Trendy

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. 

Where:
Mano (half marks on your website Mano, Y U no have full menu??)
The L Place
Ground Floor, 139 Queens Road Central
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2399 0737

Price:
The five-course chef’s tasting menu was about HKD900ish and with a few extra items, drinks and coffee, we were out at around HKD4,000 for three people.  I’d give you better guidance if Mano’s website had all the relevant info. BUT IT DOESN’T.

The deal:
Ms Two Serves organised for us to have dinner at Mano because she went last week and fucking loved it.  I’d never gotten my ass down to Mano because I never knew exactly what the fuck they were trying to be.  I know they started off as some sort of casual, sandwich and coffee lunch time place and then last year in July, Chef Frederic Chabbert the former Chef de Cuisine of the formerly Michelin starred Petrus was shipped in to fancy up Mano’s shit a bit. Identity crisis aside, Mano is nailing its website wank, turning up its description bullshit off the goddamn charts by claiming that they’re a “pick me up in the morning”, “a hearty mouthful of wholesome lunch” and whoa, get your rose tinted literary prose glasses on at night cause this is when shit goes from “sunshine to moonshade” (Mano, noooo STAHP) and Mano transforms with “[h]ushed whispers and fragrant fusions [which] curl their way into Mano’s complete fine-dining dinner service”.

frankrusrs

Yo Mano’s copywriters – RU FUCKING FOR REAL?? MOONSHADE??  FRAGRANT FUSIONS??  But hey if you ever wondered where you need to go in HK to experience the tendrils of transformation which bring with it a “mysterious new energy”, it’s the ground floor of The L Place. No really. As an aside, I’ve never understood The L Place – it’s centrally located and as a concept it works, but the building has got bad feng shui or some fuck no mojo shit going on, because it always feels a bit dead and sad to me.

Bullshit copy aside, Mano appears to be gunning for a casual, not quite fine dining bistro vibe.  That translates to prices that aren’t fucking ludicrous, miniature herbs, big floral arrangements and predictably, no tablecloths.  When I arrive, Mr and Ms Two Serves are already smashing back champagne and gougères.  FUCK YEAH cause it’s a fact that life’s rad as fuck when you’re drinking champagne and chasing it with fuck yeah choux pastry filled with creamy cheese.  We decided to go for the five course tasting menu, with the cute description of “Fred’s Playground”, leaving the selection of the courses totally up to the Chef .  While we waited for our food, our bread arrived and that crusty loaf was a serious fuck yeah of epic proportions.  That gluten filled bastard arrived straight from the oven, steam escaping when we broke the loaf open and the pat of butter that it came with was FUCKING AMAZING.  I’m sure there was a story behind the fuck yeah butter, it was probably hand churned by nuns in Northwestern France from a herd of cows who are only allowed to eat clover during dusk but no explanation was forthcoming.  Instead, I focussed my entire being on the overwhelming feeling in my heart which assured me that there was nothing more that I wanted in this mortal coil than to eat numerous loaves of Mano’s FUCK YEAH bread.  Given that we were about to smash a Chef’s tasting menu, we only ate two loaves between us as my gluten based desires raged against my common sense.

The kitchen sent out a chestnut and mushroom soup as an amuse bouche, with a small plain pastry puff topped by a sliver of black truffle.  I was fearful that it was going to be one of those soups where it’s essentially cream with a touch of the actual ingredient, but fuck yeahhh shit was tasty and not too heavy.  Our first course was white asparagus with a hollandaise sauce which sounds boring as fuck, but Mano used some Japanese flavours such as micro shiso leaves, yuzu in the hollandaise and a slice of Japanese salty-sour plum which cut straight through the creamy rich sauce for some fuck yeah contrast times. Whoever is importing yuzu into HK atm must be making some serious bank cause yuzu is cruising right up kimchi’s ass to be the latest trendiest ingredient that every restaurant fucker is adding to their dishes for a bit of predictably trendy flair.  Can’t lie though, I’m still such a fucking sucker for it though.

Our second course was a fuck yeah scallop served in a lobster bisque dotted with toasted red quinoa.  Bisque seems to be one of those go-to broths that every fine dining restaurant seems to just keep on standby to pour on ingredients to fancy shit up but at least Mano’s captured that seafood flavour and used lemongrass to subtly hint at a Thai style curry.  While the dish was a fuck yeah, it was becoming apparent that Mano’s service was patchy as fuck.  Mano’s more experienced waiters were slick as fuck but there was a definite second class of greenhorns that were pleasant but not on top of their game.  Given that we’d given carte blanche to the chef, I found that more than half of our dishes weren’t presented with any explanation or it would only be directed to one person at the table.  When I had questions about the food we were served, I’m not entirely convinced that the staff had even tried the food themselves.  For example, I asked the waitress what was the toasted seed in our scallop dish and she answered ‘peppercorn’.  As I’m a total foodie douchebag I challenged her answer given that the seeds were fairly neutral in taste and she then returned to say it was quinoa after checking with the kitchen.  Fuuuuck me, I’m a pretentious fuckface when I want to be but if you don’t know what shit is in a dish, don’t give me a fuck no bullshit answer.

Our third course was a pasta dish consisting of twisted casarecce pasta in some sort of a salty, thin sauce and covered in shaved black truffles.  I assume the pasta was made by Mano but as we were given fuck all explanation about this dish, I don’t really fucking know.  This dish was a fuck no and the weakest dish of the entire night.  The pasta itself was merely passable in texture but I just couldn’t jive with the one dimensional sauce which was just too fucking salty and was too fucking thin to catch properly onto the pasta.  Sure, it was covered in a shit tonne of black truffles but fuck, I’m just not down with covering up poorly executed dishes with a shit tonne of diversionary black truffles in an attempt to luxury the fuck out of an underwhelming dish.  I guess this is what happens when you get a French chef to make pasta?

thatsracist

Ms Two Serves was all about Mano’s beef rib that she’d previously hyped up to me in a barrage of relentless messages last week.  Two ribs were served to be shared by the table with a portion of yuzu and jalapeno salsa on the side.  However fuck nooo, Ms Two Serves wasn’t in love with it as much this time around and I gotta level with you, shit was fine but I thought it erred on the side of being overdone.  I’ll caveat that statement with the fact that I like my meat rare as fuck though.

The dessert course was a trio of different plates (a chocolate based one, a mandarin flavoured one with a serve of clementine ice-cream and some sort of Granny Smith apple sorbet in a meringue shell) for us to share which were solid performers but nothing that was absolutely fucking mind blowing.  FYN’s tip is to skip dessert and eat five extra loaves of bread instead.  Make dem calories count, homies.

Ultimately, I wish Mano’s vision for itself was a bit clearer and at night, instead of half assing this fine dining with a casual feel, I’d rather they just went for it, with more consistent food, tablecloths and more on point service.  While the service was clunky in parts and the pasta was a fuck no, these were not fatal flaws with the other dishes showing some interesting ideas which were executed well with fuck yeah ingredients.  It fucking kills me, because it feels like Mano’s shit is almost there and it has the potential to be really fucking great.  Or maybe I just got charmed by how fucking friendly and sincere Chef Chabbert was.  Overall, I think Mano’s shit was interesting enough to warrant a return visit and in Mano’s favour there wasn’t a gimmicky kimchi throwback in sight.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah on pay day, but I wouldn’t do the Chef’s tasting menu again.  I’ll level with you, I’m fucking tempted just to go back and have an epic fuck yeah of a time by just smashing through the following all by myself – an entire serve of gougeres, eight loaves of DAT BREAD, washing it all back with a bottle of champagne and closing with Mano’s fuck yeah espresso.

Where:
Burger Circus (FUCK, it’s a miracle!  A functional and informative HK website!)
22 Hollywood Road
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2878 7787 (I don’t think it’s a booking kind of place though)

Price:
Burgers are around HKD75 – 100 (+10% service charge).  We got out at HKD185 each with some sides and sparkling water.

The deal:
HK is in the midst of a burger craze, with approximately 23 press releases hitting my inbox every fucking day about some asshole opening up some “new and innovative” burger joint which has The BEST, JUICIEST beef patty in HK with The BEST bun, carefully crafted in conjunction with some French baker and of course they predictably tested that shit during Clockenflap or some pop-up on a godforsaken rooftop somewhere.  Hotshack, Boombox, Cali-burger, Big Butchersclub, Fernando Circus, Dirty Decadent Dickbags – fuuuuuuuuuck pass the kimchi and then call some lifestyle blogs to put in you in their Hot New Shit About Town special, cause I can’t fucking keep track anymore.  Who are these people in HK who are eating 27 burgers and 34 burritos a week which justifies the existence of all these new burger joints and the 57 Cali-Mexes in HK??

Word on the street about Burger Circus has been lack lustre which even the gifting of free burgers to the public hasn’t seemed to have stemmed.  My homies have been telling me that shit’s cute but the burgers are just ok.  They’re going for that kitschy retro thing so if you ever wanted to eat a burger in a replica train cart then you’re in fucking luck.  However despite the mediocre feedback, my judgmental as fuck self can soften when it’s 1:30am and my raggedy drunk ass is feeling the full effects of trying to soak up a bottle of wine, miscellaneous other drinks and a FUCK NO heinous tequila shot (fuck I thought it was vodka! #DrunkAssBitchProblems) with some crackers and cheese that I’d tried to fool my body into thinking it was a sufficient and nutritious dinner. Mr + Mrs Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and I were doing the Wyndham Walk of Shame, deciding between the usual suggestions (Paisanos, 27 Kebab House) when we see the idyllic retro charm (lolzzz) of Burger Circus looming in the distance.

Since it opened, one of my favourite things to do every time I walk past Burger Circus, is to see how fucking miserable their waiters look in their kitschy diner get up uniforms.  I even made one of their waiter homies into a STAHP meme in my Jollibee‘s review.  After we’re seated and our waiter swings by, I instantly realise that it’s the STAHP homie and while I asked him what his favourite burger was, I was simultaneously feeling bad for making this hard-working, convivial waiter into a meme but obviously not bad enough to stop myself from posting it again:

burgerstahp

Following STAHP Waiter’s recommendation, I went with “The Circus Burger” (HKD80), which bills itself as a “5oz beef patty, crispy bacon, savory onions, lettuce, tomato and Circus sauce” and a side of fries (HKD30).  My burger arrives wrapped in paper and on its fuckin side so you can see all the ingredients from the top.  I gotta give Burger Circus full marks for their fuck yeah presentation but their presentation shit is form over function cause when I’m slamming the burger into my face to give me much needed Vitamin G(rease), burger juice starts to drip fucking everywhere.  Retro stripey placemats and paper containers don’t look so fucking cute once they’re smeared with CIRCUS SAUCE and burger juice.  Dear Burger Circus, Y U no present burger with the bun horizontal like every other place?  Y U no wrap paper underneath the other end of the burger?  Shit’s just so unnecessarily untidy.

Given my drunk ass state in which was ready to eat my own arms off, my burger was a fuck yeah at this point in time but Mr Ain’t No Mountain High Enough seemed to have a quarter of an iceberg lettuce wedged into his.  The fries were only average though. My Circus Burger was fairly well proportioned in term of its ingredients ratio but wasn’t particularly spectacular in any aspect.  Gotta note though that the bun was super soft and it gets fucking soggy from the sauce.  I can jive with a soft bun more than some monstrous crusty sesame bun or some bullshit dried out brioche bun which just overwhelms the other ingredients.  Most importantly though, Burger Circus’s burger is the size of a small child’s fist and it was gone before I fucking knew it.  TOO SAD.  Reflecting upon the quick, fleeting Burger Circus moment, I had a flash back to a press release or a blog somewhere that the Burger Circus burgers were described as an ‘ideal size’, which seems to be PR speak for FOOD FOR ANTS.

With my small-ass burger but a fleeting memory and my drunk-ass hunger remaining, my homies and I ordered a serve of the jalapeno poppers, buffalo wings and the kosher dill pickle.  The dill pickle was a FUCK YEAH, sour, briney and juicy as fuck.  The buffalo wings came out cute as fuck in their paper container but were a fuck no on both execution and price point, given that for HKD88 you only get THREE just ok wings served with a side of watery blue cheese sauce.  The jalapeno poppers are all fancied up with a tempura style batter and a cream cheese filling but even in my Vitamin G seeking state, the poppers were not that amazing and punched in at HKD78.  Overall, fuck no to Burger Circus $ides, except for DAT PICKLE.

At about 2am, Burger Circus was calling it a night and our waiter homies hustled us out of the joint .  While the burger I had was enjoyable enough, I gotta be real, this was in the context that it was past midnight and I needed late night post-drinking snacks and if there was a McDonald’s on Hollywood Road, I would have been just as happy getting a cheeseburger and FUCK YEAH McWings.

So while the Burger Circus PR team are probably punching out press releases that refer to its rail cart diner ‘concept’ and sure milkshakes and over the top white and black retro outfits fit into that aesthetic, I can’t fucking eat my server’s outfit and I’d rather have less stripey packaging and MOAR FUCKING (HORIZONTAL) BURGER for my $$$.

Verdict:
Fuck no if you’re sober but not gonna lie, if my post-drinking ass was on Hollywood Road, tiny-ass overpriced passably decent burgers could happen again.

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