Michelin Star

Where:
Noma Australia
23 Barangaroo Ave
Barangaroo, Sydney, Australia

Price:
AUD485 (USD372 / HKD2,890) per person (with the matched wines clocking in at AUD215 (USD165 / HKD1,280).

The deal:
The omnipotent reputation and weight of Noma is crushing. So much so that Noma can announce that it’s going to leave its digs in Copenhagen, Denmark and spend 10 weeks in Sydney, Australia and even with the eye watering price tag and not knowing exactly what this will entail, a throng of eager punters crushed the servers and snapped up all of the available tickets in mere minutes and then 27,000 wannabe customers piled onto the waitlist in the faint hope that someone might give their golden ticket away. Through some judicious planning which involved a coordinated syndicate of food obsessed assholes agreeing to target certain dates and table sizes, I was lucky enough to secure a booking for a table of eight and planned an international trip to Sydney around it.

Our booking was for Noma Australia’s third last night in town and I’d tried to stay on a relative media blackout, spotting the occasional picture online but resisting the urge to read the write ups so I could approach it without any preconceptions. Arriving just as the Sydney sun was slipping away over the harbour, we sit outside on the wooden table and benches as Noma’s waitstaff efficiently flit around and sort us out with an aperitif, their take on the Snakebite as we have a clear view of their chefs preparing various components in both their inside and outside kitchen. The choice of the Snakebite sets an indicative humorous tone which pervades some dishes, playing on a drink which traditionally is a blend of cheap beer and cider (sometimes with the addition of red cordial to hide the alcohol related atrocities which lurk below), favoured by young Australians who don’t know better other than they want to get wasted as quickly as possible. In this rendition though, it’s a cider / beer inspired blend made by Ashley Huntington of Two Metre Tall in Tasmania, using a combination of a seven year old ale, a two year old apple cider, a two year old pear cider and young soured ale, which is lightly effervescent and highly drinkable. I guess old Australian drinking habits die hard because I could have easily finished off a bottle of this.

Even at the end of ten weeks just as the Australian summer turns itself into autumn, the staff show not a shred of apathy and in fact seem to be beaming from their time in Australia, forming a guard to greet every table as they pass through the entrance and hold me back, René Redzepi himself is front and centre greeting guests with a beatific smile. I resist all urge to lunge towards him to grab a tuft of his hair to sew into my deranged voodoo chef doll which enjoys foraging and exploring the boundaries of local produce and instead smile politely and try to act like oh hay, no biggie, it’s just René welcoming me into motherfucking NOMA AUSTRALIA.

The Foolscap Studio designed dining room is straight forward and simple, taking cues from the Australian outback as well as Noma’s Danish heritage, with the art work taking inspiration from the ochre hued Australian landscape and the placement of several native blackboy grass trees. The Carl Hansen & Sons wooden tables and chairs have been shipped in from Denmark with the occasional wallaby fur pelt strewn across the back of a chair and a purposefully tousled bouquet of Australian foliage and flowers sitting in the centre of every table. There’s thirteen courses (ten savoury courses and three desserts) and no written menu is presented, with each course and the provenance of all the locally sourced ingredients explained by the enthusiastic staff at the beginning of each course.

The first tasting dish is the unripe macadamia and spanner crab, which uses thin slices of green macadamia nuts in a clear, chilled spanner crab consommé with a touch of rose oil. Served in an earthen stoneware bowl surrounded by ice, our waiter lets us know that it took the Noma team three days and several knives to figure out how to prise an unripe and stubborn macadamia from its shell. The sweet green macadamia is reminiscent of a firm water chestnut, playing well with the cool, sweet spanner crab consommé with only a hint of the floral rose peeking through.

The wild seasonal berries flavoured with gubinge (Kakadu plum), is a plate of native berries (including lillypillies, lemon aspen and muntries) and pickled lemon myrtle buds.  It’s beautiful as fuck, all pale pinks, greens, creams and yellows with the white powder of a Kakadu plum dusted all over. It’s an intense mix of sweet against sour, astringent and salty flavor profiles, the Kakadu plum powder reminding me of how the Taiwanese use plum powder on their pineapple or apples, to get that same fuck yeah salty and sweet flavor contrast.

The porridge of golden and desert oak wattleseed with saltbush looks innocuous enough, consisting of three saltbush leaves which are used to wrap a porridge made from two types of wattleseeds which have been boiled for hours to crack their tough outer seed cases, topped with a green oil made from anise myrtle. A finger lime and its caviar like insides is squeezed over this dish to cut through all the verdant flavours and nutty tones and this is the first dish of the night which knocks me the fuck over. I was the slowest person on my table to eat this dish because I wanted to understand every part of it on its own and all together and by the time I’d done this, I’d already eaten two of the three parcels, so I had to slow the fuck down so I could fully process what the fuck was going on in the final saltbush parcel as I declared multiple times that I was having a serious fuck yeah moment.

The seafood platter and crocodile fat, is five shellfish that are perched across smooth river rocks and topped with shards of chicken stock skin (imagine the film that forms when you roast a chicken and the oil drips to the pan and you allow that to cool slightly) painted with crocodile fat that look like the rock pools that dot our Australian coastline. I have no reference point for what crocodile fat should taste like and while the shards are interesting, it’s really all about the sweet simple flesh of the clams, mussel, pippi and oyster.

The WA deep sea snow crab with cured egg yolk comes with the René Redzepi’s claim that he thinks that this deep sea snow crab from Albany, located on the southern coast of Western Australia is one of the best in the world and it’s impossible not to feel some sort of patriotic pang of pride that this is Australia punching out its best on the global crab stage. This dish is fucking spectacular, the barely warm flesh of the snow crab just picked from its shell is mixed with an egg yolk which has been cured in kangaroo garum (fermented sauce made from kangaroo mince, which Noma started making back in October), rice koji (a fermented culture fed on rice, kept in a warm place)  and smoked butter. To mix this warm, sweet delicate meat with the cured egg yolk feels reminiscent of the salty egg yolks that you’ve had in Hong Kong, but topped with this barely there fish-sauce like note from the fermented kangaroo meat and koji creates something you’ve never had before but with a few familiar reference points.

That’s not to say that it’s all ecstatic rapture and the unbelievable swelling of new flavours. Noma’s take on the Australian tradition of the meat pie is made from dried scallops and topped with nasturtium flowers. The pie itself is a kelp crust, filled with nasturtium stems, topped with a brown, viscous and slightly grainy, sticky frozen topping made from combining dried Tasmanian scallops together with beeswax and elderflower oil.  Unfortunately, it reminds me of the brown grease that drips from my rangehood when it’s overdue for a clean. This is eaten with two accompanying yellow and orange nasturtium flowers (the earlier sittings at Noma ate this with a lantana flower), their peppery sharp flavour cutting through this greasy, rich scallop chilled fudge like paste but I’m unable to fully shake the smell of stale oil from my rangehood.

The next three courses are the BBQ’d milk ‘dumpling’ with marron and magpie goose, the simply named truffle and avocado and the sea urchin and tomato dried with pepper berries. The ‘dumpling’ uses a crispy milk skin crepe to wrap together a barely cooked marron (a small Australian lobster-like crustacean) with the meatier punch of the gamey magpie goose, all wrapped together in a nasturtium leaf. I’ve never eaten magpie goose but understand that it’s a bird from the Northern Territory that’s almost regarded as a pest given its predilection for eating mangoes.  The truffle and avocado is a single slice of creamy avocado, topped with a black truffle ragout which is a simple fuck yeah interlude from all the layered, complex dishes before it. To reset the palate for the final savoury course, it’s a clean and fresh fuck yeah dish of Tasmanian sundried bush tomatoes, dehydrated for eight hours, topped with subtle Southern NSW sea urchins from Ulladulla and a broth made from native pepper berries (with shades of the Sichuan pepper) and elderflower oil.

The final savoury course is one of my absolute fuck yeah favourites of the night, Noma’s take on the Australian pub meal, the abalone schnitzel with bush condiments. Or as it’s more affectionately known in Australia, the schnitty. Served with a knotted bouquet of Australian green herbs (including Warrigal Greens), Kakadu plum, nuts (palm nut, Atherton Oak Nut), an assortment of seaweed (sea fennel, glass beads and Neptune’s Necklace), a stem of mat rush and the tiniest half of a native Australian sandpaper fig. The abalone has been crumbed and fried, after some sort of complicated cooking technique applied to it, to make an otherwise chewy shellfish into something tender.  The schnitty is fucking great on its own but by combining a bite of this schnitty with the Australian accoutrements is when it transcends fucking everything.  It’s the sweet, young slightly starchy stem of the mat rush. The grassy bouquet of green herbs which cut through the fat of the schnitzel and smash you in the face. The finger lime makes another appearance with its acidic, citrus pearls bursting in your mouth to cut through the fried schnitzel and the green notes. I want to eat this dish again just so I can really get my head around all the fuck yeah Australian foliage and seaweed magic that was happening on this plate.

The next three dessert courses have been much discussed by the press and it’s easy to see why given the green ants on fruit and the highly photogenic riffs on the Australian classics, the lamington (a chocolate and desiccated coconut covered sponge) and the Golden Gaytime ice-cream (a toffee and vanilla ice-cream dipped in chocolate and wrapped in honeycomb biscuits, on a wooden popsicle-stick). ice-cream.  The first fruit based dessert, marinated fresh fruit, is simple, a piece of mango wrapped in a palm leaf and topped with small dried green ants, and a cube of pineapple and watermelon all set on ice.  I wryly smile to myself as I think about how instead of getting food for ants, I’m actually getting food with ants.  As you can expect, each piece of fruit is intense and represents a best in class example of that fruit, with the dried green eats tasting exactly as you’d imagine if you’ve ever squashed an ant.

The rum lamington is all white, an airy piece of cake which is pumped full of Black Head Rum made just north of Sydney, with the “coconut” made from grated solidified milk, sitting in a red pool of native tamarind which isn’t as sour as the tamarind I’m used to.  The native tamarind sauce cuts through the sweetness as the lamington dissolves to nothing in your mouth. While tasty it’s not knock your lights out delicious and relies more on its story and reference to what a lamington is.

The final course is the peanut milk and freekah “Baytime”, which looks like a little a mini-rustic Magnum ice-cream, with its riberry stick instead of the traditional wooden paddlepop.  The ice-cream component has been made from a raw peanut milk and there’s a caramel centre, before it’s coated with a freekah glaze, that gives it the appearance of the chocolate coating of a Golden Gaytime.  Freekah is an ancient grain which Noma have roasted until it’s dark and in the glaze, it tastes like a deep, roasted grain with some chocolate overtones (even though there’s no chocolate in it).  It’s fun and interesting, a humorous and earthy nod to an Australian ice-cream icon but not a blockbuster dessert on its own.  With the food all done, we go outside to take our final digestifs and René makes the rounds to the remaining tables outside, stopping in to say hello (although he didn’t make it to our table), before we leave to literally and mentally digest everything that’s gone before.

When I got home that night, I actually couldn’t sleep because I was too busy trying to process exactly why I had this downright, primal and visceral reaction to this meal. The feeling when your heart can’t even fit your chest and you shake your head because you can’t figure out why did this meal resonate in every part of your being?  And then days later, with some furious internal workshopping as to why this moved my internal needle so much, I slowly began to pull together the more nebulous threads to why Noma Australia felt so personally Australian. Because sure, at first glance the Australian connection is so fucking obvious, it’s the madness of René Redzepi and his globally sourced Noma team coming to Australia to seek out these indigenous ingredients which Australia itself doesn’t use with regularity and then making that work within some sort of commercial context.  It’s the subtle nod to Australian food icons such as the lamington or the meat pie. But then it’s the realisation that for all these new ingredients and highly technical preparative techniques what lodges it in my psyche is the association to personal shit that you know from actually growing up in Australia:

It’s the bunch of native Australian herbs with the schnitzel, which hit you in the back of your throat like the smell of freshly mown grass because fuck, we had the luxury and privilege of lawns in Australia.

It’s the quarters of lillypillies in the wild seasonal berries assortment that you remember from the novelty of being able to eat something that looked like a tiny pale pink apple, straight from the tree in your backyard as a kid.

It’s the verdant, fragrant oils distilled from Australian foliage used in the saltbush wattleseed porridge that remind you of the eucalyptus and lemon myrtle leaves you’ve picked when you’ve been in the Australian bush on school camp and crushed them between your fingers, to leave that green smell of fresh gum trees on your fingers that will never as long as you’re alive will remind you of anything other than Australia.

It’s the shellfish nestled in the smooth river rocks which throw you back to that time you were under the almost surreal azure skies and poking around the crystal clear rock pools of some remote part of Australia’s jagged coast line where every rock you moved with a stick saw five things move the fuck away from you.

It’s the use of nasturtium flowers and stems which remind you of how nasturtiums used to grow almost like weeds in your backyard and eating the flowers as a kid before you spat them out in sheer disgust, wondering why anyone would ever want to eat these stinky, peppery pungent flowers (and now look at you, you’re paying hundreds of dollars for the privilege).

It’s the smear of black truffle ragout on a piece of avocado which you already think FUCK YEAH AUSTRALIA because of the dire avocado situation in Hong Kong. But the truffle ragout paste is black and filled with vaguely yeasty and umami tones giving you some poshed up fancy as fuck take to all the avocado toast with a smear of Australia’s real black gold, Vegemite, that you’ve devoured in this lifetime.

It’s the delicate strand of glass bead and Neptune’s Necklace seaweed which burst in your mouth and remind you of the sargassum seaweed balls that you popped between your fingers when you were down at the beach on school holidays.

It’s when you eat the zingy green ants perched on the mango for dessert which while you’ve never eaten ants before, the taste reminds you of sitting on some warm lawn, the tiny stinging bites of these anty fuckers and the smell of the sharp formic acid after you’ve crushed their feeble bodies against your legs.

So you take this body of personal Australia experience and process that against the fact it’s been a Danish chef who’s shown it to you and then you set that against everything that’s conspired to let you be there, to have this in your existence. Getting the tickets to Noma Australia. Having the time and means to get your ass to Sydney to effectively have dinner. With everything lined up, you then get to have a dining experience which speaks so uniquely to what you know as an Australian and then expands upon that by showing you all sorts of shit you didn’t even know. Noma Australia moved me in a seriously major way and it crystallised everything I fucking love about food and eating.

Because what is better than food that moves you? Food where absolutely everything on that plate has been pored over and deliberated on to be a distillation of what a chef is passionate about, what he truly believes in and presenting this fucking incredible innovative take on unconventional ingredients and still make the sum greater than its individual parts. Where in the ensuing days and weeks, you’re still trying to fucking figure it out in your head as to why it was such a fucking potent experience? I eat so much all the time but I’ve never had an experience which has thrown up so many thoughts and questions days later. I desperately want to know every single thing and detail behind this meal so I can better understand how Noma ended up at this final point for their Australian menu and how did they distil so much of this fucking amazing country into thirteen plates of food.

This was a meal which at the time it hits you in the chest with the impact of something totally fucking new but then pulls you in by the shoulders, to kiss you softly on the forehead with familiarity and nostalgia.

And with that, I will never forget you Noma Australia.

Verdict:
ALL THE FUCK YEAHS EVER.

Before we get started you can check out FYN’s “Fuck Yeah, 2014! – Part #1 Hong Kong” here.

FYN’S 2014 STAND OUT NON-HK EATS

I had some serious fuck yeah eating adventures in 2014 but I only managed to get my lazy holiday ass into typing about my UK and NYC eats and my draft folder is littered with half finished NYC reviews. It seems like the new fuck no obnoxious foodie asshole way to describe yourself if you have the ability to fly to another country (ie. Have money) and eat food there (ie. Have a mouth) is a FOOD NOMAD. How fucking unbelievably wanky is that?? The thing is, I could totally write a pretentious as fuck FOOD NOMAD paragraph here, talk about my goddamn WANDERLUST as I lost myself in the bazaars of Istanbul, the splendiferous spice markets of India and the good shit I ate in 2014 before I uploaded my profile picture (beach wavey hair – CHECK, armful of beads and bracelets – CHECK, oversized sunglasses – CHECK, straw fedora tipped strategically over one side of my face – CHECK, bikini – FUCK YEAH BOOBS) but fuuuck that.  I’m not sure that managing to buy some cheap as fuck dumplings from an old dude from the Xilin Night Markets in Taiwan is food frontiering for the ages. I’ll be real with you homies, I didn’t always manage to get FYN entries up about my overseas shiz because I tend to just roll around clutching my rotund self on holidays and to be honest, I wasn’t sure how much value you guys were gonna put on how to get to a random houseboat in Kerala but TOUGH SHIT now cause I’ve got my food nomad wank-a-lot pants on so indulge me a little, ok?

STAND OUT NON-HK EATS #1: Oberoi Houseboat times – Kerala, India
Fuck me, the three days I spent on a houseboat in Kerala run by the Oberoi resulted in me eating some of the most fucking unbelievable fuck yeah Indian noms of my life. I often reflect upon Head Chef Diwaker and his fuck yeahhh cooking. We watched the rest of the houseboat guests order boring as fuck healthy breakfasts every morning like bircher muesli with fruit. I piled straight in and cruised straight past the oats in yoghurt section and straight to ordering a masala dosa, hoppers with vegetable sambar and a serve of duck akuri (scrambled duck eggs with Indian spices) and it became apparent as they arrived that that each dish was actually meant to be one person’s entire breakfast and it’s a pretty fucking punchy start to the day to order three individual breakfasts for one person. Chef Diwaker was punching out Indian cuisine from all over India, North to South and when the staff realised that Mr Noms and I were the houseboat guests who were the most into Indian eats, all bets were off and they started doubling our portions before we even asked. Probably the most chilled out I’ve been all year – reading books, mugs of sweet masala chai, stuffing myself with fuck yeah Indian food at regular intervals, watching Keralan fishermen pull out fish which I’d eat later and quite possibly the only three days in my life where not having wifi didn’t send me into total despair.

STAND OUT NON-HK EATS #2: Zucca London – London, UK
I get really fucking nostalgic for the Zucca times – this was one of the best fucking meals I had all year and fuck yeah to the UK Supercoach who gave us a detailed playbook on how to order.  I have taken stewardship of this playbook which means that when I recommend this place to my travelling homies they receive messages repeatedly punctuated with “DON’T FORGET THE PANNA COTTA“.

The meal I had at Zucca was a flawless, fuck yeah perfect experience.  There are so many food highlights that writing a summary of the FYN review seems pointless – from the house made bread with Zucca’s own grassy complex olive oil, the vitello tonnato (pork and tuna) dish,  the rich as fuck tomato and pork cheek sauce on the bucatini all’amatriciana which gave me life with every tubular strand and of course, dat unforgettable panna cotta which is without doubt, the best fucking panna cotta I’ve had of my life.  Service was a top notch fuck yeah with perfectly pitched friendly and knowledgeable service and all the fuck yeahs ever in this entire world for their menu which states boldly at the bottom “Using your mobile phone is unnecessary and anti-social”.  This meal will always get me in the nostalgia stakes as the birth place of turning to Swedish pop when you’re in a restaurant and unsure of what you should order cause always consider – “What Would Roxette Say” (#WWRS):

I dreamed about this magnificent, flaw-free, boss bitch for days after eating there.  I dream about Zucca months later.  Dear Zucca, I plaintively yearn for you – I play this song and think of the day that we will meet again because I fucking miss you, like the deserts miss the rain.

Fucking perfection.

STAND OUT NON-HK EATS #3: Baguettes in Paris
I ate a lot of good food in Paris but my fondest fuck yeah memories are sitting in the apartment we rented with a baguette de tradition, pork terrine, fuck off French cheese (yissssssssss), glorious creamy avocados and washing it all back with strong black coffee or champagne (morning vs night choices). I’m not even sure it qualifies as bread rather magical glutinous sticks of wonder.

FYN’s reaction to eating French bread:

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STAND OUT NON-HK EATS #4: Three Michelin Star Times in NYC (Per Se and Le Bernadin)
I was jet lagged as fuck in the States which saw me waking up at 4am for about 10 days straight.  While I initially thought it was just jet lag, by day 10, I decided that it was pure unadulterated excitement to be in FUCK YEAH, MURICA.  When I got back to the Kong, I reported to my American homies that I finally understand why they love America so much because America is fucking tits to the max.  I love the small town diners that serve fuck yeah blueberry pancakes the size of a manhole cover with come with a big fuck off jar of maple syrup (vs the cruel thimbleful of syrup you get at Oola in the Kong), lobster rolls, NYC pizza, bagels with lox and cream cheese – SO MUCH FUCK YEAH MURICA TIMES.  In NYC, I splurged on two bank breaking, balls to the wall meals at Per Se and Le Bernadin.  Both were fucking incredible.

At Le Bernadin, I got to see Eric Ripert in the dining room before service (achievements for 2014 – I managed not to launch myself at Eric, sobbing as I lost my shit) which was nice to see that some big name chefs still feel it necessary to oversee their restaurants.  Eight courses of a largely seafood based menu all under the dramatic 24-foot triptych of the Pacific Ocean, which didn’t rely on any gimmicks or conch shells with hidden iPods to play ocean noises and just let its seafood tell its own story.

After navigating the booking system 30 days in advance (actually leaving social engagements on a Friday night to get home by 10pm to start calling the booking hotline), we arrived at Per Se and worked our way through a laser focussed, entirely thought out dining experience.  Thomas Keller signature of ‘Oysters & Pearls’ was one of the most fucking spectacular things I’ve eaten in my life.  Individual elements of some dishes were the examples of the most flavourful version of that ingredient that I’ve ever eaten – how often do you remember a singular tomato slice or olive as being that fucking good?  There were precisely sourced ingredients such as 30 million year old Jurassic salt from Montana or unsalted cultured butter from a US producer who has a herd of no more than ten Jersey cows.  We powered through a fuck tonne of food and almost died when it came to the dessert marathon when my metaphorical hard cunt pants exploded meaning I didn’t power through as much of the mignardises as I should have.  I reminisce on all I could not finish in the dessert courses and I am overwhelmed by sadness of unbearable depths.

Fuck yeah to the World’s Top 50 Restaurants which don’t fucking disappoint (yeah Dinner by Heston, imma looking at you).

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STAND OUT NON-HK EATS #5: Caracas Arepas Bar
Our US Supercoach oversaw our US itinerary with an iron fist, making us submit multiple drafts before he signed off.  One of his tips was Caracas Arepas in the East Village and given how many eating options are available in New York it’s a true testament to the deep love I have for these chewy grilled and baked corn buns stuffed with fuck yeah ingredients like chorizo, avocado, chimi-churri, chicken, pork, cheese and black beans.  Our return visit to Caracas Arepas Bar was after a marathon drinking session at The Top of the Standard where we fell victim to the Land of the Free Pour.  I deployed Mr Noms to get arepas to try and mitigate some of the free pour damage while I leaned against a tree outside in a three point drunk guy taking a piss formation (wide legs, arm straight out on the wall, head down – yeah my homme homies know what’s up) while arepas later ‘made it better’.  My fuck no arepa-less existence in the Kong is just too fucking sad – I miss you dearly Mr Areppaaaasssss, but my heart will go on:

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FYN’s 2014 ‘JUST CANNOT’ LIST

Anyone who’s lived in HK for any amount of time knows that when shit works in HK, shit is golden (refer to: MTR, the airport, getting your HK ID card) however as soon as you try and deviate from the system, you end up with some sour faced person, shaking their head, saying ‘CANNOT’ and your shit is done, do not go directly past GO, you’ve hit CANNOT TOWN. This is my fucking list of CANNOT anymore when it comes to food in the Kong:

  1. Getting some asshole celebrity chef in to ‘design’ your menu.  Sure they might fly into HK for a bit during the first few weeks to do some publicity and the open or maybe they won’t come at all (isn’t that right Jamie?).  2014 saw Will, Gordon, Jamie and Tom try this shit on with mixed results.  Is the HK public really fucking impressed by this? JUST CANNOT.
    shaniaTDIMMwhatevershaniaTDIMM
  2. HKD138++ cocktails (+10% service charge). Since when did paying USD20+ for a cocktail becoming fucking normal?? JUST CANNOT.  Ok, I lie – I can, because I fucking love a cocktail before dinner.  On principle though, JUST CANNOT.
    helpme
  3. Stark industrial spaces with nothing soft at all which means you end up eating in a fucking echo chamber. Get some soft chairs, table cloths, curtains, foam cones, small yaks – I don’t fucking know, just get something which absorbs some of dat reverb ok??
  4. Michelin stars in HK. I can’t even be bothered writing some shit about this but really, these fucking places have a star? Bo Innovation has three while Amber has two? Every single Lei Garden has a Michelin star? Dudell’s has two? CIAK IN THE KITCHEN, A PIZZA/PASTA LUNCH PLACE IN LANDMARK HAS ONE?! HO HUNG KEE IN HYSAN PLACE HAS ONE STAR!? Fuck this bullshit to hell you Michelin inspector assholes.
  5. Shitty Brioche. Sure it sounds fancy but it’s more often than not just really fucking shit house, dry and overall bullshit. Especially if it’s on a burger because brioche ain’t structurally sound enough to hold up with a properly sauced burger and any sort of beef patty which will release any sort of juice.  Perhaps I’d be more down with brioche if I was a small French child and it was 4pm, I was drinking cocoa and I needed something to put my Nutella on.

    brioche

  6. Mason jars and stripey paper straws. Just stahp guys, it’s not fucking cute anymore. This shit’s infinitely worse if it’s with a bullshit paper straw which fails at its one sole purpose because those fuckers get soggy and fail to actually transport cocktails from the glass to your mouth. Yo paper straws,  YOU HAD ONE JOB:
    lolpaperstraws
  7. Korean restaurants which charge for banchan. Banchan are the small dishes of appetisers that you get at Korean restaurants.  When I ask for suggestions on Korean, some people tell me that Sanche is the bomb but fuck no, cause on a matter of principle I’m never trying a Korean restaurant which charges for banchan cause that shit should be free and it should be replenished on request. Fuck no to charging for banchan!!
  8. Juice cleanses.  It’s fucking genius – convince people that they’re doing their bodies good by having liquids for three days only while you fleece them of HKD2400++ for some fruit + vegetable juice in a cooler bag.  Yeah of course juicing asswipes you lost weight – I guarantee if you drank any sort of juice for three days (Minute Maid OJ or otherwise) and didn’t eat you’d lose some fucking weight.  Which you’re gonna put straight back on once you start eating real food again.  But yeah sure, you can cram Christmas noms and litres of alcohol into your body in December and fix it with 3 days of green shit, no really – go well my juicing homies.
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  9. Lame ass HK avocados.  After years of broken dreams of trying to buy avocados in HK, I’ve suffered the crushing disappointment of buying avocados which seem to arbitrarily and instantly switch from being rock hard bastards to inedible, rotting black motherfuckers (yo, check my The Branded interview).  I just cannot anymore with taking my chances, I save my avo times when I’m not in the Kong.hopesdeleted
    If you catch me overseas, double fisting avocados into my face (fuck yeahhhhhhh – add lemon/lime juice, olive oil, sea salt + cracked black pepper) don’t be fucking surprised.
  10. Soft openings.  HK likes to open restaurants all the fucking time as old restaurants fall foul of greedy fuckin’ landlords, fickle HK dining opinions (why yes, I think a Mexican Korean fusion restaurant in Kennedy Town will be a concept for the ages).  As I outlined in my review of Mrs Pound, new restaurants can open and slap ‘soft open’ which means “Please cut us some goddamn slack when we fuck up and have sold out of almost all our dishes”. Look, I fucking get that restaurants have to test their shit out but I think it’s a bit rich to charge full price if your shit ain’t right.  Or at least have the decency to not get your liquor licence so I can BYOB and save me dollar$.

 

FUCK YEAH, FYN HOMIES – NOT SO RONERY #SOBLESSED MOMENT

I started writing FYN after my homies were making suggestions on where we should eat dinner and I’d get an email to some fucking piece of shit HK website or some obviously gay-for-pay magazine paid advertorial and I’d get all twisted up and be all:

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Then I’d check my stats and see there were all five of you reading my shit and two of those readers may or may not have been attributable to me repeatedly checking my own fucking site out on my iPad and iPhone…

teamamericaronery

But fuck, 2014 was my moment – now I’m kind of a big deal with my ‘food writers card’ and I go to restaurants and I’m cutting queues, getting free malbec and general managers offer to gently polish my massive balls with a warm towel to guarantee an illustrious fuck yeah review which guarantees restaurants fame and fortune beyond their wildest imagination.

Actually, that’s a fucking lie – in reality, I’m staying home on Friday nights, blasting the Top Gun soundtrack and looking up animated gifs while basking in the glorious glow of having at least double the number of homies checking my shit out. But seriously, thanks for reading my new and old FYN homies, shit’s been real in 2014. Catch you on the 2015 flip side – keep strong and nommin’ the FUCK ON.

x o fucking x o

Sgt Noms
ps. FYN’s “Fuck Yeah, 2014! – Part #1 Hong Kong” is here.

Where:
Per Se (their website is pretty bullshit atm though)
4th Floor, Time Warner Centre
10 Columbus Circle 
(West 59th Street)
Upper West Side
New York
, USA

Phone:
+1 (212) 823-9335
 or fuck yeah, OpenTable (but only rely on OpenTable if you want a last minute booking)

Price:
USD310 a person for the 9-course tasting menu with additional ‘upgrades’ to courses available such as USD40 to upgrade from the sunchoke salad to foie gras and USD100 to upgrade from lamb to the 100 day aged beef.  Service/tip is included automatically.  There is no set wine pairing available, you are able to tell the sommelier your budget (recommended minimum of USD200 – USD250 a person). After champagne and a few extras, we were out at a very hefty USD500 a person.  PLS TO SEND FINANCIAL HALP.

The deal:
Like every asshole with access to WordPress and the ability to eat food, I fucking love food.  This means that when I travel, I crank open google and try to figure out where I’m going to bust out some high end eating experiences which of course come with a similar, high end, bank breaking cost.  So after sorting through the Michelin stars and the San Pellegrino The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2014 list, you’re left with Eleven Madison Park (#4), Le Bernardin (#21), Per Se (#30) and Daniel (#40) in New York. I don’t buy into the ranking of the list nor the concept that this necessarily translates into fuck yeah times, but it’s a useful starting spot to at least identify which restaurants are considered highlights in a city.  I also read the NYT love letter from a food critic who selects Per Se as his “last meal” and busts out some incredibly over the top descriptions including calling the first course and the wine pairing a “metaphor of transubstantiation” and describes the linen as being “ironed to the texture of freshly sanded pine”.

Once you’ve done that and looked up that transubstantiation means (the change whereby the bread and the wine used in the sacrament of the Eucharist becomes the reality of the body and blood of Christ), it’s where I turn to my reliable cast of Sir Lunch-a-Lot friends, who cut through the bullshit and don’t get blinded by whatever accolades a restaurant may have.  I consulted the no bullshit Ms Two Serves who said she wasn’t that impressed by Daniel (despite a chorus of people telling me it was the Best Ever).  I then hit up another Sir Lunch-a-Lot who suggested Le Bernardin and Per Se, before providing his feedback re: Eleven Madison Park:

[I] expected more from the food – no “wow” factor – a couple of courses were novel, but overall I was left wanting.

I mean, shit hot damn, fuck no I don’t want to be left wanting after dropping that much coin on any meal.

So we settled on Per Se – the East Coast counterpart to Thomas Keller’s famous as fuck West Coast heavyweight, The French Laundry (one day, I will come for you my laundromatic friend).  Getting a booking here is the stuff of a shit tonne of internet speculation with so many fucking sites ruminating on “How do I get a booking at Per Se?”.  People suggest all sorts of things – calling them and making a massive deal about things and claiming industry insider connections (lolz, being a “I’m kind of a big deal asshole” should definitely work), getting your Amex Black peeps onto it, being prepared to be on hold for two hours, asking your hotel concierge to secure you a seat, hitting OpenTable precisely at reservation open on several devices and then if all else fails, add yourself to the waitlist and pray.  But for all the mess and speculation, this is what I did to get a booking at Per Se and it’s not super straight forward but it fucking worked for me and took about two nights of effort:

Fuck Yeah Noms’ Guide to Getting a Booking at Per Se

  1. Bookings are released for Per Se, 30 days in advance at 10am EST.  Bookings can be made via phone or via OpenTable.
  2. Getting an online booking through OpenTable is pretty much bullshit if you’re going the 30 day in advance route.  I was ready and loaded to hit the site up at 10am EST and it doesn’t appear that the tables are released but when you check the days previously / 1 hour later, everything is full up.  Don’t fucking bother with OpenTable.
  3. Phone up EXACTLY at 10am EST (if not before).  I still had some success calling at 10:05am but by the time I got through, there were only lunch slots left.  When you call at 10am, be prepared to be on hold from 30 minutes to 45 minutes.  I got through two days in a row (refer #4 for more details).
  4. As the bookings are made 30 days in advance, be prepared to call a few days in a row before you get the booking that you want.  Ie. The first time I called, I got through after 40ish minutes on the phone and was offered a lunch booking for the Sunday.  I called the next day and I got through after 30ish minutes and was able to then move my booking from the Sunday lunch to a Monday dinner.  So if you aren’t set on a particular date, this is going to help your booking cause.
  5. For dinner, you pretty much have a choice between a meat or seasonal vegetable nine course menu.  It takes a minimum of 2.5 hours to complete (if not more), so booking the last 11pm slot might not be your first choice.
  6. If you want to take a more laissez faire approach to your booking, OpenTable will then have last minute bookings available.  This means that if you search for dates around today, you might get a random slot from today up until the next five days.
  7. If you cancel within 72 hours of the booking, you’re going to get charged USD175.  They will take a credit card number when you book.  Don’t be a flakey fucker.

Travelling to the fourth floor of a shopping mall, you arrive at Per Se with its blue doors modelled on the French Laundry.  FYN red hot tip – don’t start your fancy dining experience by looking like a goddamn moron by trying to open the non-functional blue doors, but slide on easily in through the glass ones (Thomas Keller thinks this makes you smile – I doubt anyone’s smiling once they mess up how to get into a really fucking fancy restaurant).  As you can imagine, service is fucking impeccable here.  The dining room has views over Columbus Circle and Central Park, its interior dictated by the exacting requirements of Thomas Keller.  A gently flickering natural wood fireplace, stainless steel accents, Australian walnut covering the walls (with that wood all sourced pedantically from the one, single tree), purposefully tousled floral arrangements of white and green which tower over the room at each end and 16 round tables, draped with a heavy undercloth and then an impeccably ironed crisp white tablecloth.  FUCK YEAH, SOFT FURNISHINGS.  I can’t even bring myself to cuss too much because everything is just so measured.

There is no a la carte menu with only a choice between the meat/seafood tasting menu and the seasonal vegetables menu.  There are a few constants on the menu – the amuse bouches, the first course of the “Oysters & Pearls” and some elements of the dessert courses.  Everything else changes depending on what is in season.  The two starting amuse bouches of the gruyere gougere and the miniature salmon cornet are Thomas Keller classics – I wanted to eat handfuls of the tiny perfect pastry puffs, stuffed with warm gruyere but had to make do with a singular puff.  The raw salmon cornet is a miniature tuille ice-cream cone, filled with red onion cream cheese and a minced scoop of salmon, accented by a slender spring onion chive.  These were the most impressive fuck yeah amuse bouches of my life – small, perfectly formed with the warm gruyere cheese contrasting against the cool, minced salmon.

The first course of the “Oysters & Pearls” was a FUCK YEAH of the highest fucking order.  A “Sabayon” (a creamy, unsweetened sauce that’s used to dress fish / shellfish) of pearl tapioca served served with two small Island Creek oysters and Sterling White sturgeon caviar.  ARGH the memories of the textures of the oysters, the caviar and the pearl tapioca, served in that off white sabayon perfectly complemented by the wide rimmed delicately shiny and matte checked pattern of the Raynaud Checks tableware which Thomas Keller designed to ensure no competing visual with his food.  This was one of the biggest fuck yeah courses of my life – I WILL NEVER FORGET YOU OYSTERS & PEARLS.

I outlined before about how I don’t like to walk people through course by course of an elaborate tasting menu, because it takes away the potential for the unexpected.  Each course that followed was predictably, fucking excellent – though I wouldn’t necessarily say flawless.  What did strike me was that each individual element on each plate was clearly selected by Per Se as being representative of what they see as being the fucking best.  It was the small things like the Moroccan olive in the Pecorino Oro Antico cheese course or the greenmarket tomato slices that accompanied the Bigeye Tuna course being singular examples of the most fuck yeah flavourful examples of an olive or a tomato that I’ve ever eaten.  The attention to detail to source each ingredient is mind boggling with examples including unsalted cultured butter from a US producer who has a herd of no more than ten Jersey cows or how they present you with six different salts to use with your foie gras (including 30 million year old jurassic salt from a copper mine in Montana, black volcanic and red clay salt from Hawaii and two different salts from Brittany).  There is the laser focussed attention to detail, such as the brioche that’s served with the Hudson Valley duck foie gras course which is replaced at regular intervals, as Per Se insist that once it cools it becomes too heavy. So fucking wasteful but demonstrative of the precise dining experience Per Se wants for you.

But then there’s moments when despite all of this detail, I don’t look back and feel everything was flawless.  Perhaps it’s a function of when something is striving for something so perfect, you naturally look for the faults.  I didn’t find the bread to be a super fuck yeah (as evidenced by the fact that I left unfinished bread behind and didn’t have to exercise any restraint in declining bread in anticipation for more food) or the lamb course which didn’t translate into a slam dunk for me, because I expected the Per Se lamb to be the biggest fuck yeah lamb moment of my existence but it wasn’t rare enough for me and the braised kale that lay underneath it was too salty.

But with this amount of detail that has been plowed into the experience, it’s clear that this shit hasn’t happened by accident.  I only presume that Per Se are cooking what they feel represents the ingredients in their best light and that’s what you experience, despite my views on saltiness.  I concede that Per Se may not have been tailoring shit exactly to my palate.

The final dessert course is billed as a single course but it is really an exercise in endurance with another four separate dessert plates covering fruit, ice-cream, chocolate and petit fours/mignardises.  Each dessert course was  fucking spectacular but despite my tagline, I was pushing the limits of my well-trained endurance.  A stand out for me was the “fruits” course which was based around raspberries, predictably using the most spectacular and intense raspberries I’ve ever eaten.  Each tiny drupelet separated and precisely placed, set off against a vanilla ice-cream and then presented with Per Se’s take on an ANZAC biscuit (wiki link for my non-Antipodean homies) – fragments of golden syrup, oats, coconut and butter.  When have Thomas Keller, Eli Kaimeh and his gang eaten an ANZAC biscuit?  I can’t even fucking imagine. I can’t even remember if they referred to it as an ANZAC cookie, I was so fucking floored by this point.

Once you hit the petit fours section, there is nothing petite about it – first of all, you are presented with a selection from 28 chocolates (I had one, you are allowed to have all 28 if you so desire) and then a silver three-tiered container reveals nougat, caramels, three different types of macarons and more chocolate truffles.  I pocketed some nougat and a caramel purely for survival reasons, envisioning my bloody downfall as I exploded across the pristine white linens, and brown and gold carpetting.  The famous closer of “Coffee & Donuts” (which Thomas Keller invented for a James Beard competition) then appeared, presenting the lightest fuck yeah sugared and cinnamon dusted doughnut balls of my life to be eaten with a light coffee semifreddo topped with warm frothy milk. It was criminal that I couldn’t finish this.  Reminiscing on all I could not finish while writing this, I am crying for my physical limits, for my George Herbert moment as I struck the board and cried NO MORE.

The Per Se homies will then coo comfortingly and ask if everything is ok and will then present a hand written cheque.  Their final gift, a tin stamped with “Per Se” with three shortbread and chocolate biscuit sandwiches.  Perhaps to sweeten the sting of the very large fuck no number you are signing off on.  Three hours after you first sat down, you will slip back into that shopping mall – shallow breathing with plenty to reflect upon.

Verdict:
It’s not flawless but Per Se’s attention to detail, thought around its ingredients and the overall experience is pretty fucking incredible.  Most definitely a fuck yeah on payday.

Where:
Le Bernardin
155 West 51st, New York
USA

Phone:
+1 (212)-554-1515 but fuck yeah, Murica, you can also make reservations online via OpenTable.  Reservations through OpenTable open 30 days to the day – if you really want to go, take this shit seriously cause shit books up quick.

Price:
The Chef’s Eight Course Tasting Menu is a very large and in charge USD198 per person.  We didn’t go for the wine matching (USD336 per person for wine and food) but went with champagne instead.  After cocktails, champagne, coffees and one glass of armagnac to finish and tip/taxes, we were out at a very hefty, USD500 a person.

The deal:
Le Bernardin is what you’d classify as ‘kind of a big deal’ with its list of accolades running long and it will give anyone plenty of name-dropping material to brag to their friends/blog readers/sychophants and establish your fucking “serious foodie” credentials.  Four stars from the New York Times since 1986, more James Beard awards than any other restaurant in NYC, three Michelin stars and the list that seems to get the biggest panty twisting reaction from food blogs, ranks #21 on the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.  Not that you should get sucked into believing the hype because stars and San Pellegrino ranking lists don’t necessarily translate into fuck yeah dining experiences (refer: The #5 ranked, two Michelin starred Dinner by Heston Blumenthal).  Our homie who had been before had noted that it was super formal and to almost dress like you were going to a wedding – that might have a been a bit far but it has a strict dress code for the men (jackets required, ties optional) and a full suit/tie is definitely not out of place.

We padded (awwww yissssss, plush as fuck carpet) into Le Bernardin for lunch and it’s no surprise that every single aspect of service from when we arrived til when we left was a superior fuck yeah.  Understated, warm and confident hostesses welcoming you to Le Bernardin.  Fleets of black suited, silent footed waiters who anticipated every need you had (some replete with almost comically over the top French accents).  Sommeliers stalk the floor with a silver tasting saucer hung from a chain around their neck (reminiscent of Flavour Flav with his clock and chain bling). For all my complaining about these new modern restaurants which just want to be stark, industrial spaces and don’t want to spring for the expense of linen under the pretence of how it’s too ‘stuffy’ (see also: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal), it was fucking awesome that Le Bernardin just goes with it and nails a sleek, formal dining room.  A massive 24-foot triptych “Deep Water No. 1” by the Brooklyn artist Ran Ortner depicts a stormy Pacific Ocean (read more detail about the oil painting here) presides over the Bentel & Bentel designed dining room of wood ceilings, plush grey carpet, towering white and green floral arrangements, dark brown leather and shiny steel chairs, soft velvet lounges and white linen.  Fuck yeah, soft furnishings – I’m having my throwback reaction to those noisy, polished concrete moments and you should all get involved so we can be ahead of the goddam trend.

As we were one of the first tables for the day, I spotted Eric Ripert in the dining room talking to the waitstaff.  I managed to keep my shit together (just) before reflecting on how all of these big celebrity chefs can lend their name to restaurants but what does it actually mean if they never actually fucking show up and see what is actually happening in their own fucking kitchen.  It’s interesting to note that while in Asia we love to add the “by” tagline, to denote who is the big name behind the restaurant that the big name restaurants in New York stand alone with no tacky “by Eric Ripert” to get you in the goddamn door.

We went with the signature eight-course Chef’s Tasting Menu because if I’m doing ‘balls to the walls’ dining, I want to have the menu which should showcase the Chef’s vision of his restaurant, his philosophy surrounding the food/ingredients and should optimally present what he thinks is a phenomenal meal.

Out of the eight tasting courses, six are seafood.  It obviously changes depending on what’s seasonal but there are some signature dishes (for our meal we worked through a Tairagai clam, kingfish with Osetra caviar, langoustine, lobster, monkfish and white tuna escolar).  This isn’t a tasting menu which is showing off endless modern technique and scientific methods or a million different references.  Almost every course follows the format of precisely cut pieces of seafood with a purposefully placed accompaniment whether that is a few eggs of caviar, a solitary microchive or a paper thin shaving of a baby fennel or a truffle before being sauced at the table.   I can imagine this simple format would cause some consternation to some people because it feels ‘samey’, but the more I’ve reflected upon this meal I think what I’ve loved was that each course let the seafood be the focal point.

Side note: I’m a slut for tableware too and it was so on point here with the dimpled white and silver Bernardaud “Ecume” tableware and the appropriately stark German Robbe & Berking Riva silver cutlery.

A highlight which wasn’t something I’d had before was the first course – three sashimi style pieces of charred raw Tairagai clam which came dramatically served on its massive black shell, topped with a piece of shaved baby fennel and a Japanese influenced apple and ginger broth. The signature lobster and celeriac lasagne was fucking incredible too, with its truffle butter sauce, shaved truffle and sylph of a microchive.  But the fuck yeah triumph was the fanciest surf ‘n turf of my life, the white tuna escolar with the Kobe beef.  The grilled escolar’s dense waxy texture is set against slivers of sweet Asian pear and topped with a soy-lemon emulsion with the turf compent provided by the only non-seafood protein of the meal, a piece of seared Kobe beef, with its melted fat and a tiny kimchi roll.  This shit was fucking off the hook and this is the dish that I will remember forever, when all the other ingredients and dishes fade into the dark recesses of my memory.

The two dessert courses were small and refined.  One was a Candied Peach Compote, Pistachio Gelato and Raspberry Sorbet “Swirl” Tahitian Vanilla Custard which provided the sharp, tart palate cleanser after disposing of so many rich, creamy seafood courses and the other being the expected chocolate closer, Le Bernardin’s take on a s’more, with a Smoked Madagascan Chocolate Crémeux, Graham Cracker Sablé Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream. I’m not one of those people who loses their shit over chocolate, but this dessert was a fuck yeah to chocolate – avoiding being too sweet or one note by using different chocolate textures, in particular an inbuilt chocolate puddle which pooled out across the plate when you breached the cremeux walls which surrounded it.

I have purposefully not given you a detailed laborious rundown of each course and its ingredients because I think that when you go to a tasting menu, you should go in with expectations but not a whole, goddamn playbook that takes away any potential for the unexpected.  This is why I’m so vehemently against those food reviews which labour through a tasting menu with a blow-by-blow of each course and a million photos from the bread basket to the petit fours.  I also think it’s such a fucking insult to the chef when he’s planned the pacing of his tasting menu and you want to slow down proceedings by taking photos while also fucking up the whole table’s meal.  It’s not that fucking hard to show some fucking respect and just focus on the actual experience at hand versus the one on your fucking camera and/or phone, so you can show people later.  So just in case some of you homies want to one day also drop some serious bank at Le Bernardin, I’ll leave some of the mystery for you to discover for yourself.

Verdict:
This is not the restaurant for someone who doesn’t enjoy seafood or wants a high end dining experience to be filled with tricks and shiz. This was a refined seafood experience which showed each ingredient for what it was in a perfect dining environment. This was the best high end “fuck yeah” seafood experience of my life.  Fuck yeah.  But most definitely on pay day.

Where:
Hong Zhou Restaurant 杭州酒家
178-188 Johnston Rd
1F, Chinachem Johnston Plaza
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2591 1898

Price:
Around HKD200 each for lunch for a shit tonne of food.

The deal:
I’ve never had Hangzhou food before – I quizzed people what Hangzhou was famous for and the only answers I got back were “lakes” and “tall women”.  Hong Zhou Restaurant is another Chinese HK restaurant which owns one Michelin star – for whatever that counts for today.  This shit is better than the one Michelin starred Tim Ho Wan or Din Tai Fung, but fuck, it all feels a bit like bullshit at this stage anyway.  Hangzhou is close to Shanghai – so of the more popular Chinese cuisines, there are some parallels that run through Shanghainese food – ie. drunken animals, red sauced meats and all the baos.

Our lunch party leader was ordering aggressively but there were some dishes which really stood out as being different from the Chinese food you normally get in HK. The fried buns / dumplings were predictably a fuck yeah – because surely you lose your right to be a Chinese restaurant in HK if you fuck that shit up.  One of their signature dishes was really fucking interesting – a fish ball soup with watershield (蒓菜魚圓).  The fish ball is a large, white ball which is almost covered in a membrane and when bitten through, gives way to reveal a soft inside (a bit tong yuen-esque but without the peanuts / sweet dumpling) – with none of the chew of a spongey Cantonese style fish ball.  Apparently they fly this watershield (蒓菜) vegetable in from the West Lake in Hangzhou for this soup – it’s like a small water lily pad which is slimy in the soup. No doubt it’s probably “cooling” and “good for health”. I’ve never had anything like it before and that fish ball was a goddamn revolution.  I don’t know how many fucking fish balls I’ve eaten in my life, but I can’t think of any that I vividly remember – so fuck yeah in the fish ball memorability stakes, Hong Zhou Restaurant.  High recommend, get involved FYN homies.

Another serious fuck yeah was the braised Dong Po pork belly (東坡肉) – which is a marinated, red sauced, fatty as fuck pork belly, slow braised in a combination of cane sugar, Chinese wine and soy sauce which you carve out a piece to smash between a man tou (steamed white bun).  This shit is not easy on the heart but fuck me, it was tasty as fuck.  You can fuck that trendy Little Bao shit right off and come and get the real deal here instead.

The deep-fried stinky tofu (炸臭豆腐) always fucking polarises a dining table – regardless of its composition of Asians or otherwise.  There’s no fucking escape here though because it’s regularly ordered and the stink is ever present.  I fucking love that shit though and it was one of the more pungent ones I’ve had, while I half-heartedly assured fellow table mates that it tastes a lot better than it smells.

Other than that, we continued to fuck yeah our way through the animal kingdom – drunken chicken, deep fried eel, sweet + sour pork, fried chicken, before landing into a bowl of seafood noodles.  Chewy noodles in a flavourful as fuck broth, clearly gleaned from making a concentrated stock from prawn shells.  By this stage, I was shallow breathing but continued my relentless march towards a carb filled stupor, piling a second and a third serving into my increasingly torpid existence, because it was that fucking good.

But no lucky celebration would be complete without the peach longevity buns (寿桃) filled with red bean paste.  Everyone was full as fuck, which meant I ended up with a boxful to take home – it seemed pretty inauspicious to throw those bad boys away which meant dinner that night consisted of two longevity buns and two glasses of red wine and breakfast the next day consisted of two longevity buns and a cup of coffee.  LBR, you’ve only got yourself to blame if you throw out six longevity buns because it was too high in carbs and you get run over by a fucking bus the next day – and I don’t ever fucking take chances like that.

ps.  Totally lifted the Chinese characters from this blog post.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah – Hangzhou the home of lakes, tall women and fuck yeah food.

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