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Where:
Sixpenny (praise be Australia and your functional websites)
83 Percival Rd
Stanmore NSW Australia

Phone:
+612 9572 6666

Price:
AUD180 each including ordering wine/champagne.  AUD135 for the large 8 course degustation course.

The deal:
Sixpenny is a degustation or bust scenario. Six or eight courses and we went (predictably) with the larger lucky eight course option.  My food wank alarm bells were going off when they said they wouldn’t give us a menu to keep an element of surprise throughout the evening, but for once they were unfounded.  Fuck me, I’m going to come straight out – this was the good shit.  It makes you realise that for all the food wank, pretentious bullshit and philosophising that restaurants participate in that there are actually chefs that can actually have a vision, stay true to it and not end up being a massive money grabbing, disappointing, proselytising form over substance douchebag about it.

Six Penny make a lot of their own shit (sour cream, bread, butter) and grow their own produce.  Often with a degustation there’s a course which is fucked up (see also: dat macaron at Mejekawi) or at least disappointing but here’s some good shit that happened at Sixpenny.

  • Service – besides the fact that the restaurant was loud as fuck so my old lady ears could barely hear the descriptions, the staff were bang on.  My husband kept throwing his napkin on the floor and it was deftly picked up each time.  A tall Frenchman provided laser sharp silver service without nary a glance at what he was doing.
  • Produce – hot damn, I’ve finally eaten a a baby leek or a carrot as a ‘course’ and didn’t feel a wave of proteinless disappointment wash over me.
  • Bread – I genuinely was full as fuck but had to have a big cup of HTFU and snacked down a second bread roll.  Yeah, don’t mind me as I pile on the house made butter and marscapone spread.  That fucking good.
  • Wine list – wasn’t immediately bankrupt by merely looking at the wine list.  Never had the chance to make ‘thirsty face’ at the waiters because my glass was totally optimistic and always full.
  • Presentation – A++++ would buy again presentation – carefully picked plates, beds of baby olive leaves and no errant sauce smears that looked like skid marks.
  • Genuine Aesop soap – I’m taking a stand, I’m calling out every restaurant I go to from now on which buys one dispenser of Aesop soap and then thinks their customers are dumb as shit and won’t realise that they are refilling it with supermarket hand soap.  Sixpenny were keeping it real.  Real cedar like. Mad props for keeping the soap dope.

I don’t want to get all poetic on your ass but this was one of the best meals I’ve had in 2013.  The baby beetroot baked in a salt crust was a fuck yeah.  The veal was a fuck yeah.  The crab with macadmia was a massive fuck yeah.  Even the course where the carrot was the star of the masterpiece was a fuck yeah.  So here’s a big fuck yeah to restaurants having a philosophy but not being total fuckwit wankers about it.

The verdict:
One of the best meals I’ve had in 2013. FUCK YEAH!!

Where:
The Cut Bar & Grill
16 Argyle St
Millers Point, NSW
Australia

Phone:
+61 2 9259 5695

Price:
Steaks ranged from AUD40-60.  We got out at AUD130 each including sides, wine and a cocktail.

The deal:

We booked here for four and when we arrived, we watched four people just ahead of us, without a booking, get seated at a table.  Presumably, our table.  Front of house was all ‘Sorry guys! We’re just waiting for a table, do you mind getting a drink at the bar and waiting?’ and my congenial friends were very polite about it and agreed.  I realised that I’d lost that loving Aussie feeling when I would have arced up all HK style ‘Excuse me, but didn’t we have a booking?  And isn’t the point of a booking that you reserve me a table ahead of people who didn’t make a booking? So really, when you took our booking it didn’t really mean much to you on the execution side, did it?’.  Regardless, I bit my tongue and sucked down a Capriniha at the bar while reminiscing that sure, shit in Sydney is expensive (cocktails were AUD19 – AUD28 each) but it could be worse, we could be in Perth!

As my friend pointed out, you don’t come to a steak restaurant and then order the gnocchi or the salmon so we all got to The Main Event.  I’ve given my Sydney trip a tag line of Meatapalooza 2013 and trust me, it’s been a big fucking meatfest since I’ve landed.  I ordered the Wagyu scotch fillet (check this nomenclature out – Sher F1 Wagyu 400-day, Grain Fed Marble Score 7) at a fucking hefty AUD59 each.  WHOA and that doesn’t even include sauce, that’s another AUD5.  Add 3 sides to that for another AUD22 and we are looking at a big price tag here for a steak.  Once I’m paying AUD60+ for a steak it’s got to be pretty fucking spectacular and let’s be real – this steak was ok but it wasn’t blowing my motherfucking mind.  As my friend pointed out later, ‘I’ve had similar quality steaks for AUD30’.  The Bordelaise sauce was too salty (and it wasn’t even included in the large and in charge steak price at an additional AUD5 – HAI The Cut, Y UR sauce not included??).  Sides were ok.  Potato puree (whatevs The Cut, it’s goddamn mash) was white and mashed but not much else.  I guess their shoestring fries were crispy but no shit, I can get crispy shoestring fries at McDonalds.

Highlight of the meal was commandeering the Tinder account of one of our dining companions and making her:

  1. use adapted lyrics from “Sexy Bitch” by David Guetta feat. Akon as opening lines – this culminating in this match receiving “Nothing you can compare to your neighborhood hoe” and him asking ‘What is hoe?’ with us giving him the terse response of ‘It’s a garden tool’. 
  2. trot out unacceptable pick up lines to guys she had no interest in (example:  “I’m eating a steak while looking for meat” – disappointing that her ‘match’ then took 20 minutes to respond with a terrible line.  Even if I allowed him 5 minutes to go and high five himself in the mirror, he should have been all over that like white on rice)
  3. ask guys point blank why they are reaching “for the D” in their profile pics.

Looks like the AUD60 steak had stiff competition, DAMN GIRL.

The verdict:
Fuck no.

Where:
22 Ships
22 Ship Street
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2555 0722 ‎

Price range:
HKD1400 for 2 people, including HKD585 bottle of wine.  Add tip on top, genuinely no service charge.

The deal:
I’ve covered this off before, that tapas is code for ‘expensive small bites with Spanish names’.  So it was with trepidation that we went to 22 Ships because I was so worried it was going to be one of these hip places that everyone loves and then it just tastes like bankruptcy, hunger and sadness, after you’ve waited an hour to get in because they don’t do bookings.  I’ve sat on writing this review for a while because like a t.A.T.u song‘I’m all mixed up, feeling cornered and rushed’ because I really enjoyed the food at 22 Ships but it was definitely ‘food for ants’ and is it acceptable to pay HKD118 for scallop ceviche which consists of 2 scallops (they even sliced them in half, to make it appear like 4 scallops) – for fuck’s sake, it’s ceviche – you didn’t even have to cook those suckers!  Or how about HKD158 for 2 tiny pork burgers that are the size of a HKD10c coin (yes not even an AUD10c coin)?  But it was pretty fucking tasty and I nommed the shit out of the roasted bone marrow and beef short rib too.  It’s just that it was a brief, joyous nom and then it was gone.  And for these prices, note that it isn’t a fine dining setting – you’re jammed into this tiny space, pretty much sitting on the person next to you (although this did mean that we got to watch first hand a fiesty Asian girl on a blind date with a guy who was well and truly over his head – I wanted to be her friend).

So regarding food amount / price point – I do have to temper that with the fact that I’m a solid nommer and I plaintively looked over at my husband at one point during the meal and I took one look at him and I can’t deny, I’ve got hungry eyes.  True discussion that went down at the dinner table:

SgtNoms:  I’m totally going to Mr Bing down the road after this to get a snack sized Peking Duck bing for HKD35 to dollar cost average down the cost of this meal.  I’m still so fucking hungry.

HubbyNoms:  Well, I’m actually quite full.

SgtNoms:  Compared to all the other girls you’ve gone out with – how much more do I eat than them?

HubbyNoms:  At least 20%.

It’s true love – for richer, for poorer, in bad noms and in good noms, until death do us part.

The verdict:
Fuck yeah on pay day and/or someone else is paying.  Or fuck yeah after having McDonalds or a Mr Bing on the way, so you’re not starving afterwards.  Yes – I am adding a new category ‘fuck yeah on pay day’.

Where:
Chica
26 Peel St
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2561 3336

The deal:
Chica is a fairly new entrant to the HK scene and it’s already a dining favourite in HK. Ask most expats in HK who like food and most of them will say “Chica? Oh, I LOOOOVE Chica”(ok, maybe only girls really talk like that). So Chica’s deal is that it does Peruvian food which means it can churn out tacos (which seem to be the hot thing in HK at the moment) and the food is pretty tasty. But my biggest problem with Chica is that it suffers a bit from ‘food for ants’ syndrome (ie. tiny portions) and the prices aren’t really proportionate to that. Call me conservative and stingy, but should 4 below average size tacos cost HKD200? It’s a group dining affair too, so by the time you add in drink costs (which you will be probably drinking more of as the ‘food for ants’ means that you aren’t that busy eating) the bill is pretty hefty by the end. Last time I went, it was about HKD700 a head for an average amount of food and some pretty mid-range wine. And don’t be fooled too heavily by the big proclamation on your bill that ‘NO SERVICE CHARGE, PLEASE TIP ACCORDINGLY’ because what they really meant to write was ‘5% SERVICE CHARGE INSTEAD OF THE NORMAL 10%. PLEASE TIP ACCORDINGLY’. Chica, check your maths before you wreck yourself – 0% doesn’t equal 5%. Maybe I’m just too old for this trendy hipster shit.

Verdict:
Fuck no. However, at about 20% cheaper, I’d put Chica back into ‘Fuck Yeah’ territory.

Where:
Apple Daily Bar & Eating House
Brookfield Place
Print Hall – Level 1
125 St Georges Terrace
Perth, Western Australia

Phone:
+61 (8) 6282 0088

The deal:
Whenever I come back to Perth, my default response to every price on a menu is ‘HOLY FUCK’ followed by a deep and desperate longing that I wish I knew how to double clutch and drive a truck so I could honk honk my way to a mining job, uncountable riches, a massive sleeve tattoo, a souped up ute and more Pandora jewellery than I could shake an AUD7 coffee at. Stomping around Brookfield Place, my little hometown is all grown up with trendy eateries and the price tag to match. The Apple Daily is the name of the daily tabloid rag in Hong Kong – but here I am in Perth at St Georges Terrace, about to snack on some Asian noms. Apple Daily runs on a no booking basis – so that gave me the opportunity to suck down on an AUD9 cider upstairs for an hour or so and continue my favourite discussion ever when I’m in Perth (wah wah wah Perth is just SO expensive wah wah wah wah can you believe the taxes here?? In HK, it’s only 16.5% tax!! wah wah wah wah). Despite my cynical heart, they’ve made a pretty cool space – bonus points, they haven’t made it insufferably pretentious and they aren’t making me drink out of jam jars which hold AUD20 cocktails with cornball Asian names like ‘Kiss Me Quick Suzie Wong’. I’m always wary of places that do multiple different cuisines (Vietnamese, Filipino, Thai and Chinese) but Apple Daily, even you can surprise an old, cantankerous cynic like me. All of the food we got was very good – the Pilipino (their spelling, not mine) sausage that wraps into a san choy bow style wrap with sticky rice + coriander was a nom nom win. I’m not sure if I will ever get comfortable with paying AUD26 (HKD200+!) for a pad thai, but Perth’s got the minerals so don’t hate the player, hate the game.

Special shout out to our waiter ‘Sunshine’ who started out all smiles but by the end of the evening, he wasn’t playing the game anymore. I’m not sure who took the party out of his life (maybe the toll of people giving him orders was just too much?) but Sunshine was not lighting up the room by the end of the night.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah!

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