Casual

Where:
Soo Viet
247 Des Voeux West
Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2858 1855 (I don’t think it’s a booking kind of place though)

Price:
Mr Judgmental and I got out at HKD110 each, but he’s also a remorseless eating machine who forces me to be a better person.  Other people will probably spend less than HKD100 per head.  No service charge.

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The deal:
One of my loyal FYN homies chimed in on the Fuck Yeah Noms FB post (fuck yeahhh, like that good shit already) regarding my FYN review of Pho Bar and gave up the secret regarding the existence of Soo Viet.  She expertly claimed that while the pho was good at Soo Viet, the real star was the bun bo hue, which required you to pre-order it as this gave the restaurant enough time to prepare the stock and get their asses down to the wet market for the right ingredients.  This of course sent me into a frenzy and I messaged Soo Viet to find out how I could secure bun bo hue for lunch time and was given the fuck yeah news that they now have enough supplies to have bun bo hue on offer all the time.

Mr Judgmental and I sit down in the tiny restaurant and experience some confusion as to why they’ve chosen to feature prominently a massive blow up poster of an article for when the Soo Viet owner used to be the bar manager of Xperience, a bar in Wan Chai.  The menu is extensive and things are quite ambiguously named, so we narrow our choices based on what was deemed worthy of a photo and some chats with the owner.  This is how we end up with a fuck yeah serve of the SOO Viet Egg Roll (HKD43) (cha gio), fried pork spring rolls which you wrap in lettuce leaves, Vietnamese mint and mint, before dipping it in a sharp vinegar and fish sauce based dipping sauce.  I’m always partial to a bit of deep fried action and I can’t help but think that Le Garcon Saigon probably serve something similar but charge you HKD168 for it.  These fuck yeah spring rolls do go someway in easing our disappointment that the SOO Viet Ban Xeo Crepe (HKD55) is only available at night.

Mr Judgmental insists that our incoming two bowls of noodles is insufficient for our daily carb requirements and orders a Soo Viet Banh Mi (HKD42).  It’s tasty enough with the standard mix of pate, Vietnamese pork sausage, pickled daikon and carrots and coriander.  It’s all served on a baguette which hits a good balance between a soft inside and a crusty exterior, but not so fucking crusty that you end up with some sort of eating related injury by cutting your mouth up to shit. I won’t make bold claims that it’s the best banh mi in HK but I wouldn’t tell you that you need to definitely get involved either.

We predictably get a serve of Soo Viet’s pho, which is titled as the Soo Viet Noodle Soup (HKD65) and is your mega-serve of rare beef pho with all the trimmings (beef balls, tripe and Vietnamese sausage).  It’s tasty and I enjoyed it a lot but it falls more in the category of quick and easy beef pho vs the delicious as fuck, rich stock of Pho Bar which has been created with the deep, slow cooked pho stock concept in mind.  In fuck yeah times though, there is a generous serve of beef, tripe and other ingredients which has gotta rate for some points because there’s nothing sadder when you eat two measly slices of beef and half a beef ball and realise that you’ve come to the end of your “deluxe” pho experience and it’s just mint stalks, rice noodles and stock from here on in.

But it’s when we get to the off-menu, Hue specialty, the bun bo hue (HKD50) that shit really gets real.  We tried to quiz our waitress to find out if there were other off-menu items that we needed to get involved with but she assured us that this was it.  A bun bo hue is a spicy soup made by boiling down beef bones with lemongrass, baby bird eye chillies and fermented shrimp paste (mam ruoc).  When compared to a pho it’s got more of a sour, spicy jive to it and then uses a firmer round rice noodle vs the standard flat rice noodle.  Soo Viet don’t skimp on the ingredients and top this noodle bowl with beef shank, basil, coriander, fresh onions, shallots, Vietnamese sausage and lemongrass.  There’s also thinly shredded purple banana blossoms which Soo Viet fly in from Vietnam, rather than taking the easier option of just substituting in the cheaper and more readily available red cabbage.  The stock and the beef shank is really where it’s at though and the mix of flavours from the spice from the chillies, the deep beef stock and the fermented shrimp paste creates some real fuck yeah feelings for the bargain price of only HKD50.

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So as it turns out, the best fuck yeah dish we had at Soo Viet is the one that isn’t on the menu.  This is where I am always and forever grateful for my benevolent and kind FYN homies who share the love and wanna keep me in FUCK YEAH NOMS.  And now all of us can share in Soo Viet’s bun bo hue fuck yeah secrets.  So to my best FYN homies, let it be known that always and forever, my love will run deep for you – cause my FYN homies clearly are the BEST FUCK YEAH HOMIES.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhhhh! Cheap and tasty as fuck Vietnoms – most importantly, I’m still dreaming about the bun bo hue.  Yeah, you Sai Ying Pun assholes are most def gonna be into this good shit.

Where:
Pho Bar
24 Li Yuen Street West (the alley next to where Topshop is)
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
Unknown – but it’s not like you can book anyway.

Price:
Pho ranges from HKD68 – 88.  No service charge.

The deal:
Pho Bar is tucked away on Li Yuen West in between the cha chaan tengs and market stalls and if you’ve walked past it during lunch time it’s always absolutely rammed with an out of control line down the tiny alleyway.  I am not built for that queueing bullshit, so I decided to make this a weekend lunch attack going exactly at 11am when Pho Bar opens and dining nofriendo styleez.  Sometimes you just gotta cut your homies loose because sure, friendship and conversation is great but when you’re running a No Queuing for Pho Mission you can’t risk the chance of receiving some bullshit message of “OMG so sorry!!! Crazy night last night, I’m running half an hour late – is that ok? xo”.  NO MY TARDY HOMIE, R U PHO REAL? IT AIN’T OK YO.

Despite setting up position at 11am, Pho Bar were still sorting their shit out and only let my over-eager ass into the restaurant at around 11:15am.  Pho Bar only seats about 20 people (12 people down the counter and eight on two tables of four at the back) and its set up is simple.  You select your order by ticking off what you want on a piece of paper and I predictably went for the Supreme Combo (HKD88), which has all of the available toppings.  When placing your order, you also select what condiments you want on your pho, including mint, thai basil, bean sprouts, scallions, coriander, onion and fried garlic.  In case you want to, you can pay to add extra toppings including medium rare fillet mignon, beef shank, etc.  Unfortunately, there’s no option on tendon because I would have shipped that fuck yeah gelatinous connective tissue into my life ASAP.  Pho Bar also have a number of snacks on offer, including the presumptively named ‘bomb-ass karaage’ and house special fries and chicken wings (ranging from HKD24 – 38 each).

Pho Bar also caters for the NCCs (No Carb Cunts), offering the +HKD18 option to sub out your rice noodles for zucchini noodles.  It’s novel and I consider trying the zucchini noodles for at least 0.000001 seconds before I get a goddamn grip on my carb loving self.

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My Supreme Pho arrives and it looks really fucking good, topped with vibrant green coriander and thai basil, pristine white beansprouts and fried diced garlic.  There’s no sad-ass wilty, stringy herbs which is often a trademark of HK pho.  A pho has gotta earn its soup chops so it’s straight in and I found Pho Bar’s soup a touch underseasoned but that’s not fatal because once I added some fish sauce to taste and a little bit of lime, their soup stock hits its fuck yeah stride.  I’d prefer an underseasoned soup which I can fix rather than choking back a SO SALTY affair.  Word on the street is that Pho Bar boils their soup stock overnight and it shows with a good rich beef bone flavour and complexity from a combination of fragrant spices.

The Supreme Pho contains seven different types of meat – medium rare filet mignon, brisket, beef meatballs, tripe, oxtail, beef shank and Vietnamese sausage. It’s all pretty good but the stand out meat items for me were the brisket, tripe and beef shank.  But one stands above all and it’s Pho Bar’s fuck yeah oxtail.  While all the other meat in the pho are largely relying on the quality of their ingredients, what steps the oxtail up is it’s been boiled in stock and spices, so it’s delicately imparted with the flavour of star anise, cloves and cinnamon.  Yassssss, I could have most def eaten a pound of their beautiful fuck yeah oxtail but there’s only one precious piece.

All in all, everything really fucking worked together and you better believe that I drank all that fuck yeah soup and devoured every bit of pho that was in the bowl.  Best pho in HK? It’s a big claim but I think Pho Bar’s is definitely up there.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah! Get involved homies but travel in a small, nimble pack and get there early, cause a 12:30pm lunch appointment is not gonna fly at Pho Bar.

 

Where:
Papparich Hong Kong
4/F, The L. Square
459-461 Lockhart Road
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2414 7188.  

FYN Fun Fact:  You can also fax Papparich HK on +852 2696 4224.  FUCK ME DEAD HK, Y U SO OBSESSED WITH FAXES STILL? WHAT FUCKING YEAR IS IT??

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Price:
We got out at HKD210 a person and ate a very decent amount of food.

The deal:
I always maintain that Malaysian food is some of the most fuck yeahhhhh flavourful and downright fucking delicious food in the whole goddamn world.  There’s just no way that it could be anything other than off the charts epic if you consider that it’s the result of taking indigenous Malay cuisine and then smashing it together with the fuck yeah influences of Chinese, Indonesian and Indian cuisine with a few tiny shout outs to British, Dutch and Thai cuisine.  However, finding super authentic Malaysian food in Hong Kong has always been a bit of a struggle and while there’s a few places I think are fine, it’s always in the coddled context of ‘Malaysian food IN Hong Kong‘, because let’s be real, these mother fuckers would get eaten alive if they were serving the same shit in Malaysia Truly Asia.  So when I hear that Papparich, a Malaysian chain, has hit Hong Kong, I’m super pumped to try it because fuck yeahhh Malaysian food but I’ve played this game before and had my expectations burnt to a crisp, so I keep a lid on any expectations that my Malaysia Truly Asia roti and laksa dreams are about to be fulfilled in Hong Kong.

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Papparich Hong Kong is not meant to be anything fancy and it’s a simple, small dining room which probably seats around 30 people.  When we arrive on a weeknight, it’s almost at capacity and the distinct patois of Malaysia Truly Asia homies rings out around us (la), no doubt because Malaysia Truly Asia homies are always desperate for a good Malaysian makkan. We sit down and decide on what we’re going to order and the Papparich waiters are totally on their shit and efficiently sort us out, which is impressive for a fairly new restaurant which is at capacity.  Mr Vegetables makes a case for the Ipoh Kway Teow soup sounding interesting but he’s instantly slammed down by a group movement to stick to the Big Guns of Malaysian Cuisine cause fuck, if I’m gonna assess a Malaysian restaurant you need to be checking out the Malaysian Food Superstars such as satay, nasi lemak, laksa, char kuey teow and roti and not some soggy ass rice noodles in a clear soup.

We get started with the roti canai with curry chicken drumstick (HKD38 + 10% service charge).  Papprich HK are most def into their semantics because it is literally a singular roti sitting there on the plate.  Unfortunately, our roti is not that flakey and doesn’t have an iota of puff about it and while it’s crispy, it’s also high on fuck no disappointment. The chicken curry is tasty but not earth shatteringly good, which means that the sad roti has my full attention as a crucial warning indicator as to what this meal might entail because would any decent Malaysian kitchen let such a fuck no roti out of the kitchen?  While I contemplate this, our chicken and beef satay arrive (HKD68 + 10% service charge for 6 sticks of chicken satay and HKD78 + 10% service charge for 6 sticks of beef satay) and it’s accompanied by some unremarkable cubes of cucumber, chunks of onion and two small pieces of bread. Out of duty to carbs, I try the naan-like bread and it’s dried out and pointless.   The satay themselves are fine, the beef being the stronger of the two except for it being quite fatty in parts.  But most importantly, the satay sauce is a fuck no because it doesn’t really taste of peanuts or much of anything at all, which seems unusual given that it at least appears to be full of peanut chunks and it’s not fucking hard to make bangin’ satay sauce.

Next up is the Char Kway Teow (HKD78 + 10% service charge) which is the first solid fuck yeah of the night, sparking a small amount of optimism within me for the rest of the meal that is yet to come.  A good amount of char on the flat rice noodles means that it captures that necessary taste of the wok, with a decent mix of fish cake, bean sprouts and prawns to balance out the noodles. A serve of the kangkung (HKD68 + 10% service charge, also known as water spinach or morning glory – yeah titter away you immature assholes) is also excellent, stir fried with garlic and belacan (shrimp paste).

The Nasi Lemak with Curry Chicken and Sambal Prawns (HKD78 + 10% service charge) was absolutely down the line fine.  I was a bit bored by it because the curry chicken that it’s served with was exactly the same curry chicken that we’d already had with the roti canai.  This means I was given two opportunities to eat the same curry chicken which was neither terrible nor fucking amazing. Shit Papparich HK, Y U no show me some curry related thrills?

However, it’s my firm opinion that the best benchmark to measure any Malaysian restaurant boils down to whether their laksa is a fuck yeah or fuck no.  So the star of the masterpiece arrives and at first glance, Papparich HK’s Seafood Curry Laksa (HKD98 + 10% service charge) looks fucking great – stuffed with promise, large prawns, deep fried beancurd skin, mussels and squid.  It’s also scoring points for using my preferred mix of thick yellow egg noodles and white rice vermicelli.  But there’s disappointment all around once we get started on the soup because Papparich HK’s laksa soup lacks any sort of depth or complexity, tasting like Papparich HK merely mixed some sort of curry powder with plain water. It’s just too fucking sad when a laksa lacks a good stock base underneath it and Papparich HK definitely need to get back to the kitchen and start boiling some prawn shells or chicken carcasses down to make some kick ass stock to lift their laksa game.  To provide some additional insult to laksa-related injury, I take one of the impressive looking large prawns and suck at its head to get a mouthful of funky fuck no bad times and after de-shelling it to eat some of the prawn, it’s a slimy and mushy mess.  You know shit ain’t good when you think “I better not eat this because I could be throwing this fucker up in the next 24 hours”.  Which really, seals the deal on Papparich HK because  this is my feeling about Malaysian restaurants that punch out sub-standard laksas with mushy-ass prawns:

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At this point we’re all pretty well fed on a range of largely average dishes but I can’t resist the icy cool lure of Cendol (HKD48 + 10% service charge) for dessert.  Cendol is a Malaysian / Singaporean dessert which is made by combining shaved ice and red bean, before adding a number of different liquids to flavour the ice such as evaporated milk, gula melaka (brown coconut sugar syrup) and other ingredients for textural purposes (such as palm seeds or peanuts).  The signature ingredient of any cendol is the green noodles which should be flavoured with pandan and made from tapioca and green mung bean flour.  Papparich’s cendol is probably the best thing I ate on the night and fuck yeahhhh, I thoroughly enjoyed this well-balanced cendol shaved ice dessert.  Sure, I could nitpick and say that the cendol noodles needed more pandan or were a little floury, but overall, it was fuck yeah dessert times and after a meal with a lot of average moments, this was a fuck yeah way to finish off the meal.

Verdict:
Fuck no – I mean, It wasn’t terrible but it ain’t authentic enough for me to recommend it. Malaysia Truly Asia, the hunt remains on for deep love, honest and true in Hong Kong.

Where:
Mak Mak (FB Page)
Shop 217A, 2/F, Atrium, The Landmark
15 Queen’s Road Central
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2983 1003

Price:
HKD430 per person including wine.

The deal:
Mak Mak is another Yenn Wong JIA Group restaurant which seem to be opening a restaurant in HK at least every two months, adding Mak Mak to its substantial stable of HK restaurants including 208 Duecento Otto, Chahchawan, 22 Ships and Fish School.  Mak Mak is on the second floor of the Landmark shopping mall, occupying the space where the Pringles of Scotland store was, which never had anyone ever fucking in it.  To keep shit interesting and I guess give it a talking point, Mak Mak have installed a SECRET DOOR which looks like a shelf containing condiments.   Omg guys, just fucking love when I’m going to a secret retaurant.  So much so that I’m thinking of opening my own new restaurant concept called “THE OPEN DOOR” which is going to have THREE secret doors disguised as a graffiti mural, an ATM and a dried seafood shop (the door lever will be a shark’s fin) and I’m going to serve all my curated food on secret doors and my curated cocktails in hollowed out secret door knobs. You better fucking believe it that when it’s time to leave you will need to navigate at least FIVE secret doors before you’re back outside. Fuck yeahhhhhh, clandestine door noms.

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Tired door related gimmicks aside, Mak Mak’s interior is predictably cool from the retro Thai posters, the cabinets of Thai sauces and ingredients, the hot pink neon OK sign and the stripped back concrete, lush green pot plants and sea-green glass.  We visited Mak Mak shortly after they opened and despite this, their staff were totally on their shit.  Fuck yeahhhh, restaurants which hit the ground running when they open.  Our smiling waiter efficiently took our order and when I pressed him for recommendations, he cheerfully reeled off what the most popular dishes were (ie. the beef curry) before I told him to cut the bullshit and give me what his favourite dishes were (ie. the Massaman Lamb Curry), which he knowledgeably spoke about.

As Mak Mak’s sister restaurant, Chachawan, is pumping out Issan Thai food this means that Mak Mak’s menu is green lit all the way to pick up the Thai food related slack by containing all the bog-standard Thai hits that we have come to expect such as green curries, red curries, green papaya salads, pad thai and stir fries.  I can’t begin to imagine how many fucking times punters must have asked the Chachawan waiter homies whether they can get a pad thai or a green curry.  There are a few plays on the classics in Mak Mak’s menu but I can’t deal with any of that originality and kick shit off with a dependable serve of the Pandan Chicken (HKD98 +10%) which is a solid appetiser and doesn’t make me suffer through the indignity of fuck no deep fried, stringy breast meat.

I have a soft spot for pad thai and whenever I order Thai food, I always get the pad thai.  I take this as a life lesson from all the times when I’ve ordered Thai food and I think ‘Fuck, I always get the pad thai, perhaps I should order the suea rong hai or the mu phat phrik khing for something different” and then BOOM you’re staring down a plate of crying tiger beef which is fine but you know deep down that all you really fucking want is that sweet noodly goodness and that’s where you go “FUCK! SHOULDA GOT THE PAD THAI!“. In fact, I’ve named this specific feeling in my life “Shoulda got the pad thai” for when you always order the same fucking dish and then, in the interest of changing shit up, you decide to order something new, only so you can be wistfully pining for your ye old faithful favourite dish.

Mak Mak’s pad thai is not fucking cheap, weighing in at HKD128 (+ 10% service charge). It’s served attractively with decent sized prawns, scattered with peanuts, bean sprouts, lime and coriander and an obligatory square of banana leaf.  The pad thai is serviceable enough, lacking a bit in the fuck yeah stir fried ‘wok hei’ taste of the wok feelings, but perhaps it’s because Mak Mak is so brand new and their woks haven’t had enough time in service yet or maybe the heat wasn’t strong enough.  But that’s only a small issue because fuck, my biggest criticism about Mak Mak’s pad thai was the total lack of actual pad thai because it’s fucking tiny.  Maybe I’m just a size queen, because at HKD128 I expect more than an appetiser sized serve of noodles which would work for maybe one to two people.

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Taking our waiter homie’s advice on board, we ordered the Massaman Lamb Curry (HKD208 +10% service charge) and it’s one of the best dishes we had on the night. Mak Mak use a slow cooked lamb shank which is accompanied by roasted baby potatoes, crushed peanuts and fried shallots.  The coconut cream based sauce is a fuck yeah, spiced with cardamon and cinnamon and the fish sauce and sweet tamarind sauce providing dem salty and sweet contrasting feels.  Mak Mak have some sort of bullshit plain rice arrangement where you can either have HKD30 unlimited rice per person or HKD30 per bowl.  I don’t quite understand how Mak Mak enforce this rice pricing system – like, if you order the HKD30 unlimited rice option per person, do you get slugged with another HKD30 if they catch a non-designated primary rice consumer taking a spoonful out of the bowl?  Either way, we avoid this awkward rice situation by ordering the khao op nam liab (stir fried jasmine rice with chicken, garlic and salty black olive – HKD108 + 10% service charge) which is tasty enough but really finds its purpose when it’s paired with the lamb Massaman curry sauce.

We also order  the kheaw wan poo nim (green curry soft shell crab, HKD228 + 10%).  I wasn’t onboard with ordering this dish because soft shell crab is normally just an exercise in being charged more for an underwhelming mushy, fried, flavourless crustacean.  But in an effort to let my fellow dining homies enjoy some democratic feelings every now and again, I acquiesced and let Mr Vegetables fulfil his desire to try the green curry soft shell crab.  Once it arrived, it was a stark reminder of why the Democratic People’s Republic of FYN is the best autocratic eating regime where everything is sunny and there is less disappointment for all.  The fried soft shell crab is greasy and relatively neutral in taste, which isn’t the end of this dish as the green curry sauce is flavourful enough to carry it.  But fuck, why bother with greasy-a$$ soft-shell crab when it could have been interchanged with fried chunks of plain batter for much the same effect? UGH ORDERING DEMOCRACY, YOU TASTE LIKE FREEDOM, SADNESS AND DISAPPOINTMENT.

Mak Mak very valiantly have an extensive vegetarian menu.  My token effort to trying this is a serve of the larb tofu salad (HKD88 +10% service charge), where the chicken or pork mince is substituted with tofu cubes.  Despite the lack of meat this dish still keeps its shit together by punching out some well balanced fuck yeah Thai fresh flavours with the mint, chilli, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and lemon grass.

As Mak Mak’s dishes are very modestly sized, if you have a group of four to six people you can try a decent selection of the menu.  We order a number of other dishes including the pla salmon (flash grilled salmon with a Thai dressing salad – HKD128 +10% service charge), red curry duck (HKD168 +10% service charge) and the whole steamed seabass (HKD268 +10% service charge) and each dish is absolutely down the line of fine but nothing that I’d say you definitely had to order.

For dessert there’s a few options and while it doesn’t push the envelope that much, we pile in for the mango and sticky rice and the Khanom Mak Mak trio (HKD98 and HKD118 respectively, +10% service charge).  The Khanom Mak Mak is glutinous rice cooked with sugar and coconut milk and then paired with three different toppings, wrapped up in banana leaves.  It’s all quite striking with the yellow mango set off against the green bamboo cones and the blue glutinous rice, which Mak Mak achieves through using dyeing their rice with pea flower.

FYN FUN FACT:  The butterfly pea / blue pea flower is used to dye food, in particular glutinous rice in Malay and Thai desserts.  The scientific name for the genus of the butterfly pea is Clitoria ternatea takes its name from “clitoris” because the flowers resemble the shape of human female genitals.  It’s a good thing I’m not a botanist because I totally would have suggested Cuntus ternatea but all of that aside, I see what they’re getting at:

Clitoria_ternatea_butterfly_pea_flower_at_Bhadrachalam_02

Sauce

Back on the Khanom Mak Mak, the mango topping is a reliable favourite and it’s the first to get smashed through at our table.  The other two toppings are one of fried shallots and a mixture of sun-dried fish and tiny prawns, giving it that savoury / salty mix with the fried shallots being slightly sweet, given the caramelisation of the sugar in the shallots during the frying process.  I’m into it, but if you’re not into that sweet, salty, fishy dessert combination than this dessert could be disastrous for you.

We flag down the bill and given the small dishes and how many we’d had to order, I was expecting a bill around HKD500-600 per person and was given a fuck yeah surprise of finishing up at HKD430 per person, including wine.  Our meal at Mak Mak would be best described as “very pleasant”, but there’s nothing here which grips me by my greedy as fuck heart and sees me imploring anyone I know who gives a fuck about food to put this on their list and get their ass down to Mak Mak pronto.  The very fact it’s taken me almost a month to write up this review is indicative of the lack of strong feelings this place elicits from me.  Mak Mak also suffers from the inevitable comparison to Chachawan and if you lined the two up and asked me to choose one, it’d be Chachawan every time which is just hitting it harder in the originality and flavour stakes.  Was it on Mak Mak’s vision board to be described as reliable, uncontroversial and achieving mass appeal?  Perhaps not, but I’m guessing there’s a spot for Mak Mak in HK as a convenient restaurant where everyone’s going to be happy enough at a fair price point.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah for mid-week casual dinners, dinner with the parents and early Tinder dates where you need an uncontroversial trendy enough venue that is producing solid food with fuck yeah service.  You’re probably not going to experience any life changing moments at Mak Mak but I don’t think that’s what they’re playing at either.

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