Central

Where:
SAAM (fuck yeahhhh, fully functional website)
G/F, 51D Graham Street (just up from The Globe)
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2645 9828

Price:
The seven course tasting menu cost HKD788 (+10% service charge) with seven half glasses of wine at HKD 348 (+10% service charge), so HKD1,250 in total.

The deal:
Chef Patrick Dang summarises his background and cooking in three sentences on his website, “I was born in Hong Kong. I was raised in Australia. The globe is my inspiration.” and if you had to categorise his restaurant, I’d say it’s ‘Modern European’.  There’s been a fair bit of press around SAAM and the new ‘Back to School’ set tasting menu which is being offered in September / October and as a few FYN homies had told me that they’d really enjoyed the menu, my linen loving self decided to forgive SAAM for proclaiming shit like “We want to take away tablecloths; while maintaining styled elegance” and rounded up some homies to go and check it out.

However, SAAM do not make it easy for you to book a table at their restaurant, outlining a long list of requirements to achieve a booking on their website.  You need a minimum of four people.  You need to pay a HKD200 deposit per person via bank transfer and then whatsapp in the proof.  You can book online but despite the bank deposit requirement, you still need to hand over credit card details.  For reservations of less than four people you go through the same hoops but it’s on a ‘first come, first served’ basis (which really seems contrary to the whole fucking point of a reservation??).  On top of all of that, SAAM will only hold your table for 15 minutes, so don’t be late homies. Either way, SAAM’s reservation shit is NOT easy.  I imagine some of this comes from the fact that SAAM is relatively small, probably seating 20 – 30 people and flakey no-show fuckers (yes HK, I mean almost all of you) would really mess their economics up.

Chef Dang’s vision for his ‘Back to School’ menu is his homage to all the HK kiddies headed back to school in September and is a play on all those mass produced school lunches but of course all fancy and cheffed up.  Each course is named simply and there’s a twist with each course, with the promise of bringing some lightheartedness to the table and no doubt, meant to evoke that innocent childhood feeling inside every diner. Cue every fucking food blogger overusing the adjective  “whimsical” and potentially throwing in some carefully researched Alice in Wonderland quotes about Chef Dang’s mad creations taking you down a fantastical and wondrous culinary rabbit hole.

SAAM kick off proceedings with an Irish oyster amuse bouche (which is in no way connected to the School Day theme).  There is only one waiter for the entire restaurant which means it takes him a few rounds to serve everyone’s food but he’s also knowledgeable, friendly and succinctly explains all of the food we’re about to eat.  The first course is  ‘Nutella & Toast’, where a small pastry (the “toast”) is stuffed with “nutella” (which is in fact a truffle panna cotta), served alongside a scallop crudo and some hazelnuts. It’s interesting and tasty enough, but definitely benefits from being presented within the context of it riffing on the appearance of Nutella toast.

This gimmicky (though tiny) opening course is followed by the simply titled ‘Cereal & Yoghurt’ which was one of my favourite fuck yeah highlights from the night. A small dish of fuck yeahhhh foie gras parfait is topped with a thin layer of pineapple jelly.  SAAM have scattered savoury crunchy granola and small peppered pieces of pineapple on top, with a few small piped blobs of almond yoghurt.  I fucking loved this dish because it was full of fuck yeah contrasts – the crunch of the granola against the soft foie gras, the acidity of the pineapple cutting through the fatty foie gras.  I could have spooned this foie gras concoction onto little toasted crackers all day and into my face, even without being loaded up with a cutesy school food story.

It is at this point that I start to panic regarding whether I’m going to be swinging by McDonald’s to get some McWings afterwards as each tiny though elaborate course disappears swiftly.  The wine pairing provides a half-glass with each course and SAAM are definitely showing some precision in their pours.  It isn’t one of those scenarios when you order a matched ‘half-glass’ wine tasting menu and end up getting generous almost full glass pours and you drunkenly roll your lush ass out of the restaurant.  I enjoyed the wine tasting but I guess I’m just a fucking lush cause I wanted more wine.

The third course of ‘Sausage & Egg‘ was the most successful in terms of the surprise factor that SAAM were gunning for.  The dish arrives with a super convincing ‘sunny side up fried egg’ which has actually been constructed from coconut and the spherification of some butternut pumpkin puree (which mimics the membrane of an egg yolk).  WHOA, SURPRISE NO-EGG EGG YO!

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Our helpful waiter instructs us to mix the ‘yolk’ with the ‘egg white’, to form a dipping sauce for your ‘sausage’ made from lobster. Sure it’s a bit gimmicky but even this grumpy, cynical gloomy fucker can let a little slice of corny no-egg egg sunshine into my goth as fuck heart and enjoy the fuck yeah pumpkin, lemongrass infused coconut sauce with the lobster ‘sausage’ sprinkled with madras curry flavoured bread crumbs

Next up was the ‘Fish & Chips’ course which didn’t play too hard to trick the fuck out of you with fancy shit.  Despite it not having a M Shyamalan twist, it was one of my favourite fuck yeah courses.  A decent sized slice of poached turbot is served on a bright green bed of mushy peas.  A ‘potato crisp’ is made out of thin reconstituted potato wafer, flavoured with vinegar powder, cleverly hinting at chips splashed with vinegar.  A ball of deep fried tartar sauce is as tricky as this dish gets and it was just a well balanced, fucking delicious course.  All I wanted was MOAR TURBOT. Much tender. So wow. Many fuck yeah fish related feels.

The ‘Gluten free noodle soup’ is described as a gluten free chicken instant noodle.  That’s because the noodles are actually made from pureed chicken breasts.  Our waiter explains that it takes five hours to make these noodles, explaining that it’s super fucking tedious to remove all the tendons.  Sure, it’s clever and chock full of technique but fuck, I’m not convinced the pay off was fucking worth it.  HOWEVER, the superior abalone broth which took two days which is poured over the noodles is fucking spectacular. I’d happily skip the extruded chicken mousse noodles for a gluten filled bog-standard wheat udon noodle as a pay off to get triple the amount of dat fuck yeah broth.

Rounding the corner into the final savoury course, it’s the ‘School Roast Dinner’ which doesn’t stray too far from what anyone would perceive as a roast dinner, except it’s been poshed up to the max with a singular ‘potato fry’ and ‘umami gravy’.  The Australian Wagyu short rib is cooked sous vide and then grilled so it can get some semblance of brown onto it.  Fuck, I don’t really get behind sous vide that much and I dunno why fancy ass chefs are so obsessed with letting meat sit in a warm bath all day rather than just fucking cooking it properly in the first place?? Blah blah tender blah blah gentle cooking blah blah even temperature, fuck off I know I know, I’m just not fucking into it.

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Either way, the beef was still fucking delicious and ‘umami’ sauce was just a fancy way of describing ‘concentrated mushroom’ sauce.  I gotta be real that I would have preferred a bit more char on my beef, but due to the lameness of warm bathtime sous vide beef, I get that you have to avoid overcooking it.  I also don’t know if the reconstituted potato smashed into a singular mega-fry shape added much to the overall dish, but the sides were all a side note to the fuck yeah beef.

The dessert course is the simply named ‘PB&J’ and it’s a peanut butter parfait with a grape sorbet, served with some tiny champagne grapes and lego shaped banana pudding.  It’s nice to look at and quite the hit with our table.  I categorise this one under a solid dish which is cute enough. My less curmudgeonly homies seemed to enjoy this more.  The flavours were a fuck yeah but didn’t seem to necessarily come together cohesively enough for me.  I just wanted more from this dish to move it from an interesting concept to a solid fuck yeah dessert moment.

What I liked about SAAM was that it was trying to do something interesting and have its food tell a story.  Was every dish as successful as it had set out to be?  Fuck no.  Was my palpable fear of going through one of those modern, food for ants tasting menus fulfilled?  Not quite, but on a scale of 1 to ‘I gotta get McWings on the way home’ hunger scale, I was probably a 6.5.  Which means that if SAAM hadn’t been so tightassed with their bread (fun fact, you gotta hand over HKD9 per person if you want bread. Like, R U SRS SAAM, HKD9 is really changing the economic metrics of your restaurant, when I’m already handing over HKD1200+ per person?) I would have been fine. Were some dishes fucking about with fussy techniques, just to do something different and provide a surprise moment?  Fuck yeah.  But there was still the occasional major fuck yeah moment like the ‘Cereal & Yoghurt’ foie gras parfait or the ‘Fish & Chips’ turbot with the mashed peas.  Chef Dang is putting something different out there which is unique in Hong Kong and while some of that may result in 5 hour chicken mousse noodles which don’t really outperform your run-of-the-mill standard udon noodle, I gotta admire that it takes balls to do something like SAAM.  And I’d take that any day over all the Mexican-Korean fusion horrors which have taken over this city.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah on pay day, cause this modern creative shiz don’t come cheap.  But I’ll caveat it that SAAM isn’t going to be for everyone.  I’d only recommend getting involved if you want to try something different and you can jive with the wank-off fact that you’re sometimes eating the story as well as the food. HOWEVER, DEM CEREAL AND YOGHURT, FOIE GRAS PARFAIT FEELZ DOE.

Where:
Cecconi’s Italian
2/F, 77 Wyndham Street
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2565 5300

Price:
HKD750 each for three courses and a bottle of wine between two people.

The deal:
Cecconi’s has moved from its Elgin Street digs to the cursed second floor of 77 Wyndham Street. There’s some bad mojo going on that floor because I’ve been to so many different unmemorable restaurants at that location. I heard a rumour that it’s now haunted by the Ghost of David Laris, who slaps steaks and choreographs awkward dances for leggy models while screaming in anguish the names of restaurants past, before fixing his steely gaze upon you.

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Sauce

“LAAAAAAAARIS”, The Ghost of David Laris shouts in a double barrelled reference to his former Laris restaurant and his last name. Cries of “THE BELLBROOK!” have also been known to ricochet across the floor before The Ghost of David Laris rhythmically slaps another steak while shouting “NO PRETENCE! NO PRETENCE!” at all that dare to pass. Regardless of the rumoured second floor hauntings, Cecconi’s has rebooted itself less than two months ago, shipping in Chef Michael Fox (of Cecconi’s Melbourne and Vue de Monde fame) to flog their contemporary Italian fare.

We’re seated by our slick head waiter and settle on our choices from a menu which at least seems interesting. Cecconi’s bread game was on good form and I’m shovelling their fuck yeah bread and grassy, intense olive oil into my head while I settle on the “Poached veal, fried tuna mayonnaise, caper berries” (HKD178 +10%) for my entree, pondering whether there should be a comma between fried tuna and mayonnaise. I always fucking love that classic Italian veal vs tuna vitello tonnato combo and I was looking forward to checking Cecconi’s shit out, even while I did think that HKD178 is not an insignificant amount of cash for a starter.

However, while leaning towards being expen$ive, Cecconi’s starter was a beautiful fuck yeah – poached slices of medium-rare veal against the deep fried cubes of creamy, shredded tuna. This fuck yeah combination of proteins was set against a herb sauce, mayonnaise and briney, punchy capers. Fuck yeahhhhh, even at the price point I can get behind this substantial serving of masterfully balanced ingredients with its fuck yeah presentation. It was fucking great, I would most definitely order this again and I’d recommend it to anyone who is never happy with just the one animal on their plate.

Although the secondi dishes looked really interesting I always judge an Italian restaurant by their pasta and I decided to give one of their less traditional pastas, ordering the “Pumpkin ravioli, red mullet, bouillabaisse sauce, shiso” which clocks in at at a solid HKD238 (+10% service charge). It arrived looking pretty rad – packets of ravioli against several precisely poached pieces of red mullet. This dish was interesting in the sense that I’ve never had pumpkin ravioli with bouillabaisse and shiso but while I was ok with this dish I can imagine that a lot of people would not be down with this fairly fishy dish. The bouillabaisse sauce is giving off some big seafood feels which I can jive with but I could imagine some people don’t appreciate being socked in the face with a shellfish broth when they’re getting their pasta on. I get what was meant to be happening here – salty bouillabaisse sauce reminiscent of the ocean is meant to play against the sweet red mullet and the pumpkin filling of the pasta, with a fresh herbal shiso note thrown over the top of it all. While I liked it enough at the time, I certainly wouldn’t be telling anyone that they have to get involved with this dish if they were to come to Cecconi’s. I always think that a fuck yeah pasta should involve deep, primal emotions where every fiber in your body is desperate to cram every last piece into your being while you force yourself to eat slowly so this carb-filled dream can last as long as possible. I didn’t get such feelings from Cecconi’s pasta, which means that sure, you can file this one under an interesting dish where I’ve never had that flavour combination before but fuck me, I don’t know if my lifetime ever needs me to revisit said flavour combination. My dining homie ordered the duck parpadelle which he was more underwhelmed with, declaring it to be only a 6/10. So I’m assessing that Cecconi’s pasta performance hasn’t exactly killed it and for an Italian place, they’re on the edge of a FYN fuck no death knell because I’m of the view that Italian restaurants need to slay on the pasta front if they want to claim they’re the shiz at what they do.

While the entree and main servings had been of a decent fuck yeah size, I stayed true to my FYN motto and decided to power on though pudding. While I wanted to get the tiramisu (fuck yeahhh, cream, coffee and liquor – what’s not to love?), I decided to mix shit up and go for the “Mango panna cotta, macadamia, coconut sorbet” (HKD78 +10%).  After one bite, I knew that this is where Cecconi’s was going to stave off the fuck no death knell of an only adequate pasta course through their monumental fuck yeah efforts on the pudding front. Cecconi’s panna cotta game was off the fucking hook with every component pounding its fist down in a resolute FUCK YEAH. Even though I’d been served a very generous scoop of coconut sorbet, I desperately wanted at least two more scoops of that fuck yeah, delicately flavoured snow white coconut beauty in my life. Then you pair that good sorbet shiz with a perfectly smooth panna cotta which wasn’t a gelatinous mess (fuck no to over-gelatinised rock hard panna cottas), sweet mango and some toasted macadamias and you know you’re having a major FUCK YEAH dessert moment which makes up for the interesting though not amazing pasta experience.

Aside from the major fuck yeah entree and dessert that I had here, the staff at Cecconi’s were definitely on their shit all night and get a big fuck yeah for consistent, attentive service. In a HK rarity, our waitress was even able to remember who ordered what and accurately presented all our plates without checking, so I gotta give props to that. Cecconi’s head homie was a solid fuck yeah host – checking in at appropriate points to see if everything was ok and keeping us well watered all night. What a novelty for HK – a restaurant which actually kept my wine glass filled all the time instead of my normal go to move of where I cast desperate eyes trying to find anyone to help me, while my parched tongue lies thick and boozeless, a victim of apathetic and inattentive service.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah! While Cecconi’s might not have nailed the pasta dish, everything else I ate there was a fuck yeah and I gotta throw my full hearted support behind waitstaff who are on their A game from start to finish. I’d definitely brave the chance of running into The Ghost of David Laris again, even if it was just to have that veal and tuna dish and mango panna cotta in my life again.

Where:
曾記粿品 (Openrice entry)
Shop 8, Sheung Wan Cooked Food Market
1 Queen’s Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

FYN Note:  It’s next to ABC Kitchen, look for the red / white Chinese sign.  It’s only open for lunch too, so don’t try and go for dinner.

Followed by:

KFC
Shop 231A, 2/F Shun Tak Centre (ie. the Macau Ferry Terminal)
168-200 Connaught Rd
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Phone:
I don’t think you really need the phone number for either place.

Price:
HKD100 for two people at 曾記粿品 and HKD27 for the KFC Double Down.

The deal:
Mr Judgmental and I had planned to make a return to 曾記粿品, a tiny shop in the Sheung Wan Cooked Food Centre which specialises in Chiu Chow cakes (or as my SE Asian homies would call it, ‘kueh‘) and other dishes such as Chai Tow Kway (菜头粿 – also known as carrot / radish cake) and the Oyster Omelette Pancake (耗煎 – O Luak or O jian / 蠔餅 – hou beng in Cantonese). While the other dishes may be of varying quality, the Oyster Omelette is off the fucking chain.  However, somewhere between the planning for Oyster Omelette and getting some other pan fried Chiu Chow / Teochew kueh, the news came out that the Double Down had come to KFC HK.  Yes, the gut busting burger monstrosity that substitutes two deep fried chicken fillets for the standard burger bun, with cheese and bacon stuffed inside.

I gotta admit that I fucking love to get a HK New Food Scoop (lolz) but even my greedy ass limits were being tested by the idea of the KFC Double Down.  I floated it with Mr Judgmental whether we should postpone our Oyster Omelette date and go and be amongst the first to smash a HK Double Down instead, despite strong reservations that the Double Down was going to be disappointing.  He shot back instantly that we should get our Bang Bang on.  That’s where you have two full meals at two different restaurants. Sensing my calorie loaded hesitation, I got a stern talking to that this was an opportunity similar to 2010 when people went from ‘Katniss who??’ to ‘Katniss yesssssssssssss!’ and with that hard hitting pep talk I was all FUCK, I get the poetic logic of a Bang Bang double meal which involves a Double Down and I pinned my Mockingjay badge on, pulled on my hard cunt pants and declared “I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE!!“:

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曾記粿品 is as basic as you’d expect for a cooked food centre.  From previous experience, we’d already established that the png kueh (a tear drop shaped kueh filled with rice, peanuts and pork mince) is a fuck no, too much dough and not enough filling.  Mr Judgmental hadn’t been a huge fan of their carrot cake (claiming it was too sweet), so instead we loaded up on some kuehs, an oyster congee and my first, my last, my everything – DAT OYSTER OMELETTE.  For the kuehs, we ordered the garlic chive, taro and white radish ones (you need to order at least three if you want them to fry them for you).  These are quick and easy snacks, the garlic chive one being my fuck yeah favourite of the three.  Yeah, we doubled up on the Chive Kueh.  The oyster congee was fairly unexciting but DAT OYSTER OMELETTE was still the fucking magnificent beauty that I remembered.  A generous amount of large oysters fried into a crisp, tapioca starch and egg omelette which deserves all the FUCK YEAHS ever.  Oyster Omelettes can be so sad for so many reasons including tiny ass oysters of poor quality, crappy gloopy consistency due to too much tapioca starch or poor frying which means it’s just a fuck no, greasy mess.  Fuck eating poorly fried food with all of the calorific impact but none of the fuck yeah delicious, crispy times.  No such concerns at 曾記粿品 though, because this was a fuck yeah crispy oyster pancake masterpiece which I ate seasoned with a little bit of fish sauce, white pepper and my own salty tears of pure and unadulterated happiness.  How can HKD42 at 曾記粿品 purchase such jubilation? I cannot fully explain it but for anyone jonesing for a fuck yeah oyster omelette, I can’t imagine there’s a better fix available in Hong Kong.

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With our stomachs well sated by a fuck yeah budget priced lunch of HKD100ish for all of our food, we set off under the heat of a thousand suns to trek to the Shun Tak Macau Ferry Terminal, the only KFC in the Central area.  Under the bright fluorescent lights of Shun Tak, I had the sudden realisation that I’ve never actually physically been to a KFC in HK.  Praise be to the availability of online ordering or the fried chicken gathering skills of Sir Crunch-a-lot.  Not that my lack of patronage to KFC Shun Tak Macau Ferry Terminal has been hurting business because these guys were rammed, a long line of customers snaking out and around the KFC.

Sgt Noms:  Do you think they’re all here for the Double Down?
Mr Judgmental:  No, I’ve scoped the tables – I’ve only seen one person eating it.
Sgt Noms:  What about that awkward white dude who’s avoiding eye contact with everyone?
Mr Judgmental:  Yeah, he’s probably here for the Double Down.  Just as we are.

Thanks to KFC’s fuck yeah efficiency, we were soon placing our order for the Double Down (HKD27).  Mr Judgmental added a Hot & Spicy thigh piece as well as some waffle fries.  We stepped past our awkward white dude homie who was unwrapping his own Double Down and soon, we were staring down our meal which was putting the bang into BANG BANG.  Look at that glorious piece of Hot & Spicy thigh, lying all seductive as fuck in its plastic wicker basket, flanked by the innocuous looking Double Down:

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FYN Fun Fact:  Did you know that at HK KFC that cleanliness is next to godliness?  Have you been eating KFC all your life with your bare hands like some sort of wild, heathen animal?  HONG KONG, I AM TRULY LIVING IN THE GENTRIFIED FUTURE NOW.

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Do you ever read those food blogs where someone has carefully staged a photo of an avocado artfully smashed across a thick cut piece of five grain toast while a gently grilled charcoal kissed tomato sits to one side? Just to the corner, a blue and white porcelain milk jug with a sprig of wild rosemary peeks out precociously, while in the front of the photo there’s the gentle curve of a vintage mother-of-pearl handled knife which sits almost out of frame, while all of this is casually strewn across a rough hewn wooden table made from the deck of an ancient Greek fishing boat?  Yeah, well FYN food photography gets you the greasy wrapping paper of a Double Down which repeatedly declares SOGOOD SOGOOD, a greasy ass lump of fried chicken, bacon and cheese, with a plastic glove peeking out from the top left corner.  Fuck yeahhhh, behold the culinary wonders of Shun Tak Macau Ferry Terminal!

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All I could think about at this stage is why was our built to order Double Down so fucking soggy.  It’s not like we’d sat around for 10 minutes gazing at our Double Down before we unwrapped it?  I care so deeply for my FYN homies that I even took a cross-section of the Double Down so you are all now fully equipped with the deep fried chicken truth.

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Scientific dissection complete, it was time to glove up and get Doctor Chicken Takedown in the house.  I am not entirely sure what I was expecting from the KFC Double Down but from a base level I fucking love fried chicken, bacon and cheese.  How could combining these three things be a bad thing? Ohhhh but there’s always surprises in life and first of all, WHY WAS THE CHICKEN SO FUCKING SOGGY?  The flaccid bacon lay lifeless between the two soggy ass Original spiced chicken fillets with the highly processed melted cheese binding the whole mushy affair together.  But the greatest horror was the “mayonnaise” – which was so fucking sweet, with a fruity overtone.  I chewed my Double Down, pondering my life choices which have led me to this deep fried juncture, while I thought over and over “WHY DOES THE MAYONNAISE TASTE LIKE PINEAPPLES!?”.  It was like they were trying to put the Hawaiian feeling into the Double Down and trust me, the sweet mayonnaise fought valiantly for attention in the Double Down Salt Bomb Arena, taking me back to the Saltiest Ever Paella that I ate at La Paloma.

A close up of my KFC all glove no love shame:

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Despite whatever shortcomings it may have had, I still finished my Double Down in its entirety.  I stripped off my glove and in the cleanest I’ve ever been post-eating KFC, I jealously watched Mr Judgmental destroy his piece of KFC Hot & Spicy thigh while I reflected on how the Double Down could have more fully lived up to its fried chicken potential.  Why did the Double Down use Original chicken fillets, rather than what I feel would have been a superior fuck yeah choice of the Hot & Spicy Zinger burger fillet?  From my research, I understand this is an option in some other markets. It shouldn’t have been that hard to execute a Double Down – all the Colonel needed to ensure was that his homies were using crispy chicken patties, a decent slice of crispy bacon, about one-third of the cheese that we received and normal non-pineapple flavoured mayonnaise.  But then again, what expectations do you really have of a novelty chicken item that has taken five years to get its greasy ass to Hong Kong??

As sure as people will never let you exit the MTR before they get the fuck on, I felt fucking awful all afternoon.  The Double Down truly did take me down.  Maybe it was the obscene amounts of sodium.  Maybe it was the alleged cheese.  Maybe it was because I ate three times my daily recommended calorie intake in a Bang Bang lunch affair where everything was fried.  Maybe it was the inevitable guilt and shame that overcomes someone after indulging in some KFC dirty bird because that truly is the darkness that clings to your psyche, long after you’ve removed the greasy glove and moist toweletted yourself down with the faint scent of medicinal lemon. But sweet greasy KFC darkness, oh yes, I will come for you again. Just in your traditional form and not in a fuck no sandwich which uses soggy chicken fillets to substitute the bread.

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Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhh to the best fucking Oyster Omelette that I’ve had in Hong Kong.  Fuck no to novelty chicken items at KFC – but I’m not gonna lie, I could get my glove on again for a piece of that delicious fuck yeah KFC deep fried chicken thigh.  Original, Hot & Spicy – I know I’ve got room in my heart for both.

Where:
URA Japanese Delicacy
2F, The Wellington
198 Wellington St
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2111 9381

Price:
My lunch set was HKD148 (+10% service charge).  +HKD15 for dessert.  Other lunch sets ranged in price from HKD98 to HKD368 (+10% service charge) depending on the ingredients.

The deal:
URA Japanese Delicacy has only just opened in Sheung Wan in the last month or so.  The pictures on their FB looked pretty fucking tasty so I rounded up Ms Two Serves to try URA for lunch.  URA’s done a good job with its cool as fuck decor – all shades of grey, black and gold, neon signs and black and white photo prints of near naked tattooed Japanese yakuza gangsters.  The main reason why Ms Two Serves and I were here was that we’d seen the A4 Miyazaki wagyu steak and sea urchin rice bowl (HKD438 + 10% service charge) on Facebook and both of us wanted to smash it into our fatty boombah faces.  Check this rad looking shit out, yasssssssss:

Unfortunately, the waitress returned to let us know that they sold out of uni last night.  WTF URA HOMIES – how can you be out of uni just in time for Friday / weekend prime time?! I pushed my fuck no disappointment to one side and opted for the reasonably priced HKD148 (+10% service charge) Buta Set – the Kagoshima Kurobuta pork rice set with Ms Two Serves going for the exxy HKD368 (+10% service charge) Sukiyaki Set – A4 Miyazaki wagyu beef set.

Each set comes with a chawanmushi (steamed egg), salad, rice and a cup of hot japanese tea.  The starter organic salad comes out in a small bowl and while I can appreciate the effort gone into sourcing organic greens, I don’t appreciate that there isn’t enough dressing and it’s 90% rocket.  I don’t mind a little bit of rocket but I never want to chow through a bowl of it.  The chawanmushi is excellent, fuck yeah hunks of prawn and a silky egg custard but while it’s got some cute presentation going on, the main problem is that it’s so goddamn tiny.

The main buta pork set arrives and it’s all laid out on a wooden tray with more cute containers (ie. fucking tiny) but I’m a greedy cunt and all I can think is ‘Ohhh, is that all there is?’.  There’s a thimbleful of soft tofu which is delicious, but tiny.  The set comes with two small sushi rolls filled with deep fried ebi (prawn) and two small tamagoyaki (egg cakes) which are fine but nothing remarkable.  URA Japanese Delicacy proudly states that they fly their ingredients in daily from Osaka (fuck no, dem food miles) and the grilled Kagoshima Kurobata pork is a fuck yeah, grilled to perfection (lolzzz j/k, you fuckers officially have permission to shut my Internet access down if I ever spout such fuck no platitudes).  The pork was a little on the thin side but it had some fuck yeah charcoal times going on.  Served with a dipping sauce, this was a fuck yeah except like everything so far, the six to seven pieces of air-freighted pork were definitely not enough for me to find the satiety I so desperately fucking desired.  I even hoovered down the entire bowl of rice in a desperate attempt to try and fill the void that in no way had been filled by the tiny ass portion of Kurobata pork.

Even sadder was Ms Two Serve’s Gyu set, the A4 Miyazak wagyu beef rice set at an eye watering HKD368 (+10% service charge). The extra bucks might get you some fancy-ass beef but it’s all fucking teeny tiny.  Ms Two Serves looks at me with panicked eyes as she realises that she’s spent too much money for not a lot of food, desperately scraping at her miniature tofu pot in the quest for a few more molecules of food.

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Ms Two Serves opted to pay the extra HKD15 for the mini almond tofu dessert.  When her order was forgotten she chased it up with the waitress who after a few minutes came back to ask “Which dessert did you order?” which was a bit puzzling, given that there’s only one fucking dessert choice on the menu.  When it finally arrived, Ms Two Serves said it was fucking delicious but guess what, the trend is your friend because it was also SO FUCKING SMALL.

There is no issue with URA’s food and ingredients. Nothing we ate was a fuck no or improperly prepared.  It sucks balls that we couldn’t get the signature uni/wagyu dish (although at HKD438 for a serve that doesn’t look that fucking big, perhaps this was a blessing in disguise) but there just wasn’t anything that stood out at URA.  Most importantly, both of us needed more fucking food afterwards.  It ain’t no lie, Ms Two Serves and I stopped in at Passion by Gerard Du Bois in Central to get something to fill us up and when Passion failed to deliver, Ms Two Serves got herself some fishballs and wontons later to try and sate the beast.   Not that Ms Two Serves could really afford a second lunch after her A4 Wagyu Beef Set + dessert  combo coming in at HKD421 after service charge = fuck no, USD54!!!!!  Like srs URA, should anyone be hunting down fishballs after forking over HKD400+ for a lunch at a relatively casual restaurant??

Verdict:
Fuck nooo, cause hold me closer, tiny unremarkable lunch set.  I’d only give URA a fuck yeah if someone else was paying and they were down with you ordering two lunch sets per person.

Where:
GOLD by Harlan Goldstein
Level 2 , LKF Tower
33 Wyndham St.
Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2869 9986 (or unbelievably for HK – FUCK YEAH, ONLINE BOOKING)

Price:
Steak or lobster set dinner is HKD388 (+10% service charge).  Full disclosure homies, I got my free eats on – fuck yeah nom$. With wine and a few extras, you’d probably get out total at around HKD700-800.

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The deal:
Steak Frites was the hot 2014 trend where every second restaurant which opened in HK was peddling some sort of steak and fries combination, slathered predictably in some secret, signature sauce.  La Vache set the scene and then the similarly named L’Entrecote de Paris and Le Relais de l’Entrecote followed.  I gotta be real, I’m not really down with that French L’Entrecote style where they cut your steak up and serve it in a bed of sauce, over some tealight candles.  Maybe it’s a function of how fucking greedy I am, but I’ve never really struggled with finishing my steak and wishing it had been kept warm by poncy candlelight. But more than anything, I fucking hate receiving a pre-cut up steak – hey French steak homies, tell me why I can’t cut up my own fucking steak??

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Cut to the summer of 2015 and I now look fondly on the HK halcyon steak frite trend days versus the fucking atrocious fusion Korea food trend (Italian/Korean, Mexican/Korean – WHY IS THIS A FUCKING THING) and the +HKD150 burgers trend that HK is gripped by at the moment.  Harlan’s restaurant GOLD in LKF is offering this summer special til the end of August and I got my fuck yeah nom$ on with Ms This is Bullshit, my rare steak friend 4 lyfe.  The deal for everyone else that isn’t an opinionated asshole with a blog is HKD388 (+10% service charge) for either the 10oz prime grade steak or a 9oz Maine Lobster Tail served with unlimited green salad and fries.  I ain’t ever going to swing Team Lobster vs Team Beef, so I can’t advise on how Gold’s lobster is.

Ms This is Bullshit and I are all over oysters so we kick proceedings off with a couple of oysters.  As Gillardeau No. 1 oysters, it means that shit is large and in charge.  But as premium air freighted jet-fresh oysters, shit ain’t cheap either with each one clocking in at HKD58 (in addition to the steak frites set).  These briney bastards are everything I want from an oyster – firm with enough texture to verge on being crunchy with a nutty, creamy, slightly metallic tone.  I guess your choice here is to figure out if you’re cool with paying HKD58 for a singular fuck yeah oyster and if you are, get involved homies cause shit was rad.  If not, I guess figure out how you can import some live Gillardeau oysters on your own into HK for cheaper.

Some fresh foccacia is served but take my advice and leave this to save valuable stomach real estate for superior deep fried potatoes later.  The included green salad arrives and it’s actually more impressive than I thought it would be.  I was anticipating a functional though dull garden salad that you unenthusiastically chew your way through in a token nod to not being a total fat fuck who only desires to subsist on high GI carbs made from refined wheat, deep fried potatoes and various hunks of animals.  But Gold’s salad had a bit of that Asian thing going for it, reminiscent of the fuck yeah Nikuya 298 sesame salad (sorry homies, I never got around to writing it the fuck up).  Salad greens were fresh as fuck and wasn’t too heavy on the bitter greens (fuck no to salads which get too rocket / radicchio happy), toasted walnuts to give dat healthy shit some texture and most importantly, consistently tossed with a fuck yeah dressing with ginger, sesame, soy and some lemon to cut through it all.

But as if anyone really picks a steak experience on salad so it’s time for the main event, the 10oz USDA All-American super prime grade 60 day wet aged rib eye steak. Ms This is Bullshit and I had been trading messages all week about how fucking excited we were to get our rare steak times on because we want our steak to be just a shade above bloody. Gold’s steak thickness is in the middle – not being too thin but not being one of those mega-thick monsters either.  Despite this, Gold’s steak gets a fuck yeah in execution – a good char on the outside, bang on rare on the inside and for more impressive fuck yeah points, despite it being cooked rare, the steak’s fat is nicely melted through and not congealed in cold, white lumps of fuck no sadness.  It’s served with a fuck yeah jus and a whole bulb of roasted garlic.  UNFFFFFF, roasted caramelised garlic can get some.  10oz is definitely a decent fucking amount of steak but in an indication of its fuck yeah status, I forced myself to eat slowly because I wanted this fuck yeah steak to last forever.

I gotta give a shout out to the fries as well.  I fucking hate it when restaurants start dicking about with fancying up fries – either cutting them too thin into almost potato strings (so there’s no soft interior to them) or just cutting them into thicker duck fat fried chips (hai Butchers Club, imma looking at you).  I have no issue with deep fried taters in most forms but if I’m signing up for fries, I’m expecting mother fucking shoestring fries.  Gold don’t fuck about and the shoestring fries game is tight – scoring fuck yeahs on the crunchiness, temperature and no fucking about with the size/width.

If you wanna keep powering through, there’s the option to add a ‘liquid nitrogen creation dessert’ for +HKD68.  While I can’t get behind the choice to use hashtags in the promo of #tasty and #refreshing (stahhhp Harlan), I can get behind appropriately light desserts after smashing through an epic 10oz steak and all the deep fried fries.  The enigmatically named ‘liquid nitrogen creation dessert’ consists of smashed frozen yoghurt chunks, on top of an almond crumble with some thin slices of dehydrated / liquid nitrogen blasted apple.  It’s not as epic a fuck yeah as my one true love, the dessert platter at Penthouse, but even I’ll concede that this fat fucker might have struggled to take anything heavier after a massive steak frites feed.

So, when you’re weighing up whether you’re gonna go to Gold for Steak vs Lobster Frites, I’ll be real – this isn’t the cheapest deal in town but considering what other places are charging for high quality steaks it’s not the most expensive either at HKD388 (+10% service charge).  For your reference, the other steak options around town include:

  • La Vache – steak frites + a salad = HKD278 (+10% service charge)
  • Le Relais de l’Entrecote – steak frites + a salad = HKD288 (+10% service charge)
  • L’Entrecote de Paris – steak frites + a salad = HKD268 (+10% service charge)
  • Bistecca – American USDA Prime Grade Beef Fillet 8oz only = HKD398 (+10% service charge)
  • Porterhouse by LARIS – ehhh these newly established assholes have helpfully put a menu up without any fucking prices, but I remember their steak only being around HKD398 (+10% service charge) for an 8oz steak.  Sorry homies, no FYN guarantee of factual accuracy.
  • Butchers Club Steak Frites – varies depending on the cut but HKD550 (+10% service charge) for a 14oz 40 day dry aged bone-in rib eye + duck fat fries and a wedge salad.  You may or may not end up dining without power and having a waiter smash espresso martinis all over you.

I know almost everyone has a massive hard on for La Vache but I’m too fucking cantankerous to deal with their no booking policy and I just cannot with having my steak pre-cut for me cause I’m not a five year old child and I do know how to use a knife.  So if you love the La Vache deal, don’t be an asshole and go to Gold and spend the whole night bitching about how you miss the neon cow, the dessert cart and the extra HKD100+ this is costing you.  However, I really fucking enjoyed the steak frites set at Gold and fuck yeah, I can get behind a super solid 10oz juicy, tasty as fuck steak with the unlimited fries/salad for the HKD388 price point.  You might roll out of there at more than that by the time you add in red wine and oysters, but that’s gonna happen at any other steak frites joint too.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhh, I got dem USA rare beef feels and I was dreaming about that juicy fucker for days afterwards.  Imma going back before this Summer deal’s over on my own bucks.

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