NEO

NEO

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??

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