HK Island

Where:
Warung Malang
2/F, Dragon Rise, 9-11 Pennington Street
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

FYN Hot Tip:  You have to walk up the stairs to the second floor.  If you’re catching the MTR and if you really want to up your Causeway Bay game and reduce time in the hell hole that is Causeway Bay Station, make sure to catch Car 2, Door 2 if you’re coming in from the Central direction and take Exit F (Hysan Plaza).  FYN HOMIES, RULES FOR LIFE – DO NOT TAKE EXIT A (TIMES SQUARE).  NEVER TAKE EXIT A.

Phone:
+852 2915 7859 (I don’t think it’s a booking kind of place though).

Price:
We got out at around HKD175 a person but this was for a DISGRACEFUL amount of food.  A random old lady actually stopped us halfway through our meal, mouth agog to comment on how much food we’d ordered.  I was so fucking full that I thought I might actually explode into a million pieces and my natural breathing was impeded for hours after this meal.  I estimate that most normal people (or even a very greedy cunt) in a group of 4+ could probably spend around HKD100 and still be really fucking satisfied.

The deal:
So after seven months from the horror that was Afrinoms at Chungking Mansions, Mr Judgmental convinced me that it was time to climb back aboard the Ghetto Eats train and to track down some fuck yeah Indonoms. With some apprehension pounding in my cholesterol ridden heart, we walked up some grim stairs past some non-descript doors and found Warung Malang.  With one wall lined with Muslim literature and the other with a small assortment of Indonesian snacks, we suss out the eating deal to the blare of an Indonesian drama playing on a TV.  There’s a number of Indonesian helpers in the restaurant which we only take as a fuck yeah indicator that there should be some good Indonoms on offer.  However, I gotta sound the warning if you’re the type of sensitive homie who can’t deal with greasy floors and very basic, gritty old restaurants this is not gonna be your thing at all.

At Warung Malang, you place your order at the counter and they’ll call the dishes out as they’re ready for collection.  Mr Judgmental and I absolutely went for it and after surveying the menu, we declared almost every dish a must have and as we placed our order for a shit tonne of food we resolutely assured ourselves that “WE CAN HAVE IT ALL”.

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To make sure we were truly ready for Indo-nomageddon, we got our pre-game on with some room temperature pre-fried snacks which are chilling out in the open, on the counter.  I know a lot of my Western homies get all skeeved out by room temperature food but the Indos have got the lock on this pre-cooked food game so calm your farm, cause I promise that this room temperature shiz is gonna be ok.  Warung Malang provides a number of different chilli sambals on the table and that spicy shit is just so fucking righteous, rendering our fried tofu and corn fritter snacks to being mere carriers for a fucktonne of glorious sambal oelek (garlic, ginger, lemongrass, sugar and chilli) and sambal kecap (kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), chillies and shallots).

Our first dish arrives and it’s the Nasi Tempeh Penyet (HKD40).  Tempeh is generally favoured by vegan hippies, consisting of a steamed block of fermented partially cooked soybeans, with hardcore tempeh created through incubating that soybean shiz under a white fungus known as mycelia.  This process gives it a slightly sour, fermented flavour profile and for Nasi Tempeh Penyet purposes it’s then fried to crisp it up, served with more glorious fuck yeah chilli sauce and a serve of rice.  I dunno how to spin this fermented soybean mycelia shebangabang to you but trust me, it’s rad as fuck and you should most def get involved.

The dish I was the most excited about was the Nasi Soto Ayam (HKD45).  Soto Ayam is a slightly spicy, just sour enough soup with shredded chicken breast and clear mung bean vermicelli, the soup coloured yellow by turmeric.  Warung Malang’s Soto Ayam is one of the best I’ve had outside of Indonesia with a kick ass balance of sour and spice from a fuck yeahhh balanced mix of garlic, lime juice, Chinese celery, fried shallots, tamarind and lemongrass.  It was so fucking incredible that I even dared to go back to the fuck no maelstrom that is Causeway Bay on the weekend so I could get another bowl of this fucking glorious soto ayam.

It’s at this point we realise that we’ve made a schoolboy error by ordering everything with rice / nasi.  No shit, because you’ve probably realised that everything we ordered was prefaced by nasi.  The Beef Nasi Campur (HKD50) and the Nasi Goreng Spesial (HKD50) certainly didn’t let our carb laden hearts down and were both really fucking kick ass.  I fucking love a good fried rice and after all the posh HKD128+ fried rices I’ve been eating at trendy Thai restaurants with fake retro vintage ads for Thai soap, the Nasi Goreng Spesial was most def bringing me some spesial fuck yeah feelings with its well fried, shrimp filled rice  The only bummer was the overcooked fried egg sitting by the side which meant I couldn’t bring the really fucking spesial off the hook times by getting yolky with my fuck yeah nasi goreng.

On the satay front we went for the Sate Ayam (HKD110) and Sate Lamb (HKD140).  There’s a good char on both with the Sate Ayam kicking more goals than the Sate Lamb, given that the lamb satay is a little dry.  The satay sauce is also a solid fuck yeah, with a touch of kecap manis to give it a little bit of sweetness. I enjoyed the satay but I don’t think I’d order these again.

The only nasi misstep is the Nasi Ayam Goreng (HKD45).  It’s always gotta be one of the saddest times in my gourmand greedy guts fat fuck life when fried chicken lets me down.  Unfortunately, Warung Malang’s fried chicken is dried out, over fried and largely flavourless, with not even the chilli sauce of the gods being able to save this from fuck no territory.  We also ordered the Empek Empek Palambang (HKD50), which is not my jam at all because it’s giving me rojak feels.  I just have never gotten behind that rojak combination of cucumber, pineapple, belacan/shrimp paste, palm sugar and peanuts in that salty, sweet red hot mess.  The Empek Empek Palambang feels essentially like rojak poured onto instant noodles and it’s sweet, it’s pineappley and more importantly, just not my thing at all.

As six rice dishes wasn’t quite enough carbohydrates in my life, I rounded off my meal with some Indonesian dessert, a Kue Lupis (HKD7).  Kue Lupis is made with sticky glutinous rice coated with shredded coconut and with palm sugar syrup, with a touch of salt to bring some contrast.  It’s plain and straightforward but a fucking delicious way to end off one hell of a fuck yeah, successful Indonoms ghetto adventure.

As the glutinous rice from my kue lupis started to swell in my stomach, I took a moment to reflect upon just how fucking happy I was post this meal.  Taking in that fuck yeahhh feeling when you’ve just smashed something into your face which has been cooked with a fuck tonne of feeling.  It’s here that I reminisce on all the shitty, overhyped meals that I’ve eaten in some overdesigned faux-industrial space, just so I can be HKD1,000+ poorer and be part of a “Have you tried….” new bullshit restaurant conversation the next day. But fuck the pricetags, the hype and all that trendy bullshit, sometimes you just want to eat something that hits you in your soul and when the next day rolls around, you still smile and fucking feel it deep in your goddamn heart.

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Verdict:
FUCK YEAHHHHH! Wonderful Indonesia – I am most def into your delicious and well priced eats in CWB. TERIMA KASIH MY INDONOM HOMIES, I got dem soto ayam dreams running through my head.

Where:
Pho Bar
24 Li Yuen Street West (the alley next to where Topshop is)
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
Unknown – but it’s not like you can book anyway.

Price:
Pho ranges from HKD68 – 88.  No service charge.

The deal:
Pho Bar is tucked away on Li Yuen West in between the cha chaan tengs and market stalls and if you’ve walked past it during lunch time it’s always absolutely rammed with an out of control line down the tiny alleyway.  I am not built for that queueing bullshit, so I decided to make this a weekend lunch attack going exactly at 11am when Pho Bar opens and dining nofriendo styleez.  Sometimes you just gotta cut your homies loose because sure, friendship and conversation is great but when you’re running a No Queuing for Pho Mission you can’t risk the chance of receiving some bullshit message of “OMG so sorry!!! Crazy night last night, I’m running half an hour late – is that ok? xo”.  NO MY TARDY HOMIE, R U PHO REAL? IT AIN’T OK YO.

Despite setting up position at 11am, Pho Bar were still sorting their shit out and only let my over-eager ass into the restaurant at around 11:15am.  Pho Bar only seats about 20 people (12 people down the counter and eight on two tables of four at the back) and its set up is simple.  You select your order by ticking off what you want on a piece of paper and I predictably went for the Supreme Combo (HKD88), which has all of the available toppings.  When placing your order, you also select what condiments you want on your pho, including mint, thai basil, bean sprouts, scallions, coriander, onion and fried garlic.  In case you want to, you can pay to add extra toppings including medium rare fillet mignon, beef shank, etc.  Unfortunately, there’s no option on tendon because I would have shipped that fuck yeah gelatinous connective tissue into my life ASAP.  Pho Bar also have a number of snacks on offer, including the presumptively named ‘bomb-ass karaage’ and house special fries and chicken wings (ranging from HKD24 – 38 each).

Pho Bar also caters for the NCCs (No Carb Cunts), offering the +HKD18 option to sub out your rice noodles for zucchini noodles.  It’s novel and I consider trying the zucchini noodles for at least 0.000001 seconds before I get a goddamn grip on my carb loving self.

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My Supreme Pho arrives and it looks really fucking good, topped with vibrant green coriander and thai basil, pristine white beansprouts and fried diced garlic.  There’s no sad-ass wilty, stringy herbs which is often a trademark of HK pho.  A pho has gotta earn its soup chops so it’s straight in and I found Pho Bar’s soup a touch underseasoned but that’s not fatal because once I added some fish sauce to taste and a little bit of lime, their soup stock hits its fuck yeah stride.  I’d prefer an underseasoned soup which I can fix rather than choking back a SO SALTY affair.  Word on the street is that Pho Bar boils their soup stock overnight and it shows with a good rich beef bone flavour and complexity from a combination of fragrant spices.

The Supreme Pho contains seven different types of meat – medium rare filet mignon, brisket, beef meatballs, tripe, oxtail, beef shank and Vietnamese sausage. It’s all pretty good but the stand out meat items for me were the brisket, tripe and beef shank.  But one stands above all and it’s Pho Bar’s fuck yeah oxtail.  While all the other meat in the pho are largely relying on the quality of their ingredients, what steps the oxtail up is it’s been boiled in stock and spices, so it’s delicately imparted with the flavour of star anise, cloves and cinnamon.  Yassssss, I could have most def eaten a pound of their beautiful fuck yeah oxtail but there’s only one precious piece.

All in all, everything really fucking worked together and you better believe that I drank all that fuck yeah soup and devoured every bit of pho that was in the bowl.  Best pho in HK? It’s a big claim but I think Pho Bar’s is definitely up there.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah! Get involved homies but travel in a small, nimble pack and get there early, cause a 12:30pm lunch appointment is not gonna fly at Pho Bar.

 

Where:
Papparich Hong Kong
4/F, The L. Square
459-461 Lockhart Road
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2414 7188.  

FYN Fun Fact:  You can also fax Papparich HK on +852 2696 4224.  FUCK ME DEAD HK, Y U SO OBSESSED WITH FAXES STILL? WHAT FUCKING YEAR IS IT??

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Price:
We got out at HKD210 a person and ate a very decent amount of food.

The deal:
I always maintain that Malaysian food is some of the most fuck yeahhhhh flavourful and downright fucking delicious food in the whole goddamn world.  There’s just no way that it could be anything other than off the charts epic if you consider that it’s the result of taking indigenous Malay cuisine and then smashing it together with the fuck yeah influences of Chinese, Indonesian and Indian cuisine with a few tiny shout outs to British, Dutch and Thai cuisine.  However, finding super authentic Malaysian food in Hong Kong has always been a bit of a struggle and while there’s a few places I think are fine, it’s always in the coddled context of ‘Malaysian food IN Hong Kong‘, because let’s be real, these mother fuckers would get eaten alive if they were serving the same shit in Malaysia Truly Asia.  So when I hear that Papparich, a Malaysian chain, has hit Hong Kong, I’m super pumped to try it because fuck yeahhh Malaysian food but I’ve played this game before and had my expectations burnt to a crisp, so I keep a lid on any expectations that my Malaysia Truly Asia roti and laksa dreams are about to be fulfilled in Hong Kong.

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Papparich Hong Kong is not meant to be anything fancy and it’s a simple, small dining room which probably seats around 30 people.  When we arrive on a weeknight, it’s almost at capacity and the distinct patois of Malaysia Truly Asia homies rings out around us (la), no doubt because Malaysia Truly Asia homies are always desperate for a good Malaysian makkan. We sit down and decide on what we’re going to order and the Papparich waiters are totally on their shit and efficiently sort us out, which is impressive for a fairly new restaurant which is at capacity.  Mr Vegetables makes a case for the Ipoh Kway Teow soup sounding interesting but he’s instantly slammed down by a group movement to stick to the Big Guns of Malaysian Cuisine cause fuck, if I’m gonna assess a Malaysian restaurant you need to be checking out the Malaysian Food Superstars such as satay, nasi lemak, laksa, char kuey teow and roti and not some soggy ass rice noodles in a clear soup.

We get started with the roti canai with curry chicken drumstick (HKD38 + 10% service charge).  Papprich HK are most def into their semantics because it is literally a singular roti sitting there on the plate.  Unfortunately, our roti is not that flakey and doesn’t have an iota of puff about it and while it’s crispy, it’s also high on fuck no disappointment. The chicken curry is tasty but not earth shatteringly good, which means that the sad roti has my full attention as a crucial warning indicator as to what this meal might entail because would any decent Malaysian kitchen let such a fuck no roti out of the kitchen?  While I contemplate this, our chicken and beef satay arrive (HKD68 + 10% service charge for 6 sticks of chicken satay and HKD78 + 10% service charge for 6 sticks of beef satay) and it’s accompanied by some unremarkable cubes of cucumber, chunks of onion and two small pieces of bread. Out of duty to carbs, I try the naan-like bread and it’s dried out and pointless.   The satay themselves are fine, the beef being the stronger of the two except for it being quite fatty in parts.  But most importantly, the satay sauce is a fuck no because it doesn’t really taste of peanuts or much of anything at all, which seems unusual given that it at least appears to be full of peanut chunks and it’s not fucking hard to make bangin’ satay sauce.

Next up is the Char Kway Teow (HKD78 + 10% service charge) which is the first solid fuck yeah of the night, sparking a small amount of optimism within me for the rest of the meal that is yet to come.  A good amount of char on the flat rice noodles means that it captures that necessary taste of the wok, with a decent mix of fish cake, bean sprouts and prawns to balance out the noodles. A serve of the kangkung (HKD68 + 10% service charge, also known as water spinach or morning glory – yeah titter away you immature assholes) is also excellent, stir fried with garlic and belacan (shrimp paste).

The Nasi Lemak with Curry Chicken and Sambal Prawns (HKD78 + 10% service charge) was absolutely down the line fine.  I was a bit bored by it because the curry chicken that it’s served with was exactly the same curry chicken that we’d already had with the roti canai.  This means I was given two opportunities to eat the same curry chicken which was neither terrible nor fucking amazing. Shit Papparich HK, Y U no show me some curry related thrills?

However, it’s my firm opinion that the best benchmark to measure any Malaysian restaurant boils down to whether their laksa is a fuck yeah or fuck no.  So the star of the masterpiece arrives and at first glance, Papparich HK’s Seafood Curry Laksa (HKD98 + 10% service charge) looks fucking great – stuffed with promise, large prawns, deep fried beancurd skin, mussels and squid.  It’s also scoring points for using my preferred mix of thick yellow egg noodles and white rice vermicelli.  But there’s disappointment all around once we get started on the soup because Papparich HK’s laksa soup lacks any sort of depth or complexity, tasting like Papparich HK merely mixed some sort of curry powder with plain water. It’s just too fucking sad when a laksa lacks a good stock base underneath it and Papparich HK definitely need to get back to the kitchen and start boiling some prawn shells or chicken carcasses down to make some kick ass stock to lift their laksa game.  To provide some additional insult to laksa-related injury, I take one of the impressive looking large prawns and suck at its head to get a mouthful of funky fuck no bad times and after de-shelling it to eat some of the prawn, it’s a slimy and mushy mess.  You know shit ain’t good when you think “I better not eat this because I could be throwing this fucker up in the next 24 hours”.  Which really, seals the deal on Papparich HK because  this is my feeling about Malaysian restaurants that punch out sub-standard laksas with mushy-ass prawns:

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At this point we’re all pretty well fed on a range of largely average dishes but I can’t resist the icy cool lure of Cendol (HKD48 + 10% service charge) for dessert.  Cendol is a Malaysian / Singaporean dessert which is made by combining shaved ice and red bean, before adding a number of different liquids to flavour the ice such as evaporated milk, gula melaka (brown coconut sugar syrup) and other ingredients for textural purposes (such as palm seeds or peanuts).  The signature ingredient of any cendol is the green noodles which should be flavoured with pandan and made from tapioca and green mung bean flour.  Papparich’s cendol is probably the best thing I ate on the night and fuck yeahhhh, I thoroughly enjoyed this well-balanced cendol shaved ice dessert.  Sure, I could nitpick and say that the cendol noodles needed more pandan or were a little floury, but overall, it was fuck yeah dessert times and after a meal with a lot of average moments, this was a fuck yeah way to finish off the meal.

Verdict:
Fuck no – I mean, It wasn’t terrible but it ain’t authentic enough for me to recommend it. Malaysia Truly Asia, the hunt remains on for deep love, honest and true in Hong Kong.

Where:
Mak Mak (FB Page)
Shop 217A, 2/F, Atrium, The Landmark
15 Queen’s Road Central
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2983 1003

Price:
HKD430 per person including wine.

The deal:
Mak Mak is another Yenn Wong JIA Group restaurant which seem to be opening a restaurant in HK at least every two months, adding Mak Mak to its substantial stable of HK restaurants including 208 Duecento Otto, Chahchawan, 22 Ships and Fish School.  Mak Mak is on the second floor of the Landmark shopping mall, occupying the space where the Pringles of Scotland store was, which never had anyone ever fucking in it.  To keep shit interesting and I guess give it a talking point, Mak Mak have installed a SECRET DOOR which looks like a shelf containing condiments.   Omg guys, just fucking love when I’m going to a secret retaurant.  So much so that I’m thinking of opening my own new restaurant concept called “THE OPEN DOOR” which is going to have THREE secret doors disguised as a graffiti mural, an ATM and a dried seafood shop (the door lever will be a shark’s fin) and I’m going to serve all my curated food on secret doors and my curated cocktails in hollowed out secret door knobs. You better fucking believe it that when it’s time to leave you will need to navigate at least FIVE secret doors before you’re back outside. Fuck yeahhhhhh, clandestine door noms.

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Tired door related gimmicks aside, Mak Mak’s interior is predictably cool from the retro Thai posters, the cabinets of Thai sauces and ingredients, the hot pink neon OK sign and the stripped back concrete, lush green pot plants and sea-green glass.  We visited Mak Mak shortly after they opened and despite this, their staff were totally on their shit.  Fuck yeahhhh, restaurants which hit the ground running when they open.  Our smiling waiter efficiently took our order and when I pressed him for recommendations, he cheerfully reeled off what the most popular dishes were (ie. the beef curry) before I told him to cut the bullshit and give me what his favourite dishes were (ie. the Massaman Lamb Curry), which he knowledgeably spoke about.

As Mak Mak’s sister restaurant, Chachawan, is pumping out Issan Thai food this means that Mak Mak’s menu is green lit all the way to pick up the Thai food related slack by containing all the bog-standard Thai hits that we have come to expect such as green curries, red curries, green papaya salads, pad thai and stir fries.  I can’t begin to imagine how many fucking times punters must have asked the Chachawan waiter homies whether they can get a pad thai or a green curry.  There are a few plays on the classics in Mak Mak’s menu but I can’t deal with any of that originality and kick shit off with a dependable serve of the Pandan Chicken (HKD98 +10%) which is a solid appetiser and doesn’t make me suffer through the indignity of fuck no deep fried, stringy breast meat.

I have a soft spot for pad thai and whenever I order Thai food, I always get the pad thai.  I take this as a life lesson from all the times when I’ve ordered Thai food and I think ‘Fuck, I always get the pad thai, perhaps I should order the suea rong hai or the mu phat phrik khing for something different” and then BOOM you’re staring down a plate of crying tiger beef which is fine but you know deep down that all you really fucking want is that sweet noodly goodness and that’s where you go “FUCK! SHOULDA GOT THE PAD THAI!“. In fact, I’ve named this specific feeling in my life “Shoulda got the pad thai” for when you always order the same fucking dish and then, in the interest of changing shit up, you decide to order something new, only so you can be wistfully pining for your ye old faithful favourite dish.

Mak Mak’s pad thai is not fucking cheap, weighing in at HKD128 (+ 10% service charge). It’s served attractively with decent sized prawns, scattered with peanuts, bean sprouts, lime and coriander and an obligatory square of banana leaf.  The pad thai is serviceable enough, lacking a bit in the fuck yeah stir fried ‘wok hei’ taste of the wok feelings, but perhaps it’s because Mak Mak is so brand new and their woks haven’t had enough time in service yet or maybe the heat wasn’t strong enough.  But that’s only a small issue because fuck, my biggest criticism about Mak Mak’s pad thai was the total lack of actual pad thai because it’s fucking tiny.  Maybe I’m just a size queen, because at HKD128 I expect more than an appetiser sized serve of noodles which would work for maybe one to two people.

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Taking our waiter homie’s advice on board, we ordered the Massaman Lamb Curry (HKD208 +10% service charge) and it’s one of the best dishes we had on the night. Mak Mak use a slow cooked lamb shank which is accompanied by roasted baby potatoes, crushed peanuts and fried shallots.  The coconut cream based sauce is a fuck yeah, spiced with cardamon and cinnamon and the fish sauce and sweet tamarind sauce providing dem salty and sweet contrasting feels.  Mak Mak have some sort of bullshit plain rice arrangement where you can either have HKD30 unlimited rice per person or HKD30 per bowl.  I don’t quite understand how Mak Mak enforce this rice pricing system – like, if you order the HKD30 unlimited rice option per person, do you get slugged with another HKD30 if they catch a non-designated primary rice consumer taking a spoonful out of the bowl?  Either way, we avoid this awkward rice situation by ordering the khao op nam liab (stir fried jasmine rice with chicken, garlic and salty black olive – HKD108 + 10% service charge) which is tasty enough but really finds its purpose when it’s paired with the lamb Massaman curry sauce.

We also order  the kheaw wan poo nim (green curry soft shell crab, HKD228 + 10%).  I wasn’t onboard with ordering this dish because soft shell crab is normally just an exercise in being charged more for an underwhelming mushy, fried, flavourless crustacean.  But in an effort to let my fellow dining homies enjoy some democratic feelings every now and again, I acquiesced and let Mr Vegetables fulfil his desire to try the green curry soft shell crab.  Once it arrived, it was a stark reminder of why the Democratic People’s Republic of FYN is the best autocratic eating regime where everything is sunny and there is less disappointment for all.  The fried soft shell crab is greasy and relatively neutral in taste, which isn’t the end of this dish as the green curry sauce is flavourful enough to carry it.  But fuck, why bother with greasy-a$$ soft-shell crab when it could have been interchanged with fried chunks of plain batter for much the same effect? UGH ORDERING DEMOCRACY, YOU TASTE LIKE FREEDOM, SADNESS AND DISAPPOINTMENT.

Mak Mak very valiantly have an extensive vegetarian menu.  My token effort to trying this is a serve of the larb tofu salad (HKD88 +10% service charge), where the chicken or pork mince is substituted with tofu cubes.  Despite the lack of meat this dish still keeps its shit together by punching out some well balanced fuck yeah Thai fresh flavours with the mint, chilli, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and lemon grass.

As Mak Mak’s dishes are very modestly sized, if you have a group of four to six people you can try a decent selection of the menu.  We order a number of other dishes including the pla salmon (flash grilled salmon with a Thai dressing salad – HKD128 +10% service charge), red curry duck (HKD168 +10% service charge) and the whole steamed seabass (HKD268 +10% service charge) and each dish is absolutely down the line of fine but nothing that I’d say you definitely had to order.

For dessert there’s a few options and while it doesn’t push the envelope that much, we pile in for the mango and sticky rice and the Khanom Mak Mak trio (HKD98 and HKD118 respectively, +10% service charge).  The Khanom Mak Mak is glutinous rice cooked with sugar and coconut milk and then paired with three different toppings, wrapped up in banana leaves.  It’s all quite striking with the yellow mango set off against the green bamboo cones and the blue glutinous rice, which Mak Mak achieves through using dyeing their rice with pea flower.

FYN FUN FACT:  The butterfly pea / blue pea flower is used to dye food, in particular glutinous rice in Malay and Thai desserts.  The scientific name for the genus of the butterfly pea is Clitoria ternatea takes its name from “clitoris” because the flowers resemble the shape of human female genitals.  It’s a good thing I’m not a botanist because I totally would have suggested Cuntus ternatea but all of that aside, I see what they’re getting at:

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Sauce

Back on the Khanom Mak Mak, the mango topping is a reliable favourite and it’s the first to get smashed through at our table.  The other two toppings are one of fried shallots and a mixture of sun-dried fish and tiny prawns, giving it that savoury / salty mix with the fried shallots being slightly sweet, given the caramelisation of the sugar in the shallots during the frying process.  I’m into it, but if you’re not into that sweet, salty, fishy dessert combination than this dessert could be disastrous for you.

We flag down the bill and given the small dishes and how many we’d had to order, I was expecting a bill around HKD500-600 per person and was given a fuck yeah surprise of finishing up at HKD430 per person, including wine.  Our meal at Mak Mak would be best described as “very pleasant”, but there’s nothing here which grips me by my greedy as fuck heart and sees me imploring anyone I know who gives a fuck about food to put this on their list and get their ass down to Mak Mak pronto.  The very fact it’s taken me almost a month to write up this review is indicative of the lack of strong feelings this place elicits from me.  Mak Mak also suffers from the inevitable comparison to Chachawan and if you lined the two up and asked me to choose one, it’d be Chachawan every time which is just hitting it harder in the originality and flavour stakes.  Was it on Mak Mak’s vision board to be described as reliable, uncontroversial and achieving mass appeal?  Perhaps not, but I’m guessing there’s a spot for Mak Mak in HK as a convenient restaurant where everyone’s going to be happy enough at a fair price point.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah for mid-week casual dinners, dinner with the parents and early Tinder dates where you need an uncontroversial trendy enough venue that is producing solid food with fuck yeah service.  You’re probably not going to experience any life changing moments at Mak Mak but I don’t think that’s what they’re playing at either.

Where:
Beefbar Hong Kong
2F Club Lusitano/16 Ice House Street
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
 +852 2110 8853

Price:
HKD880 (+10% service charge) for the signature tasting menu.  We were out at HKD1,300ish including cocktails and wine.  HELP ME I’M POOR.

The deal:
Beefbar have recently set themselves up on Ice House Street, adding Hong Kong to its other random assorted global locations such as Moscow, Mexico, Mykonos and Luxembourg. Just by its awful name, you can guess that Beefbar is pretentious as fuck and if you were in any doubt, the restaurant is tackily emblazoned with “BEEFBAR, BORN IN MONACO”.  On an early weekday, Beefbar HK is almost at full capacity and to make sure you’re having an experience befitting of a restaurant BORN IN MONACO, as soon as you step out of the lifts, no less than three attractive smiling hostesses will gently wave you into the restaurant as you pass by what seems seems to be an excessive amount of floor staff at every turn.

Beefbar HK has clearly dropped a bunch of coin on its fit out, befitting of the luxury concept they are going for.  Beefbar HK is a cool monochromatic slick interior with a fucktonne of white marble, black leather and a tasteful scattering of brass, lit appropriately by pools of just dim enough amber lights.  I’m always bitching about restaurant acoustics but I gotta say that despite Beefbar’s excessive amount of shiny, sleek, hard surfaces, Beefbar’s acoustically sound ridged ceiling means at least you’ll be spared from enjoying your BORN IN MONACO experience in a fuck no echo chamber.  Enjoying the rare privilege of being able to enjoy conversation despite the almost full restaurant, I ponder the most ludicrously sized menu which annoyed the fuck out of me because what’s the fucking point of importing all those black leather chairs if you can’t even comfortably sit at one without your menu careening into your olive oil dish, your neighbour’s bread or some fancy ass wine glass. HAY BEEFBAR, WHERE EXACTLY IS MY FUCKING MENU MEANT TO GO??

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Despite the hundreds of wait staff that are milling around, it took a ridiculous amount of effort to get the smaller tasting menus for the entire table, the waiters taking two separate requests and three individual trips before our table was blessed with the fucking novel concept of one menu for one person.  Menu logistics aside, after chewing down some fuck yeah bread and a negroni aged in a claypot (how necessary is claypot aging? I’m not entirely sure, but at least my negroni was fucking A1 great), our gang decides to pile in for Beefbar’s ‘Signature tasting menu’, which consists of four sections, “Raw Bar”, “Burger Bar”, “Our Great Meat” and “Dessert”.

The “Raw Bar” component is split into two courses, a ceviche and a tartare course.  The first ceviche duo is the ”Octopus ceviche, cucumber & panzanella salsa” and the “Sea bass ceviche, saffron, fennel & mandarin”.  The octopus ceviche is fairly unremarkable and while the menu may try to fancy shiz up by calling it a ‘panzanella salsa’ (an Italian tomato sauce with breadcrumbs), it’s really just a one-dimensional tomato sauce with some croutons bobbing about in it.  The sea bass ceviche also suffers from the indignity of sounding far more impressive on the menu than it really is, delivering fresh sea bass with some pieces of fennel and mandarin which don’t really pop with any of the faint liquorice or citrus acidity that you would hope for, with the lack of seasoning not helping the whole boring ass affair.

But as we’re at Beefbar and not Seafoodbar, I’m prepared to put my ceviche related disappointment to one side and set my expectations higher with the tartare course.  This course consists of two types of tartare – a traditional beef tartare and a milk-fed veal filet tartare.  The traditional beef tartare is solid but not exceptionally memorable, and it’s the veal tartare that provides the first solid fuck yeah moment of the night.  The veal is more delicate in flavour when compared to the beef and Beefbar play to this, bringing out the veal’s more subtle flavours by pairing it with the strong tarragon with its shade of aniseed and providing a textural contrast with a slightly sweet hazelnut praline.  I would have happily ditched the beef tartare and double downed on the fuck yeah veal tartare.

Beefbar isn’t a warm space and by the second course, one of my homies had already asked them twice to turn the blasting air conditioning down which was threatening to send us straight into the icy grip of hypothermia. Beefbar kept this Arctic theme up with the temperature of their red wine and despite our wine being served before our first course, by the end of our second course we were all desperately clutching our wine glasses to try and transfer some of our rapidly diminishing body heat into our icy as fuck red wine, as clammy condensation still formed outside the glass.  I’m fine with a red wine coming out a bit cool from the wine fridge as it will normally be an appropriate temperature after a few minutes but I don’t want to be served red wine so fucking cold that I’ve got concerns that it’s still gonna be frigid as fuck by the fourth steak course.  We pointed out our near glacial red wine cooler situation to one of the waiters who fetched a more senior dude who just shrugged us off and said “We didn’t want you to drink too quickly!”.  Yeah sorry senior waiter homeslice, don’t quit the restaurant biz to take up stand up because I ain’t fucking laughing at your quips.

When ordering a tasting menu at a restaurant, I always believe that a restaurant should be showing you their best shit.  Particularly if they have the audacity to slap ‘Signature’ on it.  This is why the Burger Bar component of Beefbar’s signature menu beggars absolute belief because what is the mental process behind putting out a tiny ass dried out sweet brioche bunned burger that holds a small grainy and dry as fuck beef patty which is swamped with super spicy jalapeno mayonnaise and then thinking “FUCK YEAH, this red hot mess of a slider is definitely my SIGNATURE”.  Unless Beefbar feel that their signature is providing constant, fuck no disappointment to everyone in their lives.  My feelings on using brioche for a burger bun is well documented and this dried out mess does nothing to allay my firm belief that sweet brioche ain’t fucking cut out structurally for burger life.  UGHHH, BRIOCHE, MY NEMESIS.  Y U STILL A THING?  But the sad times don’t end with the slider, as Beefbar aren’t content to just call their entire menu a signature, billing their uninspired kale salad as a ‘signature kale salad’.  This signature signature double throwdown is nothing more but big chat because fuck, let’s be real, who the fuck wants to eat kale when they’re smashing a night out at a restaurant focussed on how shit hot their beef is anyway?  Don’t we save that trying to be healthy kale bullshit for weekday al desko lunches and green smoothies after the gym?

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Hopes for my steak course were not riding particularly high at this point with my spirit sapped by the brioche slider nightmare that had just transpired.  For the meat course, it’s a choice between the “Milk-fed Dutch veal filet 200g”, “American prime “Black Angus” beef filet 200g” or the “T-bone Colorado lamb rack”. I order the beef and while there is much written about how Beefbar cook their steaks, for all the fancy as fuck bluster and technique, I was considerably underwhelmed.  I always have my steak rare and my Black Angus beef fillet is not so overcooked to warrant it being sent back but it was definitely closer to medium-rare territory than rare.  All I could think of was how I wanted my steak to be juicier and more tender, with not a single fuck yeah steak synapse firing within my increasingly weary body. If any waiter had bothered to ask me how my steak was I probably would have replied “FINE”, through gritted teeth as I wished for slightly bloodier times.  It’s served with some fresh horseradish tartar which I can get behind, more so than the blueberry honey sauce which despite its feeble attempts at being an inventive steak sauce results in a slightly fruity, sweet sauce which resembles cheap BBQ sauce, doing everything it can to detract from the lack lustre beef.  I can’t remember ever eating blueberry anything with a steak and I can’t say I’ll be making it a life goal to make it part of my future steak endeavours.

Beefbar don’t stop the big talk and their menu declares that “All mains are served with our unrivalled mashed potatoes”.  I gotta say, Beefbar’s mash is a big fuck yeah and I decimated my serving, enjoying it far more than anything else I’d been served so far.  But truth, how fucking hard is it to make off-the-charts mash provided you add enough of the calorific good shit like cream and butter?  End conclusion, Beefbar’s steak failed to elicit any strong fuck yeah feelings at all and while the potato mash was a fuck yeah, I was devoid of any fuck yeah feelings for a steak that could at best be described as serviceable and at worst, bordering on being too overcooked. But WTF mate, am I at Mashbar or Beefbar?

We ask for the third time to turn down the arctic level air conditioner which continues to battle valiantly in the struggle against global warming, with each request to do so resulting in mass confusion amongst the increasingly flustered waiters. Our entire table is completely underwhelmed with the beef course and hope to find some salvation in the Dessert “Maison” section of the evening.  At some point, one of the waiters informs just one of our guests about how the soufflés take 20 minutes so we should order it now if we want it.  She replies “OK”, thinking that meant “OK, I heard you” versus “OK, giddy up the whole table wants soufflé, ship that good shit in”.  We were sitting at our table a bit confused as to why we’d been abandoned by the numerous waiters flitting about, until we see about five waiters busily setting up a side-table next to us where two large soufflés are presented with much aplomb.  One is a pistachio and cherry soufflé and the other is allegedly a chocolate, sesame & caramel soufflé with yuzu ice cream, with each soufflé designed to be shared between two people.  They look fucking perfect, rising like a puffy pale green or delicately brown cloud, an inch over a shiny, copper pot.  However the problem is that none of us really wanted soufflé as we’d had our hearts set on the carrot cake.  To our waiters’ credit, when we flagged the ordering mishap to them they very graciously took the whole mix up in their stride, not making a single bit of fuss and politely offering us a couple of additional serves of carrot cake as well. Fuck yeahhhhh, waiters who make the best of a shitty situation without throwing the blame in my face.  However, given the amount of puffy soufflé that was being served to our entire table, we said we’d settle for just one serve of carrot cake.

There’s no attractive way to serve blobs of pistachio or chocolate soufflé and we’re all presented with smeary plates of pale green and brown soufflé.  Even putting aside “the first bite is with the eye” bullshit, my first bite into Beefbar’s soufflé was one filled with unmitigated horror which is burned indelibly into my psyche more than a week later.  The pistachio soufflé tasted strongly of artificial pistachio essence, filling my mouth with what I’d imagine an eggy sponge soaked in saliva, liquid soap and perfume to taste and feel like.  It’s served with a side dish of allegedly sour cherries which are a sickly sweet mess which does nothing to hide the soapy pistachio soufflé we’ve been served.  For all its claims of being a fancy fucking chocolate, sesame and caramel soufflé it is at best a vaguely chocolatey, wet and eggy mess with not a hint of sesame or caramel.  The yuzu ice cream it’s served with is fresh and gorgeous, but who fucking knows how biased this view might be because anything would seem like ice-cream fit for kings and angels compared to the soufflé related crimes against dessert that were occurring right in front of me.  The borderline cruel Arctic air conditioning blast is returned to full force, just to make sure that our soufflés cooled down rapidly so the above atrocities could be even furthered by eating it stone cold.  I’m fucking horrified but I’m also like a mosquito drawn to a electric bug zapper and I return to choke down several more bites of both soufflés just to make sure that this is truly one of the worst things I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.  As I force down another spoonful, I quietly think to myself that this soufflé could be used as a blunt torture tool to break the spirit of hard men.  To make them confess to crimes they did not commit before they weep on their knees, begging for forgiveness or crying out for non-soufflé related mercy or some sort of sharp implement so they can fucking end it all.

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At this point, I look over at Ms Two Serves and I hold onto her for love and comfort, looking for safe shelter from this soufflé related abomination that we’ve just endured.  “Don’t worry”, she coos, smoothing my hair down and holding me close to her breast, “We’ve got delicious carrot cake coming to take this pain away”.  Together we stare at this apocalyptic souffle ridden wasteland, surveying the seven dishes of almost untouched congealed pale green and brown monstrosities strewn across our table.  A cheery waiter appears to present a plate containing three round orange discs the thickness of a HKD5 coin and this is when we realise that our “Carrot Cake” has arrived.

Now imagine everything that you love and hold dear about carrot cake, before you systematically strip it out and this is exactly how Beefbar must have conceptualised their abominable “Carrot Cake”.  I’m not even sure it’s legal for Beefbar to call this fuck no mess a carrot cake because fuck, that’s some misleading and deceptive conduct right there.  This “Carrot Cake” nightmare takes what should be rich, luscious carrot cake stuffed with walnuts, olive oil and brown sugar and turns it into three thin discs of dried out, grainy flavourless “cake”, topped with some sort of orange puree which tastes like processed apple sauce.  What should be tangy, thick and sweet cream cheese frosting that you want to rub all over your body to become the best version of yourself has been reduced to a tiny, watery creamy blob which serves no other meaningful purpose except to perhaps be some sort of symbolic representation of the watery tears that you want to let forth from your traumatised body, beaten into submission by this alleged “Carrot Cake” experience.  Then in what must surely be Beefbar’s “Carrot Cake” bon mot, a slice of plain roasted carrot is placed on top of it all.  I cut a piece of carrot off for Sir Crunchalot, feigning my best enthusiasm and jauntily telling him “You have got to try this!” before he realises that IT’S A TRAP, and with the betrayed eyes of someone who has been wronged he cries “Why did you do that to me??”

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Our waiters come to silently clear this dessert crime scene, heads bowed so they don’t have to make awkward eye contact with any of us, in case they might be forced to ask if everything was ok when clearly some bad shit had gone down because all the plates of dessert have been barely eaten.  We settle our substantial as fuck bill and leave with our wallets much lighter but our physical being laden with enough disappointment to see us through 2016 and beyond. That’s where I look at Sir Crunchalot at the end of the meal, press my hand into his and as my eyes well with tears and I tell him in a timid, broken whisper “That meal made me want to be alive a little less”.

Verdict:
FUUUUUUUUUCK NO.  If these are Beefbar’s signature moves, I’d hate to see their non-signature everyday meals.  Fuuuuck it might not even be mid-January 2016 but I’m gonna make the call, Beefbar’s soul destroying soufflé and “Carrot Cake” with a serve of broken dreams will be definitely making an appearance in FYN’s 2016 ‘This is Bullshit’ awards.

 

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