Hong Kong

Where:
Electric Ave (FB Page)
Tai Yik House, LG/F, 27-29 First Street
Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong

Phone: 
+852 2858 8883

Price:
Burgers before the extras are HKD120-HKD130.

The deal:
Electric Ave is a small, burger joint which opened up a few months ago in Sai Ying Pun.  I’ve been chatting to the owner Andy for a while on my FY Noms Facebook account (add me yo, like my page – all that good social media shit!!) and we’ve been shooting the breeze about the trials and tribulations of setting up his new shop.  Shiiiiit, I honestly don’t know how any of you restaurant fuckers do it in this brutal HK market.  The one thing I always think about when I’m eating out, particularly when it’s an independent joint without the backing of some mega-dining group, is just how many plates of X does a restaurant need to churn out every day just to make rent in this crazy, expensive city?  Answer – a metric fuck tonne, and that’s even before you figure out all the other tedious shit like staffing, sourcing ingredients, overheads and then just making sure that fickle, asshole HK punters aren’t already moving onto the next, trendy bullshit. Like for real, this is how I imagine life to be as a HK landlord:

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Sauce

I’ve been hearing good things about Electric Ave so I scheduled in a fatboy feed and waddled my fat ass down the stairs to find it tucked down an alley off First Street.  It’s cute as shit, with a white, black, red and yellow London inspired cartoon style mural painted by HK street artist Bao Ho down its green walls.  It probably doesn’t seat any more than 15 people and on a Saturday lunch session, almost every seat is taken.  From the chalkboard above the kitchen, we order the Classic Aussie Beef Burger (HKD120, +HKD15 for cheddar or stilton cheese, +HKD10 for skinny rosemary fries) and as the listed chicken burger is not available, we get the Smokey Carbonara Chicken Burger (HKD110).  For +HKD30, you can upgrade your fries to five hour hand cut chips with bone marrow and there’s no way my greedy guts can say no to that fuck yeah sounding proposition.

Our chunky chips are first out and HOLY FUCKING SHIT, this is the sort of carb related experience that will give you wet dreams in the nights to come.  Perfectly golden and crispy on the outside, fluffy as fuck on the inside and then there’s this depth and slight beefy flavour to them from the bone marrow which Electric Ave have rendered down themselves to finish off their chips.  I chatted to Andy (anonymously, he didn’t know that I was FYN because fuuuuck, what an outright wanker that would make me) about what goes into making a five hour chip and he outlined a number of steps from peeling potatoes and cutting them by hand, soaking the chips in pH 9 water with sugar and salt to get the starch out, drying the moisture off with a fan, putting the chips into the freezer until they’re almost frozen and finally, frying the chips so they can take their final glorious fuck yeah form.  Once they’re fried, they’re topped with rendered bone marrow which he’s cleaned all the blood off, served with a side of homemade ketchup with all sorts of fancy shiz going on like tomatoes, onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, cider vinegar, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, tamari, oyster sauce, fish sauce, anchovies, dark sugar and cloves.  Fuuuuck, five hours to make and then mere minutes to be destroyed but as I always say, carb life is the best life and Electric Ave’s bone marrow chips may be the closest to a carb filled FLAWLESS VICTORY that I’ve experienced all year.

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The only thing that stops me from inhaling every single chip is the arrival of my Classic Aussie Beef Burger.  It’s not one of those over the top gut buster size burgers but it’s also not a piddly little burger the size of a small child’s fist (HAY Burger Circus, you know what I mean). I gotta say, my expectations for burgers in HK start at a very low place but Electric Ave’s beef burger is obviously well thought out with every component bringing something to the fatty boombah table.  The patty is cooked medium rare (they didn’t ask how I wanted my burger, so if you don’t jive with this either learn to eat your burgers properly or make sure you tell them what temperature you want) and is made from prime grade Super Black Angus Australian cattle from New South Wales, a blend of chuck and brisket with a good amount of fat, seasoned with dried mushrooms, salt and pepper.  It’s a very good patty, with the fat giving it a lot of flavour and juiciness but personal preference, I would have liked my patty to have a bit more of a char on it and a touch more salt.  I can concede that I can swing more salty than some people, so once I season it to taste, I’m super into what’s happening patty wise.  

Aside from the fuck yeah patty times, there’s all sorts of fuck yeah things going on such as their custom burger sauce which is a punchy combination of their homemade ketchup blended with kewpie mayonnaise, Sriracha, garlic, cloves and sherry vinegar.  There’s no sad ass wilted iceberg lettuce either, with Electric Ave using halved baby gem lettuces.  Importantly, the pickle game is also strong, Electric Ave keeping shit real with home brined pickles that have overtones of coriander seed, dill weed and fennel.  Electric Ave also has some serious confit onion game going on, with a fuck yeah level of caramelisation going down, with just enough sweetness from the red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar and dark sugar.  Just to keep the burger components coming, it’s all brought together with some tomato jam which they’ve made from stewing tomatoes and peppers with fish sauce, ginger, vinegar, sugar and chill.  Electric Ave claims that there’s over 100 ingredients in every burger combo and fuck, I’m exhausted just thinking about everything I ate in that one burger but fuck yeahhhhh, I know that it definitely passed my burger test of when you take a bite of it and not only do you get a bit of everything that’s going on in there, it’s well balanced with lots of different layers of flavour and construction wise, holds its shit together.

I’m always sceptical about ordering chicken burgers, relegating them to the Poor Ordering Decisions Playbook, which is famous for containing bullshit plays like ordering the fish when you’re in a steak restaurant.  My homie ordered the Smoky Carbonara Burger which uses shredded chicken covered with a fucking delicious carbonara sauce made from chunks of smoked pancetta, cream, taleggio and a shit tonne of pepper.  This burger is gonna be your worst nightmare if you have qualms about eating mother / child, chicken and egg combos, because the chicken sits on a bed of arugula and a fried egg is used to top it all off and when you bite into it, the egg yolk explodes to combine itself with the carbonara sauced chicken.  Fuck the moral quandaries though because this chicken burger shiz is REAL LOVE and all of my doubts regarding chicken burgers always being the poor, ugly cousin to the beef burger are eviscerated, because I think this was even better than the beef burger.  It was downright primal, eating this messy fucker over whatever bone marrow chips remained so the broken yolk and carbonara sauce could drip all over those fuck yeah chips to become somehow, impossibly, even fucking better.

It’s at this point that I try to slow down the speed of my food inhalation because I’m hit by the terrifying realisation that like the dying days of summer, I’m running out of burger and fuck yeah chips and I don’t want my chip related happiness to slip through my fingers so all that I’m left with is a sense of loss deep in the pit of my stomach.  Except shit is just tooooo fucking good and soon I’m bereft and have nothing more to hold onto, except my desperate attempts to recall the memories of these sexy carb filled times, as my hands instead clutch remorsefully at a pile of grease smeared tissues.

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So if you’re after one of the best fuck yeah burgers I’ve had in HK which is stuffed full of thought in every component, get yo ass down to Electric Ave and get involved homies. Chef/owner Andy is also super fucking friendly and works the floor when he’s not bustin’ ass in the tiny kitchen to ask how things are and to go into the infinitesimal details of how he makes his burgers.  I won’t lie to you, it’s not a cheap burger but you’re paying for the quality ingredients and the vast amount of time involved to bring this righteous fuck yeah burger time together.  And really, what’s the point of slaving away in the money mines of HK if you can’t at least spend some of that hard earned slave wages on avoiding the fuck no plight of staring down some sad-ass excuse of a burger (probably with a fucking brioche bun) which makes you want to weep for your mother or anyone who can hold you close? Yassss, spend money bitch on shit that matters.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhhhhhh and most importantly, don’t forget to pay the extra cash to upgrade to the five hour hand cut chips because for real, that shit is gonna make you into a better carb-filled person.

 

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.

vodka

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:
Why50
Shop E, G/F, Fu Fai Commercial Centre
27 Hillier St, Sheung Wan
Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 5239 8013 (but when I tried to call this number to pre-order shit, no one picked up)

Price:
HKD86 for a Cubano sandwich.  About HKD40 for coffee?  DON’T QUOTE ME ON COFFEE PRICES.

The deal:
Ms Two Serves got a sweet taste for Why50’s Cubano sandwich a few weeks ago and I was on the receiving end of a flurry of excited text messages.  But just like a raver desperately trying to catch that sweet high of her first pinger, her subsequent visits to Why50 were still all good Cubano times but plagued by execution issues.  Like when she called 20 minutes ahead to put her order in because Why50 apparently take fucking forever to make a sandwich and when she arrived she was still told that it’d be another 30 minutes while a girl behind the counter lovingly and delicately cut up a banana for 15 minutes which was eventually going to be pulverised through a blender.

So despite the warning shots of impending ineptitude flying past my head, I teed up Ms Two Serves to meet me at Why50 so I could try this Mr Cubano sandwich because fuck, I just want to believe that my big fuck yeah sandwich dreams can come true in HK:

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Based on the shitshow we were anticipating, I tried to call ahead to pre-order two Cubanos but one number I found online didn’t work and the other rang out.  I messaged Ms Two Serves and said that I couldn’t pre-order and she immediately exclaims “HELLZ NAWWW, ain’t nobody got time to wait for them to make sandwiches” and stomps down there ahead of time, putting in our order as the ONLY customer in the shop.  When I arrive at Why50, I realise that we’ve got another homie on the way so I try to order another Cubano.  That’s when I’m met by a blank stare by a waitress that we like to call Silverlox and she says “No Cubanos….We are sold out”.  I take a moment to pause and with an incredulous look at the empty cafe which hasn’t even really hit lunch time yet, I ask Silverlox “Really?  How??”  and she says they’ve run out of bread.  Why50, this ain’t good news for your lunch trade if our order for TWO Cubanos at 12:15pm has completely cleaned out Why50 ‘s lunch supply of bread.

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I look at Silverlox, wild eyed and desperate, while gesturing at their menu and asking “What else can I order instead?”, seeing that of the eight menu items, no less than THREE contain my darkest nemesis, brioche.  Sensing my weakness she looks at me glassily, saying that they have plenty of brioche left.  Ms Two Serves had already ordered the Brioche French Toast before I got there.  But ugh, I give this scenario a fuck noooooooo, seeing as I’m not a 4 year old French child who wants something to dunk into my cocoa and especially because my greatest contribution to the internet to date has really been the below:

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Denied our third Cubano, Ms Two Serves and I watch the Why50 Cubano machine slowly sputter into life, with its three-man kitchen staff indolently making our sandwiches.  25 minutes after our order, they appear and despite what I consider to be a fucking outrageous time to wait for a sandwich when there is NO ONE ahead of you in the queue, it looks fucking glorious.  Slices of ham, roasted pork, melted Swiss cheese pickles and mustard on two fuck yeah pieces of toasted Bread Elements bread which was all working together for fuck yeah sandwich times. There’s also a side of tomato and mango salsa on the side which is a nice touch and the sweet and sour thing it’s got going on, pairs well with the ham, cheese and mustard. It’s hefty and a big feed for one person and perhaps there is still reason to dream that good sandwiches are possible in HK.  Even if in typical HK service terms, it’s such a fucking drama to actually obtain one.

At this point, Ms Two Serves’ French Brioche Toast is 40+ minutes post order and still not in existence.  She chases it up with the kitchen to see if they’ve forgotten and Silverlox confidently reassures us that no, they haven’t forgotten about her order, it’s still in process.  LIKE WHY50, WHY ALMOST 50 MINUTES FOR BASIC TOAST BASED FOOD?  JUST LET ME CHECK MY WATCH TO SEE HOW LONG THIS IS TAKING:

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When the Brioche French Toast finally arrives it’s so fucking sad, even once I account for my burning hatred for fucking brioche.  It’s barely been battered by egg, so it’s effectively just toasted dried out brioche, with creme fraiche dumped on top with a few strawberries scattered around.  For HKD80 and almost 50 minutes of our precious time.  Ms Two Serves pushes it around her plate, lamenting her sorry excuse for French toast, swearing that she’s gonna make her own tomorrow for breakfast.  Which she did and texted me about, proudly declaring that it took her less than 15 minutes to make French toast that was properly battered.

I always think about HK restaurants who complain about their blood thirsty landlords who make profits a near impossible, due to their rent.  But then I think about HK restaurants who are leaving so much money on the goddamn table because they do stupid shit like not keeping me awash in liquor or turning shit around at a pace faster than a snail’s crawl.  Why50, I know you’re meant to be named after the fact that there’s 50 beans in every cup of coffee but fuuuuuck, that Sheung Wan rent can’t be cheap so Y U no have enough bread to make more than two Cubanos at lunch and more importantly, WHY ALMOST 50 MINUTES FOR BASIC BREAD BASED FOODS??

Verdict:
Fuck no because I just cannot with waiting 30+ minutes for a sandwich when you have less than five people ordering food.  Despite the fact that their Cubano sandwiches are a big fuck yeah which I would most definitely like to eat again.

Where:
Rhoda (FB page)
Shop 1A, Upton, 345 Des Voeux Road West
Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong

FYN hot tip:  I think HKU MTR station is closest, take Exit B1.

Phone:
+852 2177 5050 / ask@rhoda.hk (fuck yeahhhhhhhhhh, making bookings without having to talk to people)

Price:
We got out at around HKD650 per person, including booze and before tip (service charge not included).  I went with my A-team of Olympian Level Good Eaters though, so take that into account when you’re trying to estimate $$$.

The deal:
Nathan Green, the former head chef of 22 Ships, has set up new digs in Sai Ying Pun in collaboration with Yenn Wong / the JIA Group.  It’s touchingly named after Chef Nathan’s grandma, Rhoda, who per the interviews I’ve read Nathan says was a bomb-ass home cook.  But fuck, I can’t believe I’m writing about yet another new Yenn Wong restaurant (see also: Mak Mak, Kaum at Potato Head).  It’s as if Yenn sat down at the end of 2015 and wrote her 2016 New Year’s resolution to be ‘Open a new restaurant in HK every month, before rolling forward onto inevitable global domination‘. I enjoyed the actual food at 22 Ships when Nathan was there but I just didn’t get that into it as a concept because I’m entirely too jaded to be dealing with no booking teeny tiny restaurants which serve food for ants with a big side serve of bankruptcy.

The first thing that hits you is just how striking Rhoda is from an aesthetic perspective.  It’s got a kick ass layout – a casual bar at the front, the restaurant tables in the middle and the chef’s counter / open kitchen at the back if you want to check out what the team is doing with your food.  Rhoda have enlisted Joyce Wang to get her fuck yeahhhh interior styles on and not just bash out yet another new HK restaurant with more stripped back bare concrete, minimalist stainless steel industrial vibes.  Joyce Wang is known for doing a number of fuck yeah interiors around town, including Vasco (RIP) and Mott 32 (where the interiors are most definitely more memorable than the super blah food). Rhoda is all references to red brown shiny copper and the light green patina that forms when copper oxidises, mixed with earthy and burnt wood materials – which no doubt tie into the fact that Chef Nathan is all about keeping things straightforward, eschewing fussy cooking equipment for cooking over wood charcoal and fire to make “modern comfort food”. It’s fucking beautiful with its mix of different materials, the repurposed washing machine drums made into light fittings, the grey concrete cladding, elegantly draped rope, the metallic copper fittings and just-so distressed wood furniture, all bathed in a warm, amber glow.

We’re a party of four and we’re seated at the end of the large communal tables which could hold up to ten people.  The table itself is a thing of gorgeous beauty, made in Iceland with melted copper poured into the cracks of the wooden table top.  Unfortunately, it’s just a touch too wide which means that it’s not the greatest for actually being able to converse with people across the table unless you give it the full lean and shout a bit.  We move past this issue pretty quickly when we’re distracted by Rhoda’s bread – a beer bread made from Suntory dark ale which arrives hot hot hot from the wood fire oven on a bed of twigs with a side of nori seaweed butter. We’re starving and we tear our bread roll apart, quickly realising that Rhoda smashes the FYN bread test out of the goddamn park (ie. the test that if a restaurant serves good bread, it’s a key leading indicator that they probably give a fuck about the finer details about everything else they do).  The crust is crisp as fuck, slightly smoky from the oven and when you rip it apart and slather that just dense enough inside with the slightly mellow though briney nori butter, it’s truly an insight into what my purest carb based night time fantasies are made of.  I understand that you get one complimentary serve of bread per two people and then it’s HKD29 a serve, but fuck who cares because where else could someone find such unadulterated happiness and beauty for HKD29??  We ended up totalling four serves of bread between four people and I’ll level with you, if we hadn’t been prewarned to make sure we had capacity for dessert, we probably could have smashed a few more.

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Rhoda’s menu is split into a few different parts and changes daily, depending on what shit’s good.  The categories include Snacks, Cold, Grill, Something a Little Bigger, Sides, Desserts and Cheese.  From the Snacks section, we kick off with the crispy lotus root chips with chicken liver cream (HKD38).  The chicken liver cream is a fuck yeahhh but the lotus root chips could really be any sort of fried vegetable carrier.  We also go with the much blogged and written about, slow cooked octopus (HKD138) from the Grill.  It’s absolutely fine and executed really well, topped with thin slices of cucumber, fresh mint and pickled shallot but it just wasn’t that interesting or different to me.  However, the sweet corn with clams (HKD128) is where shit starts to get real, where grilled kernels of sweet corn are served with shelled clams, katsuboshi (dried, fermented, and smoked flakes of skipjack tuna) and a slow cooked egg.  When you break the egg and mix its yolky glory through the dish, it’s a fucking sensational mix of contrasts of textures and flavours – the creamy yolk, briney clams, slightly smoky sweet corn and the subtle umami hint of fish from the katsuboshi.  I just fucking love it when someone combines ingredients that you’re familiar with and serves it in a way that makes it bigger than its individual parts.

Our waiter homie highly recommends the Mangalica pork chop (400g) (HKD548).  The Mangalica pig is a wooly haired pig which lives a pampered life in the grassy fields of Hungary, snacking down on pumpkin, beets and acorns before they’re slaughtered for their fuck yeahhhh high quality fatty though delicate tasting meat.  Our Hungarian porcine friend has been marinated in soy and garlic, before being grilled over charcoal which results in some epic fuck yeah caramelised fat.  Ms Two Serves was so into this that she used the accompanying green spring onions to wrap the pork fat to make some sort of glorious and fucking delicious burrito style carrier that went straight into her mouth.  Although, we watched in horror as the skinny though miserable looking heathens next to us cut all of the caramelised fuck yeah fat off their pork chop and pushed it to one side of their plate before they laughed blandly at what must surely have been tedious conversation.  Y U DO THAT MY SAD SKINNY FRIENDS? Y U NO DO MANGALICA PORK JUSTICE?

areyallserious

I’m always partial to chicken, even if getting good quality chook in HK means paying a fucking bomb.  Rhoda is offering Brink’s farm free range chicken with spring onion and ginger dressing (HKD498) and it’s so fucking good.  The only issue is that I can’t get excited about breast meat which meant that by the time we’d decimated the far more delicious thighs, drumsticks and wings we were left with so many slices of breast meat.  I know there’s no bones and white people are super into it, but even with the killer ginger dressing, all I could do was dream of darker meat times.  Yes, I know it’s not Rhoda’s fault that chicken have breasts.

We were also loving the side of sugar snap peas with pancetta and quail eggs (HKD68), even if there was MORE spring onions.  Spring onions at Rhoda seem to be like rocket/arugula at other restaurants, every fucking dish we ordered seemed to have them.  Regardless of the spring onion overload, the snap peas are sweet and fresh as fuck and it makes me think of the numerous times I’ve paid HKD78+ for some sad ass side of green beans because some health conscious bastard wants vegetables.

We also ordered a side of the Maitake mushroom risotto with new season Australian truffle (HKD158).  It’s interesting, made from six different grains – pearl barley, buckwheat, spelt, rye, quinoa and millet.  It’s also rich as fuck though and while fucking delicious, I’ll level with you – I’d rather have spent my carb quotient on MOAR BREAD.

In a stunning stroke of good luck, the FYN Gods smiled upon us and where you normally need to order the 12 hour slow cooked Hawke’s Bay lamb shoulder with vegetables, 48 hours in advance, Rhoda had a half-shoulder kicking around.  This NZ lamb is slow cooked and served with carrots and onions, with a massive bouquet of herbs (including thyme, Italian parsley and fresh mint). This is when our table collectively loses their shit.  The lamb is everything a slow cooked lamb should be, fork tender and it has taken on the flavour of the herbs, the sweet carrot, tomatoes and onions, while still showing off its superior fuck yeah provenance.  All that clean air and lush Kiwi grass has most def been kind to the flavour of the lamb.  It’s served with a mint gremolata, a more sophisticated take on mint sauce, and it’s all fuck yeah fresh green zingy tones from the mint, lemon zest, olive oil, salt and garlic.

But fuuuuuck, it’s the gravy that sits in the bottom of the dish which causes all sorts of emotions to burst through to the surface for us.  Ms Siuwaaan, who’s a total slut for gravy, got far more graphic in her wanton desires for MOAR GRAVY.  In between her losing her senses and babbling about how she wants to do all sorts of unspeakable things with said gravy (including executing a body slide with gravy), she decides that gravy fantasies are cheap and instead hits our waiter homie up for more gravy.  We laugh at her doubting whether this is possible, but eventually the clouds of doubt clear, the jus related heavens part and she’s given not one but TWO jugs of gravy.  Without hesitating, she downs one jug like she’s chugging a beer before she stops to take a breath, roll her eyes, place both hands on the table and exclaim “Praise be to Grodin – God of Gravy!“.  It’s at this point, we realise that we’ve gotten our lamb eats totally wrong at Rhoda and form a new plan to do the remainder of our lamb shoulder the sweet justice it deserves.

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So, this is where I will present to you The Definitive FYN Guide on How to Eat Yo Lamb at Rhoda:

  1. As mentioned above, you have to pre-order the lamb 48 hours before you go.  DON’T FORGET THIS.  At present, I think Rhoda is only officially offering the full shoulder which is probably appropriate for eight people but check to see if the half-shoulder is available if you’re a smaller group.
  2. Order more bread.  That shit’s gonna come straight from the oven with a side of nori butter.
  3. Butter up your bread.  Don’t be restrained.
  4. Take your bread and start to form an epic lamb sandwich – start with some lamb, tear some fresh herbs into that shit, maybe get a couple of pieces of the braised onion into there if that’s your jam.
  5. Mint gremolata yasssssssssssssssssss.
  6. Pour gravy all over what’s possibly one the most epic things you’ve ever held in your mortal hands to date.
  7. OPTIONAL:  Put some more crusty as fuck bread on top.  Or just eat it open faced.
  8. Shove this glorious lamb sandwich creation which you made with your own two hands into your wanting face, remembering to breathe while your eyes are wet with tears of joy.
  9. If the gravy escapes your sandwich and runs down your wrists, there’s no shame in licking your wrists to tidy that resplendent fuck yeah gravy up.

PLEASE TO LISTEN UP HOMIES, THIS IS THE PATH TO GREATER LAMB ENLIGHTENMENT.  Girl, you know it’s true:

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After crushing our lamb, our super smiley waiter homie realised that we were truly having a moment and actually seemed to be so excited that we were so into our food.  We had firm plans on dessert because I’d been given a heads up from one of my FYN homies that the vanilla cheesecake (HKD108) was a major fuck yeah and our waiter homie let us know that Chef Nathan’s favourite is the Summer berries (HKD98).  The vanilla cheesecake is fairly simple, with a texture that’s almost like a pudding with a base which is reminiscent of a buttery shortcake biscuit, with some stewed rhubarb and yamamomos (Chinese bayberries / waxberries) on the side.  It’s delicate and rich, and if you’re into cheesecake I recommend you get involved.  I gotta admit, I thought the Summer berries might be a little lame, the sort of dessert you get when you’re trying not to be a massive fat fuck.  But I was completely wrong, it was far more interesting than its description and it was a refreshing fuck yeah mix of a just tart enough cherry granita, creme fraiche with just a whisper of lemon over a super punchy combo of A1 quality fuck yeah berries, including cherries, blueberries, yamamomos  and strawberries.

At the end of the meal, we’re going through our play by play highlights of the meal and marvel at the fact that perhaps it is possible to go to a new restaurant in HK and not be decimated by the crushing disappointment of trendy bullshit and half-assed executed food which has been designed to pander to the masses.  The meal we had at Rhoda, is the sort of meal that comes from food which actually means something personal to the chef and then it touches some sort of nerve inside of you and leaves an impression.  So much so that even after we all go our separate ways, we hit the group chat up before we fall asleep to continue to talk about how much we fucking enjoyed it and in the morning, as the sun ushers in yet another new day in HK, the fuck yeah bread and lamb related chat continues.

So yes, this is what it feels like, when someone executes their dream down to the nth detail and in that process, pours their heart and being completely into what they do, while making sure that the entire team gives as much as a fuck as he does.  And what a fucking privilege that as a customer you get to be a part of that.

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Verdict:
FUCK YEAHHHHHHH!!  Rhoda is only one week old and I think I’d go as far as saying it’s one of the most interesting openings in HK this year.  I cannot fucking wait to see where it goes from here.  GET INTO IT MY FYN HOMIES, but make sure you don’t forget to eat your lamb the FYN way (aka the best way).

Where:
Kaum at Potato Head
G/F, 100 Third Street
Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong

Telephone:
+852 2858 6066

Price:
We got out at HKD750 for food with a shit tonne of cocktails.  If we were more sensible patrons who didn’t drink so much, food came to around HKD400 per person.

The deal:
Given my Strayan connection, it’s no fucking surprise that I’ve been to Bali approximately 3,214 times and hung out at Potato Head in Seminyak in all my tattoo sleeved glory, while admiring my hot though trashy Cashed Up Bogan wifey with her rock hard, perky bolt-ons, peroxide blonde hair, Pandora charm bracelet and Coach handbag.  I’ve got plenty of good memories of Potato Head Bali and have spent many a languid afternoon casting my gaze over Kuta beach, toasting the riches bestowed upon me for double clutching my way through the iron ore mines and riding out that sweet ass commodity boom.  But hard times homies, China (or as we say in Straya, CHOINA), is no longer lapping up the iron ore with the same reckless abandon which means that I’m now reduced to foregoing my Bintang singlet Bali Chill Timez in favour of checking out the HK outpost of Potato Head in the painfully hip Sai Ying Pun.  OMG GUISE, THAT SPECIAL MIX OF OLD HK MEETS NEW HK, JUST LOVE SAI YING PUN.

Potato Head HK has been brought to HK by the PTT Family and Yenn Wong / the JIA Group.  It’s a massive space featuring bar, restaurant, cafe and retail shop – right next to Fish School.  They’ve shipped in Sou Fujimoto to get his architecture on and in conjunction with the PTT Family crew, they’ve done an A1 rad job on the interiors.  There’s that perfectly balanced mix of modern cool shit (ie. hanging mirrored plant boxes), mismatched chairs and carefully weathered Indonesian antiques which is gonna be cool shit catnip to all the HK masses.

While we wait for all of our gang to arrive, I get my cocktail on with my sole, reliable, punctual homie.  Potato Head HK has shipped in the Potato Head Favourites from Bali and they range from HKD120 to HKD145 (+ 10% service charge), which isn’t super cheap but I think fair considering how much attention and care goes into each one.  It’s good fucking times, with some highlights being the Potato Head Mojito (Nusa Cana and Myer’s rum, mint, bar-made spiced syrup, lime and cane juices, crowned with mojito foam and a chewy sugar cane stick) which can get it all day, all night and the Pisang Manis (spiced Nusa Cana rum, milk, banana, lemon juice and palm syrup).  They most definitely pass the Fuck Yeah Noms FUCK YEAH cocktail test which is when you know the drinks are strong fuckers but they’re so delicious you can’t help but throw consequence to one side and smash five of the fuckers.  But really, the Potato Head HK WINRAR is without doubt the Kopi Martini, or as I now refer to it – KWEEN KOPI.  Coffee bean Ketel One vodka, Mexican coffee liqueur, double shot house coffee and mint sugar – I had a sip of this one pre-dinner and was dreaming all meal about getting my dessert on with KWEEN KOPI with all of her beautiful roasted coffee tones and her strong as fuck, alcoholic arms around me.  My dining homie didn’t show such restraint and just chain-smashed five of them back-to-back. YASSSSSSSSSS KWEEN!!

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The Indonesian restaurant at Potato Head HK is called Kaum (meaning ‘tribe’ or ‘clan’ in Bahasa Indonesia) and sits at the back, with the open kitchen running down one side and a long table running down the middle.   However, despite everything looking sleek and shiny, Kaum is an acoustic nightmare because every sound is bounced around from surface to surface.  Sure, the hand-painted wooden ceiling panels by the Torajan people of South Sulawesi are beautiful as fuck but with all the wooden furniture, bare floors and stainless steel in the kitchen, Kaum is not killing the acoustic game.  For this reason, I’d recommend that the primo table number at Kaum is four people because if you’re an old cranky fucker like slutguts over here, you probably aren’t going to be able to hear much at all.

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Kaum’s menu is split into a few different sections – Small Plates, Soup, Bamboo, For Sharing, Sambal, Vegetables and Rice Courses.  I like that it’s not overwhelming and because I fucking love Indonoms, I’m excited as fuck by this stage. Our waitress is friendly and fully across the menu, which I always give major props for a new joint.  We order a mix of small plates and larger dishes, with the intention of sharing everything.  One thing that I notice across almost all the dishes is that there’s a good level of spice and flavour in each one.  If you don’t swing spicy, make sure you check with your waiter homie because I know a lot of HK homies are massive soft cocks when it comes to a little bit of chilli.

When it comes to the small plates, a lot of them are tasty but as the name would suggest, small.  It’s a good way to taste things, but if I went back to Potato Head HK, I’d definitely load up more on the larger plates in a group scenario.  The Gohu Ikan Tuna (HKD90 + 10% service charge) is a refreshing as fuck starter, marinated slices of raw tuna with some fresh, Summertime island vibes from the virgin coconut oil, lime and pomelo dressing, with toasted kenari nuts to give some texture.  The Burung Darah Goreng Rica Rica (HKD120 + 10% service charge) is a slow cooked and fried pigeon tossed in a northern Sulawesi sambal of red chilli, herbs, spring onions and fresh lime juice.  It’s righteous as fuck, full of big punchy spice and tart, bright citrus notes.  But as you can imagine, three pieces of a small bird means it’s only really suitable to split between one to two homies (vs a table).

In the kitchen, you can see a rack of bamboo vessels which are used to cook the Timbungan Babi (pork belly marinated with Balinese spice paste, shallots, chilli, garlic, torch ginger and sweet potato leaves) and Pa’Piong Ayam (free range chicken marinated with spices of south Sulawesi, freshly grated coconut and sweet potato leaves)  On our waitress’s recommendation, we went with the Timbungan Babi (HKD290 + 10% service charge). As the pork belly has been wrapped in a banana leaf before cooking the dishes inside the bamboo container over the grill, there’s a certain sweet, green and smoky flavour imparted to the meat inside.  The menu notes that this cooking method is a dying art, with only a handful of specialty restaurants in Indonesia still practicing this technique.  Fuck yeah props to Potato Head for doing their bit to keep this culinary method kickin’ on.

It’s the main event and Indonoms has gotta involve some sweet nasi goreng action, so we pile in for the Nasi Goreng Bumbu Cabe Asap Udang (HKD148 + 10% service charge).  Potato Head HK’s nasi goreng is fucking punchy but I’m a fiend for chilli, so it’s fuck yeah times.  What I was all about though was the fact that the nasi goreng’s flavour profile was more complex than just greasy rice and sad ass prawns, with the smoky chilli paste and fermented prawn paste giving me some deep rice feels with some fuck yeah top notes from the stinky beans and lemon basil.

The Bebek Goreng Sambal Tempoyak (HKD258 + 10% service charge) also brought the duck yeah, fuck yeah times. Half a deep fried crispy duck is topped with a spicy sauce and served with a vegetable salad that’s been tossed in a coconut dressing to bring some cool contrast.  I’ve got many happy memories of being in Bali and devouring different variations of fried duck dishes and Potato Head HK’s is well executed, with a good level of spice and crispy skin, while keeping the meat moist.  Although the menu notes ‘fermented durian chilli sauce’, you don’t have to freak out too hard my durian challenged homies because you can’t really taste or smell the King of Fruits in there.

Another stand out for me was the Ayam Kebiri Berantakan (HKD195 + 10% service charge) and sure, deep fried chicken is always a quick fuck yeah route to my heart but yasssssssssss, bring the flava flav with that juicy, free range chicken meat and the crispy garlic slices, fried curry leaves, red chilli and toasted coconut flakes that it’s been cooked with. OH FRIED CHICKEN, Y U ALWAYS KNOW WHAT TO DO??

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The Rendang Dasing Sapi (HKD200 + 10% service charge) is a predictable Indonoms order because as if you’d eat anywhere Indonesian without getting the beef rendang. Topped with deep fried purple potato crisps, the serving looks quite small and our initial reaction is that we’re gonna need two servings for our table.  However, despite it’s tiny size, it’s fucking delicious.  Yasssssssssss gimme dem coconut, cloves and cinnamon feels even if it’s just a convenient segway for me to ear bash anyone who will listen to me about this one time in Bali I came across this unassuming warung where I had this a-mahhhh-zing beef rendang for like, HKD20.  Eat, pray, love and then suck my authentic #wandercunt dick, amirite?

There’s only one low light when it comes to the food and unfortunately it’s the one that I’d been dreaming of all day – my Bali superstar, the Balinese roast pig, the Babi Guling (HKD258 + 10% service charge). There wasn’t anything particularly Balinese about it and it suffered from too bad, so sad flabby skin and greasy meat.  Where were the spices such as ginger, galangal, lemongrass and lime leaves to lift the pork to some next level shiz? Potato Head HK, Y U no crisp the skin up??

Potato Head HK do two sittings, which means the first sitting has to get out of Kaum by 8:45pm, but fair play, they were kind enough to let us push the 8:45pm deadline and eventually sat us in the bar area for dessert. We split three desserts, the Bubur Kampiun, Klappertart and the Bubur Sumsum Pandan (all HKD68 + 10% service charge each).  The Klappertart is a crowd favourite, a slight Indonesian riff on a bread pudding by adding coconut, caramel and rum soaked raisins with a scoop of coconut sorbet.  I’m not that into bread pudding so I don’t lose my shit, but some of my homies were pretty excited by this one.  My favourite fuck yeah dessert was the Bubur Sumsum Pandan, which is an Indonesian rice pudding, flavoured with coconut milk, palm sugar and pandan, Potato Head HK adding some chocolate brownie-esque pieces on top and a scoop of salted coconut cream ice-cream.

However, the Bubur Kampiun is an Indonesian / SE Asian style dessert which I think is definitely going to upset some people (ie. White People). Bubur Kampiun is a mix of sticky rice, sweet potato dumplings, caramelised banana, mung beans and a coconut custard.  It’s gonna cause some tears as it probably won’t conceptually feel like dessert to a lot of people because of reasons like “Fuuuuuck, why are there motherfucking BEANS in my sweet dessert?”, “What is the point of these grey-purple glutinous rice sweet potato balls?” and “Why is the coconut custard sauce so salty-sweet and a sludgy yellow-grey?”.  As someone who can roll with weird-ass Asian desserts which may include tiny green beans and glutinous rice, I gotta say this was my least favourite dessert just because the flavours in Potato Head HK’s version seemed a bit out of whack, a bit too salty and sweet with the texture of the bubur candil  (the dumplings) being too claggy and starchy.  You’ve been warned my SE Asian dessert adverse homies, don’t go chasing mung bean and weird ass glutinous dumpling waterfalls just stick to the slightly coconutty bread puddings like you’re used to.

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We’re all at a high level of fuck yeah happiness at this point and it’s when we’re settling the bill we noticed something that stuck out amongst the shit tonne of cocktails and it’s a cheeky extra line item under the soda water for a slice of lemon, clocking in at HKD9 (+10% service charge).  This is where we all go ‘WHAT IN THE EVER LOVING FUCK???‘ and reminisce about how our waiter homie had innocently asked if I wanted a slice of lemon in my soda water while mentally calculating what the per lemon cost at Potato Head HK would be (in case you’re interested – HKD9 x 16 half-slices per lemon = HKD144 + 10% service charge = HKD158.40).  All I could think about was whether getting charged HKD9 per lemon slice is when we know we’ve arrived at the peak of HK bar bullshit.  Of course, I did the only sensible thing and took it to @fuckyeahnoms Instagram (fuck yeahhhh, follow that good shit already) and FY Noms FB (fuck yeahhhhhh, add an internet stranger so I can randomly comment on your personal, private moments), to ask my faithful FYN Homies what they thought and predictably my FYN homies got seriously pressed about HKD9 slices of lemon, used phrases like “What a pack of cunts” a lot and #lemongate was born:

But fair play to the Potato Head HK homies, instead of suggesting that I had a tiny penis and that I should come back after I’d seen a urologist or psychologist (like the Morty’s Delicatessen social media team did), they got their apology pants on, offered me a HKD9 refund (GET MONEY BITCH) and more importantly a free round of drinks.

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Fuck yeahhhhhhhhhhh, nice one my spuddy homies but don’t worry I won’t be hitting you up for this because even though I most definitely want to drink all of your cocktails for free, I’ve got this anonymous FY Noms bullshit to uphold.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhhhhhhhh! There’s potentially a bit of wank going on but the food is fucking tasty, the price point is surprisingly cheap (fuck yeahhhhh, HKD400ish a person for food in a new hip place in SYP – GIDDY THE FUCK UP) and you’ll most def wanna go balls deep in a shit tonne of delicious cocktails.  KWEEN KOPI MARTINI, I BLAME IT ON YOUR REIGN.

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