Jury’s Out

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.

sophia-passion

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:
The Butchers Club Steak Frites
UG/F, 52-56 Staunton Street (entrance is on Aberdeen Street, just up from PMQ)
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2858 9800 but snaps yo, their email reservation address was speedy.

Price:
HKD550 for the set dinner menu (salad + steak). Estimate HKD1000 each if you were doing cocktails / wine with dinner.  If you’re smashing steak, surely you want to be smashing red wine at the same time.  Service charge not included, tip is optional.

The deal:
Steak Frites / Entrecote is one of the latest dining trends (some would argue has-been) that is being trotted out across HK.  Sure HK, why don’t we open 1,234,742,101 new gourmet burger places while we’re at it?  La Vache! started it off with their bargain priced HKD258 (+10% service charge) steak and frites and then followed by L’Entrecote de Paris on Wyndham Street and Le Relais de l’Entrecote in Wan Chai. I haven’t tried any of the L’Entrecote ones as I’ve heard mixed reviews from my homies, with the strongest opinion from the reliably hungry Ms Two Serves who claimed that there wasn’t enough steak at L’Entrecote de Paris and that it was only average.  Just cannot with going to restaurants and being hungry and broke at the end.  One of our homies wanted to try The Butchers Club Steak Frites and I’m a fuck yeah fan of their steaks so with the new, shiny, healthy new year intentions thrown to one side we made a booking here (yeah SMD “no reservations” La Vache).

The Butchers Club Steak Frites menu is straight forward – HKD550 for a wedge salad to start and a 12 oz 40 Day dry aged rib eye and duck fat fries.  There’s some bullshit QR code secret menu and I don’t know why The Butchers Club persists with this secret menu bullshit for all of their restaurants when a) it’s available publicly on their goddamn website b) their normal menu has one item.  Hey BC homies, viral happens organically, stop trying so fucking hard cause I dunno if forcing your customers use their phone to scan QR codes to learn that you SECRETLY offer surf & turf or a cheese plate is entirely fucking necessary. Like seriously “Yeah, I went to this awesome restaurant last night, they have a secret menu that you have to fuck around with your QR scanner on your phone to access which was really integral to my feeling of belonging to something underground and unique” said NO-ONE FUCKING EVER.

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I started with a barrel aged Negroni cause Negronis are one of my favourite fuck yeah aperitifs and the Butchers Club Steak Frites one was all good times.  Even better, fuck yeahhhh, this Campari gin filled bastardwas only HKD90 instead of the ball breaking HKD138++ which is becoming the new fuck no norm in Hong Kong for perfectly adequate cocktails.

The chef comes out to show you the 12 oz steak but lets you know that another option is to share a 66 day aged thick ass T-bone or a prime rib (bone in) between two, while pointing out how the dry aging process is changing the steak.  Thanks for the steak education homeslice and cause I’m all about thick ass steaks so I piled in with Mr Noms to share.  Unfortunately I had to settle for an order of medium-rare.  During the early days of dating Mr Noms, I failed to complete adequate relationship due diligence meaning that my husband homie prefers his steak medium-rare to my preference for the run-the-cow-past-a-fire-and-I’ll-take-a-bite-out-of-it model.  Sometimes I can’t believe the fucking bullshit we do for love and marital harmony.  Yo FYN homies, hot tip – make sure you’re busting out this steak temperature question during the halcyon days of young love so you don’t have to make the same compromises.

Some bread comes out to start and instead of butter, it’s served with whipped dry aged rendered beef fat.  Fuck yeahhhhh that shit was real and the bread is made by Bread Elements so shit’s legit. We placed our order with our cordial waitress who was definitely on Struggle Street when it came to understanding that we wanted to do the steak sharing option, said that if two people did the shared steak and we wanted a sauce each we’d have to pay HKD10 extra for sauce (ummmmm surely if you have two people paying HKD1100 for two steak sets you each get to choose your own fucking sauce without stumping up an additional HKD10 charge for a tiny pot of sauce.  Logic eventually prevailed) and didn’t seem to understand which steak cut we wanted either.  Such was the level of confidence that we actually double checked directly with the kitchen to make sure they had our shit right.  Yo sweetpea, the items on the menu can be counted on one hand and there’s only three steaks on offer, get yo shit in order girl!

There’s an option to change the wedge salad to foie gras on brioche toast (BRIOCHE, MAH NEMESIS) for an additional HKD100, but ages ago I watched an awful video on a Canadian foie gras farm and since then I’m not so down with foie gras.  Yeah, I know that was an extreme set of circumstances and other foie gras farms have different standards but like a Kylie Minogue song, I can’t get that shit out of my head.  No judgment to my other foie gras eating homies cause that shit is fucking delicious, but I’m just all funny about dat delicious foie gras now.  Mr Noms said it was a fuck yeah and the brioche wasn’t shitty either – so get involved if that’s your thing.  The wedge salad is a hearty heart stopping affair but you new year do gooders beware cause the lettuce isn’t really serving its nutritious vegetable role, acting more as a vehicle for funnelling blue cheese sauce and thick cut maple glazed bacon into your body with some sweet ass cherry tomatoes on the side. It’s solid enough but not that revolutionary.  Hopefully they change that shit up regularly because if you were to come here all the time, I don’t know how excited I’d be to have this salad time after time.

The chef let us know our steak was resting and then shit went a little something like this:

No, 5ive didn’t show up to do a performance but The Butchers Club Steak Frites lost all power for a solid amount of time. As our steaks were resting we were in the clear to enjoy our steaks under the glow of the emergency lighting sign.  I guess all my bitching about loud venues has been heard by the Restaurant Gods cause the power black out took the music as well, which meant shit was entirely audible.  Our steaks arrived pre-cut and served between two and fuck yeahhhhhhhhhhh, dat 66 days of dry aging means that you get that intense beef flavour with the mature nutty / blue cheese flavours through it.  I fucking love this shizz and I’m happy to pay for it because that dry aging shebang is labour and time intensive.  The steak is served with your choice of sauce (HKD10 if you want another one) and the bearnaise and peppercorn sauces were tight.  The best fuck yeah sauce of the night was the chimichurri which they threw in. Shit felt medium rare but our waiter homies didn’t provide candlelight until we’d finished our steaks (Y U no provide light source earlier?) and I felt like too much of a dick move to use my phone to illuminate my meal so I could check it out.  The duck fat fries were superior to the ones I had at their burger joint but it’s only one relatively small bowl between two greedy fuckers.  The couple we were having dinner with had fries left over and were almost reluctantly eating theirs. Was it enough?  I guess I’d eaten enough fries for me to feel like I wasn’t being ripped off but fuck if there were more I would have totally smashed them.

In order to compensate for the lack of power, the kitchen comped us a cheese plate.  Fuck yeahhh free cheese times.  The power was restored and the manager asked if we wanted a digestif.  After smashing the steak, wedge salad and a cheese plate, I couldn’t face a Bailey’s (but have you ever drunk it from a shoe?) and he said what about an espresso martini.  Which is one of my favourite FUCK YEAH post dinner cocktails. Good suggestion managerial homie! Managerial homie claimed that they serve an espresso martini with a twist. Yeah son, I can play this game so I asked “What’s the twist?” and they said I’d have to wait and see.

Espresso martinis arrived in champagne flutes on a tray as a waiter homie carried them towards us and in a serious FUCK NO moment, our waiter homie clipped the tray as he was attempting to put shit down and managed to drop two glasses of espresso martinis all over me.  Sticky ass liquor and broken glass rained down around us as our waiter homie’s eyes grew wide with fear and unadulterated terror. A barely whispered sorry escaped from his mouth with his embarrassment palpable as the manager and other staff came over to try and turn shit around.

FYN’s reaction to the way my espresso martini was delivered to me:

ronswansonalcohol

Clean up was ultimately well intentioned but not super slick.  They replaced one martini automatically but left a half glass there (like homies, you spill half my martini, the least you can fucking do is get me another one without me having to ask you).  I found the base of a champagne flute well after the initial clean up under my seat. When I left I had to ask for a paper bag to stash my fucked up shirt which I’d just abandoned on a chair to avoid having to publicly carry around my soiled garments for everyone to see.  Sure the manager made sure I had his details so I could claim dry cleaning if the stain wouldn’t come out of my shirt and emailed the next day to follow up as well (fuck yeah, nice touch).  They comped us our espresso martinis (not explicitly said, they just weren’t on the bill) to make up for Espressogeddon but what is the appropriate go to move is here?  Is a heartfelt apology, an offer to pay for dry cleaning if you can’t get the stain out yourself and a free martini enough to cover the emotional turmoil of going out to dinner with your homies and having to kick on to your after-dinner drinks looking like a DAB (drunk ass bitch) cause you’re soaked in cocktails, everything is sticky as fuck and then having to deal with your stained laundry on a Saturday night when you get home cause you don’t want that shit to set and stain? Fuck, I don’t know – perhaps my dignity truly is only worth HKD90??

I then thought about the fate of Mr Shaky and what are the consequences for a waiter who has an unintentional fuck up of monumental proportions.  Does he get sent to practice carrying martinis on a tray out the back for an hour at a time, with his head waiter shouting at him to be bold and to keep his eyes on the horizon, with his every failure resulting in a cruel task master shouting “YOU ARE FUCKING WORTHLESS” while broken glass shards rain down upon his nugatory existence?

So fuck, it’s clear that between the power blackout and the Espressogeddon, it was one of those fucking nights when yo shit don’t work out – some for reasons that are not entirely within control (except, I guess, don’t serve espresso martinis in tall ass champagne flutes on a tray if you are a shaky waiter).  Between a cold water wash and a soak in some bleach, my shirt survived Espressogeddon unscatched but if we look at the wash up, I still paid HKD1000 (before tip, I’ll be real though – I left a minimal tip cause my generosity wasn’t too red hot after Espressogeddon) to drink some primo cocktails, drink more than half a bottle of  fuck yeah malbec, eat a fuck yeah dry-aged steak but I also did without the modern convenience of power and I endured having champagne flutes and espresso smashed all over me at the meal’s conclusion.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah on pay day or fuck yeah if someone else is paying re: steak (cause that dry age malarky is not cheap) but so much fucking drama happened outside of the steak times that I can’t rule definitively on this one.  In the second time in FYN’s history (The Salted Pig was the first one, moved to a fuck no later) – JURY’S OUT.

Where:
The Salted Pig (Just checked it again – as said before, HK websites, YU even exist??)
2/F, The L Place, 139 Queen’s Road Central

Phone:
+852 2870 2323

The deal:
So, I’ve already been to The Salted Pig and gave it FYN’s first ‘Jury’s out’ rating.  My friend emailed me asking me if it was any good and I replied with the link and qualified that perhaps it wasn’t fair to judge without the lack of crackling and suggested they try the pork knuckle.  My friend reported back that it was ‘so disappointing’ and the pork knuckle was COLD.  Credit where credit is due, she also noted that the Bloody Mary cocktail was ‘sensational (came with bacon)’ and the entree of scallops wrapped in bacon was good (but a bit ‘food for ants’/small).  But in the killer blow, ‘pork knuckle was shit and the ribs were shit.  FUCK NO’ is what her email declared to me the next day.  Yes, I’m already outsourcing my reviews to other people – but this friend of mine is a solid nommer who recognises mediocrity in HK.  So, I’ll keep my HKD500 for another place and finalise the verdict as below.

The verdict:
FUCK NO.

Where:
The Salted Pig (HK websites, YU even exist??)
2/F, The L Place, 139 Queen’s Road Central

Phone:
+852 2870 2323

The deal:
While I was trying to find the phone number for this place, I came across a blog with a billion photos (I can only imagine that this girl’s friends would have spent most of the meal watching her take photos) plus this atrocious description of the Eton Mess dessert at The Salted Pig and it upset me thoroughly. “Banana and fudge brownie chunks lined the bottom of the glass, and were covered in an indulgent layer of cream and topped with small, airy meringues. The flavours came together harmoniously, and the symphony of magnificent textures made my heart sing.” Why do people write about food this way? Why does the Eton Mess have chocolate brownie in it?  Why do I get so upset about food blogs but yet write about food myself?  So if you remember the opening post of FYN, one of the forbidden items was ‘pork belly wank’.  I get it, pork is a great thing – but I hate how people get in this total incoherent mess to prove they are Pork Lovers and pork is just the best thing ever.  Put down the ‘Bacon is the Answer’ tee-shirt.  Fuck me, enough complaining – on with the write up.  Brioche bread came out – not hot though, so going to minus points.  The chacuterie plate was pretty good but the scotch egg is stuck in my craw because it was HALF an egg, coated like a scotch egg and then crumbed.  Salted Pig, how much do eggs really cost?  You really had to give me HALF a boiled egg in my scotch egg to keep your profit margins in check?  Now the disappointment of the night, we ordered the slow roasted pork rack and the meat was nice but there was no crackling.  NO CRACKLING.  Why do you think I’m in a pig specialty place, ordering roasted pig?  To have a healthy day out?  My husband was pretty pleased with the whole affair but for me, I think we ordered the wrong thing.  HKD800 for 2 people + 1 drink each.

The Verdict:
Jury’s out – can’t judge a pork place without eating crackling there.  Will return and give definitive judgment then.

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