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

Phone:
+852 2983 1003

Price:
HKD430 per person including wine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sauce

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

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

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

Fuck me, it’s already the end of 2015 and it’s time for me to get all reflective and shit on this year.  I gotta level with you, I didn’t smash through as many new restaurants in 2015 because I got a bit burned out on the idea of going to new places and spending all the ca$h and receiving big serves of fuck no disappointment.  I also swore to avoid ALL Korean Fusion restaurants which means that I couldn’t go to 97% of all new HK restaurants in 2015.  So when I’m rounding up my 2015 HK eating highlights, I’m not going to keep my wrap up just for the new  2015 shit but for the most memorable fuck yeahhhhh 2015 experiences.  But fuck, I know you assholes fucking love it when I get my FUCK NO shiz on so let’s kick this end of year wrap up with the second year of FYN’s ‘THIS IS BULLSHIT’ Awards.

FYN’S 2015 ‘THIS IS BULLSHIT’ AWARDS

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Nominee #1:  El Mercado

I know Mr Judgmental was already all up in my grill as soon as I said that I wanted to try El Mercado with their Peruvian-Japanese Nikkei cuisine, declaring resolutely “It’s Peruvian Japanese? It’s 2015 and Nobu already did it in 1987.  Surely we can move on no?”.  El Mercado didn’t have to worry too much about punching out some dated Nobu-esque food though because they were too fucking busy punching out lack lustre dishes with the added bonus of it being tiny ass food for ants serving sizes.  I can only blame myself for ordering a fancy named Aveganado sushi which was essentially just a slice of watermelon on rice, but while other dishes sounded interesting on their menu in reality it was just unappetising looking grey squid omelettes with rubbery pieces of octopus (the Aeropuerto) or a few miniscule bites of roast pork with some mealy edamame mash (Cochinillo Con Tacu Tacu).  However, what I will never forgive El Mercado for is  that they are in the reason for the fact that in 2015, I handed over over HKD308 (+10% service charge) for a tiny ass bowl of broccoli and beef stir fry with rice.  Fuck me with something pointy, I know that HK’s prices are totally fucking crazy but the line most definitely has to be drawn at sticker price madness of USD40+ for a tiny, drab as fuck, too salty portion of stir fried broccoli and beef rice.

FYN FUN FACT:  If you read any “Best New HK Restaurants in 2015” list and it has El Mercado or Le Garcon Saigon on it, WRITE THAT FUCKING LIST OFF AS TOTAL FUCKING BULLSHIT.

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Nominee #2:  Mott 32

While Mott 32 was definitely more of a a so hot right now 2014 bitch, people still continue to rave about how fucking great Mott 32 is in 2015.  I feel that Mott 32 is a perfect example of a restaurant that allows you to assess whether someone can be trusted to provide a restaurant recommendation because if you’re a more chaff than wheat kinda homie where all it takes for you to recommend a place is a fancy as fuck interior and the feeling that you’re somewhere trendy, you will definitely be trotting this one out to anyone who asks you where to get Chinese food in HK. Fuck no my interior blinded chaff filled homies, just remember that you can’t eat a Joyce Wang interior design.  Mott 32’s Peking Duck is meant to be its crowning accomplishment and so many fuck knuckle food bloggers have swallowed the #byinvitation Kool-aid fully and without doubt and are all “OH MY GOD GUYS, THIS IS LIKE THE BEST PEKING DUCK EVER”.  But who really give a fuck about apple wood roasting and custom drying fridges, if your Peking Duck is a greasy poorly rendered mess with weird-ass puffy skin, gallingly served with a heavy handed side of “I don’t give a flying fuck” service.  Just when I thought I’d built a massive FUCK NO bridge and gotten over Mott 32,  I read some bullshit over at Lifestyle Asia which was musing about whether the Michelin Guide in HK is still relevant (FYN spoiler alert: it’s not) and all my emotions regarding this exxy hypebeast bubbled to the surface once the article stated that Mott 32 not getting a Michelin star was, quote, “astounding“. OH FUCK NO LIFESTYLE ASIA, Y U SMOKE THE CRACK? PUT DOWN THE PIPE YO.

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Nominee #3: La Paloma

I eat out a fuck tonne in HK which means when I’m casting my mind back over 2015 for major FUCK NO dishes I have to search a relatively large memory bank of wasted bucks and fuck no disappointment. But sometimes you get served a dish which is so monumentally fucked up that months later you can still remember every food related atrocity that you suffered through. The paella that I ate at La Paloma takes out the title of the saltiest dish I’ve ever had the displeasure of being served in a restaurant in my entire life.  While La Paloma is cute as fuck and definitely feels like a place that you would want to hang out with all your insufferably hip Sai Ying Pun homies, the searing memory of every single cell in my body desperately trying to keep its cellular walls intact under the relentless sodium chloride attack of La Paloma’s salt bomb of a paella has been burned deep into my psyche. You know that shit must have been monumentally heinous when you dedicate at least an hour when you get home to messaging everyone you know who gives even the slightest fuck about food with the message “SO SALTY” over and over again. Check out this live action shot of La Paloma cooking paella:

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Nominee #4: The Cupping Room – Central

Like a Facebook status, this one is complicated. When The Cupping Room Central opened up, I got a hot tip from Gregoire Michaud from Bread Elements that they were supplying them with pastries and that I needed to get involved with the Kouign Amann (pronounced ‘Queen Ah-mahn’).

For those that don’t know what a Kouign Amann is, it’s a Breton cake which translates to CAKE BUTTER and is traditionally a mixture of dough (40%), butter (30%) and sugar (30%), which is the sort of maths that I can get behind. I heard that Bread Elements’ use more like 40% fuck yeah butter and it results in it being kinda like a souped up croissant on steroids – a caramelised sugary crust, flaky butter stuffed pastry which has enough salt to cut through the fat. When I got my first one, all I wanted to do was eat six more of these FUCK YEAH buttery bad boys, just for dem fuck yeah outside layers. Post Kouign Amann I’m soon overcome by caramelised sugar feelings and I spend the next few weeks telling everyone I fucking knew that they needed to get involved with the KWEEEEEN. My Facebook filled up with rapturous fuck yeah feedback from my FYN homies about their deep love for the KWEEN.  I even made KWEEN related tributes for my Facebook:

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However, there’s only so many times you can stumble into The Cupping Room Central and confront an empty glass case and when you ask when there will be more available you get some vague as fuck answer like “in the afternoon”. Like I’ve got nothing better to do all day then just wait outside for the next batch of kweens.  So I gotta love myself Cupping Room Central and regarding the kween – I love you with every beat of my heart but I can’t bear your flakey ass ways anymore.  Of course, there’s no better way for us to call it quits than to publicly declare so via a FB review:

Cupping Room Review

Of course, all of my FY Noms homies (yo, that’s my FB account, in case you ever wanted a random Internet homie to pop up on your FB page to give you a random FUCK YEAH for shit you might be getting involved with) have taken it upon themselves to constantly post pictures of the KWEEN on my FB wall whenever they’re there and I feel the wistful pang of when you gaze upon a girl that you’re still in love with but remains just out of reach. You’re a bunch of fucking assholes. Dedicated FYN assholes who are in the possession of delicious as fuck buttery pastry.

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Nominee #5:  Holy Crab

If you read the review for Holy Crab, you could probably guess where it was going once you read the “Price” section which stated plainly “HKD1,100 A PERSON.  FOR A NO BOOZE MEAL IN A CASUAL RESTAURANT IN LKF”.  It all sounded great in theory, pick your live seafood and Holy Crab would cook that shit up for you on the spot in a low country boil style.  Fuck yeahhhh seafood boil in HK – that sounds like some good shit that I definitely want to get involved with.  I rounded up Ms Two Serves and together we endured a fucking abysmal meal which was a fuck no cavalcade from the wilted, limp ass okra salad, the cloying greasy corn fritters with butter sauce and then the watery, flavourless $eafood boil.  With all of this unfathomable misery setting us back the fucking ridiculous amount of HKD1,100 per person, I could barely sign the receipt as the paper was wet with my tears of unadulterated regret and shattered expectations.

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Nominee #6:  Cóm Bánh Mì

A late contender for FYN’s 2015 “THIS IS BULLSHIT” Awards and while I gave the banh mi at Com Banh Mi a fuck yeah, it’s mind blowing that a HK restaurant in 2015 still thinks that it’s ok to make racist “joke” menus by claiming that your Chef ‘s name is “Phuc Dat Bich”, titling your drinks section “SUCKY SUCKY” and the sides menu goes for racist gold medal glory by laying down “SIDE JOBS – Evelyting forty dorrah” (all the sic in the world ever).  Nothing like trying to find humour and publicity for your restaurant by deriding a non-Native English speaker’s inability to speak English perfectly or stereotypes involving South East Asian sex workers.

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THE WINNER OF FYN’S 2015 ‘THIS IS BULLSHIT’ AWARDS: Holy Crab

I suffered through any number of bullshit meals in 2015 but my meal at Holy Crab was so spectacularly bad that I spent the month afterwards hate-reading all the other HK media and food blogs (most of who obviously got their non-declared invitation on) to see how these fuckers tried to write politely about the horror that is Holy Crab.  Surprisingly, this restaurant still appears to be in business and from time to time early on a Saturday morning, I see the head chef from Holy Crab despondently sucking down cigarettes outside of California Tower in Lan Kwai Fong while a street cleaner hoses down the vomit laden excesses from the night before along with what I must imagine are his hopes and dreams. I want to feel sorry for him until I remember how much those asshole Holy Crab dickwads stung me for that godawful fucking disgraceful meal.

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FYN’S 2015 STAND OUT HK EATS

These are the meals or dishes which I fucking dreamed about afterwards and aren’t necessarily from a new restaurant. I actually think that 2015 was a relatively flat year for solid fuck yeah new restaurants in HK which is why very few appears in the list below.  So in no particular order – here come the fuck yeah 2015 memories:

STAND OUT EAT #1:  MyHouse – Oxtail Ragu / Beef Short Rib

When I read about MyHouse and its claims that it was “a symbiotic relationship with music and hospitality“, I thought it was gonna be a massive wank off.  However, I was most definitely being a judgmental asshole because MyHouse is absolutely and without doubt my FUCK YEAH favourite new restaurant of 2015.  Despite only opening in late October, I’ve already been back four fucking times and have made it my prerogative to tell anyone I know who gives a fuck about food that they need to fucking go.

I also fucking love that while MyHouse is brand new they are just DOIN’ IT while other new restaurants with their wonky ass shit continue to make soft opening excuses for months.  Once you get to MyHouse, the absolute must eats are the “Ox-tail, orange and sage ragu over crusty bread” and the “Porcini rubbed short-rib with aged balsamic”.  While the ox-tail ragu is simple in concept, it’s fucking unbelievable with its superior fuck yeah depth of flavour coming from the gentle orange peel overtones and underlying sage.  This is all served on some toasted Bread Elements foccacia loaf which has been bathed in fuck yeah butter.  FYN pro tips include demanding even more foccacia loaf, slathering it with shit tonnes of butter and then scraping every last bit of that ragu into your rapidly improving life.  Back that shit up with MyHouse’s slow cooked short rib and as a homie I took to MyHouse exclaimed, “Fuck, I think I’m at the Vatican because I just saw GOD”.

MyHouse is doing something unique in Hong Kong and there’s so much passion and thought that’s been poured into this place that it’s super fucking personal and full of fuck yeah sincerity. It’s not often that I can hand out a SEVEN WAY FUCK YEAH slam of interiors, concept, food, music, drinks, service and price point and if you haven’t been already, get yo ass down to MyHouse ASAP to get involved because fuck yeahhhhh, MyHouse is just so fucking right.

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STAND OUT EAT #2: Penthouse by Harlan Goldstein (RIP) – Dessert Platter

Penthouse by Harlan Goldstein was one of my fuck yeah favourites of 2015, I think I racked up over five visits and I recommended it to anyone who was looking for a date night or special occasion location that wasn’t too stuffy.  Until there was a falling out between and Harlan and his business partners and now this restaurant goes by “Penthouse” and it’s without the big, bombastic Harlan G at the helm, Executive Chef Joe in the kitchen and the fuck yeah kitchen team / waiter homies.  It’s all TOO FUCKING SAD and I don’t dare go back in case I tarnish all my fuck yeah Penthouse by Harlan Goldstein memories.  My 2015 fuck yeah highlight is without doubt the Harlan’s Surprise Dessert Platter and anyone that I recommended Penthouse to was made to promise on threat of death that they’d most definitely leave sufficient room to power through this FUCK YEAH dessert option.  This mixed platter of fuck yeah desserts was a magnificient as fuck show stopper with a liquid nitrogen sorbet of varying flavours, which had been snap frozen to give it a meringue like appearance which melted as soon as it came in contact with body heat.  Then to keep shit interesting and interactive, there were puddles and spoonfuls of different sauces and flavours such as powdered dusts, chocolate mousse, banana tiramisu, gelato and white chocolate lava cake.  Fuck.  I’m emotional as fuck just thinking about it now.  It was one of the most memorable desserts I’ve ever had and writing about it right now while knowing that it’s no longer available, is hitting me right in the feels.  It was just the fucking best and Harlan’s Surprise Dessert Platter please know that even though we can’t be together anymore, know that I think of you every step of the way because IiiiIIiiiiiiIiiIIIII WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU.

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STAND OUT EAT #3:  Posto Pubblico – Veal Milanese / Veal and Lobster Bolo

I’ll confess that I get swept up in all that new trendy restaurant razzle dazzle bullshit and  before I know it I’m looking down dazed and confused at a dark charcoal slate covered in viola blossoms, a piece of hamachi sprinkled with dehydrated shisito pepper powder and a small shrimp wearing a miniature top hat in a shoe for HKD568 + 10% service charge under the dim light of a stripped down industrial style chandelier made from HK egg waffle cast iron moulds from 1956. The IHM Group is probably one of the most consistent restaurant groups in HK and while I was all up in Stone Nullah Tavern‘s grill in 2014 and Linguini Fini opened their new premises in 2015, for me my best memory of 2015 was rekindling a torrid though honest love affair with Posto. Sometimes old and familiar love is the best sort of love and when Posto added new dishes in September to mark their sixth year anniversary, this old and familiar love starting to become all sorts of next level fuck yeah feelings.  Whenever I tell anyone to go to Posto they are given a super fucking specific set of instructions and here it is, the FYN pedantic as fuck guide to ensuring that you have the optimal FUCK YEAH experience at Posto that you deserve.

  1. Round up at least three to four homies because if you go as a couple you won’t be able to try enough fuck yeahhhh dishes because the Veal Milanese chop on its own is gonna take down two people easy.
  2. Make a booking.  When you do this, pre-order the Veal Milanese chop, the moon of my life, my sun and stars, my everything. Life’s gonna be too fucking sad if you roll up for dinner and that shit’s sold out.
  3. Once you get there, start shit off with one or three Negronis.  You could go probably also go a Manhattan if you’re not into Campari.  Or maybe you should just force yourself to drink your Negroni medicine until you fucking get it.  Fuck yeahhh, dem bitter herbaceous feels.
  4. For around three to four people, you gotta get the meatballs to start because I’m making the claim that Posto has THE BEST fucking meatballs in HK.  For your pasta, don’t mess around with anything else except the Spicy Veal and Lobster Bolo which is my first, my last, my pasta everything.  Get the Veal Milanese that you’ve pre-ordered and while some people claim that the Veal Saltimbocca or Veal Parmigiana is better, don’t be swayed because I firmly believe that the Milanese topped with fresh homemade mozzarella, sweet as fuck organic cherry tomatoes and basil is the Supreme Ruler of all that is Veal.  If you need a side of vegetables, get whatever is seasonal and recommended by the best waiter homies at Posto.
  5. If there’s more than four people get an extra serve of the homemade burrata and maybe the deep fried calamari. Add a pizza fritta which is a pan fried pizza served in an iron skillet so it’s all fuck yeahh crispy bottom times.  My FYN recommendation would be the Bronx Bomber with crumbled sausage, pepperoni and oregano.  YASSSSSS.
  6. Try and keep your shit together while you smash back an essentially flawless fuck yeah meal.  Reflect upon the fact that right at this moment, life is fucking glorious.

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STAND OUT EAT #4:  Zurriola – Scallop with black pudding and green apple / cheese

Chef Daniel Birkner joined Zurriola this year and rebooted its menu with some of the most precise and beautiful food I ate this year in Hong Kong.  In fact, I had my first meal there in May and even though it was not even half-way through 2015, I boldly made the statement on FYN that Zurriola with its precise, modern though no wanky bullshit food was gonna most definitely feature on my 2015 fuck yeah highlights. AND HERE WE ARE.   Zurriola is in TST which means that it’s a harder pitch because most people can’t be fucked to leave the familiar surrounds of HK Island spanning from Kennedy Town to maybe Wan Chai at a stretch.  But that’s such a bullshit excuse not to go because the meals I had at Zurriola this year were fucking phenomenal and it was the unconventional ingredient pairings which still made sense which set it apart from so many other restaurants in HK.  I will never forget the scallop dish I had at Zurriola which was topped with black pudding, against a crisp green apple sliver and a celeriac mash. Such earthiness.  Much contrast. WOW.

I also recommended Zurriola to anyone who was chasing down a serious fuck yeah cheese experience and Chef Birkner does not fuck about with his selection of French raw milk cheeses and most importantly, serves up a very decent sized serve as well.  No tiny-ass slivers of barely there cheese (hey Epure, imma lookin’ at you).  Despite not normally being down with apricot, Zurriola’s thinly sliced homemade toasted apricot fruit bread combined with the cheese course is fucking perfection and I had no other choice but to unhinge my jaw and devour everything in sight, resulting in a state of pure and unadulterated fuck yeah bliss.  I always say that carb life = best life, but let’s be real, cheese life is pretty fucking rad too.

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STAND OUT EAT #5: Tai Chung Wah Restaurant (大中華飯店) – Bandit Chicken (土匪雞)

I have a draft folder of reviews that I start and then due to a combination of apathy, laziness and bingeing on an entire season of television in one to two days, end up in some sort of food review purgatory and never get finished.  I really should just man up and finish writing up Tai Chung Wah Restaurant in Cheung Sha Wan because that shit was so good that I want you guys to fucking know about it.  I ended up going to Tai Chung Wah twice in one month, despite it being so fucking far away, largely motivated by wanting to eat the glorious fuck yeah Bandit Chicken (土匪雞).  Until I get my lazy ass in gear to write shit up properly, it’s critical for you to know that if you go to Tai Chung Wah, you need to pre-order the Bandit Chicken.  The Tai Chung Wah homies are SUPER assholes about ordering more than one chicken though and even if you have a massive group of homies going (ie. 12), they’ll bitch about it to you on the phone, argue with you about needing two chickens, ask who is going to eat the breast meat (my Cantonese speaking homie assured them that we had plenty of white people with us to take care of that but this wasn’t even sufficient grounds to stop the Bandit Chicken argument) and even when you think you’ve finally got them to agree to pre-ordering two chickens, you’ll rock up on the night and they’ll be like ‘NO.  YOU ONLY ORDERED ONE.  CANNOT GET MORE‘ before these assholes cuss you out some more.

The Bandit Chicken allegedly gets its name from when Hunan bandits used to ransack people’s homes for valuables, which back in the day included spices.  These sneaky fuckers would then celebrate a successful spice raid by holing up and making some cumin spiced chicken which if people smelt would take it as an indication that they should keep their shit on lock down because bandits would be close by.  Tai Chung Wah cook their Bandit Chicken in a clay pot oven, speared on a pole which allows the juices to be kept within the chicken, meaning even the breast meat is juicy as all hell and it’s not a dried out, fuck no bland as fuck mess.  No one is gonna help you out at Tai Chung Wah to carve it so be prepared to go hands on or have a homie with you who can deal with carving up a bird with a pretty shitty knife and their plastic gloved hands.  But oh my yassssssssss this fragrant cumin and salt rubbed roast chicken was just so fucking good.  I even broke my no food photo rule, just so we could all revel in the FUCK YEAH glory that is the Bandit Chicken which I affectionately call Stripper Chicken.  SHE’S WORKING AT THE PYRAMID TONIGHT.

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OK homies, that’s enough FYN 2015 FUCK YEAH and FUCK NO memories for today.  Stay tuned for FYN’s Fuck Yeah 2015! Part #2 – Outside the Kong / #Wandercunt edition and also A Fuck Yeah Noms’ Guide to 2016 New Year’s Resolutions which are gonna be dropping in the next week or so.  Or perhaps it’s time to get all nostalgic for some 2014 memories and check out Fuck Yeah, 2014! – Part #1: Hong Kong or FYN’s Fuck Yeah 2014! Part #2 – Outside the Kong and FYN’s ‘Just Cannot’ List.  MEMORIES, NOT A SOUND ON THE PAVEMENT.

Where:
Le Garçon Saigon (the website is total bullshit, I wish I could get the two seconds back that I spent looking at this sorry excuse for a website)
GF/12 – 18 Wing Fung Street
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2455 2499

Price:
We got out at a very reasonable HKD380 a person for food and drinks.

The deal:
Le Garçon Saigon has only recently opened in November 2015 and despite it being open for about five seconds, every time I’ve walked past it (even on random weeknights), it’s been totally rammed.  It’s a concept which I can totally see the masses getting behind – a French-Saigonese style bistro serving Southern Vietnamese food in the “trendy” Star Street precinct, run by the popular Black Sheep Restaurant Group (Carbone HK, Chom Chom, Burger Circus, Ho Lee Fook, Stazione Novella, Boqueria, etc. etc.) who continue their march towards HK restaurant domination.  I always feel that the Star Street precinct is deceptively trendy, as in, it feels like there should be cool, hip shops and lots of trendy restaurants but when you’re actually there you realise it’s a massive commercial yawnfest of a Pizza Express, a Classified, an Oolaa, a stack of mediocre restaurants hiding behind cool facades and a couple of interior shops which have made solid typography choices and a carefully curated inventory of only five items for sale.

Le Garçon Saigon is perfect interior bait to lure the unsuspecting trendy restaurant punter in, nailing that new-old Saigon French brasserie feeling with shiny mirrors, teal walls, geometric mosaic tiling and purposefully weathered concrete murals painted with cute as fuck French motifs.  Nothing more perfectly captures the time when the French lorded over Vietnam than a mural with French cartoon people doing colonial shit like drinking wine and a dog reading a newspaper. Fuck yeahhhh, colonialism! Another wall faithfully replicates a deliberately shabby stencilled list of Vietnamese dishes with prices listed in Vietnamese Dong, which is ironic given that I’ve got no doubt that I’m about to get stung some serious HKD for the meal we’re about to order.

Despite everything looking slick as fuck, my main fuck no issue with Le Garçon Saigon is that the softest thing in the whole place is one banquette that runs down one side and every other surface in LCG is harder than the abs of an ardent crossfitter who has eschewed carbs and non-crossfit related conversation for years #strongisthenewdouchebaggery.  This results in Le Garçon Saigon’s dining room being rendered into a cacophonous as fuck echo den with every possible noise bouncing off the bare ceilings, the concrete walls, the tiled floor, the drapeless windows, the naked marble tables or the mirrored walls. I know that tablecloths are unequivocally the devil’s work these days in most restaurants but fuck, I’m not convinced the occasional potted palm was doing their bit for acoustic baffling. I’m an old fuck so I could barely hear the waiter nor the person sitting next to me and you can completely throw all hope to the goddamn wind that I’d ever hear anything being said by the people at the other end of the table.

One thing that is more striking than Le Garçon Saigon’s interiors though is the batallion of attractive as fuck and thoroughly charming French waiters that Le Garçon Saigon have recruited.  Our table discusses whether the Black Sheep homies parked themselves at HK International Airport, staking out every Air France flight that touched down to recruit every other SO HANDSOME French homie that wasn’t destined to crush some quantitative shit at a bank to be part of their Le Garçon Saigon SO HANDSOME waiter crew. I don’t think I can emphasise this enough, the Le Garçon Saigon waiters are really SO HANDSOME.

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While gazing upon his SO HANDSOME face, our SO HANDSOME waiter talks us knowledgeably through the menu, which predictably have cutesy French sections like “Les Woks” for the stir fries and “Les Grillades” for the skewers and an ambiguously named “Larger” sub-section.  Based on our waiter’s SO HANDSOME recommendations, we order a number of different things – a few starters, some salads, a couple of skewers, “Larger” dishes and some of the stir fries.

We were given the wrong salad to start but didn’t realise this until we’d started eating it.  The green papaya salad (HKD68 + 10% service charge) was mixed with beef jerky, small dried crispy shrimp, cashew nuts and a spicy tamarind vinaigrette. We also had a serve of the Morning Glory salad (HKD68 + 10% service charge) but due to one of my homies serving shit super unequally, all I got was a couple of chrysanthemum leaves and some jellyfish pieces, in a pickled ginger and chilli vinaigrette.  My other homies who got first dibs claim there wasn’t any morning glory in there but I can’t fairly pass judgment here.  Regardless of whatever titillating named vegetables may or may not have been present, both salads had enough texturally going on and some good fresh flavours but both vinaigrettes were really fucking sweet, even as the tart tamarind and vinegars unsuccessfully tried to cut through it all.

The canh ga fried chicken wings (HKD78 + 10% service charge for five wings) are covered in a salty spicy mix combining Chinese five spice and chilli and predictably served with a side of sriracha mayonnaise.  While the actual wings are cooked well with crispy fuck yeah skin, my more enduring memory is how even though I’m into salty, fried food these chicken wings were pushing the sodium chloride friendship to a new level because it was definitely too fucking salty.

From the “Les Woks” section we definitely order up on some Les Disappointing dishes.  The glutinous rice promises clams, lemongrass, peanuts, salted cucumbers, rice paddy herbs and pork floss (HKD108 + 10% service charge) and it’s unremarkable in the sense that I can barely remember anything about it at all except the rice being sticky.  The Banh Xeo is a Vietnamese style crispy rice based pancake which is folded over a filling of chorizo, prawns, fresh bean sprouts and large red chillis.  You’re meant to break up the banh xeo and fold it into lettuce leaves with fresh herbs, dipping it lightly in some num nuoc sauce (lime, sugar, chilli and fish sauce).  It looks fucking incredible but in execution, the filling is entirely underwhelming, a mess of largely beansprouts dotted with the occasional prawn or chunk of chorizo. Whoaaaaaaaaaa check out the chorizo repping for the modern East meets West influences bullshit massive. But in reality, the chorizo just feels like it’s out of place and trying too hard to be proving some sort of culinary culture crossing point.  This fusion chorizo concept continues to bomb out even harder when it’s eaten in combination with the num nuoc sauce, which just leaves me thinking once again “Why is everything here so fucking salty??”

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The press on Le Garçon Saigon has been banging on about its grill and we try almost all of the skewers on the menu.  Per order you get three skewers and you can get selections such as the Wagyu beef Tri-tip / Bo Liu (Vietnamese beef teriyaki) (HKD138 + 10% service charge), the Pork Meatballs / Nem Nuong (HKD128 + 10% service charge), the Kurobuta pork / Thit Nuong (HKD128 + 10% service charge) and the proteinless / funless Zucchini & Leeks (HK68 + 10% service charge).  Each skewer is presented with a tray of fresh Vietnamese herbs, lettuce leaves, pickled carrots, cucumber, peanuts, rice paper, rice vermicelli pancakes and dipping sauces, so you can make your own wraps with the meat.  The grilled meats are a fuck yeah, with a good charcoal taste but the problem is that all the sauces that everything is served with are either too sweet, too salty or an awful fuck no combination of being too fucking sweet AND too fucking salty.  There’s a balance in trying to combine the Vietnamese flavours of sour, sweet, salty and spicy but Le Garçon Saigon manage to bludgeon my enthusiasm for their skewers into a bloody lifeless pulp by showing not a shred of nuance and instead hitting me with SWEET SALTY SWEET SWEET SALTY A BIT TANGY OK BACK TO FUCKING SALTY the whole fucking time.

From the “Larger’ grill section we ordered the Whole Red Snapper (HKD208 +10% service charge) which looks beautiful as fuck, grilled in a bamboo leaf package.  Be careful my white homies because this fishy homie is served in one whole piece, bones and all and requires some skillful dissection.  I’m quite into it, enjoying the fuck yeah sweet snapper fish which is very fresh and the fragrant bamboo leaf flavour imparted from the grill until I hit a patch of scales and end up trying to detach the large snapper scales that have attached themselves unceremoniously to the roof of my mouth. Fuck no to that bullshit, I’m already socially awkward enough without being further sabotaged by my choices in seafood.

The grilled half yellow chicken (HKD168 + 10% service charge) looks fucking sensational, all crispy skin and some fuck yeah looking juicy meat.  I rue the fact that I’ve chosen to come with so many homies because I want to eat at least half of it on my own.  Like all of the proteins that have come before it, it’s had a sweet ass time in the grill and the meat is juicy as all hell and fucking great.  The crispy skin is covered in lemon, a chilli-salt spice mix and a thin chiffonade of kaffir lime leaves, which initially gives you a good sour, delicately fragrant and salty mix but just like everything else, crashes down in a crescendo of salt.  At this point, I would cry from all of the salt if I wasn’t trying to preserve whatever precious fluids were still within my body as it teetered precariously on the edge of dehydration thanks to the half a kilo of salt that’s been in my food.

We finish all of our dishes and in a telling sign, my hands are so sticky from making all of those rice rolls with the skewer meats  With no moist towelette or finger bowl on offer I take this sticky moment to reflect upon my feelings towards every single thing at Le Garçon Saigon either being so salty, so sweet or so salty and sweet OR seasoned appropriately but then littered with fish scales.

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Piling into the “Les Desserts” section we try every single one on offer (all HKD68 each + 10% service charge) and this is a FUCK YEAH highlight of the meal, as Le Garçon Saigon present their modern take on Vietnamese dessert flavours.  The flan is a riff on the Vietnamese coffee, using condensed milk in the flan and topped with a drip coffee syrup, served with a salty chocolate sable biscuit to cut through the rich, sweet flan.  It’s fucking delicious and goes some way to calming my rattled so sweet, so salty bad juju from dinner.  The pandan waffle is delicate as fuck but still crunchy on the outside and it’s served with strawberries, mascarpone ice-cream and almond crunch.  I was really into Le Garçon Saigon’s version of the traditional Vietnamese “Che” dessert – a combination of smashed meringue, roasted pineapple, taro and sago, served in a palm sugar and coconut milk sauce.  There’s a scoop of “smoked” coconut ice-cream (which isn’t that smoky) and some smoked, caramelised peanuts (which I think were too smoky), but this is a small gripe in an otherwise fucking delicious dessert.

With all of that done, it’s a fun evening in a cool, new spot and I can guarantee that it’s only a matter of time before someone bails me up and goes “OMG, have you tried Le Garcon Saigon yet? It’s just soooo cool!”.  But the fact that it’s totally packed out after a matter of weeks means there’s definitely a place for Le Garcon Saigon in HK and it’s for that person we all have met a million times in HK, the type of person who doesn’t really eat or care that much about food and just wants to feel like they’re on point with what’s trendy.  Bonsoir motherfuckers, I’m afraid that I’m all about the food and even LCG’s SO HANDSOME waiters can’t replace appropriately seasoned food for me.

Verdict:
Fuck no.  But if you’re someone who just wants somewhere cool to hang out, drink fuck yeah booze and you don’t really care all that much about the food, this is totally gonna be your new fuck yeah hang spot.  Go on, wear your Sunday best and take your yappy little dog and sit on one of those outside tables and suck down some drinks while waiting for someone to throw down some air kisses at. MWAH MWAH DARLING, HOW FUCKING CUTE IS THIS PLACE??

Where:
Moonshine & the Po’Boys
G/F, No. 4 Sun Street
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2776 2668

Price:
We got out at HKD850 a person with cocktails and the most fucking expensive oysters ever. Don’t make the same ordering mistakes and you can probably comfortable get out at HKD600ish for food and booze, if you’re getting the seafood boil.  Everything else was super affordable so maybe HKD400-500ish for food and booze if you skipped the seafood boil.

The deal:
We roll into Moonshine & the Po’Boys after hearing some promising things around the traps about its Creole and Cajun Southern style food. It’s going for that mismatched New Orleans feeling with its stylish chalkboards, clustered mason jar light fittings, metal buckets of herbs and kitschy boards. It’s not a huge space, probably sitting no more than 30 people, although there’s a second floor which they might get around to opening.  When we ask for our table, we’re pointed towards a table which is already half occupied by other people.  Not that anyone mentioned this little truth nugget when we made our booking. Fuck, I barely like some of my friends at the best of times so I feel that there should be some sort of warning before you’re forced to share a table with total fucking strangers.

We sit and look over the menu which are the most ratchet ass menus I’ve seen in a long time.  Printed on paper and shoved into all mismatched plastic sleeves, the menus are still strangely worn out even though they’ve been tackily tacked into their plastic covers by some raggedy scotch tape.  I’ve heard that the peeps who set up Moonshine & the Po’Boys are ex-bankers and as I try to decipher what to order, I ponder whether they swiped a bunch of used document folders on their way out of their last place of employment. Unfortunately the decision process was not helped by the fact that whoever designed the menus decided to use the tiniest fucking font in the whole goddamn world.  Yeah let’s squint this shit out together cause you know, 0.6pt font – I’M REALLY FUCKING INTO IT:

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It’s abundantly clear that service is all over the fucking place at Moonshine & the Po’Boys.  I’m throwing down plenty of thirsty face action in a desperate attempt to try and get someone to take my drinks order.  Waiters keep appearing and offering us the food ordered by the non-related party who we’re being forced to share a table with.  Fuck yeahhh, nothing beats seeing a waiter enthusiastically declare that you’re gonna absolutely love the Tomahawk Steak before you deflate his big steaky flourish by pointing him towards the strangers next to you who actually fucking ordered it.  It’s also really fucking rad when the waiters keep putting down someone else’s cocktails in front of you when you can’t even get the waiter to bring you the drinks menu. We observed a waitress whose sole function appeared to be to spin around in a confused manner around the floor. Finally we get our order in and after about half an hour of waiting, everything appears almost simultaneously.

Ms Two Serves and I mustered all our courage to try the Bayou Bucket, after the horrific fuck no bankruptcy inducing boil we had at the beyond awful and $oul crushing Holy Crab.  The Bayou Bucket is billed as a serving for four and it’s a Louisiana boil which combines a shit tonne of clams, mussels, tiger prawns, blue crab, Spanish scarlet prawns and king crab legs.  There’s also chunks of sweet corn, andouille sausage and new potatoes.  At HKD600 (+ 10% service charge) it’s not cheap but yassssssss there’s premium flesh laden crab and big-ass prawns for days.  There was no need to be polite and just nibble on one crab leg as you share shit around equally pretending that you’ve had enough crab because everyone got to eat their fuck yeah crustaceous fill.  While the menu offered a number of sauce choices, we weren’t actually asked what we wanted and ended up getting served with a fucking delicious Cajun garlic butter sauce and the boil sauce itself was fucking A1 great too.  The only thing that let this boil down were the molluscs – the mussels and the clams weren’t super fresh and consequently a bit bland.  But really, who gives a fuck about bullshit filter feeders when there’s fuck tonnes of crab?

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Next up was the half fried chicken for the very reasonably priced HKD100 (+10% service charge).  It’s served with a coleslaw which we ruthlessly pushed to one side because it was all about dat FUCK YEAH fried chicken.  It’s one of the best that I’ve had in recent memory, crispy as fuck without being greasy, well seasoned batter and this fried up motherfucker is bringing some serious juicy meat game.  It’s served with a cranberry sauce and this tart bitch helps to provide an acidic counterpoint to all of the fried chicken happiness. It’s at this point that we’re in a blissful fried chicken fugue, which allows us to forgive the abysmal service and the indignity of the mismatched, shabby plastic folder menus.

We had ordered a serve of the gator nuggets (HKD90 + 10% service charge) as a pre-dinner snack but due to the continued ineptitude of the staff, these were served well within the dinner zone.  Served with two sauces – Ranch and a Jack Daniel’s BBQ + Peach Chili puree, these would be great, I dunno, AS A PRE-DINNER SNACK.  Our other side, the Dirty Rice Jambalaya (HKD50 +10% service charge) is a carby fuck yeah, deep in flavour from the stock, sausage and the holy Jambalaya trinity of celery, peppers, and onions.  It was so fucking good that we scraped the bowl clean while one of my homies asked repeatedly if we’d tried the Jambalaya yet because she was super into it.

It’s fundamental to judge any place peddling Southern food on their grits and we ordered the Barbecue Shrimp and Grits (HKD100 + 10% service charge).  I honestly can’t believe this is only HKD100 because you get six huge prawns and normally if you even rub a prawn head on a plate in HK you’re looking at a HKD280 price tag. I was definitely prepared for grit disappointment cause well, Hong Kong, but these grits were fucking rad – creamy and with just the right amount of melted parmesan cheese.  Fuck yeahhh, the Moonshine homies most definitely pass the Grits Test.

We’d pretty much finished all of our food when our oysters finally arrive.  Ms Two Serves shoots an incredulous look at the waiter and says “I thought you’d forgotten about our oysters because we have received every other dish we’ve ordered” while I more plainly take our waiter to task asking bluntly “Shouldn’t our oysters have come at the beginning of the meal??”.  Our waiter sheepishly says he will check with the kitchen and reports back that because the first oyster they opened was bad that’s why the oysters had to came last.  O RLY Moonshine homie, is that what really happened?  Did the responsible kitchen homie open one oyster, discover it was bad and then proceed to take a break to chuff back six cigarettes before cooking five dishes for us and some food for all the other tables before he could find the courage to hold a shucking knife again to shuck six good oysters??

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With the bullshit explanation out of the way, our waiter apologised and finally agrees the oysters should have come first.  He then pauses to take my sustained angry glare in as my raised eyebrows threaten to come completely off the top of my head, smiles tightly and awkwardly leaves us. Rather than comping us oysters which, FACT, have taken more than an hour and a half to arrive at our table just as we’re starting to think about dessert.

Trying to move past the fact we’re closing our meal out on oysters, I asked where the oysters were from and was informed that they’re  from New Zealand.  They were good oysters, plump and creamy, served with lemons and some sort of a vinegar reduction (I’m not into sauce on oysters, so I can’t pass judgment).  I could have done without the finely chopped spring onions on my oysters because I just want my oysters straight up.  But it’s all a bit of a moot point because after all the strong flavours of the preceding food, I just can’t get into it.  I’ve never finished a meal on oysters and I’ll be quite happy to never ever fucking do so ever again.

However, Oystergeddon doesn’t end here – as the oyster prices weren’t listed on the menu, I’d assumed that they’d be less than the three oyster shooters for HKD300 given that the latter had fancy ass booze in them.  However, this assumption was entirely incorrect because when we check the bill it appears that each New Zealand oyster costs HKD100 (+10% service charge). It’s at this point that our entire table dissolves into seething mess of fucking outrage because as my Choice Bro FYN Kiwi Homies would understand, that is TWENTY TWO KIWI BUCKS (USD14+) PER SINGULAR OYSTER WHICH COULDN’T EVEN BE FUCKING SHUCKED IN TIME TO SERVE BEFORE ALL OF OUR FOOD?? R U for real Moonshine homies?? Kill me in the face with your punitive oy$ter prices and tardy shucking, Moonshine and the NO FUCKING WAY BOYS.

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For dessert, we split the Order the ebony & ivory (HKD80 + 10% service charge) which bills itself as a “chocolate brownie & cherries with bacon bits and peanut butter sauce”.  It’s served in a miniature cast-iron skillet and sure it’s delicious but despite all the description of cherries, bacon and peanut butter sauce, all I really get is chocolate brownie and vanilla ice-cream. Which is predictably tasty but my Moonshine homies, Y U promise me so many things and don’t deliver any salty bacon or peanut butter feelings?

Solemnly, I decide that I need to get a cocktail to try and blot away the memories of the Grand Finale mis-timed Oysters and order the Aged Manhattan (HKD120 + 10% service charge).  A waiter appears with my drink and sets in down in front of me and fuck me, call the NYPD because I appear to have been confronted with a major crime against one of the most majestic cocktails of all time:

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Like W T F Moonshine Homies, did you mistake my Manhattan with preparing a post-mix Coca-Cola that you’d get at fucking McDonald’s?  As soon as I see this slushie nightmare slandering the good name of the Manhattan, I ask my waiter what is this fuck no monstrosity in front of me and whyyyy would anyone want ice to rapidly melt into their cocktail to dilute it to all hell? I’m not really given any sort of proper explanation and receive yet another sheepish look, an apology and then another awkward disappearing act.  Rather than actually trying to simply fix shit by getting the bar to remake my cocktail so it’s not a total icey fuck no trainwreck.  I glumly sip on my ever diluting “Manhattan”, wondering whether it’s a watery mess due to the crushed ice or due to the tears of 1,000 NYC bartender angels who are bitterly sobbing from the booze soaked heavens above into my glass of interminable fuck no sadness.

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To be fair as a HK girl in the middle of junk season (ie. really fucking fair), a slick suited homie (who I suspect is an owner or investor) at the very end of our meal came over to ask how everything was and fresh with the horror of my crushed ice Manhattan slushie, I pointed to the watery “Manhattan” dregs in front of me and gave him more feedback.  He did sincerely apologise, offer us another round of drinks and promised that he’d make sure we were looked after the next time. A nice touch but again, why wasn’t my initial feedback taken onboard instead of the awkward to and fro between the bar, the acknowledgment that shit’s not right but doing absolutely jack all to make things better?

So aside from getting stung on the oy$ters, Moonshine & the Po’Boys is pushing out some kick ass food at super reasonable places.  It’d be a shame if they can’t tighten up their customer service to match their fuck yeah food.  Moonshine homies, I’m imploring you to get yo service shit together cause your fuck yeah food truly does deserve the best.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhhh cause the food was fucking tasty.  But Moonshine & the Po’Boys are still clearly working their shit out on the service front, so make sure you follow these FYN pro tips so you’re all fried chicken happiness and no bullshit oy$$$$$ter times:

  • Book a table for six so you’re not awkwardly sharing with random strangers.  Maybe if you’re less of an uptight fuck you can skip this one.
  • Be prepared for service to be well intentioned but clumsy.  If they fuck shit up, you better be ready to take the apology and just deal with it cause I didn’t see any efforts to fix things as they happened.
  • In case you missed the three paragraphs above, DON’T ORDER THE FUCKING OYSTERS. If you’re a loaded motherfucker, be very specific that your oysters have to come first.
  • When ordering cocktails, be specific on your ice requirements. Sorry Po’Boys, this ain’t a McDonald’s drive through and I can’t excuse that crushed ice bullshit, EVER.

Where:
The Optimist
G/F, 239 Hennessy Road
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Phone number:
+852 2433 3324 (welcome to the future yo, online bookings)

Price:
HKD800ish per person before tip (no service charge included).  This included cocktails, wine and a mega-expensive steak.  You could definitely get out for less if you didn’t order the ball breakingly expensive rib-eye steak.  Maybe HKD500ish per person?

The deal:
239 Hennessy Road in Wan Chai is the new place for restaurants, now housing Zahrabel, Pirata and El Mercado.  I feel like I’m there every fortnight at the moment and to add to the mix, The Optimist has only officially opened this week after some sort of soft opening period.  Before I decided to try it, I loaded up their website and amongst the thoughtful graphics and cool typography came across one of my FUCK NO bullshit pet peeves – menus with no goddamn prices.  WTF restaurants who do this, is it because you like to trick people into your restaurant before fucking them in the ass with a dollar sign?? Yo HK restaurants, here’s a FYN fun fact – if people see a menu with no prices, people are just gonna assume that you’re really fucking sneaky and expensive as fuck:

FYN-optimist-no-prices

Regardless of the no price scenario, I was expecting good things from The Optimist given that it is run by the same crew as Pirata with Christian Talpo and Manuel Palacio setting up a three floor venue flogging Northern Spanish food.  The ground floor is The Optimist’s bar and the impressive Rocio Martinez Amoedo design is all green foliage, wooden tables and benches, geometric tiles and warm lighting.  That’s all dandy to conjure up the feeling that you’re drinking inside a greenhouse but what is more impressive are the cocktails.  I always maintain that the hallmark of a fuck yeah cocktail is when you can tell it’s strong but it doesn’t taste like it’s strong, meaning you want to launch yourself into six beautifully balanced delicious as fuck drinks and throw consequence to the goddamn wind.  I had the Gin and Ginger (HKD100) which is pretty much the cocktail of my wet dreams – gin, mint, lime, ginger beer and a large hunk of ice and I was definitely having my Sound of Music “these are a few of my favourite things, dog bites, bee stings blah blah” moment.   I also scammed some of my homie’s Old Fashioned which is one of my all time faves and oh my yasssss, it was fucking spectacular. It was truly with a fucking heavy heart that I grudgingly decided to stop drinking cocktails to actually have proper food.

The main dining room is on the first floor and it’s cute as hell with its peacock blue walls, framed drawings of birds and light oak furniture.  Passing through the artfully filled staircase, we get seated.  While we check the menu, we are presented with a board of bread, served with a tomato based sauce and some aioli.  The Optimist’s bread game is tight but it’s dwarfed monumentally by the fuck yeah aioli which is served with it.  I was seriously having a major fuck yeah moment and our helpful waiter filled our bread and aioli up once he saw we were empty.  After we smashed it again, he promptly came back and asked if we wanted some more.  I pondered how to stop the rampant thoughts in my head that were plotting how I could find a way to smear the aioli all over my body so I could luxuriate fully in its fuck yeah awesomeness.  Our waiter came back again, offering a third refill and this is what snapped me out of this eggy lust filled reverie because even though I was all “My body’s saying let’s gooooo”, but in anticipation of actually eating proper food I knew the right answer was all:

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Our attentive waiter came back to take our order and this is when I ask him what his favourite items are on the menu or what does he recommend.  In fuck no news, our waiter homie confesses that as he’s just started, he hasn’t actually tried the food yet and he’ll have to get his manager to give us some guidance.  It just bums me out when I hear my waiter homies haven’t had the opportunity to eat the food at where they’re working.  Like they’re expected to watch people having good times and eating fuck yeah noms, while they keep smiling and asking if everything’s ok but never getting to snack down themselves.  Sharing is caring (especially when it comes to food) and I thought of this sad fuck no insight throughout my whole meal, almost wanting to push aside a little bit of each dish for him so my undeservedly hungry waiter homie could get involved as well.

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At this point a waitress shows up with some croquettes which we didn’t order.  We politely tell her that they’re not ours and she walks away quite confused.  This is where The Optimist’s slick restaurant manager glides in to smooth things over, explaining that these were on the house as he wanted us to try their Iberian ham croquettes.  Fuck yeahhhhh, free food.  But regardless of it being my favourite price, my cheese and ham croquette drug dealing homie has absolutely gamed me with my first free taste because I’ll be handing over cash for these deep fried fuck yeah croquettes next time for sure.  Especially as I smeared whatever precious aioli I had left all over these golden fuck yeah treaties.

For a starter we order a serve of the Tudela artichokes with baby squid (HKD150).  I was all heart in mouth, expecting the usual HK Spanish style of tiny-ass starters, anticipating that we were probably going to receive a singular artichoke leaf containing the tiniest curl of a baby squid tentacle for too many HK bucks.  But whoa, surprise on the upside, this starter could be shared between a few people just to have a taste and the artichokes, just charred baby squid, Iberico ham and confit onions was definitely a fuck yeah combination.

The Optimist has its own hashtag / tagline of #wegrillthings and I understand that their premise is that you’re meant to go and check out the market-like display of fish and meat before seeing what appeals and sending your protein of choice off to the charcoal grill.  I never actually saw this display but based on the menu we decided to go all in and order the Txuleta rib eye steak which range from 900g to 1.2kg in size.  As there were only three of us and as it’s HKD____ per 100g (lolzzzzz, I ain’t gonna treat you like idiots, it’s HKD110 per 100g), we were hoping to get one closer to the 900g.  Predictably, The Optimist only had large fuckers at the 1.2kg end of things which meant that we were all in for a ball tearing HKD1,320.  HELP ME, I’M NOW POOR.  The Txuleta is an on the bone Galician 45 days dry aged rib eye which is served with a side of roasted peppers and baked potatoes.  When it is presented, it’s as large and in charge as its price tag and you are immediately hit in the face by the smell of iron filled, dry aged beef.  We order ours rare and it’s most definitely hitting this bloody mark and just one juicy as fuck bite in, it’s all blue cheese and nutty dry steak fuck yeah feelings.  I’m less excited by the sides, partly because peppers / capsicum are one of the few food items that I can’t get behind ever and in sadder news, the potatoes just weren’t that exciting in texture or flavour.  Maybe I’m just a predictable fuck who only wants any sort of roasted or baked potato in my life to be a crunchy starchy motherfucker.

Upon reflection, while the Txuleta rib-eye was fucking incredible there’s a niggling feeling of “OH MY FUCKING FUCK, DID WE JUST SPEND HKD 1,320 ON A STEAK?! LIKE USD170 REAL BUCKS??”.  And while I very much enjoyed the fuck out of it, I’ve also enjoyed the fuck out of other much more reasonably priced beef based treats at other HK restaurants, including the magnificent 1kg T-Bone Bistecca Alla Fiorentina upstairs at The Optimist’s sister restaurant, Pirata, which is almost half the price at HKD750.  I fucking get it, I’m paying for the 45 days of dry aging but I’m not convinced I enjoyed those funky old beefy bastard dry aged references so much that I’d pile in again for that $$$ price tag.

We also ordered a serve of paella, billed as “Charcoal grilled rice with Iberian meats – Secreto iberico, jamon, boletus, vegetables” (HKD290).  Paella in HK often ends in so much sadness (refer:  La Paloma) but The Optimist smashed my HK battle-weary paella expectations hard.  There’s an awesome depth of flavour to its rice, the complexity built from the rich as fuck stock it was cooked in, shit tonnes of butter (yassssss), all the fuck yeah Iberian cured meats and a slightly smoky undertone from the charcoal grill.  The small pieces of boletus mushroom also provide a good textural contrast to the al dente rice.  The fact that the rice has a good al dente bite to it might seem like a small point but I’ve had any number of pathetically undercooked or mushy-ass paellas in HK Spanish restaurants.  The only thing that could have made me happier was to get a bit more socarrat crusty rice at the bottom to give me some fuck yeah crunchy feelings but this was most definitely a fucking awesome paella.

My fellow dining homie also ordered a side of roasted peppers (HKD90) as she desperately hoped it to be similar to some green pepper dish she had in Spain.  Yes, there’s always some #wandercunt chasing that authentic traveldouche moment they had in one of their global adventures.  As I’m not into peppers, I’m gonna sit out on the judgment here but really, just how excited can you get about roasted vegetables though?

The dessert menu looked pretty tidy but I was more interested in going back to the bar downstairs to launch myself into at least two to three post-dinner cocktails.  Unfortunately for me, my dining partners had mistakenly put on their Soft Cock Pants versus the requested Hard Cunt Pants so they were all pitiful complaints of “I’m sorry, I’m just too full…I gotta go home” and while my lust for well balanced fuck yeah cocktails is strong I decided it wasn’t gonna be quite the same making my face numb on my own.  Note to self, I gotta make sure I’m clearer on the dress code next time I ask people out to dinner.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah!  While the service was at times a bit all over the shop, it was well intentioned and definitely not catastrophic considering how long The Optimist has been open.  I probably wouldn’t repeat the bank breaking Txuleta $teak but it’s a cool as fuck space with decent sized fuck yeah Spanish eats and an affordable wine list which should guarantee some fun times.  If anything, I’m absolutely getting my lush self back to crush their cocktail list.

FYN Update 06 January 2016:
GUISE – I’m an asshole at the best of times but I like to give credit where fuck yeahhhh credit is due. I recently revisited The Optimist Hong Kong and shit has improved since I went in November 2015. Things to note:

  1. Their website now has prices. I definitely gave them a pizzling for that on FYN. Yo Optimist homies, thanks for listening to the feedback
  2. Service is on point now and the waiter we had definitely knew the menu and had tasted the food. Fuck yeahhhhh feeding your staff.
  3. Cause ordering ball breakingly expensive Txuleta steaks at HKD110/100g wasn’t enough for me, I went even higher and ordered the Chateaubriand at HKD150/100g (HOLY FUCK). Chateaubriand was an expensive though delicious FUCK YEAHHHH though.
  4. Aioli still remains fucking amazing and I continue to want to rub it ALL OVER MY BODY.
  5. I ordered the Arroz caldoso seafood rice which is good but the seafood charcoal crispy rice is superior. Spend the extra HKD20.
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