Casual

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:

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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.

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:
Cóm Bánh Mì
28 Tai Wong Street East
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

FYN Hot Tip:  Tai Wong Street is the other street that sits adjacent to The Pawn (ugh) which isn’t Ship Street.  It’s where Bao Wow used to be.  Whoever would have thought that we wouldn’t want to buy tiny overpriced hipster baos forever and ever? NEWS ALSO JUST IN – HK may possibly not need 1,278,431 burger joints either.

Telephone:
+852 2528 9131 (I don’t think it’s a booking kind of place though).

Price:
HKD80 for the lunch set (banh mi, drink and a side).

The deal:
Cóm Bánh Mì is relatively new, only opening in December 2015 and I dragged my festively plump ass down there to see if their banh mi game was a fuck yeah or a fuck no.  Just as I’m approaching the restaurant, I notice the signage from across the road and I think “Wait a fucking minute, is that what I think it fucking says??”

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Ohhhhhhhhhh, yes it really is 2015 and Cóm Bánh Mì still seem to believe that it’s an appropriate move to claim that the Vietnamese chef behind their banh mi restaurant is called “Chef Phuc Dat Bich”, just like the Internet meme that recently went around.  I mean, do you guy get it??  It’s an alleged Vietnamese name and it sounds like FUCK DAT BITCH.

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Moving past the Chef Phuc Dat Bich signage, Cóm Bánh Mì is situated in a narrow space suited for take out orders or quick, casual lunches of no more than four people (probably working better for groups of two).  While I was deciding what the fuck to order for lunch, I read over Cóm Bánh Mì’s menu and in a rare event, my hackles were all up over Cóm Bánh Mì’s menu items such as the Banh Mi section being titled “HORY CLAP” and the Com Ga (rice) section labelled with “HORY SHEET“.  The level of offence I was taking at this menu threw me into some sort of existential crisis as I pondered where is the line when your whole blogging schtick is based on generally being a rude, offensive cunt and then, trapped in my tiny glass case of emotion I’m all bent out of goddamn shape by a drinks section called “SUCKY SUCKY” and a sides menu called “SIDE JOBS – Evelyting forty dorrah” (all the sic in the world ever).  OH SO THAT’S IT, shit crosses FYN’s line of acceptability into fuck no territory when it’s racist bullshit, such as menu descriptions that are trying to find humour in a non-Native English speaker’s inability to speak English perfectly or stereotypes involving South East Asian sex workers.

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Cóm Bánh Mì has a number of different modern versions of the banh mi such as shredded chicken & roast duck, Iberico pork rib satay and Iberico ham.  The majority of them are priced reasonably at HKD45 each, except for the Iberico ham one which weighs in at a hefty HKD95.  There’s no option on a straight up grilled pork banh mi which would have been my preference over any of that fancy, new age shit.  Maybe I’m just a grumpy old bastard who’s resistant to change, but I don’t know why every fucker in HK wants to fuck with the classic banh mi.  I order the Lemongrass Lime Soda (HKD25) and get talked into the lunch set for another HKD10, which allows me to get a SIDE JOB of the garlic butter wings.  The ordering set up is efficient and friendly, which is exactly what you need from a quick, casual lunch joint.  The kitchen assembles my crispy pork belly banh mi and I’m filled with hope when an attractive as fuck banh mi is placed in front of me.  A crispy French-style baguette roll is stuffed with thinly sliced cucumber, Vietnamese basil (I’ve read this shit’s allegedly flown in from Danang which seems an excessive and environmentally unfriendly way to add some authenticity), coriander, slices of chả lụa (the white, Vietnamese pork sausage), pickled carrot and daikon, sliced white onions, sriracha mayo, a decent smear of turkey liver pate and of course, the chunks of pork belly.  The first thing I ask for is more delicious as fuck sriracha and fish sauce mayo because I want that good shit to be getting it on hardcore with the liver pate in my banh mi.  Good news, Cóm Bánh Mì fully deliver on my pleas for more sriracha mayo and the mayo bottle is actually roaming free on the floor for those that need to aggressively get their sauce on.

A couple of bites in and I gotta say that I was enjoying my Crispy Pork Belly Banh Mi with a side of casual racism. The ingredients were well-balanced, the coriander and Vietnamese basil giving shit a good fresh as fuck kick.  The French baguette was appropriately crispy, but didn’t appear to have any rice flour in it, so it was a bit lighter than a traditional Vietnamese baguette.  There’s a few small things which I’d change as a matter of personal preference, like I would have preferred a stronger pickle for the daikon and carrots.  But the one thing I think Cóm Bánh Mì could really improve upon is its crispy pork belly. Cóm Bánh Mì are working with a limited set up of an oven and a few deep friers which means that they can only really toast buns and deep fry shit.  This means that in order to avoid sad fuck no flaccid pork belly times, they’ve deep fried their pre-cooked chunks of pork belly.  This unfortunately renders the pork pieces thoroughly crispy but also a little dry. I’m a resilient fuck though so I managed to patch over this fried pork related problem with a fuck load of sriracha mayo but it goes back to my point of if I’d been able to order a grilled pork banh mi, I wouldn’t have bothered with the unnecessarily fried dried out pork pieces.

My SIDE JOB of the garlic butter wings consisted of two tiny fried half-wings.  If I wanted to roll with the ‘forty dorrah, sucky sucky’ theme that Cóm Bánh Mì are going for, I could most definitely bang on here about being a size queen here but fuck that shit to all hell.  Due to Com Banh Mi’s limited kitchen set up, these deep fried wings are greasy, though delicious salty fuckers.  I’ll be real, I’d probably be upset if I’d handed over HKD40 for this side dish but at HKD10 on top of the banh mi and drink, this shit was fine and acceptably padded out the lunch set.

Sucking down the last of my fuck yeah lemongrass, mint and lime soda, I watched Cóm Bánh Mì hold down a relatively busy lunch service which seemed to be moving fairly swiftly.  I wondered how their more conservative looking mostly Asian business attired clientele were dealing with their offensive menu, but no one seemed that bothered so perhaps I’m just an uptight fuck.  Casual racism aside, Cóm Bánh Mì isn’t doing anything transcendental regarding the banh mi, but they provided an efficient and tasty lunch which didn’t send me back to the office crying for wasted time or calories.  Of course, if you’re going to be a #wandercunt asshole and compare this to all the banh mis you’ve eaten in some far flung Vietnam town in some off the beaten track hole in the wall establishment, you’re probably gonna have plenty to bitch about.  But guess what dickheads, we all live in HK and as far as HK banh mis go, you could definitely go worse.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhh, I can get behind Cóm Bánh Mì as a quick and easy lunch place.  But fuck noooo to the racist menu shit cause fuck, it’s 2015 already and surely the world’s moved on from making fun of how SE Asians could potentially mispronounce words? Yo Cóm Bánh Mì, maybe stop worrying about fucking dat bitch and get on board with fucking off racist SE Asian stereotypes.

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