Brunch

Where:
33 Cafe y Mucho Mas (FB page)
33 Haven Street
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 9636 3371

Price:
We were out at HKD350 a person (before tip, no service charge included) for a shit tonne of food and booze.

The deal:
I have fond fuck yeah memories of arepas, tied largely to being at Caracas Arepas in the East Village of NYC and smashing these gritty grilled and baked corn buns stuffed with fuck yeah fillings such as avocado, chicken, pork, cheese and black beans into my alcohol soaked body before waking up to a sea of self-loathing, plantain chips and aluminium foil.  Once returning to the Kong, dreams of arepas and satisfactory, green creamy avocados were just that – BIG FUCKING DREAMS.  Until, I heard that 33 Cafe y Mucho Mas, run by a Colombian and his Malaysian wife heading up the kitchen, was open in Causeway Bay on Haven Street (near Via Tokyo, the Japanese dessert place on Leighton Road which always has a line full of youths, no matter what the time) serving up Latin/South American food including my love, my fire, my one desire, arepaaaaaas.

With that I rounded up some homies and into the mix was a real bonafide Colombian. Our ColOmbian Supercoach made it clear that a) don’t fuck up spelling Colombian as Columbian and b) 33 Cafe y Mucho Mas is billed as Latin/South American food because it’s not technically pure Colombian food.  33 Cafe y Mucho Mas is tiny, only seating around 20ish people and despite its size, will take phone bookings.  The menu is also similarly compact but no big deal because our ColOmbian Supercoach took the reins and just ordered everything for us.  Fuck yeahhhhh, autonomous expert decisions.  We plowed straight into some Chicharrones (fried pork belly, HKD80) and Patacones (fried plantains / green banana fritters, HKD72) with Suero (a yoghurt based sauce) to warm up and instantly my anticipation levels for the main event were rapidly moving upwards. I know that food blogs are always banging on about “to die for” pork belly but 33 Cafe y Muchos Mas’ Chicharrones were fucking unbelievable, all the good shit that you expect from a fried piece of pork without any of the bad shit that you sometimes get, ie. tiny ass portions, flaccid greasy skin, bankruptcy and disappointment.

parksrecreationtommyhappy

We shared two serves of the Bandejas 33 between our table of six.  The Bandeja 33 is a Latin inspired rice plate which was giving me the nasi lemak feels in the way that its rice served with a fried egg on top except instead of small tiny ikan bilis fried fish, peanuts and chicken it was surrounded by a variety of fuck yeah treats such as home made beans, more chicharones, fried spanish chorizo slices, sliced avocado, grilled corn and arepitas.  In combination this dish took a lot of simple components but did each one well, putting them together into one fuck yeah plate of flavour sensations, with the creamy beans and char grilled corn being a highlight.  This dish worked just fine for dinner but I reckon that the Bandeja 33 would be a fucking star at breakfast / brunch.

With the rice plate done it was time to move into the star attraction, AREPAS RELLENAS YASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.  Our table shared several serves of two types of arepas – the slow cooked pulled beef (which has been cooked in coffee with avocado and cheese, HKD85) and the pulled chicken arepa (served with a fuck yeah tamarind sauce, served with cucumber and carrot slaw, HKD75).  If you’re in a sharing scenario, 33 Cafe y Mucho Mas will serve this with four small round arepitas (+HKD20) rather than the single large arepa which is a fuck yeah way of sharing the arepa love. I preferred the beef one to the chicken and while sharing is fun, I actually think the full size arepa creates a better fuck yeah experience than the mini arepitas.  So perhaps it’s time to write off having friends and just fly solo to snack down on 33 Cafe y Mucho Mas’ full sized arepas.

Meanwhile, our ColOmbian Supercoach regales us with stories of how to call something small or chubby is a way of showing affection and that it’d be totally cool to call your boyfriend or girlfriend Chubby as a nickname and I’m thinking ‘Fuck yeahhh, this is a culture I can get behind’ while reflecting on how fucking happy everything is making me right now.  The dense gritty corn bun against the meat, cheese and spicy nuanced sauce is giving me some major fuck yeah feels and as the emotions bubble up inside of me imma all “MR AREPASSSSS, I CAN’T FEEL MY FACE, WHEN I’M WITH YOU.”

freshprincefeels

I gotta mention though that one thing I am not so down with is 33 Cafe y Mucho Mas’ fuck no use of small disposable plastic containers to serve all of their sauces and cheese.  33 Cafe y Mucho Mas, Y U no mucho care about the environment??

At this point, we’re all full as fuck.  One of my homies passes on the pro tip that if you lean back in your chair, the backwards lean will put less pressure on your expanding stomach and you won’t feel quite so bad.  Our ColOmbian Supercoach wasn’t letting us off this easy though and ordered us one pastelito de bocadilo each for dessert, telling us with expert bluntness that she definitely wasn’t going to share.  It arrives innocuously enough – a triangle of puff pastry on a swirl of caramelised condensed milk sauce (arequipe).  The pastelito is stuffed with a sweet though tart pink guava paste and in combination with the caramelised and cinnamon arequipe this dessert was off the motherfucking charts.  I understand from our ColOmbian Supercoach that it’s not traditional to put cinnamon into the arequipe sauce but fuck, it was so fragrant and fucking sensational with it.  Our table fell quiet while we reflected on how awesome this pastelito shiz was and contemplated how we’d be able to sneak in licking the plate clean without looking like a bunch of crazy ass savages.

For all the Hong Kong restaurant wank off about chasing something authentic and bringing something new to Hong Kong, it’s often just half-assed fusion food with gimmicky cutesy graffiti laden walls and menus that read better than they actually fucking taste.  So how fucking beautiful is it that the husband and wife team at Cafe 33 y Mucho Mas are just fucking doing it with heartfelt food with a lot of fuck yeah love, rather than having a massive wank off about authenticity or fucking about with their menu just for the sake of being edgy or trendy.  Cafe 33 y Muchas Mas is honest, the flavours are simple and bold, but most importantly this is fuck yeah, unpretentious food that will make you fucking happy.  And after witnessing the 2015 Trainwreck of New Fusion Restaurants in HK, I’m so fucking down with that.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhhh, arepas in HK!! I’m imploring all of you to get yo asses down to Cafe 33 y Mucho Mas to feel the South American love too.

Where:
The Diner
G/F, 4-8 Arbuthnot Road (next to the escalators near The Centrium)
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2562 3181 (per the million fucking times it’s mentioned on their website NO RESERVATIONS, but call them if you want to order take away).

Price:
Burger was HKD135 (excludes service charge, gratuities go to the server).

The deal:
A few people (no, not PR peeps) have been telling me that The Diner has The Best Burger in Hong Kong – which is a pretty big fucking call.  I started researching and I came across the King of HK Burgers, Franny, who didn’t share the same sentiment re: The Diner.  FYI, his blog is fucking rad if you are after HK burger opinions, I mean this is a homie who claims he runs every day so he can continue to slam moar burgers.

While checking their story out, I gotta say there is something about the tone of The Diner’s website which gives me the right shits.  My teeth grinding at the following website statement “Please note we can get very busy during brunch so be prepared to wait a little bit longer than normal. Your patience is appreciated.”  Why the attitude Diner homies, maybe hire more staff for your busy times, make less excuses and add a smiley face and an exclamation mark to your text to help your tone a little?

So we rolled on in at 12pm on the weekend and The Diner was pretty packed but it didn’t have a ridiculous line.  ONLY the brunch menu is available til 2pm and the a-la-carte is only available post 2pm.  I think this is pretty fucking aggressive – is it unreasonable that I want more than one burger option after 12pm?  Call me a fucking pedantic stickler, I thought brunch was the inbetween period between breakfast and lunch – and lunch time should start after midday.  Semantics aside, like an office kitchen which has passive aggressive signs about “Clean up after yourself if you’re the type of person who wouldn’t take a shit in your sink at home”, The Diner has posted yellow + black road style signs on every table saying ‘ONLY BRUNCH MENU TIL 2PM SO DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT FUCKING ASKING FOR A-LA-CARTE BITCHES’ (ok, may be an approximation on the text but the sentiment remains accurate).  Amongst the fuck yeah looking buttermilk pancakes and breakfast burritos (and the sad ass egg white only omelette – what’s the fucking point?) on the brunch menu, there is ONE burger available, The Dime Burger.  Given we were here for burgers, we were pigeon holed into ordering the sole available burger without the option of a side of fried pickles.  FU TYRANNY OF 2PM END OF BRUNCH TIMES.

The Dime Burger comes with a medium beef patty (no, they won’t ask you how you want it – so if you don’t want medium, you better fucking ask), bacon, Monterey Jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, dill pickles and mustard mayo.  There’s a side of french fries and some apple slaw.  Sides were solid performers – good crispy shoestring fries and some fairly standard slaw.  But in respect of the star attraction, the burger was pretty fucking solid – a fuck yeah beef patty and the ingredients held its shit together.  I won’t lie, I was pretty fucking happy – I mean, it shouldn’t be that difficult really to fuck up a combination of beef, bacon, cheese + tomatoes but some places still find a way.  Fuck yeah points for temperature execution, the beef patty was accurately cooked to medium as promised.  Fuck no to burger places who can’t execute their patties accurately.

The Diner burgers come on a “soft, brioche bun” and I gotta say, I’m officially not fucking down with brioche buns for burgers.  At least The Diner isn’t toasting their brioche, which renders an already inferior bun into a dried out mess.  Seriously though, why are brioche bun burgers even a fucking thing?? It always strikes me as something that was started one day when someone thought they’d be a little bit fancy but never fully thought through.  The brioche bun doesn’t add anything compared to a solid white bread bun and most importantly, it lacks structural integrity, disintegrating into a fuck no pink, soggy mess when it touches burger juice.  Fucking hell, leave brioche for French children’s 4pm tea time with Nutella and stay the fuck away from my goddamn burgers.

brioche

In respect of their service, while The Diner claims that they are the “first truly authentic American diner to open in Hong Kong” but they offer a “contemporary twist“,  I think that contemporary twist on the American diner experience is to slack off on the service.  Yeah Diner homies, nice claim that your brunch menus come with bottomless refills for hot brewed coffee but it counts for jackshit if no-one ever comes to check your mug and actually refill it. This contemporary twist on service is not a fuck no, achieving perfunctory and adequate levels, but no-one here is gunning to be Miss Sunshine 2014 or going for that all-American over the top diner style “Hello my name is Jacob and I’ll be your server today” vibe.

Overall, I was pretty fucking happy when I was eating The Diner’s burger – I wouldn’t say it was the best burger I’ve ever had in Hong Kong but it adequately hit the spot for a Saturday treat yo self lunch time affair.

Verdict:
Not the most spectacular burger in HK but solid enough to warrant a fuck yeah because I’d go back. Maybe at TWO THIRTY PM so I could be blessed with the honour of ordering off the fucking a la carte menu.

Where:
Edi & the Wolf
102 Ave C
New York, NY 10009
East Village, Alphabet City
USA

Phone:
+1 (212) 598-1040 or fuck yeah, OpenTable.  My American homies recommend making a booking.

Price:
USD8 for Bloody Marys. USD14 for burger. USD8 for a side of fries.  Before tax/tip.

The deal:
Edi & the Wolf was a place which was consistently recommended by all my US homies for brunch or drinks.  It’s cool as fuck with its open, airy dining room and its rusted metal and wood filled industrial interiors which back straight onto the outside greenery (check it here).  Its decor is a mix of looped rope, carefully selected curios (how fucking twee, the lamp over our table had a tattered top hat on it), dried foliage and casual arrangements of fresh flowers which punctuate the space.  On a Saturday brunch slot, they are playing requisitely chill indie jams, no doubt picking a Spotify playlist called “Dreamful chill times on a weekend afternoon”. Load The XX and MSMR motherfuckers, it’s brunch time bitches.

I ordered the Schnitzel Burger for lunch which promised pork schnitzel, cucumber salad and a toasted brioche bun.  While we waited, I ate a choc au pain – I can get behind any complimentary bread basket which comes with choc au pain in addition to the other types of bread (rye + white in this instance).  My burger arrived and on initial bite, I was fucking disappointed cause it just wasn’t saucy enough rendering this a pretty fucking dry and flavourless fuck no experience. I’ve concluded, I fucking hate burgers on toasted brioche buns – I don’t know why people are persisting with this other than it sounds a little bit fucking fancy to write it on your menu. Brioche just doesn’t respond well to toasting, it dries out on the inside and in the final killer blow, cuts your goddamn mouth all up – you can fuck right off toasted brioche.  The avocado cream was a sad, tiny schmear (my insatiable lust for avocados continues) and added nothing to the burger.  The schnitzel was a fuck yeah though – so I set to work doctoring my burger by putting the creamy shredded cucumber salad that was chilling on the side onto the schnitzel, adding some bacon aioli and some of the ketchup from our fuck yeah paprika dusted fries. The menu actually declares it to be very fucking fancy Gray Kunz ketchup (the chef behind Cafe Gray in Hong Kong).  By the time I was done with sufficient saucing, my burger was back on track for fuck yeah times.

For drinks, I ordered a Bloody Mary and one thing I can say is that the cocktails in the US are strong as fuck yo. This isn’t my first time at the drinking rodeo and I estimate that the average drink here is three times as strong as the obscene measured 30ml jiggers of Australia and probably two and a half times stronger than the drinks of Hong Kong.  Edi & the Wolf’s Bloody Mary was a fuck yeah, topped with the requisite celery stick and a toothpick which skewered an olive and a pickled baby carrot.  I had two of these over breakfast which would normally provide me with some Vitamin C, two sticks of celery and perhaps a mild feeling of well being, but two Edi & the Wolf Bloody Marys had the end result of me sitting in the back of a taxi later, head askew as I declared that I was fucking wasted.  FYN estimation of vodka shots per Bloody Mary = 3+.   Welcome to the Land of the Free Pour, bitches.

Verdict:
Yeah, so the burger was a bit of a dud pre my adjustments, but shit was cute as fuck here and I reckon if I’d asked for more sauce, it wouldn’t have been an issue.  Full disclosure, maybe my strong as fuck Bloody Marys have softened my sentiment but I’d come back / recommend it – fuck yeah!

Where:
Nosh (fuck yeah, functional HK website)
11 Upper Station Street
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2559 8508

Price:
Just under HKD200 for the big breakfast + a coffee.

The deal:
I normally find breakfast in HK really fucking dull. Add it to any Australians ‘Having a Whinge’ list in HK – “You know what I really miss about Australia. COFFEE.  And you know what else I really miss? Brunch!”.  Don’t get us going, we start to get all teary eyed over paying someone to cook us eggs, berry compotes and how much fucking choice we had at Woolworths.  Oh the meat section!  Oh the fruit & veg! Ahh, the heady life of an expat – trapped in a nostalgic reverie about a goddamn supermarket.

Snapping back to reality, I briefly contemplated the option of “Homemade Granola with Yoghurt & Fresh Fruit”.  Lolz seriously though, whoever really fucking contemplates CEREAL when eating out – boring ass lameos and fat fuckers making a half hearted attempt at healthy living, that’s who. Don’t kid yourself wannabe healthy homies, just embrace life and have some eggs at least, instead of choking down cold cereal in front of friends.  I went for the ‘Nosh brunch’ option (HKD140) – a solid feed with two poached eggs on sourdough, two German sausages with spicy harissa yoghurt, a grilled portobello mushroom, roasted cherry tomatoes on the vine and potatoes.  I was totally that hypocritical fat bastard who asked to skip the bread but then they let me sub it and of course I went for BACON. Yeah, just pour me a diet coke and bring me a slice of cake with extra cream while you’re there.  OK, I settled for a long black instead for HKD30 while trying to stop my left eye from twitching when I spotted the offer of an EXPRESSO.  Nosh, Y U spell espresso, EXPRESSO?! JUDGING YOU.

disapprove

Breakfast shouldn’t be that hard but so many people fuck it up with poorly poached eggs, sad ass tiny sausages and cheaper non-protein vegetable filler (yes, every brunch establishment that serves a flaccid flavourless grilled half tomato – I’m onto your tight ass ways). Nosh avoided these pitfalls for FUCK YEAH breakfast times – amongst appropriately yolky poached eggs was crispy bacon and two fuck yeah fatty boombah sausages satisfying all my size queen requirements.  The grilled mushroom and cherry tomatoes were actually fucking good, versus just providing a means for Nosh to dollar cost average breakfast components down.  They even thoughtfully split the cherry tomatoes to avoid inappropriate exploding tomato times.  While I may have sidestepped the sourdough bread I made sure to fall headfirst into the ‘Nosh potatoes’ – ensuring I had crispy little carbohydrate filled fuckers to fuel me through an aggressive Saturday of not hiking with Mr + Mrs Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and a rosé drinking and mahjong marathon. Get your pong on, my friends.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah!

Where:
Catalunya HK (Holy fucking shit, functional HK website – fuck yeah!)
G/F Guardian House Morrison Hill
32 Oi Kwan Road
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2866 7900

Price:
HKD680 for unlimited buffet/mains/desserts/free flow juice.  HKD230 for sangria / cava freeflow.  +10% for service charge and no, coffee/tea is NOT included.  If you want oysters, they’re HKD40 a piece.

The deal:
After receiving a last minute request from some visitors in town, I was calling around at 11am trying to get a champagne brunch booking for the same day.  I was frantically googling for reviews but they were largely meaningless because people just take a few fucking photos of the desserts (which don’t normally taste half as good as they fucking look), drink a lot of champagne and get blinded by booze and the view as to whether the brunch buffet was any fucking good.  I caught a lucky break though as someone ditched their booking at Catalunya and was able to roll my slightly dusty self into cold cuts and cava, to bring me back to life.

My biggest complaint with champagne brunches in HK are either too much fucking choice and quality starts to get spread pretty fucking thin or the mains are just disappointing as fuck.  Catalunya don’t make you choose mains – you hit up the buffet and they’ll bring around a selection of mains.  You can also order eggs in a number of different ways, but there was so much fucking food that I didn’t get involved.  The buffet covers a good range of bread, charcuterie, fish, cheese and salad.  Remember my buffet tips though, don’t fucking fill up on bread though because you have to smash your way through the higher value proposition items.  Make an exception for the toasted sandwiches they bring around – dat Bikini sandwich with its Iberian ham, cheese and truffle knocked away the hangover blues pretty fucking quick smart.

It’s then SHOW TIME and the staff are going to come out with the mains, dancing and displaying the mains to you, all to the strains of a live trumpet player.  They appeared to be genuinely enjoying themselves (versus the soulless dead eyes of an Abercrombie & Fitch flunky, dancing her life away in one lonely spot on the stairs, in a pungent heritage building while shouting over and over ‘HEYYYYYY! HOW’S IT GOING’).  Full fucking marks for the mains which are served right at your table though – the portions are pretty bang on and were a FUCK YEAH to the baby suckling roast pig ‘Segovian’ style (complete with dramatic chopping of the pig using a plate and the subsequent smashing of said plate), squid ink risotto and the salt crusted whole fish.

Sunday brunch is always a marathon and not a goddamn sprint, so we rounded the corner into SWEET TREATS and watched another impressive as fuck, cavalcade of desserts dance around us with the token inclusion of some fruit salad.  Welcome to HK punching stations though, because sweet treats are not served at your table.  Life pro tips – don’t ever get between Asians and a freshly filled buffet, cause we will fuck your shit up.  We weren’t quick enough to get to the churros (serious super pro Asian buffet athletes were in attendance who deftly elbowed their way up to the table in lightning speed) but our waiter homie was kind enough to get the kitchen to make some more for those less gifted athletes in attendance.  Coffee/tea is NOT included which I give a FUCK NO, given the booze + food price tag of HKD1000, I don’t think it would have killed Catalunya’s profit margins to press some beans through some hot water for me.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah on pay day – at HKD1000 all-in for booze + food (and NO fucking coffee) this is not a cheap day out.  Pre-warn your friends if you book so they don’t suffer bill $hock afterwards.

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