Black Sheep

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:
Le Garçon Saigon (the website is total bullshit, I wish I could get the two seconds back that I spent looking at this sorry excuse for a website)
GF/12 – 18 Wing Fung Street
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2455 2499

Price:
We got out at a very reasonable HKD380 a person for food and drinks.

The deal:
Le Garçon Saigon has only recently opened in November 2015 and despite it being open for about five seconds, every time I’ve walked past it (even on random weeknights), it’s been totally rammed.  It’s a concept which I can totally see the masses getting behind – a French-Saigonese style bistro serving Southern Vietnamese food in the “trendy” Star Street precinct, run by the popular Black Sheep Restaurant Group (Carbone HK, Chom Chom, Burger Circus, Ho Lee Fook, Stazione Novella, Boqueria, etc. etc.) who continue their march towards HK restaurant domination.  I always feel that the Star Street precinct is deceptively trendy, as in, it feels like there should be cool, hip shops and lots of trendy restaurants but when you’re actually there you realise it’s a massive commercial yawnfest of a Pizza Express, a Classified, an Oolaa, a stack of mediocre restaurants hiding behind cool facades and a couple of interior shops which have made solid typography choices and a carefully curated inventory of only five items for sale.

Le Garçon Saigon is perfect interior bait to lure the unsuspecting trendy restaurant punter in, nailing that new-old Saigon French brasserie feeling with shiny mirrors, teal walls, geometric mosaic tiling and purposefully weathered concrete murals painted with cute as fuck French motifs.  Nothing more perfectly captures the time when the French lorded over Vietnam than a mural with French cartoon people doing colonial shit like drinking wine and a dog reading a newspaper. Fuck yeahhhh, colonialism! Another wall faithfully replicates a deliberately shabby stencilled list of Vietnamese dishes with prices listed in Vietnamese Dong, which is ironic given that I’ve got no doubt that I’m about to get stung some serious HKD for the meal we’re about to order.

Despite everything looking slick as fuck, my main fuck no issue with Le Garçon Saigon is that the softest thing in the whole place is one banquette that runs down one side and every other surface in LCG is harder than the abs of an ardent crossfitter who has eschewed carbs and non-crossfit related conversation for years #strongisthenewdouchebaggery.  This results in Le Garçon Saigon’s dining room being rendered into a cacophonous as fuck echo den with every possible noise bouncing off the bare ceilings, the concrete walls, the tiled floor, the drapeless windows, the naked marble tables or the mirrored walls. I know that tablecloths are unequivocally the devil’s work these days in most restaurants but fuck, I’m not convinced the occasional potted palm was doing their bit for acoustic baffling. I’m an old fuck so I could barely hear the waiter nor the person sitting next to me and you can completely throw all hope to the goddamn wind that I’d ever hear anything being said by the people at the other end of the table.

One thing that is more striking than Le Garçon Saigon’s interiors though is the batallion of attractive as fuck and thoroughly charming French waiters that Le Garçon Saigon have recruited.  Our table discusses whether the Black Sheep homies parked themselves at HK International Airport, staking out every Air France flight that touched down to recruit every other SO HANDSOME French homie that wasn’t destined to crush some quantitative shit at a bank to be part of their Le Garçon Saigon SO HANDSOME waiter crew. I don’t think I can emphasise this enough, the Le Garçon Saigon waiters are really SO HANDSOME.

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While gazing upon his SO HANDSOME face, our SO HANDSOME waiter talks us knowledgeably through the menu, which predictably have cutesy French sections like “Les Woks” for the stir fries and “Les Grillades” for the skewers and an ambiguously named “Larger” sub-section.  Based on our waiter’s SO HANDSOME recommendations, we order a number of different things – a few starters, some salads, a couple of skewers, “Larger” dishes and some of the stir fries.

We were given the wrong salad to start but didn’t realise this until we’d started eating it.  The green papaya salad (HKD68 + 10% service charge) was mixed with beef jerky, small dried crispy shrimp, cashew nuts and a spicy tamarind vinaigrette. We also had a serve of the Morning Glory salad (HKD68 + 10% service charge) but due to one of my homies serving shit super unequally, all I got was a couple of chrysanthemum leaves and some jellyfish pieces, in a pickled ginger and chilli vinaigrette.  My other homies who got first dibs claim there wasn’t any morning glory in there but I can’t fairly pass judgment here.  Regardless of whatever titillating named vegetables may or may not have been present, both salads had enough texturally going on and some good fresh flavours but both vinaigrettes were really fucking sweet, even as the tart tamarind and vinegars unsuccessfully tried to cut through it all.

The canh ga fried chicken wings (HKD78 + 10% service charge for five wings) are covered in a salty spicy mix combining Chinese five spice and chilli and predictably served with a side of sriracha mayonnaise.  While the actual wings are cooked well with crispy fuck yeah skin, my more enduring memory is how even though I’m into salty, fried food these chicken wings were pushing the sodium chloride friendship to a new level because it was definitely too fucking salty.

From the “Les Woks” section we definitely order up on some Les Disappointing dishes.  The glutinous rice promises clams, lemongrass, peanuts, salted cucumbers, rice paddy herbs and pork floss (HKD108 + 10% service charge) and it’s unremarkable in the sense that I can barely remember anything about it at all except the rice being sticky.  The Banh Xeo is a Vietnamese style crispy rice based pancake which is folded over a filling of chorizo, prawns, fresh bean sprouts and large red chillis.  You’re meant to break up the banh xeo and fold it into lettuce leaves with fresh herbs, dipping it lightly in some num nuoc sauce (lime, sugar, chilli and fish sauce).  It looks fucking incredible but in execution, the filling is entirely underwhelming, a mess of largely beansprouts dotted with the occasional prawn or chunk of chorizo. Whoaaaaaaaaaa check out the chorizo repping for the modern East meets West influences bullshit massive. But in reality, the chorizo just feels like it’s out of place and trying too hard to be proving some sort of culinary culture crossing point.  This fusion chorizo concept continues to bomb out even harder when it’s eaten in combination with the num nuoc sauce, which just leaves me thinking once again “Why is everything here so fucking salty??”

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The press on Le Garçon Saigon has been banging on about its grill and we try almost all of the skewers on the menu.  Per order you get three skewers and you can get selections such as the Wagyu beef Tri-tip / Bo Liu (Vietnamese beef teriyaki) (HKD138 + 10% service charge), the Pork Meatballs / Nem Nuong (HKD128 + 10% service charge), the Kurobuta pork / Thit Nuong (HKD128 + 10% service charge) and the proteinless / funless Zucchini & Leeks (HK68 + 10% service charge).  Each skewer is presented with a tray of fresh Vietnamese herbs, lettuce leaves, pickled carrots, cucumber, peanuts, rice paper, rice vermicelli pancakes and dipping sauces, so you can make your own wraps with the meat.  The grilled meats are a fuck yeah, with a good charcoal taste but the problem is that all the sauces that everything is served with are either too sweet, too salty or an awful fuck no combination of being too fucking sweet AND too fucking salty.  There’s a balance in trying to combine the Vietnamese flavours of sour, sweet, salty and spicy but Le Garçon Saigon manage to bludgeon my enthusiasm for their skewers into a bloody lifeless pulp by showing not a shred of nuance and instead hitting me with SWEET SALTY SWEET SWEET SALTY A BIT TANGY OK BACK TO FUCKING SALTY the whole fucking time.

From the “Larger’ grill section we ordered the Whole Red Snapper (HKD208 +10% service charge) which looks beautiful as fuck, grilled in a bamboo leaf package.  Be careful my white homies because this fishy homie is served in one whole piece, bones and all and requires some skillful dissection.  I’m quite into it, enjoying the fuck yeah sweet snapper fish which is very fresh and the fragrant bamboo leaf flavour imparted from the grill until I hit a patch of scales and end up trying to detach the large snapper scales that have attached themselves unceremoniously to the roof of my mouth. Fuck no to that bullshit, I’m already socially awkward enough without being further sabotaged by my choices in seafood.

The grilled half yellow chicken (HKD168 + 10% service charge) looks fucking sensational, all crispy skin and some fuck yeah looking juicy meat.  I rue the fact that I’ve chosen to come with so many homies because I want to eat at least half of it on my own.  Like all of the proteins that have come before it, it’s had a sweet ass time in the grill and the meat is juicy as all hell and fucking great.  The crispy skin is covered in lemon, a chilli-salt spice mix and a thin chiffonade of kaffir lime leaves, which initially gives you a good sour, delicately fragrant and salty mix but just like everything else, crashes down in a crescendo of salt.  At this point, I would cry from all of the salt if I wasn’t trying to preserve whatever precious fluids were still within my body as it teetered precariously on the edge of dehydration thanks to the half a kilo of salt that’s been in my food.

We finish all of our dishes and in a telling sign, my hands are so sticky from making all of those rice rolls with the skewer meats  With no moist towelette or finger bowl on offer I take this sticky moment to reflect upon my feelings towards every single thing at Le Garçon Saigon either being so salty, so sweet or so salty and sweet OR seasoned appropriately but then littered with fish scales.

Chrissy-Teigen-Golden-Globes-Cry-Face-GIF-Pictures

Piling into the “Les Desserts” section we try every single one on offer (all HKD68 each + 10% service charge) and this is a FUCK YEAH highlight of the meal, as Le Garçon Saigon present their modern take on Vietnamese dessert flavours.  The flan is a riff on the Vietnamese coffee, using condensed milk in the flan and topped with a drip coffee syrup, served with a salty chocolate sable biscuit to cut through the rich, sweet flan.  It’s fucking delicious and goes some way to calming my rattled so sweet, so salty bad juju from dinner.  The pandan waffle is delicate as fuck but still crunchy on the outside and it’s served with strawberries, mascarpone ice-cream and almond crunch.  I was really into Le Garçon Saigon’s version of the traditional Vietnamese “Che” dessert – a combination of smashed meringue, roasted pineapple, taro and sago, served in a palm sugar and coconut milk sauce.  There’s a scoop of “smoked” coconut ice-cream (which isn’t that smoky) and some smoked, caramelised peanuts (which I think were too smoky), but this is a small gripe in an otherwise fucking delicious dessert.

With all of that done, it’s a fun evening in a cool, new spot and I can guarantee that it’s only a matter of time before someone bails me up and goes “OMG, have you tried Le Garcon Saigon yet? It’s just soooo cool!”.  But the fact that it’s totally packed out after a matter of weeks means there’s definitely a place for Le Garcon Saigon in HK and it’s for that person we all have met a million times in HK, the type of person who doesn’t really eat or care that much about food and just wants to feel like they’re on point with what’s trendy.  Bonsoir motherfuckers, I’m afraid that I’m all about the food and even LCG’s SO HANDSOME waiters can’t replace appropriately seasoned food for me.

Verdict:
Fuck no.  But if you’re someone who just wants somewhere cool to hang out, drink fuck yeah booze and you don’t really care all that much about the food, this is totally gonna be your new fuck yeah hang spot.  Go on, wear your Sunday best and take your yappy little dog and sit on one of those outside tables and suck down some drinks while waiting for someone to throw down some air kisses at. MWAH MWAH DARLING, HOW FUCKING CUTE IS THIS PLACE??

Where:
Burger Circus (FUCK, it’s a miracle!  A functional and informative HK website!)
22 Hollywood Road
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2878 7787 (I don’t think it’s a booking kind of place though)

Price:
Burgers are around HKD75 – 100 (+10% service charge).  We got out at HKD185 each with some sides and sparkling water.

The deal:
HK is in the midst of a burger craze, with approximately 23 press releases hitting my inbox every fucking day about some asshole opening up some “new and innovative” burger joint which has The BEST, JUICIEST beef patty in HK with The BEST bun, carefully crafted in conjunction with some French baker and of course they predictably tested that shit during Clockenflap or some pop-up on a godforsaken rooftop somewhere.  Hotshack, Boombox, Cali-burger, Big Butchersclub, Fernando Circus, Dirty Decadent Dickbags – fuuuuuuuuuck pass the kimchi and then call some lifestyle blogs to put in you in their Hot New Shit About Town special, cause I can’t fucking keep track anymore.  Who are these people in HK who are eating 27 burgers and 34 burritos a week which justifies the existence of all these new burger joints and the 57 Cali-Mexes in HK??

Word on the street about Burger Circus has been lack lustre which even the gifting of free burgers to the public hasn’t seemed to have stemmed.  My homies have been telling me that shit’s cute but the burgers are just ok.  They’re going for that kitschy retro thing so if you ever wanted to eat a burger in a replica train cart then you’re in fucking luck.  However despite the mediocre feedback, my judgmental as fuck self can soften when it’s 1:30am and my raggedy drunk ass is feeling the full effects of trying to soak up a bottle of wine, miscellaneous other drinks and a FUCK NO heinous tequila shot (fuck I thought it was vodka! #DrunkAssBitchProblems) with some crackers and cheese that I’d tried to fool my body into thinking it was a sufficient and nutritious dinner. Mr + Mrs Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and I were doing the Wyndham Walk of Shame, deciding between the usual suggestions (Paisanos, 27 Kebab House) when we see the idyllic retro charm (lolzzz) of Burger Circus looming in the distance.

Since it opened, one of my favourite things to do every time I walk past Burger Circus, is to see how fucking miserable their waiters look in their kitschy diner get up uniforms.  I even made one of their waiter homies into a STAHP meme in my Jollibee‘s review.  After we’re seated and our waiter swings by, I instantly realise that it’s the STAHP homie and while I asked him what his favourite burger was, I was simultaneously feeling bad for making this hard-working, convivial waiter into a meme but obviously not bad enough to stop myself from posting it again:

burgerstahp

Following STAHP Waiter’s recommendation, I went with “The Circus Burger” (HKD80), which bills itself as a “5oz beef patty, crispy bacon, savory onions, lettuce, tomato and Circus sauce” and a side of fries (HKD30).  My burger arrives wrapped in paper and on its fuckin side so you can see all the ingredients from the top.  I gotta give Burger Circus full marks for their fuck yeah presentation but their presentation shit is form over function cause when I’m slamming the burger into my face to give me much needed Vitamin G(rease), burger juice starts to drip fucking everywhere.  Retro stripey placemats and paper containers don’t look so fucking cute once they’re smeared with CIRCUS SAUCE and burger juice.  Dear Burger Circus, Y U no present burger with the bun horizontal like every other place?  Y U no wrap paper underneath the other end of the burger?  Shit’s just so unnecessarily untidy.

Given my drunk ass state in which was ready to eat my own arms off, my burger was a fuck yeah at this point in time but Mr Ain’t No Mountain High Enough seemed to have a quarter of an iceberg lettuce wedged into his.  The fries were only average though. My Circus Burger was fairly well proportioned in term of its ingredients ratio but wasn’t particularly spectacular in any aspect.  Gotta note though that the bun was super soft and it gets fucking soggy from the sauce.  I can jive with a soft bun more than some monstrous crusty sesame bun or some bullshit dried out brioche bun which just overwhelms the other ingredients.  Most importantly though, Burger Circus’s burger is the size of a small child’s fist and it was gone before I fucking knew it.  TOO SAD.  Reflecting upon the quick, fleeting Burger Circus moment, I had a flash back to a press release or a blog somewhere that the Burger Circus burgers were described as an ‘ideal size’, which seems to be PR speak for FOOD FOR ANTS.

With my small-ass burger but a fleeting memory and my drunk-ass hunger remaining, my homies and I ordered a serve of the jalapeno poppers, buffalo wings and the kosher dill pickle.  The dill pickle was a FUCK YEAH, sour, briney and juicy as fuck.  The buffalo wings came out cute as fuck in their paper container but were a fuck no on both execution and price point, given that for HKD88 you only get THREE just ok wings served with a side of watery blue cheese sauce.  The jalapeno poppers are all fancied up with a tempura style batter and a cream cheese filling but even in my Vitamin G seeking state, the poppers were not that amazing and punched in at HKD78.  Overall, fuck no to Burger Circus $ides, except for DAT PICKLE.

At about 2am, Burger Circus was calling it a night and our waiter homies hustled us out of the joint .  While the burger I had was enjoyable enough, I gotta be real, this was in the context that it was past midnight and I needed late night post-drinking snacks and if there was a McDonald’s on Hollywood Road, I would have been just as happy getting a cheeseburger and FUCK YEAH McWings.

So while the Burger Circus PR team are probably punching out press releases that refer to its rail cart diner ‘concept’ and sure milkshakes and over the top white and black retro outfits fit into that aesthetic, I can’t fucking eat my server’s outfit and I’d rather have less stripey packaging and MOAR FUCKING (HORIZONTAL) BURGER for my $$$.

Verdict:
Fuck no if you’re sober but not gonna lie, if my post-drinking ass was on Hollywood Road, tiny-ass overpriced passably decent burgers could happen again.

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