Casual

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.

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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.”

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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:
Pirata
29/F & 30/F, 239 Hennessy Rd
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2887 0270 (fuck yeahhhh hand me my shades cause we’re in the midst of a blindingly bright technology revolution cause holy shitballs, you can book on whatsapp +852 6479 6736 and online)

Price:
We were out at HKD750 a person (before tip, as there’s no service charge), for dinner and cocktails/wine. This was for an obscene amount of food and a big ticket steak item so reckon you could easily get out for less (maybe HKD500 for food only?) and still be full as fuck.

The deal:
Last week, I went to Pirata for a fuck yeah negroni aperitif right before I got slaughtered HKD308 for garlicky, stir fried rice and another HKD308 for a salty as fuck broccoli and beef stir fry at El Mercado.  Pirata’s classic Negroni was so fucking good that in an effort to erase the painful memories of half-assed Peruvian-Japanese food, we also ended up back at Pirata afterwards to sample some of their extensive fuck yeah vermouth selections.  Pirata seemed like it had a good thing going on with its exposed industrial lighting, stripped back concrete and friendly staff which is why only one week later, I was back at 239 Hennessey Road to try Pirata for dinner.

Before I truck on with the review, I gotta make it clear that I fucking love negronis and I’m taking a stand against all the variations and twists on this, that and fucking whatever on this fuck yeah glass of Campari based perfection.  Why does everyone want to fuck the good classic shit up with adding totally unnecessary liquor to a Negroni like mescal, sake or in the most ultimate fuck no sacrilegious times, taking out the Campari?? White “Negronis”, Y U even a thing?!

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I’d ended up getting a late booking for Pirata because these fuckers are as popular as taking a nap nap in HK Ikea on the weekend.  I wasn’t too upset because that meant FUCK YEAH NEGRONI TIME at the bar while waiting for our table.  Our table was ready earlier than expected and we went down one level to the restaurant with the promise that our cocktails would come down later.  We checked out the menu which isn’t anything revolutionary, but nor is it meant to be, with their website mentioning grandmothers and grandfathers one billion times and Chef Stefano Rossi’s deal declared to be “wholesome and homely fare that pays homage to his roots”.  We put in our order and our starters arrived super promptly. Unfortunately, the same speed wasn’t applied to my homie’s pre-dinner cocktail which required multiple follow ups and only arrived long after our starters, although it was finally accompanied by many heartfelt apologies from our waitress. Fuck no, so thirsty…

Despite the tardy cocktail, the starters were solid performers. The grilled octopus skewers (HKD180) were fucking delicious, fuck yeah charred tender pieces of Mediterranean octopus and herbed whole small potatoes all on a skewer.  Despite the utterly cornball name of MMM (My Mamma’s Meatballs, HKD95), the pork and beef meatballs in a red sauce were absolutely fine but nothing exceptional.  But this is probably because my heart belongs to Posto Pubblico’s FUCK YEAH meatballs, now and forever until the end of time.  The burrata and 24 months parma ham (HKD180) was without surprises but a fuck yeah nonetheless.  I’d definitely order the creamy as fuck burrata and parma ham if I was chilling by the bar and needed aperitivo snacks as I drank a fuck tonne of Negronis.

For our pasta course, we shared the Pappardelle with Duck Ragu for the fuck yeah price of HKD150.  Pirata’s house-made pasta being the fuck yeah stand out, with a perfect thickness to give it a fuck yeah bite-through texture.  I gotta confess, I’d be more enthused about this dish if Pirata hadn’t used duck breast (which I thought was a bit dry) but all in all, the duck, onions, carrots, celery and marsala wine made the whole dish pretty fucking satisfying.  We’d ordered Pirata’s Lobster Linguini (HKD280) and I was slightly hesitant because I’ve been burned so many times by ordering lobster pastas in restaurants because you get some half-assed dish that relies on a wing and a prayer, with the prayer taking the form of a bland as fuck, overcooked crustacean ontop of some average-ass pasta and an overinflated price tag.  However, Pirata surprised on the upside, nailing a fuck yeah balance between a tasty well-cooked lobster and a tomato and basil based pasta sauce which used a lobster shell stock to keep shit interesting.  I gotta give the fuck yeah props to Pirata for ensuring that its lobster was of a decent size and while it was served with the shell on, it was broken down in such a way that it was easy to access the lobster meat without having to conduct major surgery at the table.

All of this was a solid, pleasant warm up though because the boss bitch of our meal at Pirata entered the arena, the Bistecca Alla Fiorentina which wasn’t fucking about either with its HKD750 price-tag.  But it is a massive 1kg t-bone steak, served with a side of herbed potatoes. Our waitress wheels out this fucking incredible looking T-bone masterpiece and it’s sliced tableside, before being stacked back together and presented on the table.  Fuck yeahhh, don’t be taking my bone away because I guarantee I’ll be able to get more meat off that. Aside from the sheer fuck yeah spectacle of this massive t-bone which had our table collectively sporting one massive beef related stiff, it was fucking delicious and immaculately cooked to medium rare.  There was a good layer of fat to keep the beef proceedings tasty and it had been salted and charred to give it a fuck yeah browned outside while being a glorious, juicy motherfucker inside.  I contemplated pretending that I had a dog so I could have an excuse to ask to take home the leftover t-bone, when in reality it was just gonna be yours truly sitting on my sofa, messily decimating whatever was left on the bone without the need to maintain any shred of table manners.

While Pirata also offer a butcher’s cut 500g flank steak (HKD330), I gotta put a strong FYN statement out there of whyyy would you want to waste your time with what I can only imagine to be a more restrained beef experience?  FUCK YEAH, if you do go to Pirata DO NOT pussy out and not back yourself, because you most def need to get dat Bistecca Alla Fiorentina with all of its fuck yeah grandiose, bovine beauty into your soon to be embettered existence.

I pride myself on powering the fuck through pudding but after the majestic 1kg T-bone, even my greedy-ass ways was grudgingly yielding to the idea that perhaps it’s not necessary to hate-eat my way through dessert at the end of every meal.  We asked for the bill and that’s when our waiter came back to set us up for dessert.  We politely let him know that we weren’t having dessert and he pretended that he didn’t hear us and awkwardly continued to set up small plates, and that’s when it hit me…FUCK YEAH, COMPLIMENTARY DESSERT IS INCOMING:

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It was never expressly stated whether it was because my homie’s negroni had taken half an hour to arrive at the beginning of our meal but our charming hostess let us know that we just had to have dessert.  Fuck yeahhh, I won’t say no to free dessert and we smashed our way through a panna cotta and a tiramisu. Both desserts were a fuck yeah – the panna cotta was creamy and all that good shit, set off with a just tart enough berry coulis but my increasingly cholesterol laden heart would have to award that coffee flavoured sponge filled tiramisu bastard the bigger fuck yeah.

For all the complaining about how fucking hungry I am all the time and how HK restaurants are constantly serving me small bite sized eat$ which are meant for ants, I was so stretched to my physical limits post-Pirata that I could almost see through time.  As soon as I managed to torpidly stagger through my apartment door, I had to get naked ASAP.  No, not because I was so turned on by homely, rustic fuck yeah Italian food but because I couldn’t suffer through the tyranny of a waistband anymore, as my food stuffed chassis threatened to send my buttons ricocheting across my apartment. Am I proud of the person I have become?  You better believe it.  FUCK YEAH.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhh, I can get behind straight forward, rustic Italian eats for an appropriate price point with the option of fuck yeah negronis before hand.

Where:
El Mercado
21F, 239 Hennessy Road
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2388 8009

Price:
We got out at around HKD350 a person (before tip, no service charge) for a moderate amount of food but more than adequate levels of disappointment.  El Mercado doesn’t have their liquor licence yet so fuck yeahhhh, BYO, no corkage and booze for days.

The deal:
I’d heard some promising things about El Mercado which has recently opened to peddle Nikkei cuisine to Hong Kong.  Nikkei is a mix of Peruvian and Japanese ingredients and flavours, the result of Japanese immigration to Peru in the late 19th century which saw migrant Japanese labourers eventually open up restaurants which catered to the local Peruvian palate while taking references from their own Japanese heritage.  Sounds really fucking fancy hey? Probably the most famous example of this is the world famous Chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa (responsible for the ever multiplying Nobu restaurant chain), who starting pumping out this blend of Japanese and Peruvian food in the late eighties to much excitement.  I mentioned to Mr Judgmental that I was interested in checking El Mercado  out and he instantly lived up to his namesake by throwing down bags of derisive judgment, declaring “It’s Peruvian Japanese? It’s 2015 and Nobu already did it in 1987.  Surely we can move on no?”

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Regardless, El Mercado’s menu at least looked interesting, its website promising to provide “Peruvian cuisine with Japanese influences” which pushed “creative boundaries offering diners signature treats, which combine citrus flavours with fresh fish, soy, coriander, raw onion, chillies and sweet potato”.  I just wanted to try something new and seeing as I’m boycotting all bullshit Korean fusion options in HK, it ruled out all 15 million (citation needed) of the new Korean fusion restaurants that have opened this year.

El Mercado has only just opened but it was already packed with a stack of people and you can get ready for every HK newspaper / media source to use various reiterations of ‘buzzing atmosphere’ when they describe it.  If you were dating someone who didn’t give a fuck about food and only cared about concepts and appearances, they’d be super impressed if you took them here (although, this means you have made fucking terrible choices in the dating game).  El Mercado’s interiors are cute as fuck, striking a nice balance between modern and casual through a thoughtful combination of light wood panelling, industrial light bulbs, strategic touches of green foliage and sea foam accents.  Due to being in soft open, we got to drink our fuck yeahhhh BYO no corkage booze while checking out El Mercado’s snappily short menu which is split into five sections – ‘Bocados / Light Bites’, ‘Sushi Bar’, ‘Ceviches & Tiraditos’, ‘Primer Pasos / First Courses’, ‘Entre Amigos / Sharing’ and ‘Postres  Dessert‘.  Lots of the dishes sounded rad as fuck, but I ruled out any from the ‘Bocados / Light Bites’ because they sounded fucking teeny tiny and I wasn’t given much hope of not veering into food for ant$ territory when the waiter confirmed that the Ostra Acevichada at HKD58 consists of ONE Japanese oyster which has been jazzed up with lime and squid ink foam.

In a telling omen, after chatting to our friendly waitress and placing our order, I asked her whether we had failed to order any must have dishes and all she could contribute was that we’d already ordered the suckling pig, before promising to check with the kitchen to see if we’d missed anything crucial.  She never returned with more suggestions, only leading me to conclude that she must have asked the kitchen what their star dishes were and they replied ‘Fucked if I know!’  before shrugging their shoulders nonchalantly and returning to chopping a mountain of onions.

The ‘Sushi Bar’ offers various ingredients stacked on top of rice and to put the POW into fusion, the toppings aren’t your standard Japanese raw fish / seafood fare.  We ordered the AVEGANADO, which appears looking just like a tuna nigiri but ho ho, isn’t this some clever shit, El Mercado have used a slightly dehydrated watermelon slice with a balsamic reduction (HKD38 for two pieces) to replicate the appearance of tuna and soy sauce. In a testament to never trust any dish that tucks VEGAN into its name, the Aveganado was as exciting as you could ever expect watermelon on rice to be.  That is, wake me up when you’re fucking done because it’s not fucking exciting at all.

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To really make it feel like we were getting into the Peruvian Japanese vibes, we decided to turn up the fusion feels by mixing shit up with some ceviche – that is, raw fish cured with some citrus.  We went all in, ordering the Ceviche de Atun (Tuna Fish, Leche De Tigre, Sweet Potato at HKD158) and the Ika Ceviche (Ohnibe Fish, Leche De Tigre, Sweet Potato Crispy Calamari Rings at HKD178).  Each dish was indistinguishable from each other, except that the Ika Ceviche had a small portion of fried squid on the side.  This meant that we got two uninspiring dishes of a shit tonne of onions, mixed with some coriander, chilli, lime, a small amount of raw fish and a couple of slices of yellow sweet potato on the bottom. It just felt like all the other low cost ingredients (ie. onions) were being used to pad out the high cost ingredients (ie. fish).  But fuck, how much do sweet potatoes cost?  Surely El Mercado could have ponied up with something more substantial than the scant amounts of fish and sweet potato we were presented with.  Fuck no to eating a dish which is almost entirely citrus covered raw onions.  Tony Abbott, Australia’s raw onion eating Prime Minister, would most definitely approve of El Mercado’s ceviche before stopping the boats or gay marriage or whatever he’s into aside from raw onions.

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Sauce

The mains / sharing dishes looked suspiciously expensive with all five dishes priced over HKD308  We ordered the Aeropuerto (Fried Rice, Octopus, Shrimp & Pork Squid Ink Omelette at HKD308) and the Cochinillo Con Tacu Tacu (Suckling Pig, Edamame Tacu Tacu and Nikkei Chalaca Sarza (special hot sauce made with peppers, lime juice, onions and tomatoes) at HKD308).  The most interesting thing about the Aeropuerto was its description on the menu because in reality, it was just fucking expensive fried rice with a grey, salty omelette plopped on top. I chewed my way through this greasy, over garlicky fried rice while wondering whether squeezing a bit of squid ink into an egg is enough to claim you’re pushing creative culinary boundaries.  Every now and again you’d come across a small piece of octopus, its small rubbery existence surely there to remind you of OMG JAPANESE INFLUENCE but there isn’t enough rubbery pieces of octopus in the world which could eve justify the HKD308 price tag for FUCK NO fried rice.

The Cochinillo Con Tacu Tacu was two small pieces of crispy suckling pig with a lump of edamame tacu tacu in the middle and two fried quail eggs.  Predictably, the suckling pig was fine (crispy skin blah blah juicy meat blah blah blah) because as always, you need to really work at fucking up roast suckling pig to make it into a fuck no.  The accompanying edamame tacu tacu was underwhelming as all hell – tacu tacu being some fancy Peruvian way of saying “fried rice and some mealy edamame beans mashed together to give a dish some heft, given how fucking small the pork was”.  HKD308 for this dish and between four people it would have only been at best, two bites of pork and a few spoonfuls of some ricey, beany concoction. A waiter swung by at this point to ask how everything was and point blank with hungry eyes, I said ‘So tiny‘ and he ignored my comment, right before we asked for the menu so we could order more food.

We ordered one more main, the Lomo Saltado and the menu describes it as “Stir Fried Beef, Market Vegetables, Soy Sauce Served With Rice” at HKD308.  I am still not sure what makes this Peruvian (or even Japanese really) but all I am really sure of is that yes, we did just hand over HKD THREE HUNDRED AND EIGHT DOLLARS to eat super salty stir fried beef with small pieces of broccoli on rice.  I start to pen a letter in my head that goes something like:

DEAR HONG KONG RESTAURANTS,

WHILE THE CONSTANT ABUSE OF EVER RISING PRICES IN THIS CITY HAVE WARPED MY ABILITY TO CONFIDENTLY KNOW WHAT A FAIR PRICE IS ANYMORE, I DEFINITELY DRAW THE LINE AT HKD308 SALTY AS FUCK BEEF STIR FRIES WITH BROCCOLI AND RICE.

BEST,
SGT NOMS
XO FUCKING XO

We look at the menu again to decide whether we want to get dessert but a table decision was made that we were all beyond unenthused about what El Mercado could do for dessert.  Why bother laying down more cash for some Peruvian Japanese delights like mango on some sticky rice, shaped like…wait for it…A MANGO NIGIRI SUSHI!! Fuck that shit to hell, so instead we settled our bill, tipped the wait staff (because they were on form most of the night, even if the waiter homie did ignore my blunt, snippy size queen related feedback) and went upstairs to Pirata to get involved in their fuck yeah vermouth selection instead.  Fuck yeahhh to drinking your dessert.

Verdict:
Fuck nooooo.  But get ready for people to tell you that El Mercado’s good because sometimes all you need is a trendy interior, cozy lighting and an edgy menu to fool people into thinking that you’re doing something new and interesting.

Where:
曾記粿品 (Openrice entry)
Shop 8, Sheung Wan Cooked Food Market
1 Queen’s Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

FYN Note:  It’s next to ABC Kitchen, look for the red / white Chinese sign.  It’s only open for lunch too, so don’t try and go for dinner.

Followed by:

KFC
Shop 231A, 2/F Shun Tak Centre (ie. the Macau Ferry Terminal)
168-200 Connaught Rd
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Phone:
I don’t think you really need the phone number for either place.

Price:
HKD100 for two people at 曾記粿品 and HKD27 for the KFC Double Down.

The deal:
Mr Judgmental and I had planned to make a return to 曾記粿品, a tiny shop in the Sheung Wan Cooked Food Centre which specialises in Chiu Chow cakes (or as my SE Asian homies would call it, ‘kueh‘) and other dishes such as Chai Tow Kway (菜头粿 – also known as carrot / radish cake) and the Oyster Omelette Pancake (耗煎 – O Luak or O jian / 蠔餅 – hou beng in Cantonese). While the other dishes may be of varying quality, the Oyster Omelette is off the fucking chain.  However, somewhere between the planning for Oyster Omelette and getting some other pan fried Chiu Chow / Teochew kueh, the news came out that the Double Down had come to KFC HK.  Yes, the gut busting burger monstrosity that substitutes two deep fried chicken fillets for the standard burger bun, with cheese and bacon stuffed inside.

I gotta admit that I fucking love to get a HK New Food Scoop (lolz) but even my greedy ass limits were being tested by the idea of the KFC Double Down.  I floated it with Mr Judgmental whether we should postpone our Oyster Omelette date and go and be amongst the first to smash a HK Double Down instead, despite strong reservations that the Double Down was going to be disappointing.  He shot back instantly that we should get our Bang Bang on.  That’s where you have two full meals at two different restaurants. Sensing my calorie loaded hesitation, I got a stern talking to that this was an opportunity similar to 2010 when people went from ‘Katniss who??’ to ‘Katniss yesssssssssssss!’ and with that hard hitting pep talk I was all FUCK, I get the poetic logic of a Bang Bang double meal which involves a Double Down and I pinned my Mockingjay badge on, pulled on my hard cunt pants and declared “I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE!!“:

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曾記粿品 is as basic as you’d expect for a cooked food centre.  From previous experience, we’d already established that the png kueh (a tear drop shaped kueh filled with rice, peanuts and pork mince) is a fuck no, too much dough and not enough filling.  Mr Judgmental hadn’t been a huge fan of their carrot cake (claiming it was too sweet), so instead we loaded up on some kuehs, an oyster congee and my first, my last, my everything – DAT OYSTER OMELETTE.  For the kuehs, we ordered the garlic chive, taro and white radish ones (you need to order at least three if you want them to fry them for you).  These are quick and easy snacks, the garlic chive one being my fuck yeah favourite of the three.  Yeah, we doubled up on the Chive Kueh.  The oyster congee was fairly unexciting but DAT OYSTER OMELETTE was still the fucking magnificent beauty that I remembered.  A generous amount of large oysters fried into a crisp, tapioca starch and egg omelette which deserves all the FUCK YEAHS ever.  Oyster Omelettes can be so sad for so many reasons including tiny ass oysters of poor quality, crappy gloopy consistency due to too much tapioca starch or poor frying which means it’s just a fuck no, greasy mess.  Fuck eating poorly fried food with all of the calorific impact but none of the fuck yeah delicious, crispy times.  No such concerns at 曾記粿品 though, because this was a fuck yeah crispy oyster pancake masterpiece which I ate seasoned with a little bit of fish sauce, white pepper and my own salty tears of pure and unadulterated happiness.  How can HKD42 at 曾記粿品 purchase such jubilation? I cannot fully explain it but for anyone jonesing for a fuck yeah oyster omelette, I can’t imagine there’s a better fix available in Hong Kong.

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With our stomachs well sated by a fuck yeah budget priced lunch of HKD100ish for all of our food, we set off under the heat of a thousand suns to trek to the Shun Tak Macau Ferry Terminal, the only KFC in the Central area.  Under the bright fluorescent lights of Shun Tak, I had the sudden realisation that I’ve never actually physically been to a KFC in HK.  Praise be to the availability of online ordering or the fried chicken gathering skills of Sir Crunch-a-lot.  Not that my lack of patronage to KFC Shun Tak Macau Ferry Terminal has been hurting business because these guys were rammed, a long line of customers snaking out and around the KFC.

Sgt Noms:  Do you think they’re all here for the Double Down?
Mr Judgmental:  No, I’ve scoped the tables – I’ve only seen one person eating it.
Sgt Noms:  What about that awkward white dude who’s avoiding eye contact with everyone?
Mr Judgmental:  Yeah, he’s probably here for the Double Down.  Just as we are.

Thanks to KFC’s fuck yeah efficiency, we were soon placing our order for the Double Down (HKD27).  Mr Judgmental added a Hot & Spicy thigh piece as well as some waffle fries.  We stepped past our awkward white dude homie who was unwrapping his own Double Down and soon, we were staring down our meal which was putting the bang into BANG BANG.  Look at that glorious piece of Hot & Spicy thigh, lying all seductive as fuck in its plastic wicker basket, flanked by the innocuous looking Double Down:

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FYN Fun Fact:  Did you know that at HK KFC that cleanliness is next to godliness?  Have you been eating KFC all your life with your bare hands like some sort of wild, heathen animal?  HONG KONG, I AM TRULY LIVING IN THE GENTRIFIED FUTURE NOW.

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Do you ever read those food blogs where someone has carefully staged a photo of an avocado artfully smashed across a thick cut piece of five grain toast while a gently grilled charcoal kissed tomato sits to one side? Just to the corner, a blue and white porcelain milk jug with a sprig of wild rosemary peeks out precociously, while in the front of the photo there’s the gentle curve of a vintage mother-of-pearl handled knife which sits almost out of frame, while all of this is casually strewn across a rough hewn wooden table made from the deck of an ancient Greek fishing boat?  Yeah, well FYN food photography gets you the greasy wrapping paper of a Double Down which repeatedly declares SOGOOD SOGOOD, a greasy ass lump of fried chicken, bacon and cheese, with a plastic glove peeking out from the top left corner.  Fuck yeahhhh, behold the culinary wonders of Shun Tak Macau Ferry Terminal!

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All I could think about at this stage is why was our built to order Double Down so fucking soggy.  It’s not like we’d sat around for 10 minutes gazing at our Double Down before we unwrapped it?  I care so deeply for my FYN homies that I even took a cross-section of the Double Down so you are all now fully equipped with the deep fried chicken truth.

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Scientific dissection complete, it was time to glove up and get Doctor Chicken Takedown in the house.  I am not entirely sure what I was expecting from the KFC Double Down but from a base level I fucking love fried chicken, bacon and cheese.  How could combining these three things be a bad thing? Ohhhh but there’s always surprises in life and first of all, WHY WAS THE CHICKEN SO FUCKING SOGGY?  The flaccid bacon lay lifeless between the two soggy ass Original spiced chicken fillets with the highly processed melted cheese binding the whole mushy affair together.  But the greatest horror was the “mayonnaise” – which was so fucking sweet, with a fruity overtone.  I chewed my Double Down, pondering my life choices which have led me to this deep fried juncture, while I thought over and over “WHY DOES THE MAYONNAISE TASTE LIKE PINEAPPLES!?”.  It was like they were trying to put the Hawaiian feeling into the Double Down and trust me, the sweet mayonnaise fought valiantly for attention in the Double Down Salt Bomb Arena, taking me back to the Saltiest Ever Paella that I ate at La Paloma.

A close up of my KFC all glove no love shame:

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Despite whatever shortcomings it may have had, I still finished my Double Down in its entirety.  I stripped off my glove and in the cleanest I’ve ever been post-eating KFC, I jealously watched Mr Judgmental destroy his piece of KFC Hot & Spicy thigh while I reflected on how the Double Down could have more fully lived up to its fried chicken potential.  Why did the Double Down use Original chicken fillets, rather than what I feel would have been a superior fuck yeah choice of the Hot & Spicy Zinger burger fillet?  From my research, I understand this is an option in some other markets. It shouldn’t have been that hard to execute a Double Down – all the Colonel needed to ensure was that his homies were using crispy chicken patties, a decent slice of crispy bacon, about one-third of the cheese that we received and normal non-pineapple flavoured mayonnaise.  But then again, what expectations do you really have of a novelty chicken item that has taken five years to get its greasy ass to Hong Kong??

As sure as people will never let you exit the MTR before they get the fuck on, I felt fucking awful all afternoon.  The Double Down truly did take me down.  Maybe it was the obscene amounts of sodium.  Maybe it was the alleged cheese.  Maybe it was because I ate three times my daily recommended calorie intake in a Bang Bang lunch affair where everything was fried.  Maybe it was the inevitable guilt and shame that overcomes someone after indulging in some KFC dirty bird because that truly is the darkness that clings to your psyche, long after you’ve removed the greasy glove and moist toweletted yourself down with the faint scent of medicinal lemon. But sweet greasy KFC darkness, oh yes, I will come for you again. Just in your traditional form and not in a fuck no sandwich which uses soggy chicken fillets to substitute the bread.

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Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhh to the best fucking Oyster Omelette that I’ve had in Hong Kong.  Fuck no to novelty chicken items at KFC – but I’m not gonna lie, I could get my glove on again for a piece of that delicious fuck yeah KFC deep fried chicken thigh.  Original, Hot & Spicy – I know I’ve got room in my heart for both.

Where:
Bun Cha Vietnamese Cafe & Restaurant (FB page)
Shop 1, GF King Ho Building
41-49 Aberdeen Street (just up from PMQ/Butchers Club Steak Frites)
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Phone: 
+852 2858 1900

Price:
HKD200ish a person including tip (no service charge) but we most def overordered.  Normal homies would probably get out at less than HKD200 a person. Hashtag, #thisiswhyimfat yo.

The deal:
One of the thing that has been a constant source of fuck no disappointment in HK has been Vietnamese food.  Yes, I know everyone fucking loves to line up outside Nha Trang / BEP and talk about how Vietnamese food is just ‘so fresh’ but fuck what people say, that HK Vietnamese shit is only just ok.  I just find HK Pho generally so fucking disappointing – the rice noodle selection is always fucking wrong (NO, HOR FUN/skinny rice noodles are the wrong fucking noodle) or overcooked and the soup always feels like inferior stock generally boosted by MSG and stock powder.  Call me fussy but I don’t think you can just throw in some raw slices of beef and some brownish tinged ‘fresh’ Vietnamese mint to turn a normal beef noodle into a ‘pho’.  Cut to me staring with anguish into a bowl of poorly executed pho as my heart yearns for the days of when I lived in Sydney and used to cruise on down to Cabramatta (where all the Aussie-Vietnamese homies are) where I’d get some serious fuck yeah pho by picking my restaurant solely based on who had the most Vietnamese homies in there.

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Bun Cha Vietnamese Cafe & Restaurant only opened about two weeks ago and my homie who lives close by tipped me off.  I rounded up Sir Crunchalot, Ms Two Serves and Ms Siuwaaan as we dared to dream that perhaps that this was gonna be the answer to all our HK Pho related problems.  There were some positive key leading authenticity indicators – I stalked their FB page which had awesome looking pictures of Vietnamese food, statuses where a Vietnamese wife was mentioned and messages where people were writing in VIETNAMESE.  When we arrived at Bun Cha we’d already seen the waiters look blankly at people who were talking Cantonese to them and after checking out their open kitchen, the kitchen staff are all jabbering away in Vietnamese.  Excitement levels were getting so hot it hurts and I couldn’t stand in the way of the Ms Two Serves and Ms Siuwaan Ordering Train who decided swiftly that we needed to try almost everything on the menu despite the large as fuck bowls we’d seen on the tables next to us.

Sadly, one of my Vietnamese food faves, the Banh Xeo (a crispy flour crepe filled with shrimp, pork, bean sprouts) was unavailable which meant that we had to start with the Ga xe phay (HKD68) as a token effort towards eating some vegetables. This salad is a mix of steamed chicken, finely shredded red cabbage and Vietnamese herbs and captures those classic fuck yeah Vietnamese fresh flavours by dressing this with a mixture of mint, coriander, lime juice, chilli, sugar and fish sauce.  The Tom Cuon fresh prawn spring roll (HKD68) was solid too but I found the Cha La Lot Luon (HKD68) more interesting.  Maybe because it was fried and we all know that fried food generally conquers unfried food but the Cha La Lot Luon was a grilled pork patty which was wrapped in a pepper leaf and all fried up together.  We also ordered a Banh Mi (HKD60), which holds a special place in my heart as being one of the best sandwiches of all time and it was one of the better ones I’ve had in HK – served warm, it was a good mix of grilled pork belly, liver pate, coriander and pickled vegetables, held together by a crusty roll and an ample amount of mayonnaise and butter.  I just can’t ever move past the best fucking sandwich I’ve ever eaten in my entire life which happened to be a Banh Mi in Hoi An, Vietnam at Tiem Banh Mi Phuong.  You should definitely fuck off that Sunday’s Grocer hipster gentrified Banh Mi bull$hit and get involved at Bun Cha instead.

However this was all just warm up for the Bun Cha and the Pho we had ordered.  A Bun Cha is a dish which originates from Hanoi and is traditionally some sort of grilled fatty pork (cha) mixed with thin white rice vermicelli noodles (bun), this is then mixed through with herbs and a thin, slightly sweet and sour sauce which combines chilli, fish sauce and vinegar which you pour over your noodles.  Due to a kitchen mistake, one of our grilled lemongrass pork roll orders arrived as a Bun Cha which meant our table of four was confronted with THREE massive bowls of bun cha (HKD68 each).  The grilled beef and pork each one was served it was a fuck yeah but once the meat was gone we were left with a shit tonne of noodle mixture with no more fucking delicious grilled meat to eat with it.

The Pho Bo (HKD68, Beef Pho) arrived and this is where shit truly got real at Bun Cha Vietnamese Cafe & Restaurant.  We devoured that bowl of pho as if we hadn’t eaten for days, only pausing to remark on how dreams really can come true.  FUCK YEAH, it’s possible to have pho in HK which has the RIGHT fucking noodles that aren’t a mushy disaster and the soup was full bodied and clearly the result of a proper stock base made from beef bones, charred vegetables and no lazy-ass powders or shortcuts.  Imma gonna declare it that this is the best fuck yeah pho I’ve had in the Kong and I think we told the staff at Bun Cha about 12 times before we left how fucking happy we were after eating their pho, eyes glistening with tears induced by superior fuck yeah beef stock.

Next to our table was a group of girls who were similarly so fucking happy with their pho and we chatted to them about how fucking awesome everything was.  One of them was ordering their food in Vietnamese so I can only assume that she knew more about Vietnamese food than myself.  We spotted that they had some sort of awesome fried spring roll thing so we got involved and ordered the Chu Nem (HKD88).  OH MY YASSS, you take this prawn and pork fried spring roll and wrap it with fresh herbs and lettuce leaves before dipping it into a sweet, slightly spicy sauce.   Major fuck yeah times homies, if you come here promise me that you must order this dish so you can be a better person.

As Ms Two Serves ain’t called Two Serves just as a cute nickname, the four bowls of noodles and other dishes that we’d already ordered wasn’t enough to satisfy her wanton desire for moar food so she was left with no other choice but to revisit our FUCK YEAH PHO times experienced a mere 10 minutes ago by ordering ANOTHER bowl of pho. We wanted to try the Pho Ha Noi (HKD78), a fresh beef and ginger pho, but it was unavailable.  NO BIGGIE though cause we just double downed on the Pho Bo again which we’d already had.  Same same but still fucking awesome so no tears, just fuck yeah shit eating grins cause fuckkkkk it’s all about the noodles and the soup as our entire table bathed in the blissful glow of fuck yeah pho feelings.

I quizzed one of the ladies who was serving us and I suspect she’s one of the owners.  She told me that she’s from Hanoi and she’s been in HK for over 14 years but now that her children are older that she had more time to be able to cook her food and open this restaurant in HK.  It’s not that I have a PhD in Vietnamese Food (but fuck, LBR, I don’t have a PhD in fucking anything) but I did spend a week in Vietnam once, so I should know what’s up.  But in all seriousness, there was something really heart felt about the food served at Bun Cha and you can’t turn out bowls of fuck yeah pho without giving a fuck about what you’re doing.

I almost don’t want to tell you assholes about this place because Bun Cha doesn’t have that many tables and I want to keep my unfettered access to securing fuck yeah pho in HK.  However, take it as an indication of my selfless fuck yeah nature cause I know my best FYN homies are gonna be all over this well priced, superior fuck yeah Vietnamese food.

Verdict:
FUCK YEAH, PHO LIFE, ALL DAY ERR DAY.  Don’t forget the Chu Nem times either.

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