
  • Tourist info:  When you leave the departures section and head towards the train station, you’ll see a tourist info desk.  There’s maps, guides regarding what’s on and they can also answer all your questions.
  • SIM card:  Who the fuck wants to travel without data?  Once you roll out of the Airport departure section (but still within the complex), you’ll see a R Kiosk convenience store where you can buy a SIM card.  I got one from DNA, which charged on a per day basis and it didn’t cost me that much for a shit tonne of data for about EUR10.
  • Lockers:  If you need to stash shit, it’s on the level below departures.  Look for the Burger King, take the escalators down and there’s lockers which are EUR5 for small and EUR6 for large per 24 hours.  It only takes credit cards and you’ll need a pin.  I had to try five different credit cards before I could get one to work, so be ready homies.
  • Transportation:  Sure, you could take a taxi (about EUR50 to get into the city) but trains are efficient and cheap in Helsinki.  Once you’ve cruised past the Tourist Info and the R Kiosk, you’ll eventually see the train ticket machines.  Most of them are credit card only.  You can either buy a single ticket (EUR5) or a day ticket (EUR14) which will let you catch buses / trains / trams.  You’ll wanna go to Helsinki Central and it takes about 30 minutes from the airport.  There are no bullshit stair sections (like Tokyo) so you’ll be good with your large luggage.  You should also download the HSL app so you can buy tickets while you’re in town without cash.  To catch the tram, it’s EUR3.20 for an 80 minute ticket.  Same applies for buses but fuck catching buses when you’re a tourist and you have fuck all idea on where you’re going.
  • Uber:  I opened the app and saw about two of them cruising around all of Helsinki.  I don’t think it’s a thing here.
  • Taxis:  I barely saw any roaming about, I think it’s a get your hotel to call them for you scenario.  Taxis will take credit card.
  • Cash:  Euros.  Almost everywhere accepts credit cards, even smaller market stalls

FUCK YEAH LODGINGS

My style when it comes to hotels is I want somewhere convenient, well priced, clean and modern.  I don’t need to pay for five star ultraluxe shit when I’d rather be plowing that cash straight into fuck yeah noms vs a doorman who calls me by my name.  I stayed at the Hotel Indigo Helsinki – Boulevard and it was an affordable and decent fuck yeah.  Would I gush over it and say it was the best ever? Probably not.  But from a price point (EUR120ish+ a night) to service, availability of fast and free wifi and its location, it’s a fuck yeah.  Added bonus, there’s a Nespresso machine in the room which is a big deal if you’re someone like me who needs to mainline coffee in the mornings to get moving and that instant shit isn’t going to cut it.  I’d potentially try somewhere else just for something different if I returned but if I couldn’t find anywhere else, I’d happily go back here.

FUCK YEAH NOMS

I wasn’t ready for just how epic I found eating in Helsinki.  I thought it’d be pretty good but I think I was just really into how they approached produce, referenced traditional Finnish food and then made it into something new which had clarity in direction and purpose.  I gotta confess, I was passed an awesome list from Jaakko Sarso (who’s the Head Chef of FINDS in HK) that he’d put together for someone else and maybe this is why my Helsinki eats were so fucking tight.  Either way, Helsinki, you made my heart beat real and true and I hope others get the opportunity to press their palms against your confident, culinary ways and find beautiful love that shines dazzling and pure, like glass made from your clearest Helsinki skies.

davechapelle-thinking-about-you

Word of warning for Helsinki restaurants:  Girl, this isn’t Asia where people need to bust their ass 24/7 just to survive, so don’t waltz in expecting everything to be open whenever you fucking want.  A lot of shit is closed on Sunday / Mondays and also for certain Summer periods.  Check your dates and days carefully when planning your eats.  I got stuck on a Sunday morning for breakfast and even the (in)convenience stores weren’t open until midday.

Tipping at Helsinki restaurants:  Almost all restaurants seem to include a service charge.  I am not sure if this goes to the waitstaff or not.  From my online research, I understand that tipping is not expected and based on the meals where we did tip or leave change, there was a distinct sense that it wasn’t expected and sometimes even a little bit awkward.  If I’ve got any Finnish homies who wanna give me the definitive low down, hit me up in the comments below.

  • Restaurant Ask:  I’ve been subjected to so many overpriced, disappointing and mediocre meals when travelling because of the Michelin Guide that I’m wary as fuck and don’t go hunting this shit down as often as I used to.  However, Restaurant Ask (one Michelin star) was one of the best meals that I had in Helsinki.  A small restaurant which doesn’t feel stiff (while still keeping the table cloths) with laser sharp service and more importantly, a menu which is focussed on organic produce and showcasing nuanced and modern Finnish flavours.  Fuck yeahhh, the realisation that there’s still a place for fine dining but it doesn’t mean 3+ hour menus of over-tweezed food and hushed dining rooms.
    Price:  EUR49 for the four course lunch menu and EUR45 for the wine package.  I added a few more courses with more wine and coffee and rolled out at EUR150 in total.
    Booking:  Online available and most definitely required – lock this one in as soon as you book your tickets.
    Verdict:  FUCK YEAH.
  • Basbas and Staff Wine Bar:  Unfortunately their bistro is closed on Sundays so I took my first dinner and wine at this casual and cosy as fuck wine bar.  I watched cool Finnish peeps hang with their tattooed friends and dogs, chatting over much wine.  It was meant to be just snacks but they were so good, it ended up becoming a bang bang before our planned dinner.  The burrata served on pesto with white anchovy is one of those dishes you’ll remember forever because it was just so fucking good.  Super relaxed and knowledgeable wine bros who asked what you were into and made stellar fuck yeah recommendations which weren’t too predictable either.
    Price:  Small snacks from EUR6+.  I can’t remember on wine but it wasn’t outrageous.
    Booking:  Nah mate, it’s a wine bar.
    Verdict:  Most definitely a fuck yeah for casual wine bar times.
  • Restaurant Grön:  One of the hot as fuck restaurants in Helsinki, which specialises in all that usual hipster restaurant bullshit which I’m such a sucker for.  You know the plays – largely plant based, foraging, local produce, preservation and pickling.  There’s going to be all sorts of little touches like sunflower seeds in pine dust, salt which includes dried wildflowers from this year and last year (daisy, taggart, nasturtium and meadowsweet) and food where every element on the plate actually means something from a flavour perspective. UGH, I’m so fucking predictable but I ate this produce story up and fucking loved it all.  It’s quite a small space with an open kitchen where you can see three chefs hauling some serious Scandi ass in there.  They sometimes even leave the kitchen to serve and explain your food.  To all my pretentious, food lovin’ homies, you gotta get in here if you’re ever in Helsinki.
    Price:  EUR49 for the four course dinner menu (two starters, a main and a dessert) – and it’s definitely enough food.  I actually thought I’d ordered the additional Fish course but when it didn’t arrive, I was grateful.  No matching wine available, but wine list is reasonable in price (our bottle cost EUR65).
    Booking:  Online available and get onto this shit ASAP as soon as you book your tickets.
    Verdict:  Fuck yeah – especially if you’re into that foraged local produce and vegetable hipster shit.
  • Bronda:  A beautiful restaurant with a bar up the front, high ceilings and bright natural light and clean wooden furniture.  A menu which swings more continental Europe with a strong Mediterranean tilt (vs specifically Finland) and I’d recommend it as a lunch place or swing in for casual evening drinks. I had this OFF THE CHAIN, Salmon Stew in “Basque” Style, which had huge pieces of roasted salmon with crispy skin dotted with saffron aioli, slow cooked octopus, chunks of chorizo sausage, braised fennel all in a garlic flavoured tomato saffron broth and fresh dill. Every fucking thing in this dish exploded with colour and fuck yeah flavour and that salmon was just something else.
    Price:  Small snacks EUR5 – 8.  Mains around EUR25 – 30ish.
    Booking:  Online available but it’s a huge dining room, you can probably chance this with a walk in.
    Verdict:  Fuck yeah.  I will dream about that salmon stew for as long as breath can enter this body.
  • Sea Horse:  If you want to take a break from all that riffing on traditional Finnish food and go for the all out, classic Finnish experience, then Sea Horse is your restaurant.  Established in 1936, kitschy as fuck decor with plenty of pink neon, there is nothing trendy or modern about this place and is definitely a place for tourists.  I wouldn’t by any stretch of the imagination say that the Beef Steak a la Sea Horse is going to be the best meal you have in Helsinki like the folk at Monocle claim but I most definitely did enjoy the Lohiketto (Finnish salmon soup) and the fried steaks of Baltic herring with with blue cheese-red onion filling, mashed potatoes and pickled beetroot was straight forward, comforting as fuck and allegedly unchanged since the 1950s.  Sometimes living in the past ain’t all bad.
    Price:  Mains are around EUR20 – 40.
    Booking:  I’m sure you could call them but we walked in on a Saturday night with no issues.
    Verdict:  Fuck yeah for traditional Finnish food but I wouldn’t go back on a return visit to Helsinki.
  • Ekberg 1852:  Ekberg operates a cafe, bakery, patisserie and a delicatessen.  It’s also one of the few places that are open for a Sunday breakfast / brunch because the rest of Helsinki is at home, enjoying their life and not working.  The brunch here is traditional Finnish style – cold cuts, cheese, bread, rice pudding and cereal (lolz, like I went near that).  I wouldn’t say that eating here is essential but you should absolutely and without doubt hit up their bakeries for their baked goods.  I recommend the korvapuusti, which is a Finnish cinnamon roll which translates to “slapped ear”.  Spiced with cinnamon and cardamom and topped with pearl sugar, I took down two of these rolls in bed and I greatly regret that I don’t have access to these yeasty buns no more. Pulla pulla pulla, you don’t treat me no good no more??
    Price:  I can’t remember, but baked goods were not expensive.  Breakfast brunch was around EUR20.
    Booking:  No online bookings.  I walked in for Sunday brunch (right at open) but recommend calling in a booking as many of the places were reserved.
    Verdict:  Fuck yeahhh cause Finnish carb life with all the pulla (cinnamon spiced buns) = best life.
  • Juuri:  Billed as Modern Finnish, this casual place seemed like it had potential.  Relatively good prices and friendly service, it has small plates for sharing (Sapas = Suomi Tapas) for little bites which reference Finnish ingredients.  However, as the meal moved on, it was clear that Juuri had bigger ideas than they could pull off.  And I knew it was all over once I got served a plate which was meant to be cauliflower presented in different forms and one of it was an almost burnt tempura piece which I had to check with the waitress to see what it was (cauliflower) and ugh, a cauliflower foam.  Like really guys, are we still doing this foam thing??cocktaoofoam
    Price:  Sapas are around EUR8, with mains are around EUR25.  The five course tasting menu was EUR56.
    Booking:  Online is available, but no need to book months in advance.  Recommend making a booking if you are interested (but read the verdict first).
    Verdict:  Squarely one of those restaurants which has some good concepts but just couldn’t pull it off.  Fuck no.

FUCK YEAH MARKETS

  • Helsinki Market Square:  It’s a bit of a tourist trap but amongst the reindeer pelts and I Love Finland beanies this is a good opportunity to hit up some traditional Finnish snacks at reasonable prices in one location.
    Verdict:  Fuck yeahhhhhh
  • Things you should look to try:
    • Lohiketto – a creamy salmon soup made with dill and filled with potato and carrots.
    • Lihapiirakka – meat pie (it looks like a giant fried doughnut ball, which it esentially is, but stuffed with minced meat and rice).  Fuck yeahhhh, carbs on carbs.  Wash it down with a cup of shitty coffee because the Finns drink the most coffee in the world and there’s only terrible coffee available at the market.
    • Salmon plate – near the ocean side, there’s a few stores that will sell plates of grilled salmon with fried vendace (a small white fish) topped with creamy dill sauce and lemon.
    • Reindeer sausage – at the same place of the salmon plate, some will sell a reindeer sausage which is A1 fucking delicious.
    • Moose meatballs – it’s probably touristy as fuck but with a bit of lingonberry jam and some garlic sauce, I thoroughly enjoyed getting my fuck yeah tourist on.
    • Fresh produce – there’s so many stalls selling fresh berries which look off the hook.  If it’s in season, I’d recommend getting a litre of fresh green peas.  These little fuckers will be so sweet, you can just pop them open and eat them raw.
  • Hietalahden Kauppahalli – first of all, don’t be fooled by the website or the internet saying this shit opens at 8am.  I wouldn’t bother getting here until 12pm because Helsinki is not an early morning city.  Contains a number of newer style casual restaurants (including Japanese).  I had some kick ass soup at SOPPAKEITTIÖ (opens at 11am).  There’s a flea market out the front if you want to buy some Fin’s second hand rubbish for big prices.  Yes, flea markets seem the same the world over.
    Verdict:  Fuck yeah food market, fuck no flea market.
  • Hakaniemi Market Hall – a lot of tourist guides say to go here but I’m not into it at all.  The ground floor seems more suited to people who actually live in Helsinki and can cook that shit up and the second floor is just full of bullshit tourist tat.  Unless you really wanna buy half a raw cow and chill out with it in your hotel room or something. You’ll be better off at Hietalahden Kauppahalli.
    Verdict:  Fuck no.

FUCK YEAH DRANKS

  • A21 Decades Cocktail Bar:  A cocktail bar which claims to have been awarded The Best Bar in Finland and The Best Bar in the World (not sure by who), it’s stylish but also doesn’t take itself so seriously which I’m into.  There’s nothing worse than walking into a bar and feeling your entire spirit being crushed by a whole load of cocktail wank off.  With a long ass menu which references the 1990s, childhood feelings, different areas of Finland and a map showing you how to form your perfect gin and tonic based on your flavour preferences, this is a place which takes fuck yeah cocktails seriously whether it’s the old classics or new and exciting house twists.  After a week of slamming through Helsinki eats, I found the Finnish section the most interesting.  I had two cocktails 1) the Isokari Sour using sea buckthorn jam as its base with cinnamon, orange, lemon and Jalovina. 2) the Helsinki Cocktail which used Absolut Vodka, Cardamom, Smooth Prince espresso, Lemon and Raspberry vinagrette, topped with a crunchy piece of rye bread and fresh lingonberries.  Served on an over the top tray with a slab of rock and some dried vegetation it was a little bit sweet, tart around the edges, referencing the Finnish berries that’s been spliced into my food all week and then there were the spices which hint at colder times around the corner.
    Price:  Cocktails range from EUR10 to EUR15.
    Verdict:  Fuck yeah!
  • Roster:  After slogging through Market Square and gorging yourself on all the local food, you can make a pit stop at Roster.  Relatively new with a large space inside, there’s also an outdoor section for you to chill out and drink fuck yeah cocktails from or choose from their fuck yeah wine list.  There’s a restaurant too which is meant to be good but I was full as fuck post my market adventures so just drank cocktails instead.
    Price:  Cocktails were around EUR10 to EUR15.  Wine list has a good range of prices from reasonable to really fucking expensive.
    Booking:  Online booking available for their restaurant.
    Verdict:  Fuck yeah!

FUCK YEAH ATTRACTIONS

  • Loyly:  Loyly means the steam that rises from pouring water onto the rocks in a sauna.  Accordingly, Loyly is a modern public sauna and restaurant which was only completed in 2016.  It’s a fucking stunning building, designed by Avanto Architects.  An angular wooden building which looks over the sea.  There’s two saunas (dry heat and a smokey sauna where you can hit yourself with a birch branch), a fireplace where you can sit around and have drinks (I’d recommend the Long Drink – a Finnish drink consisting of grapefruit and gin and an after swimming shot, the Sauna Barrel vodka where they keep the vodka in barrels made from the wood of a sauna) and you can even throw yourself into the sea like a true Finn.  I’m an Aussie softcock, so water of 14C seemed cold as fuck to me and I was screaming like a little bitch as I lowered myself in but as the kind Finnish lady next to me told me politely, “It’s not that cold, it’s still liquid isn’t it?”.  GET IN THE SEA YA STRAYAN PUSSY.  It’s a mixed sauna so make sure to bring your swimmers because it’s a no nude policy.
    Price:  EUR19 for 2 hours of locker hire / sauna use.
    Booking:  Booking online is available – recommended.
    Verdict:  FUCK YEAH, this was one of the highlights of my whole Helsinki trip.  You gotta go homies.
  • Designmuseo Design Museum:  A comprehensive overview of Finland’s history of design from interiors, household goods, electronics and consumables.  Spread across three levels, you can probably clear this in less than an hour.
    Price:  EUR10 for entry.
    Verdict:  For design homies, you gotta go.  Fuck yeahhh, Finnish design!
  • Suomenlinna Sea Fortress:  A short 10 – 15 minute ferry ride from Market Square in Helsinki (EUR3.20) these this World Heritage site shows the historic maritime fortress structures built on a group of islands.  There’s small cafes dotted around so you can stop in for food and drink, as well as the usual tourist gift shops. Try and pick a nice day and feel your lungs reel from sucking in that clean Finnish air and enjoying the views of the impossibly scenic Finnish coast line.  There’s a few museums as well – I happen to have a soft spot for military museums and the Military Museum’s Manege (EUR7 for entry) was interesting.  This small museum will give you an overview of the Finnish Defence Forces and how they ended up in a serious fuck no position in World War II /Winter War where they got fucked on by the Soviets decided that they wanted Finland to be part of the USSR, forced to ally with the Germans and when that all went pear shaped, the Germans then also fucked on Finland by destroying a bunch of bridges and shit on the way out.  Fuck no to annexing countries that aren’t yours and fucking up essential infrastructure when you leave a country. I sure hope the Russian translations were a little bit pointed in this part of the museum.why-would-you-do-thatPrice:  Free.  Entry fees for museums.  EUR7 for entry to the Military Museum.
    Verdict:  Fuck yeah!

FUCK YEAH MATERIAL SHIT

I’m not the biggest shopper because I’d rather spend my bucks on fuck yeah noms and fuck yeah dranks.  It’s also because I’m not defined by material things but by my fuck yeah Instagram and my fuck yeah FB page (so please, like the fuck out of it already).  Some shit to check out though:

  • World of Tre: Located near the Helsinki Central train station, TRE is a flagship store for Finnish design in with over 300 brands and 90% of it coming from Finland.  There’s a cool range of fuck yeah design, furniture, lifestyle products, organic cosmetics and fashion which is perfect if you’ve got more discerning homies who don’t want tourist fuck no tat from the markets.
  • Nide: Bookshop with a good range of English and Finnish books.  Buy that cookbook full of Finnish recipes which you’ll never use.  Buy cute as fuck postcards and greeting cards.
  • Marimekko:  I mean, it’s not my bag (literally), but I guess you are in its birthplace?  Go hang out with all the Japanese tourists who are literally doing their Mecca to Marimekko.
  • Helsinki Design District:  While this website has a helpful map to show you particular design related aspects of Helsinki (art, interiors, fashion, food), I found this one more useful which outlines walking routes you can take.  Just be careful which day you do this on because a lot of shit is closed on Sundays / Mondays

Sorry, no clothing store recommendations because I live in Singapore and almost everything I saw in Finland would cause me to spontaneously combust if I dared to wear it outside in the hot hot SG heat.

FUCK NO, SHIT OUT OF TIME

Here’s a list of shit that I heard was good but didn’t get time to go.  If one of you assholes get there, go and check shit out and report back to me:

  • OLO:  Three different restaurants – OLO (fine dining, one Michelin star), Creative Kitchen (which only runs on Wednesday to Saturday nights) and their more casual OLO Garden restaurant.  I did try and get into OLO / Creative Kitchen but couldn’t get a booking.  To be honest, OLO might have the potential of being a little fussy and I was more excited about Restaurant Gron and Ask, so wasn’t that devastated that it didn’t pan out.
  • Restaurant Jord:  The new little, more casual sister to Restaurant Ask.  I didn’t book it because I didn’t want to double up on disappointment if Restaurant Ask was bad.  However, I’d definitely check this one out next time I’m in Helsinki.
  • Farang:  Modern Asian restaurant which is talked about very favourably but fuck, I live in Asia.  I ain’t got time for that!  Sister restaurant to Bronda.
  • Liberty or Death:  Cocktail bar which looked stylistic as fuck but I just didn’t make it in time.
  • GROTESK Bar:  Bar

FUCK YEAH FEEDBACK

So that’s the Helsinki Fuck Yeah HEL Yeah drum – let me know in the comments if you ever use any of the above or if you’ve got your own Helsinki Fuck Yeah tips.

Where:
Bistro November
50 Keong Saik Road
Singapore 089154

Phone:
+65 6347 1928

Price:
SGD78 (+17% tax) for the dinner tasting menu.

The deal:
Bistro November is a pop-up dining concept by Chef John-Paul (JP) Fiechtner which is, as the name suggests, only sticking around until November 2017 when the lease runs out.  I’m not sure what Chef JP’s plan is post this date and whether he’s going to keep living that fuck yeah Singapore good life with Bistro November resurfacing in another format / location.  Regardless of the short time frame this place is going to be open, it doesn’t feel too slapped together, with the Bistro November team keeping shit simple – using existing furniture and various pieces from thrift shops to give it that modern hipster feel.  It definitely has a Melbourne feel to it, except there isn’t some Melbourne asshole next to me telling me about how goddamn liveable Melbourne is, babbling about trams and small bars and for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever – Melbourne coffee.  Every other review will probably describe its interior as “quirky” but that word makes me want to punch myself in the face, so I’ll just go with carefully put together.  The website trots out the usual tat about using “local and seasonal ingredients sourced daily from the nearby Chinatown Wet Market” and it’s this ethos which supports a handwritten menu which changes daily.

Starting with the bread which is stated as being from “friends”, there’s a few different types and it’s served with a house-made miso butter.  The bread is largely A1 good times with some fuck yeah sourdoughs, except for the inclusion of my nemesis, fucking brioche which is predictably a bit dry and a bit crap. Maybe the 1,256th time I try brioche I’ll actually think “Wow, I much prefer this dried out piece of shit over bread” but I haven’t reached that point yet.  There’s some fuss by the waiter about their house-made miso butter which sounds like it should be exciting, with the fermented miso getting along with the creamy butter but in its execution it’s a hard lump which doesn’t spread, just disintegrating into weird, hard, fatty pieces (despite it being at room temperature).   Not sure what’s going on in the House of Home Made Miso Butter, but it appears you’re the rightful King of What’s the Fucking Point and Lord of the Crumbles. Bistro November move past their butter related failures and kick a goal though, with its Fromage de Tete (head cheese) cause there’s nothing like some jellied pig head meat terrine to eat with some fuck yeah bread to get a meal really started.

One of my fave fuck yeah dishes of the night is the barley porridge.  Fuck, I know right – who serves a porridge course unless you’re at breakfast at a health retreat, in prison or at the three bears’ house? Bistro November has fermented the barley and then mixed it with the prawn head butter (ie. the flavourful gunk inside the prawn head that all fuck yeah Asians in the know suck out of the prawn head).  It’s rich, deep in flavour and fucking delicious.  Yeah, I get into the spirit of being Goldilocks flaunting her white privilege while criminally supping on baby bear’s breakfast, because Bistro November’s porridge is, as the fairy tales go, SO FUCKING RIGHT.

poohbearlittlesomething

FYN side note:  Does this GIF now get FYN banned in China?

Our mega main is up next, with a golden pomfret served with beurre noisette.  There’s three of us and the waitress lets us know that it’s normally one fish between two people but with three people, it’s too awkward to split so they’ve given us two whole fish. GO FISH MY GENEROUS NOVEMBER MOTHERFUCKERS, I’m into it.  The pomfret is served whole and on the bone, so if you haven’t got homies who are a) not into fish b) can’t serve / debone a fish (ie. white homies), you are shit out of luck.  Lucky for us, we had enough fuck yeah talent at our table to get shit done and it is fucking sensational.  Fresh as fuck steamed pomfret, topped with onions, edamame and mussels, served with the browned butter in the sauce taking on an almost nutty flavour.  Our table tore through both fish in its entirety.

Less successful was the side dish of homemade soy curd and sour cucumber that was served with it.  It was one of those dishes which makes sense in theory but its execution let it down.  Like, I get that the acidity of the cucumber pickle should have played out against the fat of the beurre noisette, with the tofu bringing a textural and a slightly cooling contrast to the crisp pickle and complementing the the soft flesh of the pomfret.  However, in real life, I was more like “Why am I eating slightly grainy tofu with a piece of flaccid cucumber which isn’t sour or crunchy enough to cut through shit?”.  Cool idea Bistro homies and I know you fucking tried with that home made shiz but fuckkk, shit didn’t quite get to the end goal.  More importantly, why would you want to serve anything to detract from that magnificent fuck yeah pomfret??

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Dessert is chocolate heavy – a raw cacao based cake topped with ice-cream and dried chocolate.  I don’t necessarily get that hot and heavy for chocolate but this one was a fuck yeah because it wasn’t just a slog through a sweet, chocolatey one note mess. Well balanced with a good use of textures, the addition of shiso gave it a slightly spicy, herbal note and with a touch of salt, just brought a solid fuck yeah balance to it and a solid close to the menu.

Service at Bistro November was also tight as fuck, with our two waitresses bringing big smiles all night and attentive service.  In a Singapore blessing, they were actually walking the floor AND noticing when you needed help.

Overall, Bistro November is bringing something interesting to the table by riffing on locally sourced ingredients and mixing it with different techniques, flavours and ingredients that you might not have had before.  Which is interesting and for the most part, they land it.  Of course, with such an ambitious task to change their menu as frequently as they do, you also get the feeling that this is a space for the chefs to try some ideas they’ve had kicking around in their head and to see what lands before Bistro November reaches the end of its lease and the chefs re-emerge at their next venture.  I’d recommend Bistro November for adventurous homies who want to perhaps try something new which will hit some fuck yeahs, they’ll be a few mediocre points where the experiment hasn’t paid off but at least the service will be on point and you’ll have a fuck yeah time and the experience will show you something new about food as well.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah! But get into it ASAP homies cause in the words of Axl Rose, nothin’ lasts forever, even cold hot SG November rain bistros.

novemberrain

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