Trendy

Where:
NEO (their website is about 5% useful – only because it lists the address)
10 Shin Hing Street (it’s opposite Cocotte)
Sheung Wan Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2812 2280

Price:
Cocktails range from HKD90-130.  Bar snacks from HKD60-85.

The deal:
I’ve read some of the preliminary press on NEO, the new bar opened by the Cocotte homies, and I can already see into the future and know that everyone’s gonna be making references to how the gentle glow of the neon lights are a homage to both the retro 80s past and HK’s history with neon signage, Noho (ermagerd HK, stahhhhpp trying to make Noho/Poho a thing) and how it’s Cocotte’s cheeky or sexy little sister. Whatevs, I dragged my sweaty ass down to NEO on Friday night after schlepping my way up from Sheung Wan MTR station, pushing my way past the heavy as fuck curtains into the industrial, stripped out NEO den. The Candace Campos design is cool as fuck, stripped back concrete walls, purposefully mismatched chairs and tiny Persian rugs. NEO have totally nailed that bare concrete shiz without making it look like they’ve just cheaped out on the decor. There’s some real cute touches too – the retro foosball table, the Neo Geo arcade machine and the Playboy pinball machine. People are gonna be all over that shit when they are writing their tedious as fuck blogs and media puff pieces about NEO.

We grab a low table and as I’m a grumpy old fucker with failing eyesight I can barely fucking read the cocktail menu in the dimly lit cool vibes of NEO. However despite the lack of lighting, my value sensor can at least detect that shit’s reasonably priced. Fuck yeahhhh HKD90 – HKD130 cocktails can get SOME because fuck that bullshit of the new HK norm of HKD180+ a cocktail. Attentive bar staff homies instantly swoop and ask what I want – through my shitty eyesight I decide on the Old Cuban Float (HKD120) which lists homemade sorbet with rum, lime, mint and prosecco as its ingredients. When my barstaff homie comes back with a spoon, I soon realize that perhaps this wasn’t a tangential reference to sorbet but a full on goddamn alcoholic float. Fuck yeahhhh, shit was delicious as fuck though – even if it was too much of a dessert like cocktail to kick my night off. Texturally, the sorbet was a bit icy which at least backs up the claim that shit is homemade but hey NEO homies, you gotta speed your freezing process up or add some cream factor to avoid dem coarse fuck no crystals.

With the alcoholic powers combined of Mr and Mrs Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and Sir Crunchalot, we smashed through almost the entirety of the fuck yeah NEO cocktail list. Some FYN cocktail highlights:

  • As a total slut for Campari, the Boulevardier Compliments (HKD90) was giving me some fuck yeah feels. The salty skewered olive was totally jiving against the sweet vermouth and the bitter, herbaceous Campari. I might be seriously biased though because fuck, I love dem bitter Campari feels.
  • The Cognac Retrold (HKD130) is one of the most expensive cocktails on the menu at HKD130 (which LBR, is still pretty fucking decent for HK) but 72 hour corn infused cognac can’t come fucking cheap. A touch of pear with the acidic cider vinegar bitters cuts through shit to make sure that it ain’t a sugary mess.
  • A fucking standout has to be the Rumboy & Cardamon Mule (HKD120). I fucking love a Moscow Mule and then you take this concept and fancy shit up with spicy apple honey syrup and, while not specified, I can only assume posh as fuck ginger beer. Dem Cardamon spice feels were strong and this is the sort of innocuously dangerous cocktail that doesn’t feel alcoholic at all and then you’ve somehow smashed back four of these quite comfortably and then when you stand up to go to the bathroom, BANG, you realise that not only are you refreshed as fuck, you can’t feel your face anymore.
  • The Express Polaroid (HKD110) references another one of my fuck yeah favourite cocktails, the Espresso Martini (when they’re not being tipped all over me). Except NEO’s is some next level shit with its fancy ass ingredients like ghee buttered dark rum and tonic reduction syrup.  There’s also a high level gimmick of it coming with a polaroid photo. FYN is always down to slam a gimmick but this one was just too fucking cute for words – our Express Polaroid arriving with precious memories of our gang pegged to the side of a gimlet glass. What a fuck yeah – this is the sort of drink that when you told someone to go to NEO you’d definitely tell them to order this successfully gimmicky bad boy without spoiling the polaroid punch line.  Except I already ruined that shit for you.  OH SORRY ABOUT THAT HOMIES.
  • The Smoked Yoghurt Sour (HKD100) was probably one of the most interesting cocktails on the list and gets a fuck yeah mention for being unlike any other cocktail I’ve had before. The smoked yoghurt gives it a new depth of flavor that I haven’t had in a cocktail before and while having too many dairy based cocktails seems like how you write the first chapter in your book of ‘The Execution of Bad Ideas’, I’d be down to have this cocktail towards the end of a night when all the bad ideas have been executed already, so why not double it the fuck down?

The only low lights might be down to my own personal preference of not getting super down with sweet drinks. This meant that the NEO Hive (HKD120) with all its neon, glow stick and illuminated ice-cubes still caused my diabeetus to flare up and The Oribtal Gimlet (HKD100) with its gummy bear was enjoyed by everyone else but it was just too fucking sweet for my tastes.  I also had a violent fuck no reaction to the Mezcal’s Crack (HKD90) but I blame that one more on my deep-seated and historical emotional issues with tequila than the actual cocktail itself.

I just wish that NEO’s cocktail menu had been ordered / categorised more logically – perhaps it was a by-product of my geriatric level eyesight and impatience to get on the sauce ASAP, but if I went to NEO again, I’d definitely order my cocktails in a different fucking order and definitely not lead with a cocktail that had a scoop of sorbet chilling the fuck out in it.  Maybe I’m just a fussy fucker who has a very precise order in which I like to drink my fucking cocktails. But it’s shit like if I had my time again at NEO, I’d want to follow my normal cocktail progression of bitter aperitifs to start (yassss Campari 4 Lyfe), get my refreshing drinks on by having approximately twelve Rumboy & Cardamon Mules, then I’d take shit darker with a Corgnac Retrold before closing off shit with a Smoked Yoghurt Sour and an Express Polaroid.  Then cut to this FYN artist impression of me wobbling my drunk ass home down the Shin Hing Street slope:

beyoncebrokebitch

NEO’s also peddling bar food which is broken into three sections – Tartines, Brochettes and Dessert. Tartines is fancy French nomenclature for open sandwiches and its just bits of bread with some sort of spread and meat /cheese on it. NEO’s tartines ranged from being fine (ie. the Parma Ham and Ricotta – but LBR it’s gotta be hard to fuck up shoving a combination of fuck yeah ingredients like parma ham, fig, ricotta and bread together) to being a bit half-assed (ie. the Caprese – bread with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, basil and a soggy ass bottom, due to the olive oil and balsamic vinegar). There’s a few presentation issues, for example the Mr Croque (ham, cheese and bechamel sauce sandwich) is served with a side of salad but given there’s no cutlery and it’s meant to be finger food I wasn’t sure what we were meant to fucking do with it. Was NEO’s intention for me to use my fingers to pick up salad to eat in a cocktail bar??

The brochettes (that’s skewers for everyday folk) are not cheap and at HKD70-80 for two fairly small sticks are verging on food for ants territory. The Beef Provencal had some tiny ass beef cubes, skewered with some onions and capsicum. I don’t get down with capsicum at the best of times but the beef just felt so insubstantial all I remember is the onions. The Chicken Satay was the favourite amongst our table but I can’t get excited about HKD70 for two small, dried out chicken breast skewers. The Atlantic Salmon skewers were fine but served with a dipping sauce which was completely inaccessible due to the design of the sauce bowl. HAI NEO, Y U NO TRY TO USE YOUR SAUCE CONTAINERS BEFORE YOU SERVE THEM?! LIKE SRS – WTF WAS I MEANT TO DO WITH THIS?

neosalmon

We rounded off our night with the desserts which presented us with the options of a pineapple skewer, a creme brulee and yes, more fucking bread with stuff on it – the Chocobana Tartine.  As the pineapple skewers sounded lame as fuck we opted for the crème brulee (HKD45) and the Chocobana Tartine (HKD55). The Chocobana Tartine was a fuck yeah but in reality it’s just chopped fresh bananas and chocolate sauce on some bread.  It just felt like the sort of thing I’d make with the scant provisions in my fridge on a Sunday morning when I was being held hostage in my own house by a killer hangover.  The crème brulee had a thin caramel crust which had the appropriate crack when hit with a spoon, but unfortunately the actual crème was a sloppy fuck no mess.  I guess the life lesson here is you should really drink your dessert at NEO in the form of some fuck yeah cocktail rather than dicking about with actual dessert.

I gotta mention the fuck yeah NEO barstaff – perceptive and attentive as fuck, we never had the opportunity to do thirsty face (that’s where I look fucking parched at a waiter in the desperate hope that someone will bring me some goddamn booze) and they diligently filled up our fresh popcorn bowls approximately 1,256 times per hour as we fisted that shit into our greedy, gaping mouths. What a revelation to be able to go to a bar in HK and be able to consistently spend my money all night instead of having some barstaff asshole ignore me.

We slipped out of NEO at midnight when the increasing crowds, hard surfaces and fuck yeah tunes meant that we couldn’t hear what the fuck any of us were saying through a wall of noise. Best to leave that shit to the youths that still have their hearing intact. FYN’s prediction is that this NEO shebang is definitely gonna take off, so you should probably go now because before too long, you’re gonna be unable to get a fucking seat while you elbow your way past at least half of HK’s French community with their curly locks, cigarettes, no socks and short bright pants.  SACRÉ BLEU, MOTHERFUCKERS.

Verdict:
FUCK YEAH to the NEO cocktails – thoughtful, high quality ingredients/alcohol and fucktonnes of craftsmanship at a super reasonable price point.  In respect of the food, I don’t give a fuck if you call your tiny ass skewers French names like ‘Brochette’, I’d only get involved for survival reasons (ie. you need something to soak up the alcohol).  Just drink your fucking calories ok??

Where:
Mume (lolz, Taiwan’s websites are as bullshit as HK.  Try their FB page out instead)
四維路28號 (No. 28, Siwei Road)
大安區 (Da’an District)
Taipei, Taiwan

Phone:
+886-22700-0901

Price:
NTD5200 (USD165 / HKD1300) for food and cocktails two people.

Where:
Sussing out where to eat when I visit Taipei is never straight forward because as someone who can’t read Chinese, you’re left to rely on Tripadvisor, Yelp, shitty adjective heavy food blogs and sycophantic press pieces which never give you a clear steer on whether shit’s actually good or not. Yeah, I’ve got trust issues because I’ve had so many substandard recommendations from people that I don’t believe most people can work through the distraction of a cool interior (see also: Mott 32) or what they think everyone should like, rather than being able to accurately judge whether the actual food was any fucking good.  For example, I tried asking my hotel concierge for a recommendation for local Taiwanese food and all they could fucking provide me with was a map which listed Carnegies and a red hot tip to go to the shopping mall next door to have some French or Italian.  UM EXCUSE ME CONCIERGE HOMIE, AREN’T YOU MEANT TO BE PROVIDING ME WITH HELPFUL LOCAL KNOWLEDGE?
ronswansonreaction

Separate to misguided concierge conversations, we made a booking for a relatively new restaurant called Mume.  Mume is run and owned by three young chefs – Richie Lin (from HK), Long Xiong (from the US) and Kai Ward (from Australia).  Emphasis on young cause I read somewhere that Kai Ward is only 24.  TWENTY FOUR.  I could barely find my ass with both hands when I was 24, let alone establish my own restaurant in another country.  The Mume boys boast some big name experience, with their resumes listing Noma, Per Se and Quay (not that I think Quay is as good as everyone says it is, fuck that snow egg bullshit) and now they’re pushing their own Modern European restaurant in Taipei.  I read a blog that described Mume as having “Scandi-inspired fare” which caused me to have a mini-melt down. Srs guise, Scandi?! Some people just want to watch the world burn.

Mume is named after a Taiwanese flower and is gunning for that casual modern restaurant vibe.  Yeah, you know what that means – thick ropes are draped from the ceiling with large filamented industrial light globes which barely light the room, cool Taiwanese waiters swish around sporting shaved head and man bun tonsorial combinations, there’s an emphasis on local seasonal ingredients and predictably, no tablecloths, because you know, nothing says modern and casual than eschewing tablecloths.  A cool as fuck playlist pulses in the background of this modern restaurant interior and because I’m a Grade A stalker, I tracked down Chef Kai’s Spotify Mume Playlist that was playing at Mume so you too can enjoy modern fuck yeah covers and remixes of Sexual Healing, Don’t You Want Me and Feel it in the Air Tonight which would be perfect to drink overpriced cocktails to. Not that this happened at Mume cause our fuck yeah cocktails clocked in at a very respectable NTD300 (HKD75 / USD10).  Love dat Taipei value, always.

Given Mume is gunning for that modern, innovative theme there’s no way these kitchen bad asses can use conventional menu terms like “Entrees”,  “Mains” and “Desserts” and they’ve used contemporary terms like “Smaller”, “Bigger” and “Sweeter” instead.  If there had been a tasting menu option, I definitely would have been down for that but instead, the two of us piled in for four “Smaller” and two “Bigger” dishes and a side of bread.

I always judge a restaurant by its bread because good fuck yeah bread is a reliable indicator of a restaurant that gives a fuck.  Bread isn’t a freebie at Mume and the Country Rye Sourdough costs NTD180 (HKD45 / USD6).  However, Mume’s bread was such a fuck yeah that I wasn’t even bent out of shape that I had to pay for it.  A decent sized round of rye sourdough comes out fresh from the oven, cut into four steaming hot wedges and the only appropriate way to pay respect to this fuck yeah bread is to instantly smear it with butter.  I was less impressed by Mume’s fancy butter options of beer butter and smoked beef fat butter because when bread’s that fucking good, I’d rather have my fucking glorious bread straight up with a high quality, plain salted butter.

Despite the ridiculousness of having to order “Smaller” dishes vs “Entrees”/”Starters”, I quickly got over that initial irritation given that as soon as our first entrees “Smaller” dishes arrived shit looked beautiful as fuck.  Mume is doing that modern food which looks fucking amazing through a combination of sauce smears, colour combinations, clever crockery selection and small vegetable shoots which were inevitably tweezered into place. The Wagyu Tartare (NTD 380 / HKD95 / USD12) is simply described as beef, clam mayo, confit egg yolk and grilled toast and it was fucking delicious, the slightly briny clam mayo cutting through the rich beef and egg yolk combination.  My only complaint was that I was only provided with two tiny pieces of grilled toast which was definitely more aesthetically pleasing but meant that I didn’t have enough bread for my tartare.  The simply titled Squid (NTD380 / HKD80 / USD10) sees raw pieces of squid, smoked pieces of engawa (a thin muscle of the dorsal fin of a Halibut) and taro served in a hot prawn broth, reminiscent of a Singaporean prawn mee soup.  Fuck yeah, the slightly chewy engawa and the squid pieces was really fucking interesting from a texture perspective and probably my favourite “Smaller” dish of the night.  The Concentrated Carrot (NTD280 / HKD70 / USD9) was a solid vegetable dish, a whole baby carrot was dehydrated slightly (I’m guessing, no one told me what made it concentrated) and served with red rice koji (rice grains which have been covered by red mold), ginger cream and lovage oil.  The textures and the flavours were different and the slightly celery-like flavour of the lovage was a different touch to the ginger cream.  However, end of the day my capacity to get that fucking excited about a carrot is still relatively limited and Mume’s carrot can’t compare to the most majestic carrot dish of my life that I had at Sixpenny in Sydney.  The Crispy Amadai (NTD420 / HKD105 / USD14) was also another fuck yeah, visually stunning as the skin of the amadai/tilefish has been fried to make its scales individually stand up and crispy.  Accompanying it was a roasted red pepper puree, toasted almonds and tomato raisins which worked with the sweet, white flesh of the fish.

For mains “Bigger” dishes, we ordered the “Chicken” (NTD780 / HKD195 / USD25) and the “Beef Shortrib” (NTD920 / HKD230 / USD30).  The beef short rib was that typical modern beef plating that you can expect – two cubes of pink beef, a smear of burnt onion sauce, two thin slices of mushroom, a singular baby carrot and a couple of vegetable shoots perched on the side.  Mume’s beef game was a fuck yeah and the burnt onion sauce pulled everything together.  It might have been sous vided but I got zero background from the waitstaff so I don’t really fucking know.  However, the fuck yeah of the mains “Bigger” dishes was definitely the chicken – the menu simply provides the description of “cauliflower, lily bulb stem and Pedro Ximénez jus”. The dish presents a piece of chicken breast and a roulade made from the darker meat.  Predictably, the roulade is my fuck yeah favourite because fuck dat breast meat bullshit.  But fairplay, Mume’s chicken in both forms wasn’t dried out or lame at all.  I just fucking loved how it all worked together, the chicken with the sweet wine jus against the cruciferous, slightly bitter vegetable notes from the cauliflower puree and the grilled green lily bulbs. Complex flavour times, yo.

For desserts “Sweeters” (really Mume?!), we ordered the Orange (NTD 300 / HKD75 / USD10) and the “Strawberry Cheesecake” (NTD280 / HKD70 / USD9).   The “Orange” uses ponkan, a Chinese Honey Orange and is served with Murcott Yoghurt and Lemon Verbena Mousse.  The “Strawberry Cheesecake” is a burnt cream cheesecake, almond crumble and a strawberry sorbet.  For both dishes, everything has been snap frozen and then smashed into a thoughtful pile on some really fucking beautiful stone-like plate.  Your Instagram is going to love that shit.  The “Orange” was just ok, unfortunately, the ponkan didn’t have enough of that intense citrus flavour to make this dish really pop against the slightly acidic frozen yoghurt hunks.  However, the “Strawberry Cheesecake” was a major fuck yeah – far more successful than the “Orange” because all the individual components provided more of a contrast against each other.  The sorbet punched you in the face with its strawberry flavour and the frozen shattered cheesecake had more of the sour dairy flavour going for it than the yoghurt in the “Orange”.  Combine that with the pieces of nutty almond crumble and this was fucking incredible.  Perhaps the “Orange” would have been more impressive if I’d never known the “Strawberry Cheesecake” but fuck that, just take it as a hot tip to stick with the superior, more attractive “Strawberry Cheesecake” option.

While Mume’s service was prompt and friendly, I’ve got two tiny criticisms around Mume’s service.  The first is that we were given barely any explanation about our dishes – for a restaurant which prides itself on its local produce and seasonal ingredients, every dish was explained as simply as the menu descriptions.  I couldn’t tell you a single thing about where a single ingredient was from or how shit was prepared.  The other thing I’d have liked more of was just to have the meal spaced out a bit more timewise.  The kitchen was pushing out dishes at the speed of light and I’m hoping it was due to enthusiasm rather than something more fucking sinister like trying to push us out in time for a second seating.  We sat down at 6pm and we had all four of our entrees “Smaller” dishes by 6:20pm and even with asking for a 10 minute break before dessert, we were paid up and out of the restaurant in just over an hour after we sat down.  Not gonna lie, I’m sure the rapid speed at which I shoved food into my face may have contributed to this aggressive turn around as well.

But that’s two small things because Mume is definitely executing on its promise of modern European food in new ways in a cool as fuck modern setting. I think shit might be expensive by Taipei standards but given the good distortion my perception has undergone by Hong Kong prices, it seemed like exceptional fuck yeah value times for the quality of food we received.  Now excuse me cause I’m off to listen to Chef Kai’s playlist again and to pretend I’m back in Taipei and eating dat fuck yeah strawberry cheesecake.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah – once you’re tapped out on fried chicken and dumplings at the night markets, you should definitely get yo ass down to Mume.

Where:
Penthouse by Harlan Goldstein (I’ve said it before but fuckkk, WTF is this panoramic spinning website bullshit? STAAAAHP HARLAN STAAAAHP)
30/F, Midtown Plaza (Soundwill Plaza II)
1 Tang Lung Street
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

FYN hot tip:  If you’re getting a cab here, ask to go to Times Square and walk the rest of the way.  If you’re getting the MTR to Causeway Bay, as if you’d ever go to Exit A “Times Square” also known as “The Never Ending MTR Exit to Hell”. Exit F “Hysan Place” all the way, baby.

Phone:
+852 2970 0828

Price:
We were out at HKD800ish a person, including wine.

The deal:
I read about how bona fide restaurant critics who write for reputable publications like the New York Times have to visit a restaurant several times, just to make sure somewhere is genuinely and consistently shit or good.  I’m trying to hold Fuck Yeah Noms to these same exacting standards which is why I made sure I went to Penthouse by Harlan Goldstein THREE fucking times for dinner before I actually wrote it up.  OK, I’ll level with you homies – the lack of recent FYN content is more attributable to HK being relentlessly hot as balls atm which has rendered me completely useless and unable to do anything other than try and get my core temperature to return to normal by listlessly binge watching an entire season of TV in one hit in my underwear on the couch, worshipping at the altar of air conditioning.

FYN artist impression of my last month in HK:

catshallow

I’ve written up Penthouse by Harlan Goldstein before for its fuck yeah lunch set before.  But it deserves a review of its dinner menu because it’s become one of my new favourites in HK as it’s killing the whole package – consistency, ambience, attentive staff and fuck yeah inventive but not ridiculously awkward modern food.  From an interior perspective, it’s impressive with its fuck yeah views of Victoria Harbour displayed through floor-to-ceiling windows (although this has been slightly marred by the inevitable construction of another skyscraper in front of it) and is jiving for a trendy but not stuffy vibe.  Yeah yeah, you know what that means – no tablecloths, but I’m not gonna get my linen grump on cause Penthouse actually are achieving that relaxed dining atmosphere without cheaping out on all the other interiors with enough wooden parquetry flooring and marble walls to keep shit classy.

For all the slams that Harlan may get for being all bombast and bleating about being a celebrity chef, at least he’s fucking in his restaurant and not just emailing in a menu design from another goddamn continent.  Last week when I swung by, Executive Chef Joe was actually on the floor checking in with tables and on this night, he enthusiastically took our table through the menu, effectively telling us that everything’s really special and the only things that we shouldn’t order are the soup, pizza and the ham because we can get stuff like that anywhere.  Everything sounds rad as fuck, even if we have to make some tough decisions to ensure we don’t explode from overeating.  One of the things I fucking love about Penthouse is that their menu changes regularly which means you’re not going to be eating the same old shiz all the time but they don’t do innovation just for the sake of trying to be inventive, which means you avoid staring down a bullshit plate of some red hot Mexican-Korean mess.

We got shit started with a tuna tartare, made from Spanish bluefin tuna and a slow cooked egg (HKD228).  I don’t want to get my egg-wank on but that egg’s yolk was such a fuck yeah – intensely golden and creamy and fucking incredible with the fresh as fuck tuna tartare.  The Spanish chicken behind it probably spent her life as a happy fucker, pecking at the finest golden kernels of corn under a blazing Spanish sun to produce dat deep golden yolk.  Just to pretend we’re going to make some healthy choices, I ordered one of my favourites, the Organic Beetroot Salad (HKD168).  Despite the fact that quinoa shit is some ancient gluten free pseudo-grain and trendy as fuck atm, Penthouse take red quinoa and mix that shit up right.  Fuck yeahhhh, dem fresh flavours – earthy red and golden beets, fresh coriander and cooling cukes are slamming up against the slightly tart cumin spiced Greek yoghurt honey dressing and piquant red Spanish onions. Some blogging assholes would say it was a ‘fiesta of colours’ but I’ll just say shit was fucking gorgeous and refreshing as fuck.

The seared Italian baby squid (HKD188) was served with Lebanese eggplant, tiny rounds of crispy chorizo and saffron aioli was another solid starter.  However, this is all just warm up for my favourite at Penthouse, the pasta round.  I may have already mentioned that Penthouse’s black truffle and uni pasta is one of the best fucking things I’ve eaten this year but I didn’t see it on the menu this time and instead we ordered the Spaghetti Chitarra and the Pork Cheek Taglioni.  The Spaghetti Chitarra is a hand made spaghetti served with Spanish red prawns in a secret red sauce with shaved Bottaga Di Muggine cheese.  I enjoyed this dish a lot and was down with its fuck yeah, bisque like flavour derived from cooking this sauce with stock made from prawn shells.  However, once the rush of carbohydrates had subsided I realised that I’d paid an eye-watering HKD448 (before the 10% service charge) for some pasta with three to four whole prawns perched on top. I made sure to get every last dollar value by sucking out the prawn heads to get all dat briney sea flavour into my life.  But fuckkkkkkkk no, I just can’t get behind a USD60+ prawn pa$ta dish from a value proposition perspective.

Sliding back a bit on price, the cured pork cheek tagliolini clocks in at a far more respectable HKD288.  I fucking love fine textured pastas like tagliolini cause they have so much surface area to catch sauce.  OK, I’ll be real, I fucking love ALL pasta cause I’m an equal opportunity carb whore.  But the problem with taglioni is that if it’s cooked too long (eg. Giando), it turns into a textureless fuck no mess.  Penthouse’s taglioni was a fuck yeah and comes served with all the good shit – a slow cooked egg, cured pork cheek, white truffle butter, pecorino cheese and porcini mushroom powder.  DAT SAUCE though was an epic fuck yeah and once the pasta was gone, I asked for more bread because as a table, we had a responsibility to ensure every last bit of that fuck yeah sauce was taken care of.  As the bread was baked to order, I spent the next five minutes fending off eagle-eyed waitstaff who were trying to do the right thing and efficiently clear our table of our plates while I aggressively defended my white truffle and pork sauce smeared territory from being unceremoniously washed down the sink instead of being rightfully in my belly.

We didn’t order it this time but I gotta give a fuck yeah shout out to Penthouse’s Spanish suckling pig.  If you’re into fuck yeah pig, I gotta highly recommend that you get involved as this bad boy is slow cooked for 12 hours before finishing it off at a high temperature to get that pig skin crispy as fuck. The accompaniments are a massive fuck yeah and move it past from the usual default awesome status of roast pig to being something pretty fucking epic.  Penthouse serve this with a serve of fennel mustard green salsa which has a mellowness and depth to it when paired with the pork.  It’d be too fucking easy for this gang to just serve up pork and some sort of appley sauce, wouldn’t it?  It comes with a whole roasted head of garlic and you should smear it all over whatever bread you can find.  All of this is served on a shredded cabbage salad which has been tossed through with a vinaigrette to give you some acid to cut through dem fatty pork times.

Through all of my Penthouse experiences though, I gotta be real with you and say you’ve got shit for brains if you don’t fucking listen to me and make sure you power through dessert.  It’s a crucial FYN pro-tip for life that you ensure that you order the ridiculously named Harlan’s Surprise Dessert Platter for Two-Three (um, I may have fucked the exact name up) for HKD358.  It’s a mix of all sorts of fuck yeah desserts with the centrepiece being some sort of peanut butter sorbet which had been subject to some liquid nitrogen, to give it a meringue like appearance. The flavour changes and I’ve had it in an equally fuck yeah summer berry incarnation.  The liquid nitrogen means that the sorbet is a light as fuck treat which melts as soon as it comes in contact with body heat.  Just to keep shit interesting, there’s puddles and spoonfuls of different sauces and flavours for contrast.  Powdered dusts, chocolate mousse, banana tiramisus, gelato and white chocolate lava cake, leaving you to change up your dessert experience depending on how you want to mix that shit up.  It’s interactive which makes it sound like it should be a massive wank off but our table did take a quiet moment just to eat and experience all the fuck yeah emotions that were going on.

intenseemotion

So Penthouse’s shit is not cheap but I can get down with the fact that the quality of the ingredients is reflected in this (except for the Spaghetti Chitarra, cause fuckkkk USD60+ pasta dishes).  I always have a fuck yeah time at Penthouse and the staff are on their shit which means you’re always well looked after.  It’s got a bit of atmosphere without being stuffy which I think makes it a fuck yeah venue for hot dates and fun homies.  I know I’m a supporter for a restaurant when I go home and I instantly whatsapp my fellow greedy ass homies to ensure that they know they have to get their ass to a restaurant.  Proof’s in the pudding yo cause after I went last week, I went home and texted five homies that they had to get their asses down to Penthouse.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah on pay day, if you haven’t been already you better get yo ass down to Penthouse and try this shit out with your best homies.  You better believe it, this is one of my favourite dessert experiences in all of HK.  DEM LIQUID NITROGEN DESSERT FEELS.

Where:
Mott 32
4-4a Des Voeux Rd
Basement of the Standard Chartered Bldg,
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2885 8688

Price:
Almost HKD500 a person.

The deal:
I finally got my ass in gear and went down to Mott 32.  I’ve heard the hype for goddamn months. “OHHHH, it’s just stunning! ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN! O M G the Peking duck is just to die for!  Of course, you MUST try the char siu!  They’ve used MOUNTAIN HONEY with IBERICO PORK!  That’s where you get Spanish pigs and only allow them to sup on fucking acorns.  I mean, how oh-so-oh-so-oh-so-oh-so sumptuously luxurious!”

The crowds are right that Mott 32’s interiors are all fucking class.  Artificial skylights (cause you’re in a fucking basement), wrought metal, rope, chains, painted facades, mirrors upon mirrors and large globular lights, all contribute to that modern, cool as fuck feel with a healthy dose of “Yeah, check my references to OLD ASIA, mate” such as Chinese medicine cabinets, mahjong rooms, Hong Kong fishing villages and street art renditions of old Hong Kong film stars.  Fuck yeahhhh, historical architectural design references taken from the authentic Orient of yesteryear – MOTT HAZ DEM.

So it’s well known that Mott 32 is charging fuck tonnes for Chinese (predominantly Cantonese influenced) food.  I fucking get it though – those acorn eating pigs from Spain can’t be fucking cheap.  After waiting almost a bit too long, our sixteen cubes of siu yuk / roast pork arrives.  It’s a fuck yeah, but I wouldn’t say it was the best siu yuk of my life.  It’s also a large HKD210 a serve. The assortment of dim sum that we got were also a fuck yeah.  I didn’t push the boat out to obnoxious luxury yum cha town when dim sum are amped up by adding ridiculously unnecessary ingredients like caviar, quails eggs, truffles or bird’s nest.   But if each individual piece of dim sum costs approximately HKD15-20ish EACH, it’s not a fucking unreasonable expectation that of course the quality of the ingredients should be better and therefore of a higher quality than the local joint down the road charging one-third of Mott 32’s prices.

It was after the dim sum order that the wheels started to rapidly come off the Mott 32 service.  While the initial greetings were slick and friendly, the interest level from the waiters was dropping off exponentially.  If you want to bill yourself as this fucking exxy top notch Cantonese dining experience, your waiters should be all over their service shiz.  Why did getting the attention of any staff seem to be such a fucking ordeal?  Why was no one all over making sure my teapot was full of boiling water?  How come no one ever offered to change my plates periodically?  I was reminded bitterly of this callous error when I was snacking down on some decidedly average fried rice which caught a bit of mustard left over from the siu yuk / roast pork that I’d had earlier. If lunch costs over HKD400+ a person, shouldn’t it be part of the service that a waiter will check every now and again whether you want anything or if shit’s going ok?!

While I’m talking fried rice – memo to Mott 32, just cause you top your fried rice with some fish roe caviar this is not a free pass to fuck yeah, next level fried rice cause your shit was bland as fuckkk.  But in a FYN Exclusive, I did manage to secure a copy of Mott 32’s staff briefing for lunch service:

not-give-a-fuck-list

I didn’t get the much raved about char siu cause my homie, Mr Judgmental, had already ranted against how average he’d found it. To be fair, he’d also ranted about the Peking Duck too but I wanted to try shit out for myself.  Just so you homies know, you have to pre-order the Peking Duck because Mott 32 only has limited numbers of ducks per day.  There’s a fuck tonne of culinary wank off regarding Mott 32’s Peking Duck.  Blah blah apple wood roasted blah blah custom oven blah blah custom drying fridge blah fucking blah dry the goddamn duck for 48 hours.  But I fucking love Peking Duck and I love judging the results of an over the top culinary wank session, so shit hot damn my body and judgment glands were more than fucking ready for dem roasted anatidae times.

So after the whole ceremony of wheeling the roasted duck in and slicing it at the table, our chef splits it into three plates – one of just skin, one of meat and one of a combination of meat and skin.  Mott 32’s duck skin was crispy but it was just so fucking greasy. The skin felt like it had been deep fried, taking on this weird-ass puffy, scratching like texture. Let’s be real, I really don’t give a fuck if you’ve air dried your duck for 48 hours by employing a harem of long haired snowy skinned virgins to fan it with a bunch of iridescent peacock feathers and then smoked it with apple wood sourced from the pristine Tien Shan mountain ranges of Kazakhstan if your duck skin is a fuck no greasy mess.

The Mott 32 Duck Atrocities continued with the actual duck meat being so fucking bland and completely unremarkable in every aspect.  Mott 32 weren’t content to just fuck up their duck and the pancakes were fucking abysmal – cracked in parts (despite not having left the steamer) and when wrapped with the duck, the texture was too tough meaning there was no ‘bite through’ sensation. To ensure more fuck no times, there was even disappointment with how they sliced their goddamn cucumbers.  Sure, it might seem small but when I’m paying big bank for a meal, I expect shit to be super tight – so when we get a plate of cucumber sticks and the bottom layer is still ONE FUCKING HUNK of cuke, I’m giving Mott 32 the major side eye.  Not that any waiters saw me because they were too fucking busy not being busy in the business of noticing their customers.  In the final in$ult, Mott 32 gives you barely any fucking pancakes to eat with your super greasy duck skin so you’ll have to order more pancakes for HKD60.  This is when you’ve already shelled out HKD580 for the duck itself!! Beyond fucking outrageous.

I also feel that shouldn’t a HKD580 Peking Duck come with a second course!?  Just boil that carcass up and give me some soup if you’re being that much of a fucking tight ass.  Or throw it in some fried rice or noodles  Just fucking do something you money grabbing assholes to take away the memory of the heinously disappointing duck pancake course you just served me.

So if you’re into fuck yeah interiors, overpriced fuck yeah yum cha, disinterested staff providing super sub-par nonchalant service, generally bland food which have been razzed up with caviar and really fucking disappointing Peking Duck, you should definitely be recommending Mott 32 as an awesome, fine dining Chinese experience to all your homies.  Like srs guise, I cannot fathom how so many people have told me that this shit was impressive (except for the bloggers who dined there ‘by invitation’, yeah I know why you fuckers loved it).  Let’s just chalk this super exxy hypebeast down to:

whiteopinions

Verdict:
FUCK NOOOOO, especially to that super disappointing greasy fucker of a Peking Duck.  Shit might look cool as fuck but just remember homies, you can’t fucking eat a Joyce Wang architectural design or street art renditions of Oriental chanteuses. 

Where:
Vasco (fuck yeahhhhh informative and useable website.  Yo HK, isn’t it like 2015?  Why is it even a talking point if a website is useful?!)
7/F Block B, PMQ
35 Aberdeen Street,
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2156 0888

Price:
Three course lunch set is HKD389 (+10%)

The deal:
I was getting all nostalgic and shit, reflecting upon the first quarter of 2015 and you know what?  I’ve had some good eats, some shithouse eats but there’s really been very few stand out, fuck yeah ‘fine dining’ times this year.  Not that dem saucy forthright HK restaurants bitches have been shy about charging super high fine dining prices for hit and miss food with patchy service.  Are my expectations so unattainable that I expect that if you’re charging more than HKD400 for a main, your shit has gotta be on point for food, service and ambience?  Out of all the meals I’ve had in 2015, there’s only two where shit was fuck yeahh on point across the big three food-service-atmosphere – lunch at Arcane and a dinner at Penthouse by Harlan Goldstein.  FYN Public Service Announcement: If you haven’t had Harlan’s uni/sea urchin pasta your life is less fucking awesome than it could be.  For real homies, you gotta fucking get on that sea urchin jam pronto.

I’m having a fucking whinge but fuck, as I am living in the first world, these are the kind of heart breaking first world struggles that I’m fucking doomed to have.  Seriously guise, this is my life right now in respect of eating out in HK:

struggleeveryday

So against that backdrop of new restaurant disappointment, I was sceptical as fuck when I booked into Vasco for lunch.  This was despite the big up that Vasco is led by Chef Paolo Casagrande and predictably has worked his ass off at some two Michelin starred establishment (Lasarte Restaurant in Barcelona).  For a start, my eternal fear when it comes to Spanish food is always leaving fucking starving despite the big fucking bankruptcy sandwich you get to reliably snack down on at almost every fucking Spanish restaurant.  Add in the PMQ hotspot of the moment factor and the website wank which included phrases such as bringing “gastronomy to new heights in this stunning restaurant” and my bullshit alarm set to fucking search and destroy.

However, despite the high levels of cynicism, Vasco chipped away at my scepticism so methodically that I gotta give the fuck yeah props.  The Joyce Wang designed restaurant is fucking stunning – exposed metal, wood, curtains of copper and glass everywhere.  Fuck yeah that they’ve considered acoustics too and have added tall, plush banquettes to allow to ensure you’re not just bouncing around noise in a sleek industrial space.  You know my feelings on tablecloths too and fuck yeahhhh that Vasco hasn’t cheaped out on providing linen by claiming that they want to be modern and informal.

In a rare HK occurrence, service was so consistently a fuck yeah from everyone who served us.  One of my biggest fuck nos in HK is that I often don’t believe that most restaurant staff have actually gotten to eat the goddamn food they’re serving.  When I was being talked through the menu, the waitress talked intelligently and passionately about each dish and the ingredients.  Fuck yeah, she even sounded like she genuinely gave a fuck.  I fucking love it when service is so good at a restaurant that I don’t even have to think about flailing about like a waving inflatable tube man to try and get some more water because your waiter homies are just on their shit.

Before our ordered food arrived, Vasco wheeled out four complimentary amuse bouches which were a fuck yeah.  All fancy clams and miniature packets of seasoned pistachios.  Sometimes amuse bouches can just feel like random shit left over in the kitchen but Vasco’s were tiny and beautiful as fuck.  I ate them in sequence per the waitress’s careful instructions and my excitement levels were rising in anticipation of our actual lunch.  However, more decisions had to be made when the bread rolled in, served with five different types of flavoured butter and a selection from five olive oils. I gotta be real, is it entirely necessary that I need to be talked through the flavour profile of five different olive oils before I have some bread at lunch?  Fuck no, but I can’t lie – grassy, creamy and fuck yeah olive oil with fuck yeah bread is always gonna have a place in my gluten filled heart.  OH AND HOLD THE FUCKING PRESS, Vasco served a brioche roll that didn’t want to make me storm the kitchen to pelt it at high velocity at the nearest chef while hysterically sob-shouting “Don’t waste your fucking time on brioche bread if it tastes like a dried out piece of fucking dish sponge”.

Fuck yeah brioche, knowledgeable servers and I’m thinking shit just seems too good to be true.  For my first course,  I ordered the “seared Hokkaido scallops with glazed pigs trotter and fresh pea ragout” and even though I feel that the shaving of black truffles over a dish is sometimes a culinary crutch, I lay down the HKD99 for some of dat luxury fungus shiz.  It arrives all fancy fucking art and delicate placement.  I don’t know if the black truffles added that much more because this glazed pig trotter deal was already a massive fuck yeah.  You better believe I’m writing an “A-Z Book of Nobody Knows the Food Related Trouble I Seen” and under B I’m listing ‘Being Bored of Black Truffles’.  Is that the most fucking obnoxious thing you’ve read today? I sure fucking hope so.

Despite my fuck no feelings towards meat and fruit, I went with the “Iberian Bellota pork fillet with roast pineapple cream, tarragon pesto and espelette sauce”.  However this wasn’t a fruity, red hot mess with the savoury balanced fucking perfectly against a hint of fruit.  The tarragon pesto and espelette sauce (that’s French chillies in case you didn’t know) was dotted and smeared just-so, ready for Instagram glory if that’s your jam. Fuck yeah, pork times!

I was full as fuck by this stage, but as the saying goes, I powered on through pudding cause I’m a hard cunt, ordering the banana cake with coconut ice cream and toffee sauce.  Vasco continuing the fuck yeah art with squares of cake, puffs of ice cream and no fucking surprise, dessert times at Vasco were rad as fuck.  There’s a nice touch with a presentation of some mignardises in some over the top blown glass vessel but my fat fuck pants blew up at this point, which meant I moved into sneaky fuck mode and shoved the nougats into my pockets for later consumption instead of my cavernous food hole.

So, it’s taken me a while to try Vasco cause Vasco’s prices are not for the faint hearted poor fuckers (lolz, why mince words?).  However, lunch was so fucking impressive that I’m seriously contemplating putting down the significant coin to check Vasco’s shit out at the much pricier night time prices.  For the moment at least, I take a moment to inhale sharply before I slide my longing gaze over Vasco’s functional website as an errant finger caresses the HKD980 (+10% service charge) price point listed on their informative, tasting menu PDF.  Or I catch the eye of a pricey as fuck HKD590 main consisting of “oven baked suckling pig with bitter lemon cream, pineapple chutney and mustard sauce” from the a la carte menu.  Instead, I listen to my computer hum to no one in particular except my broke, fat ass.  I ponder the potential for more culinary disappointment as a lonely tram slides by, a melancholy ding whirring into the heavy night sky.  While trapped in this trying and desolate HK experience, I dream of what could possibly be as a single tear rolls down my cheek   A wave of ennui washes over me as I whisper longingly into the ether “Fuck, if only I could get back that HKD1,100 I wasted at Holy Crab“.

Let it be known my homies, the first world can be an unforgiving master cause dis HK dining struggle is real.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah on pay day.  Sure, shit ain’t cheap but Vasco’s lunch set is accurately priced for the overall experience from the restaurant setting, quality of the food and the level of service. Hey Vasco, you can be my number #3 ‘top highlights of 2015’ cause FUCK YEAHHH, QUALITY LUNCH TIMES. 

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