Wan Chai

Where:
Pici
GF, No. 16 St. Francis Yard
Wanchai, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2755 5523 (but no reservations so I dunno why you want the number)

Price:
HKD200 per person, including one drink.  No service charge, so don’t be a stingy asshole and leave a tip on top of that, ok?

The deal:
The Pirata Group, owned by Manuel Palacio and Christian Talpo, are behind the pasta bar, Pici.  Pici is their fourth HK restaurant as they continue their march to HK restaurant domination.  At least they’re going about it in a far more dignified manner than their Black Sheep Restaurant compatriots and thinking up their own new shit rather than just jetting around the world and nicking licensing concepts from places that they wanna flog.  OK I’m joking my Black Sheep Restaurant fanboys before you rabidly start shouting “HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN THE ORIGINAL CONCEPTS LIKE BELON!!! LE GARÇON SAIGON!!! BUENOS AIRES POLO CLUB!!!” at me. I’ve always been a Pirata fan, handing out fuck yeahs to both The Optimist and Pirata and I frequently trot them out as recommendations when homies ask me where to eat in Wan Chai, cause what’s not to love about fuck yeah casual restaurants which still bring the good vibes, generally attentive service and fuck yeah food with strong, well executed cocktails on the side.  Pici is situated in the cute but often disappointing Star Street Precinct in Wan Chai.  I mean, I always feel that there should be lots of cool shit happening in Star Street but how often do you actually get your ass down there?  I guess every time I need to buy posh as fuck candles that smell like spruce for rich, stylish friends who already have everything or that rare occasion when I can think of nothing better than throwing my cash at a HKD2,400+ canvas bag which is tucked in next to a succulent and a Japanese analogue alarm clock for HKD1,850.

Pici is named after a thick, hand-rolled pasta, which originates from the province of Siena in Tuscany, Italy. So it’s no fucking surprise that its specialty is pasta and they only serve freshly rolled hand rolled pasta made daily. I’m fucking into this idea – do one thing, do it well and don’t have a menu which is the length of a queue of people lining up for free Tempo tissues in Causeway Bay.  I arrange to meet Ms This is Bullshit (refer to this review of 27 Kebab House to check the vintage source of that nickname) at a very leisurely 2:30pm on a Friday and assume that we’re gonna be fine for a seat, because Pici is running that NO RESERVATIONS game.  BZZZZZZT INCORRECT, even at this late hour on an alleged work day, it’s a full fucking house and we still have to queue and wait.  What the hell HK, don’t any of you smug assholes have to go to fucking work??

no-guyonphone

FUCK ME, LET ME KNOW YOUR FUCK YEAH SECRETS SO I CAN MAKE MY ESCAPE FROM THE SALT MINES AND DRINK WINE ALL THE TIME AT 3PM ON A FRIDAY.

Once the Tai Tais with the Good Hair clear off and I squeeze myself into the tables to get stuck in.  My first order of business is to order an Aperol Spritz (HKD80) and in a promising sign for an Italian restaurant, it’s fucking beautiful, resplendently orange, fizzing with the hope of good HK times while an orange peel and a mega fatty green olive chills out on the side, living la dolce vita.  Sìììììììììììì motherfuckers, welcome to the good Italian life.

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To start, we get a serve of the parma ham and get stuck into the complimentary bread with some olive oil.  I’m into this simple shit and appreciate restaurants that still give you free bread.  I gotta say that in Singapore, no one seems to dole out the free bread anymore which makes my carb loving and free stuff loving heart sad.  I rectify this sadness by eating three bags of free bread with olive oil.  The parma ham is A1 fucking delicious but I guess it doesn’t really require a red hot kitchen to produce this, just a chef who knows where to procure the good shit.

This is all just warm up for the main namesake event, the pasta course.  I ordered the Pici Amatriciana (HKD85) – which is the restaurant’s namesake hand rolled pasta and a sauce made from cured pork cheek, tomato sauce, black pepper and cheese.  When I was ordering it though, the waiter did stop to let us know that it is quite a salty sauce, and checked whether we were ok with this.   I swing pretty salty when it comes to not only my opinions on half-assed restaurants, but also when it comes to food, so I didn’t think that this was going to be a problem.  However, give the Pici homies the truth in advertising award because their pasta sauce for this dish is, surprise surprise, really fucking salty.

It’s no doubt due to the salt-cured pork jowl and the generous amount of pecorino cheese, but given I received a warning, what was I really expecting??  Am I now one of those dumb ass customers who order dishes like tomato soup and then sends it back for tasting too much like tomatoes?  Like ummmm, cash me ousside howbow dah, food which was given a salty warning is predictably, really fucking salty.  This makes me start to think about how I should just take to pre-warning everyone and everything in my life about potential shit that could go wrong so I can always pull the Get Out of [insert relevant bad shit] Here card.  I mentally note to tell any future lovers that I’m a bit shit in bed with a tendency to dial it in because I’m a lazy fuck (literally), so I’ll never disappoint anyone ever again.

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Turning my attention away from my future excuses and putting the salt levels aside – what is more galling is the white, greasy chunks of fat which haven’t been rendered down properly, which is strewn all through the sauce.  Pici are not shy about the sauce amount too which means that their very fucking good hand made pasta is completely overwhelmed by this salty, greasy mess and it isn’t given any space to sing its glorious, Ode to Carbs.  It wouldn’t have taken much either to make this dish right either, just dial back the salt levels a bit and take out some of the fatty chunks, give me a little bit more pasta and it would have been fuck yeah pasta times vs this so-so dish which I guess was ok enough for only HKD85.

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I cast some longing looks at the table next to me as they get involved with some fuck yeah looking carbonara pasta and in a rare show of restraint, turn down the offer of ordering dessert because I’ve decided to stop saying yes to dessert when the mains were disappointing as you rarely find the redemption you want in the pudding course.  I step out in search of liquids to parch my raging thirst and feel sad about my choice in dish because a fuck yeah hand made pasta drowning in fat and salt just seems to be so contrary to Pici’s whole concept.  That is, a restaurant with straight forward food that is perfectly simple and only uses the best quality ingredients and I assume, should be executing its shit perfectly as well.

Verdict:
These don’t happen often but I’m handing Pici a JURY’S OUT.  Everything about it was stacking up for a fuck yeah except for that overly fatty, salty pasta sauce. I’m normally super digital as to whether I’d go back to a place or not but in this instance, I feel that I probably just chose a dud dish and the other pasta dishes on the menu are probably in fuck yeah territory. Pici homies, you are fucking lucky that your actual pasta itself was up to scratch otherwise I’d be handing you a big fat, fuck no.

Where:
Samsen (FB Page)
68 Stone Nullah Lane
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

FYN Hot Tip:  It’s pretty much opposite Stone Nullah Tavern and next to the 7-11.

Phone:
+852 2234 0001 (I suspect they probably don’t do bookings because they’re pretty tiny and they’re already rammed, so why would they want to take bookings from you HK flakey assholes??)

Price:
We went as a party of two and got out at HKD300 a person.  If you went with more people, it’d probably be less than that though (maybe HKD200 – 250?).

The deal:
Adam Cliff, formerly of Chachawan fame, has set up a small Thai joint in Wan Chai.  I have always fucking loved the food at Chachawan but I don’t actually go all that often because I’m a grumpy fat fuck who hates waiting so the whole no booking palaver and then being jammed into a tiny, noisy as fuck space doesn’t jive with my corpulent existence.  Ms This is Bullshit and I are dead set keen for fucking delicious Thai food all of the time so we tumble into Samsen on a Friday night, which has only been open for five days. It’s a cool spot which doesn’t seat all that many people, with an open kitchen which allows you to see the chefs hauling some serious ass.  The interior is cute as fuck, all stripped down concrete with Thai-style cabinets holding Thai themed curios as potted devil’s ivy plants trail downwards in the space above the dining area.  Samsen is already pretty packed despite having no social media blitz or publicity, but we manage not having to wait for a table and sit down to examine Samsen’s straight forward menu which is split into five categories – wok fried dishes, sides, soup noodles, drinks and sweets.

As it’s FRI-FUCKING-YAY, we’re all about getting some hard liquor into our lives ASAP and unfortunately there’s only beer under their alcohol section.  We ask our extremely sweet though ultimately not very helpful waitress if there’s any non-beer alcohol options and she kindly points us to the fruit juice section.  I ask again, perhaps thinking she didn’t understand me and she directs me to the non-alocholic fizzy section.  Not willing to take the health hint, I look at her, eyes wild and tongue parched, frazzled jobitis desperation seeping from every pore as I ask whether they can give me some rum or vodka to put in some juice and she offers me a young coconut instead.  FUUUUUCK, I don’t need electrolytes or your judgment Samsen, I just need hard liquor to take the pain away of my everyday working for the goddamn man existence.

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I ask another waiter just to make sure and he politely apologises because they’ve only been open for five days and I accept my boozeless fate as I glumly sip down on a healthful calamansi lime soda as we make some choices for dinner.  Our waitress appears again with a stack of notes to indicate off-menu items and to also cross off half the soup noodles which aren’t available.  She’s extremely endearing but her ability to explain the dishes is not amazing, but it doesn’t matter because she’s smiling like it’s going out of fashion and considering the normally very sullen landscape of HK waitresses, I’ll take any shred of enthusiasm and beatific smiles that someone will hand out to me.

The dishes fly out of the kitchen at break neck speed with all three of our dishes arriving within seconds of each other.  We start with the fried marinated pork collar with tomato and chilli dip (HKD68).  Crispy as fuck pieces of pork are fried with garlic and whole kaffir lime leaves and the tomato and chilli dip is spicy, piquant and with just enough sweet to make it pop.  I could have shovelled this into my face like some sort of porky, low carb savoury popcorn treat all day.

We also predictably ordered the Pad Thai with prawn (HKD118) because as I outlined in my Mak Mak review, I use the phrase “Shoulda had the pad thai” to explain that feeling when you try to lead a new and adventurous life and do something different to mix your boring, shit up and then all you’re left with is the fuck no sinking feeling of disappointment and wistful dreams of fuck yeah, reliable favourites.  Why would I take any chances at Samsen and be all too bad so sad, shoulda had the pad thai while  staring down a plate of pad siew or some omelette when I’m all about that sweet, sweet pad thai option? Thank fuck for being predictable because Samsen’s pad thai is fucking MAJOR.  It looks fucking awesome, shreds of fresh green papaya, white de-tailed beansprouts, fresh spring onions and crushed peanuts all piled onto the flat rice noodles.  The prawns are a very decent size, plump and juicy as fuck and there’s a bang on balance between sweet and sour, more flavour from the dried shrimps, fried cubes of tofu for texture and a good amount of wok hei / char in the noodle.  There’s some green leaf on the side which I’m not sure what it is and I can’t get any explanation from the waitstaff but it doesn’t matter because fuck yeah pad thai is life and who cares about learning shit about vegetables when you’ve got carbs and you’re alive??

But as Rihanna sings in my favourite summer jam of 2016, BABY THIS IS WHAT I CAME FOR – the Wagyu beef boat noodle (HKD128).  Ms Siuwaan had sent me photos a week ago and I was all “This needs to be in my face naooooo”.  Beef boat noodles (kua tiao ruea) originates from being sold from boats on the canals of Bangkok and it’s rice noodles in a strong flavoured soup, with many accompaniments.  The soup gets it colour and viscosity from using cow or pigs blood and is seasoned with dark soy sauce.  Samsen’s boat noodle is just on fire with so much flavour that I’m getting emotional writing about it right the fuck now.  The fairly thick soup stock is already bold from the beef stock, blood and soy sauce but then it’s also spiced with all sorts of good shit – I’m just an asshole food blogger with no actual knowledge as to what’s going on in Samsen’s fuck yeah broth but I’m guessing there was potentially lemongrass, pepper, coriander, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and galangal (maybe??) getting all up in the soup stock club.  Either way, it’s deep soup love and you then combine that with the thin rice noodles, the fuck yeah spiced chunks of tender Wagyu beef, beef balls, fried pork rinds and the large stems of Thai watercress / morning glory / kang kong and it’s mighty fuck yeah noms emotional times for me.  YASSSS, LIGHTNING DOES STRIKE EVERY TIME YOU MOVE.

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We didn’t pile in too heavy on the mains because Ms This is Bullshit and I know that there’s three Thai desserts that we wanna slam down.  There’s a special item on, the tab tim krob (HKD52), which was explained pretty poorly to us as “red rubies” and that was about it, but we get it anyway.  It’s fucking delicious and refreshing as fuck – a cool slightly sweet coconut milk soup, with some pandan overtones, over crushed ice with pomegranate and these slightly gelatinous red dumpling-esque items floating about.  I try to grill the wait staff on what the red dumpling things are and one of them tells me it’s a “red ruby” from Israel and they think it’s a fruit.  Through some FYN investigation I can tell you there’s some crossed wires going on with their waiters.  I think what the waiter meant to tell me is that the pomegranate seeds are from pomegranates that Samsen have sourced from Israel and the red dumpling things chilling out in the soup are the “tab tim krob”, which translates to crunchy rubies or pomegranates and are actually small pieces of red dyed water chestnut covered in tapioca flour, to give it that gelatinous bite.  Technicalities aside, it’s super appealing, icy fuck yeah times and perfect for hot as hell HK summer times.

Ms This is Bullshit is all about the young coconut ice-cream (HKD58), which is two scoops of coconut ice-cream topped with toasted peanuts, shaved coconut meat and sweet corn, all served in a coconut shell.  We round off our triple dessert efforts with Thai mango and sticky rice (HKD52) which is always one of my fuck yeah Thai faves despite its simplicity.  Yasssss, get that condensed milk, sweet mango and sticky, glutinous rice into my life and then make sure you drink any sort of liquid to ensure that it swells up in my stomach and has me rolling around all night feeling like I’m gonna burst from good times and replete happiness.

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With that we roll ourselves out of Samsen, straight into Stone Nullah Tavern for whiskey and reflect upon how much we fucking loved Samsen and just how rad the food was.   Sure, the service is slightly clueless and a bit all over the place, but our waitress was so well intentioned and smiley that I can’t even be mad.  But ultimately, there’s a fuck tonne of love and care being poured into what they’re doing and in this city littered with privileged bankrolled no-thought bullshit ‘concepts’ opening all the time, you just need someone to give a fuck about what they do at an affordable price point to make you feel that it’s all gonna be ok.  Even if you can’t get hard liquor to wash it all down with.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhhhhhhhhh! It’s probably gonna be a total shit show to get a seat but fuuuuck, I need to get my fuck yeah boat noodles on again ASAP.

Where:
Le Bistro Winebeast (fuck yeahhhh, functional website)
G/F & 1/F Tai Yip Building, 141 Thomson Road
Wanchai, Hong Kong

FYN hot tip:  Exit A3 from Wanchai MTR, kinda close to The Hennessey if you’re catching the tram.  But fuck my advice if you’re one of those assholes who just cabs everywhere.

Phone:
+852 2782 6689

Price:
HKD458 for the four course tasting menu, +HKD100 if you want to add the wine pairing.  No service charge, so don’t be an asshole and don’t forget to tip according to the service you receive.

The deal:
Le Bistro Winebeast ran this concept on McGregor Street where there was a small 25-seat bistro attached to its retail wine store, with the fuck yeah catch that you could order wine at the bistro at the same price as the wine shop.  I’d heard many good things about it and even my fussy as fuck French homies told me that they were into it.  However, the only problem was that every fucking single time I tried to call up Le Bistro Winebeast for a booking they were either totally booked out or would offer me the totally unfeasible times of 6pm or 9pm.  I’m fairly sure that if I booked dinner at 9pm I would probably eat my own hands off in desperate hunger, prior to getting to the restaurant.  It was after about three attempts, I gave up ever trying to eat at Le Bistro Winebeast.  However, all of that booking bullshit has changed because Le Bistro Winebeast has recently moved to new, larger premises sprawling over two stories on Thomson Road.  PRAISE BE, when I called up to make a booking there were no issues and on the night, the massive restaurant space was more empty than occupied.

We’re on the receiving end of a super friendly welcome from sommelier and maître d’, Christina Carranco Ducroquet (whose husband, Chef Johan Ducroquet, is in the kitchen slaving away).  We get involved in Le Bistro Winebeast’s fuck yeah homemade bread selection while we check out the extensive and beyond reasonably priced wine list.  As someone who is always so thirsty, I can most def get behind fuck yeah retail wine prices.  We settle on going for the tasting menu because it’s reasonably priced at HKD458 and adding the matched wine is a bargain HKD100.

While not listed on the menu, we’re given two complimentary amuse bouches.  One of them is the awfully named “Frapas” – geddit?  It’s a French Tapas.  After extricating my eyes from the back of my head, I get involved with an oyster which is topped with confit shallots and red wine vinegar granita.  I fucking love oysters and I get what the fancy-ass accoutrements were meant to be doing, the subtle onion flavour of the shallot and the cold sharp red wine vinegar granita against the creamy oyster, but this is down to my own personal preference – if the oyster’s good enough, I’ll always prefer my oysters straight up with some lemon.

The first course is a Foie Gras Terrine which is served in three cubes, topped with a thin layer of green apple jelly and wine coulis, with a side of finely cubed green apple on the side.  It’s a common reaction to be all fuck yeahhhhh foie gras and the sharp acidity of the apple, cuts through the fat to provide some fuck yeah times.  Except when I realise that the bread it’s been served with is my nemesis, TOASTED BRIOCHE.  UGH, TOASTED BRIOCHE Y U A THING?  Who in their right mind ever toasts a piece of brioche and thinks “Mmmm, this dried out loofah-like sweet bread will most definitely impress my customers as they attempt to choke it back with this delicious dish I have prepared”.  I don’t fucking know except that I work through my brioche related meltdown by asking for another serve of Le Bistro Winebeast’s normal fuck yeah bread, smearing my fuck yeah foie gras terrine all over it and enjoying a sweet half-glass of Audrey et Christian Binner, Hinterberg, Pinot Gris 2008.

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The second course is a ravioli of sea bream, which looked more like a wonton dumpling.  It’s served with a confit lemon, coriander, anise flavoured bouillabaisse jus and topped with shredded strips of nori seaweed.  The wine pairing was the Savennieres, Dom Nicolas Joly “Les Vieux Clos” 2012 and it’s masterful, with its fresh pear and golden raisin notes elevating what I thought was an ok, slightly fishy dish which was trying hard to be interesting but wasn’t necessarily that successful in its flavours.  The rest of our table was even less impressed and 50% of our table grimaced halfway through, as they choked back some fuck no bones in their seabream raviolis.

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Our final savoury course is the Confit Beef Paleron (chuck steak) and it’s the best dish of the night.   Through slowly cooking the beef in fat, the beef is super fucking tender but charred evenly on the outside to caramelise the shit out of it.  Served with a reduction of Malbec wine jus and some vegetables, it’s well executed and most definitely bringing the Autumnal feels.  In a move that would make it hard to upset any decent human being, the beef paleron is served with a poshed up mac n cheese, made from ham, Comte cheese and freshly shaved black truffle. It’s predictably delicious as fuck but it’d be worrying if someone managed to get a fuck no out of jamming some carbs with fuck yeah ingredients like that.

I’m pretty pumped for dessert at this stage because it sounds fucking incredible, billed as a chocolate dome served with a cardamon emulsion, orange crumble and vanilla flavoured milk.  Shit gets taken up another theatrical notch when we are all presented with a chocolate globe and the the chef appears to pour warm vanilla milk over it, causing the chocolate shell to disintegrate.  I’m taken in by the show and I’m enjoying my dessert until it starts to cool down slightly and Mrs Ain’t No Mountain High Enough makes the off-hand remark that it feels a bit like eating lukewarm mushy cereal and once she says this, I can’t shake this feeling as I take a bite of some tepid mealy milk with some soggy orange crumble bits in it.

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To finish our meal, Le Bistro Winebeast generously provide us with a complimentary dessert, a Grand Marnier souffle which is dramatically set on fire at our table.  With the flambe action going on, it’s hard to deny that it’s cool as fuck, as blue flames snake their way upwards from the souffle.  In the dimly lit dining room, I have a traumatic flashback to my last souffle experience at Beefbar.  While Beefbar’s souffle might have been full of sheer unadulterated horror which continues to haunt the dark corridors of my nightmares, Le Bistro Winebeast’s is a fuck yeahhh, going someway in ameliorating my apprehension regarding souffles.  Delicately flavoured with orange, perfect in texture and not too eggy, it’s a well executed note to end this meal on.

So overall, shit was fine at Le Bistro Winebeast with a few moments which were fucking delicious but overall, there’s a consistency issue when only half of your tasting menu lands its punches.  I’m probably holding them to a higher standard too because I always apply stricter judgment on a restaurant if I order their tasting menu because this should be a restaurant’s fuck yeah slam dunk signature dishes.  Perhaps I’d have loved Le Bistro Winebeast more if I’d ordered differently (or someone who had been before had told me exactly what to order) but based on our meal, I wouldn’t have it on top of my list for a return visit.  Which is a bit of a shame because fuck yeahhhhh delicious well priced wine times and heart felt service ain’t all that common in Hong Kong.

Verdict:
A restrained and polite fuck no because you know shit can’t be that on point for a restaurant when you remember the wine pairings being stronger than the food.

Fuck me, it’s already the end of 2015 and it’s time for me to get all reflective and shit on this year.  I gotta level with you, I didn’t smash through as many new restaurants in 2015 because I got a bit burned out on the idea of going to new places and spending all the ca$h and receiving big serves of fuck no disappointment.  I also swore to avoid ALL Korean Fusion restaurants which means that I couldn’t go to 97% of all new HK restaurants in 2015.  So when I’m rounding up my 2015 HK eating highlights, I’m not going to keep my wrap up just for the new  2015 shit but for the most memorable fuck yeahhhhh 2015 experiences.  But fuck, I know you assholes fucking love it when I get my FUCK NO shiz on so let’s kick this end of year wrap up with the second year of FYN’s ‘THIS IS BULLSHIT’ Awards.

FYN’S 2015 ‘THIS IS BULLSHIT’ AWARDS

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Nominee #1:  El Mercado

I know Mr Judgmental was already all up in my grill as soon as I said that I wanted to try El Mercado with their Peruvian-Japanese Nikkei cuisine, declaring resolutely “It’s Peruvian Japanese? It’s 2015 and Nobu already did it in 1987.  Surely we can move on no?”.  El Mercado didn’t have to worry too much about punching out some dated Nobu-esque food though because they were too fucking busy punching out lack lustre dishes with the added bonus of it being tiny ass food for ants serving sizes.  I can only blame myself for ordering a fancy named Aveganado sushi which was essentially just a slice of watermelon on rice, but while other dishes sounded interesting on their menu in reality it was just unappetising looking grey squid omelettes with rubbery pieces of octopus (the Aeropuerto) or a few miniscule bites of roast pork with some mealy edamame mash (Cochinillo Con Tacu Tacu).  However, what I will never forgive El Mercado for is  that they are in the reason for the fact that in 2015, I handed over over HKD308 (+10% service charge) for a tiny ass bowl of broccoli and beef stir fry with rice.  Fuck me with something pointy, I know that HK’s prices are totally fucking crazy but the line most definitely has to be drawn at sticker price madness of USD40+ for a tiny, drab as fuck, too salty portion of stir fried broccoli and beef rice.

FYN FUN FACT:  If you read any “Best New HK Restaurants in 2015” list and it has El Mercado or Le Garcon Saigon on it, WRITE THAT FUCKING LIST OFF AS TOTAL FUCKING BULLSHIT.

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Nominee #2:  Mott 32

While Mott 32 was definitely more of a a so hot right now 2014 bitch, people still continue to rave about how fucking great Mott 32 is in 2015.  I feel that Mott 32 is a perfect example of a restaurant that allows you to assess whether someone can be trusted to provide a restaurant recommendation because if you’re a more chaff than wheat kinda homie where all it takes for you to recommend a place is a fancy as fuck interior and the feeling that you’re somewhere trendy, you will definitely be trotting this one out to anyone who asks you where to get Chinese food in HK. Fuck no my interior blinded chaff filled homies, just remember that you can’t eat a Joyce Wang interior design.  Mott 32’s Peking Duck is meant to be its crowning accomplishment and so many fuck knuckle food bloggers have swallowed the #byinvitation Kool-aid fully and without doubt and are all “OH MY GOD GUYS, THIS IS LIKE THE BEST PEKING DUCK EVER”.  But who really give a fuck about apple wood roasting and custom drying fridges, if your Peking Duck is a greasy poorly rendered mess with weird-ass puffy skin, gallingly served with a heavy handed side of “I don’t give a flying fuck” service.  Just when I thought I’d built a massive FUCK NO bridge and gotten over Mott 32,  I read some bullshit over at Lifestyle Asia which was musing about whether the Michelin Guide in HK is still relevant (FYN spoiler alert: it’s not) and all my emotions regarding this exxy hypebeast bubbled to the surface once the article stated that Mott 32 not getting a Michelin star was, quote, “astounding“. OH FUCK NO LIFESTYLE ASIA, Y U SMOKE THE CRACK? PUT DOWN THE PIPE YO.

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Nominee #3: La Paloma

I eat out a fuck tonne in HK which means when I’m casting my mind back over 2015 for major FUCK NO dishes I have to search a relatively large memory bank of wasted bucks and fuck no disappointment. But sometimes you get served a dish which is so monumentally fucked up that months later you can still remember every food related atrocity that you suffered through. The paella that I ate at La Paloma takes out the title of the saltiest dish I’ve ever had the displeasure of being served in a restaurant in my entire life.  While La Paloma is cute as fuck and definitely feels like a place that you would want to hang out with all your insufferably hip Sai Ying Pun homies, the searing memory of every single cell in my body desperately trying to keep its cellular walls intact under the relentless sodium chloride attack of La Paloma’s salt bomb of a paella has been burned deep into my psyche. You know that shit must have been monumentally heinous when you dedicate at least an hour when you get home to messaging everyone you know who gives even the slightest fuck about food with the message “SO SALTY” over and over again. Check out this live action shot of La Paloma cooking paella:

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Nominee #4: The Cupping Room – Central

Like a Facebook status, this one is complicated. When The Cupping Room Central opened up, I got a hot tip from Gregoire Michaud from Bread Elements that they were supplying them with pastries and that I needed to get involved with the Kouign Amann (pronounced ‘Queen Ah-mahn’).

For those that don’t know what a Kouign Amann is, it’s a Breton cake which translates to CAKE BUTTER and is traditionally a mixture of dough (40%), butter (30%) and sugar (30%), which is the sort of maths that I can get behind. I heard that Bread Elements’ use more like 40% fuck yeah butter and it results in it being kinda like a souped up croissant on steroids – a caramelised sugary crust, flaky butter stuffed pastry which has enough salt to cut through the fat. When I got my first one, all I wanted to do was eat six more of these FUCK YEAH buttery bad boys, just for dem fuck yeah outside layers. Post Kouign Amann I’m soon overcome by caramelised sugar feelings and I spend the next few weeks telling everyone I fucking knew that they needed to get involved with the KWEEEEEN. My Facebook filled up with rapturous fuck yeah feedback from my FYN homies about their deep love for the KWEEN.  I even made KWEEN related tributes for my Facebook:

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However, there’s only so many times you can stumble into The Cupping Room Central and confront an empty glass case and when you ask when there will be more available you get some vague as fuck answer like “in the afternoon”. Like I’ve got nothing better to do all day then just wait outside for the next batch of kweens.  So I gotta love myself Cupping Room Central and regarding the kween – I love you with every beat of my heart but I can’t bear your flakey ass ways anymore.  Of course, there’s no better way for us to call it quits than to publicly declare so via a FB review:

Cupping Room Review

Of course, all of my FY Noms homies (yo, that’s my FB account, in case you ever wanted a random Internet homie to pop up on your FB page to give you a random FUCK YEAH for shit you might be getting involved with) have taken it upon themselves to constantly post pictures of the KWEEN on my FB wall whenever they’re there and I feel the wistful pang of when you gaze upon a girl that you’re still in love with but remains just out of reach. You’re a bunch of fucking assholes. Dedicated FYN assholes who are in the possession of delicious as fuck buttery pastry.

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Nominee #5:  Holy Crab

If you read the review for Holy Crab, you could probably guess where it was going once you read the “Price” section which stated plainly “HKD1,100 A PERSON.  FOR A NO BOOZE MEAL IN A CASUAL RESTAURANT IN LKF”.  It all sounded great in theory, pick your live seafood and Holy Crab would cook that shit up for you on the spot in a low country boil style.  Fuck yeahhhh seafood boil in HK – that sounds like some good shit that I definitely want to get involved with.  I rounded up Ms Two Serves and together we endured a fucking abysmal meal which was a fuck no cavalcade from the wilted, limp ass okra salad, the cloying greasy corn fritters with butter sauce and then the watery, flavourless $eafood boil.  With all of this unfathomable misery setting us back the fucking ridiculous amount of HKD1,100 per person, I could barely sign the receipt as the paper was wet with my tears of unadulterated regret and shattered expectations.

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Nominee #6:  Cóm Bánh Mì

A late contender for FYN’s 2015 “THIS IS BULLSHIT” Awards and while I gave the banh mi at Com Banh Mi a fuck yeah, it’s mind blowing that a HK restaurant in 2015 still thinks that it’s ok to make racist “joke” menus by claiming that your Chef ‘s name is “Phuc Dat Bich”, titling your drinks section “SUCKY SUCKY” and the sides menu goes for racist gold medal glory by laying down “SIDE JOBS – Evelyting forty dorrah” (all the sic in the world ever).  Nothing like trying to find humour and publicity for your restaurant by deriding a non-Native English speaker’s inability to speak English perfectly or stereotypes involving South East Asian sex workers.

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THE WINNER OF FYN’S 2015 ‘THIS IS BULLSHIT’ AWARDS: Holy Crab

I suffered through any number of bullshit meals in 2015 but my meal at Holy Crab was so spectacularly bad that I spent the month afterwards hate-reading all the other HK media and food blogs (most of who obviously got their non-declared invitation on) to see how these fuckers tried to write politely about the horror that is Holy Crab.  Surprisingly, this restaurant still appears to be in business and from time to time early on a Saturday morning, I see the head chef from Holy Crab despondently sucking down cigarettes outside of California Tower in Lan Kwai Fong while a street cleaner hoses down the vomit laden excesses from the night before along with what I must imagine are his hopes and dreams. I want to feel sorry for him until I remember how much those asshole Holy Crab dickwads stung me for that godawful fucking disgraceful meal.

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FYN’S 2015 STAND OUT HK EATS

These are the meals or dishes which I fucking dreamed about afterwards and aren’t necessarily from a new restaurant. I actually think that 2015 was a relatively flat year for solid fuck yeah new restaurants in HK which is why very few appears in the list below.  So in no particular order – here come the fuck yeah 2015 memories:

STAND OUT EAT #1:  MyHouse – Oxtail Ragu / Beef Short Rib

When I read about MyHouse and its claims that it was “a symbiotic relationship with music and hospitality“, I thought it was gonna be a massive wank off.  However, I was most definitely being a judgmental asshole because MyHouse is absolutely and without doubt my FUCK YEAH favourite new restaurant of 2015.  Despite only opening in late October, I’ve already been back four fucking times and have made it my prerogative to tell anyone I know who gives a fuck about food that they need to fucking go.

I also fucking love that while MyHouse is brand new they are just DOIN’ IT while other new restaurants with their wonky ass shit continue to make soft opening excuses for months.  Once you get to MyHouse, the absolute must eats are the “Ox-tail, orange and sage ragu over crusty bread” and the “Porcini rubbed short-rib with aged balsamic”.  While the ox-tail ragu is simple in concept, it’s fucking unbelievable with its superior fuck yeah depth of flavour coming from the gentle orange peel overtones and underlying sage.  This is all served on some toasted Bread Elements foccacia loaf which has been bathed in fuck yeah butter.  FYN pro tips include demanding even more foccacia loaf, slathering it with shit tonnes of butter and then scraping every last bit of that ragu into your rapidly improving life.  Back that shit up with MyHouse’s slow cooked short rib and as a homie I took to MyHouse exclaimed, “Fuck, I think I’m at the Vatican because I just saw GOD”.

MyHouse is doing something unique in Hong Kong and there’s so much passion and thought that’s been poured into this place that it’s super fucking personal and full of fuck yeah sincerity. It’s not often that I can hand out a SEVEN WAY FUCK YEAH slam of interiors, concept, food, music, drinks, service and price point and if you haven’t been already, get yo ass down to MyHouse ASAP to get involved because fuck yeahhhhh, MyHouse is just so fucking right.

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STAND OUT EAT #2: Penthouse by Harlan Goldstein (RIP) – Dessert Platter

Penthouse by Harlan Goldstein was one of my fuck yeah favourites of 2015, I think I racked up over five visits and I recommended it to anyone who was looking for a date night or special occasion location that wasn’t too stuffy.  Until there was a falling out between and Harlan and his business partners and now this restaurant goes by “Penthouse” and it’s without the big, bombastic Harlan G at the helm, Executive Chef Joe in the kitchen and the fuck yeah kitchen team / waiter homies.  It’s all TOO FUCKING SAD and I don’t dare go back in case I tarnish all my fuck yeah Penthouse by Harlan Goldstein memories.  My 2015 fuck yeah highlight is without doubt the Harlan’s Surprise Dessert Platter and anyone that I recommended Penthouse to was made to promise on threat of death that they’d most definitely leave sufficient room to power through this FUCK YEAH dessert option.  This mixed platter of fuck yeah desserts was a magnificient as fuck show stopper with a liquid nitrogen sorbet of varying flavours, which had been snap frozen to give it a meringue like appearance which melted as soon as it came in contact with body heat.  Then to keep shit interesting and interactive, there were puddles and spoonfuls of different sauces and flavours such as powdered dusts, chocolate mousse, banana tiramisu, gelato and white chocolate lava cake.  Fuck.  I’m emotional as fuck just thinking about it now.  It was one of the most memorable desserts I’ve ever had and writing about it right now while knowing that it’s no longer available, is hitting me right in the feels.  It was just the fucking best and Harlan’s Surprise Dessert Platter please know that even though we can’t be together anymore, know that I think of you every step of the way because IiiiIIiiiiiiIiiIIIII WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU.

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STAND OUT EAT #3:  Posto Pubblico – Veal Milanese / Veal and Lobster Bolo

I’ll confess that I get swept up in all that new trendy restaurant razzle dazzle bullshit and  before I know it I’m looking down dazed and confused at a dark charcoal slate covered in viola blossoms, a piece of hamachi sprinkled with dehydrated shisito pepper powder and a small shrimp wearing a miniature top hat in a shoe for HKD568 + 10% service charge under the dim light of a stripped down industrial style chandelier made from HK egg waffle cast iron moulds from 1956. The IHM Group is probably one of the most consistent restaurant groups in HK and while I was all up in Stone Nullah Tavern‘s grill in 2014 and Linguini Fini opened their new premises in 2015, for me my best memory of 2015 was rekindling a torrid though honest love affair with Posto. Sometimes old and familiar love is the best sort of love and when Posto added new dishes in September to mark their sixth year anniversary, this old and familiar love starting to become all sorts of next level fuck yeah feelings.  Whenever I tell anyone to go to Posto they are given a super fucking specific set of instructions and here it is, the FYN pedantic as fuck guide to ensuring that you have the optimal FUCK YEAH experience at Posto that you deserve.

  1. Round up at least three to four homies because if you go as a couple you won’t be able to try enough fuck yeahhhh dishes because the Veal Milanese chop on its own is gonna take down two people easy.
  2. Make a booking.  When you do this, pre-order the Veal Milanese chop, the moon of my life, my sun and stars, my everything. Life’s gonna be too fucking sad if you roll up for dinner and that shit’s sold out.
  3. Once you get there, start shit off with one or three Negronis.  You could go probably also go a Manhattan if you’re not into Campari.  Or maybe you should just force yourself to drink your Negroni medicine until you fucking get it.  Fuck yeahhh, dem bitter herbaceous feels.
  4. For around three to four people, you gotta get the meatballs to start because I’m making the claim that Posto has THE BEST fucking meatballs in HK.  For your pasta, don’t mess around with anything else except the Spicy Veal and Lobster Bolo which is my first, my last, my pasta everything.  Get the Veal Milanese that you’ve pre-ordered and while some people claim that the Veal Saltimbocca or Veal Parmigiana is better, don’t be swayed because I firmly believe that the Milanese topped with fresh homemade mozzarella, sweet as fuck organic cherry tomatoes and basil is the Supreme Ruler of all that is Veal.  If you need a side of vegetables, get whatever is seasonal and recommended by the best waiter homies at Posto.
  5. If there’s more than four people get an extra serve of the homemade burrata and maybe the deep fried calamari. Add a pizza fritta which is a pan fried pizza served in an iron skillet so it’s all fuck yeahh crispy bottom times.  My FYN recommendation would be the Bronx Bomber with crumbled sausage, pepperoni and oregano.  YASSSSSS.
  6. Try and keep your shit together while you smash back an essentially flawless fuck yeah meal.  Reflect upon the fact that right at this moment, life is fucking glorious.

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STAND OUT EAT #4:  Zurriola – Scallop with black pudding and green apple / cheese

Chef Daniel Birkner joined Zurriola this year and rebooted its menu with some of the most precise and beautiful food I ate this year in Hong Kong.  In fact, I had my first meal there in May and even though it was not even half-way through 2015, I boldly made the statement on FYN that Zurriola with its precise, modern though no wanky bullshit food was gonna most definitely feature on my 2015 fuck yeah highlights. AND HERE WE ARE.   Zurriola is in TST which means that it’s a harder pitch because most people can’t be fucked to leave the familiar surrounds of HK Island spanning from Kennedy Town to maybe Wan Chai at a stretch.  But that’s such a bullshit excuse not to go because the meals I had at Zurriola this year were fucking phenomenal and it was the unconventional ingredient pairings which still made sense which set it apart from so many other restaurants in HK.  I will never forget the scallop dish I had at Zurriola which was topped with black pudding, against a crisp green apple sliver and a celeriac mash. Such earthiness.  Much contrast. WOW.

I also recommended Zurriola to anyone who was chasing down a serious fuck yeah cheese experience and Chef Birkner does not fuck about with his selection of French raw milk cheeses and most importantly, serves up a very decent sized serve as well.  No tiny-ass slivers of barely there cheese (hey Epure, imma lookin’ at you).  Despite not normally being down with apricot, Zurriola’s thinly sliced homemade toasted apricot fruit bread combined with the cheese course is fucking perfection and I had no other choice but to unhinge my jaw and devour everything in sight, resulting in a state of pure and unadulterated fuck yeah bliss.  I always say that carb life = best life, but let’s be real, cheese life is pretty fucking rad too.

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STAND OUT EAT #5: Tai Chung Wah Restaurant (大中華飯店) – Bandit Chicken (土匪雞)

I have a draft folder of reviews that I start and then due to a combination of apathy, laziness and bingeing on an entire season of television in one to two days, end up in some sort of food review purgatory and never get finished.  I really should just man up and finish writing up Tai Chung Wah Restaurant in Cheung Sha Wan because that shit was so good that I want you guys to fucking know about it.  I ended up going to Tai Chung Wah twice in one month, despite it being so fucking far away, largely motivated by wanting to eat the glorious fuck yeah Bandit Chicken (土匪雞).  Until I get my lazy ass in gear to write shit up properly, it’s critical for you to know that if you go to Tai Chung Wah, you need to pre-order the Bandit Chicken.  The Tai Chung Wah homies are SUPER assholes about ordering more than one chicken though and even if you have a massive group of homies going (ie. 12), they’ll bitch about it to you on the phone, argue with you about needing two chickens, ask who is going to eat the breast meat (my Cantonese speaking homie assured them that we had plenty of white people with us to take care of that but this wasn’t even sufficient grounds to stop the Bandit Chicken argument) and even when you think you’ve finally got them to agree to pre-ordering two chickens, you’ll rock up on the night and they’ll be like ‘NO.  YOU ONLY ORDERED ONE.  CANNOT GET MORE‘ before these assholes cuss you out some more.

The Bandit Chicken allegedly gets its name from when Hunan bandits used to ransack people’s homes for valuables, which back in the day included spices.  These sneaky fuckers would then celebrate a successful spice raid by holing up and making some cumin spiced chicken which if people smelt would take it as an indication that they should keep their shit on lock down because bandits would be close by.  Tai Chung Wah cook their Bandit Chicken in a clay pot oven, speared on a pole which allows the juices to be kept within the chicken, meaning even the breast meat is juicy as all hell and it’s not a dried out, fuck no bland as fuck mess.  No one is gonna help you out at Tai Chung Wah to carve it so be prepared to go hands on or have a homie with you who can deal with carving up a bird with a pretty shitty knife and their plastic gloved hands.  But oh my yassssssssss this fragrant cumin and salt rubbed roast chicken was just so fucking good.  I even broke my no food photo rule, just so we could all revel in the FUCK YEAH glory that is the Bandit Chicken which I affectionately call Stripper Chicken.  SHE’S WORKING AT THE PYRAMID TONIGHT.

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OK homies, that’s enough FYN 2015 FUCK YEAH and FUCK NO memories for today.  Stay tuned for FYN’s Fuck Yeah 2015! Part #2 – Outside the Kong / #Wandercunt edition and also A Fuck Yeah Noms’ Guide to 2016 New Year’s Resolutions which are gonna be dropping in the next week or so.  Or perhaps it’s time to get all nostalgic for some 2014 memories and check out Fuck Yeah, 2014! – Part #1: Hong Kong or FYN’s Fuck Yeah 2014! Part #2 – Outside the Kong and FYN’s ‘Just Cannot’ List.  MEMORIES, NOT A SOUND ON THE PAVEMENT.

Where:
Cóm Bánh Mì
28 Tai Wong Street East
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

FYN Hot Tip:  Tai Wong Street is the other street that sits adjacent to The Pawn (ugh) which isn’t Ship Street.  It’s where Bao Wow used to be.  Whoever would have thought that we wouldn’t want to buy tiny overpriced hipster baos forever and ever? NEWS ALSO JUST IN – HK may possibly not need 1,278,431 burger joints either.

Telephone:
+852 2528 9131 (I don’t think it’s a booking kind of place though).

Price:
HKD80 for the lunch set (banh mi, drink and a side).

The deal:
Cóm Bánh Mì is relatively new, only opening in December 2015 and I dragged my festively plump ass down there to see if their banh mi game was a fuck yeah or a fuck no.  Just as I’m approaching the restaurant, I notice the signage from across the road and I think “Wait a fucking minute, is that what I think it fucking says??”

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Ohhhhhhhhhh, yes it really is 2015 and Cóm Bánh Mì still seem to believe that it’s an appropriate move to claim that the Vietnamese chef behind their banh mi restaurant is called “Chef Phuc Dat Bich”, just like the Internet meme that recently went around.  I mean, do you guy get it??  It’s an alleged Vietnamese name and it sounds like FUCK DAT BITCH.

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Moving past the Chef Phuc Dat Bich signage, Cóm Bánh Mì is situated in a narrow space suited for take out orders or quick, casual lunches of no more than four people (probably working better for groups of two).  While I was deciding what the fuck to order for lunch, I read over Cóm Bánh Mì’s menu and in a rare event, my hackles were all up over Cóm Bánh Mì’s menu items such as the Banh Mi section being titled “HORY CLAP” and the Com Ga (rice) section labelled with “HORY SHEET“.  The level of offence I was taking at this menu threw me into some sort of existential crisis as I pondered where is the line when your whole blogging schtick is based on generally being a rude, offensive cunt and then, trapped in my tiny glass case of emotion I’m all bent out of goddamn shape by a drinks section called “SUCKY SUCKY” and a sides menu called “SIDE JOBS – Evelyting forty dorrah” (all the sic in the world ever).  OH SO THAT’S IT, shit crosses FYN’s line of acceptability into fuck no territory when it’s racist bullshit, such as menu descriptions that are trying to find humour in a non-Native English speaker’s inability to speak English perfectly or stereotypes involving South East Asian sex workers.

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Cóm Bánh Mì has a number of different modern versions of the banh mi such as shredded chicken & roast duck, Iberico pork rib satay and Iberico ham.  The majority of them are priced reasonably at HKD45 each, except for the Iberico ham one which weighs in at a hefty HKD95.  There’s no option on a straight up grilled pork banh mi which would have been my preference over any of that fancy, new age shit.  Maybe I’m just a grumpy old bastard who’s resistant to change, but I don’t know why every fucker in HK wants to fuck with the classic banh mi.  I order the Lemongrass Lime Soda (HKD25) and get talked into the lunch set for another HKD10, which allows me to get a SIDE JOB of the garlic butter wings.  The ordering set up is efficient and friendly, which is exactly what you need from a quick, casual lunch joint.  The kitchen assembles my crispy pork belly banh mi and I’m filled with hope when an attractive as fuck banh mi is placed in front of me.  A crispy French-style baguette roll is stuffed with thinly sliced cucumber, Vietnamese basil (I’ve read this shit’s allegedly flown in from Danang which seems an excessive and environmentally unfriendly way to add some authenticity), coriander, slices of chả lụa (the white, Vietnamese pork sausage), pickled carrot and daikon, sliced white onions, sriracha mayo, a decent smear of turkey liver pate and of course, the chunks of pork belly.  The first thing I ask for is more delicious as fuck sriracha and fish sauce mayo because I want that good shit to be getting it on hardcore with the liver pate in my banh mi.  Good news, Cóm Bánh Mì fully deliver on my pleas for more sriracha mayo and the mayo bottle is actually roaming free on the floor for those that need to aggressively get their sauce on.

A couple of bites in and I gotta say that I was enjoying my Crispy Pork Belly Banh Mi with a side of casual racism. The ingredients were well-balanced, the coriander and Vietnamese basil giving shit a good fresh as fuck kick.  The French baguette was appropriately crispy, but didn’t appear to have any rice flour in it, so it was a bit lighter than a traditional Vietnamese baguette.  There’s a few small things which I’d change as a matter of personal preference, like I would have preferred a stronger pickle for the daikon and carrots.  But the one thing I think Cóm Bánh Mì could really improve upon is its crispy pork belly. Cóm Bánh Mì are working with a limited set up of an oven and a few deep friers which means that they can only really toast buns and deep fry shit.  This means that in order to avoid sad fuck no flaccid pork belly times, they’ve deep fried their pre-cooked chunks of pork belly.  This unfortunately renders the pork pieces thoroughly crispy but also a little dry. I’m a resilient fuck though so I managed to patch over this fried pork related problem with a fuck load of sriracha mayo but it goes back to my point of if I’d been able to order a grilled pork banh mi, I wouldn’t have bothered with the unnecessarily fried dried out pork pieces.

My SIDE JOB of the garlic butter wings consisted of two tiny fried half-wings.  If I wanted to roll with the ‘forty dorrah, sucky sucky’ theme that Cóm Bánh Mì are going for, I could most definitely bang on here about being a size queen here but fuck that shit to all hell.  Due to Com Banh Mi’s limited kitchen set up, these deep fried wings are greasy, though delicious salty fuckers.  I’ll be real, I’d probably be upset if I’d handed over HKD40 for this side dish but at HKD10 on top of the banh mi and drink, this shit was fine and acceptably padded out the lunch set.

Sucking down the last of my fuck yeah lemongrass, mint and lime soda, I watched Cóm Bánh Mì hold down a relatively busy lunch service which seemed to be moving fairly swiftly.  I wondered how their more conservative looking mostly Asian business attired clientele were dealing with their offensive menu, but no one seemed that bothered so perhaps I’m just an uptight fuck.  Casual racism aside, Cóm Bánh Mì isn’t doing anything transcendental regarding the banh mi, but they provided an efficient and tasty lunch which didn’t send me back to the office crying for wasted time or calories.  Of course, if you’re going to be a #wandercunt asshole and compare this to all the banh mis you’ve eaten in some far flung Vietnam town in some off the beaten track hole in the wall establishment, you’re probably gonna have plenty to bitch about.  But guess what dickheads, we all live in HK and as far as HK banh mis go, you could definitely go worse.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhh, I can get behind Cóm Bánh Mì as a quick and easy lunch place.  But fuck noooo to the racist menu shit cause fuck, it’s 2015 already and surely the world’s moved on from making fun of how SE Asians could potentially mispronounce words? Yo Cóm Bánh Mì, maybe stop worrying about fucking dat bitch and get on board with fucking off racist SE Asian stereotypes.

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