fuck yeah noms

Where:
MyHouse (HOLY FUCK, it’s a perfectly functional HK restaurant website)
202 Queen’s Road East
26/F QRE Plaza
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2323 1715

Price:
A very reasonable HKD380 per person for food only (before tip, no service charge is included).  Cocktails come in around the HKD100 – HKD120 mark and there’s a fuck yeahhhh reasonably priced wine list too.

The deal:
When I read about MyHouse, I wasn’t sure if it was gonna be something new and innovative or would it just be one of those venues that tries too fucking hard.  My spider senses were tingling once I read all the prose about it being a creative space where people should feel that they’re at home.  The idea of the venue moving from a coffee / casual lunch spot which then morphs to an after work drinks spot, then dinner and then into a club / music venue.  The emphasis on it being a music place where each table has its own turntable, allowing customers to pick up some old school vinyl before playing their own individual soundtrack at their dinner table. That’s if you’re not enjoying the VINYL ONLY house DJ.  Then there’s the whole shebang about it being about natural wines and sustainable seafood.  I’m just so fucking jaded with wank-off pretentious concepts which don’t deliver that I imagined that it might be a bit like going to dinner theatre.  As in, there’s a whole shit tonne of things going on but in the end, the substandard food is distracting you from the amateur dancing, as you suck back some awful house wine in a futile attempt to put some enjoyment into the clusterfuck of an experience by getting wasted.  Just as the cheap wine headache squeezes your brain into oblivion, you tumble out of some grimey venue, dazed and confused as fuck with an overall feeling of “FUCK ME, WHAT JUST HAPPENED THERE?” as an overwhelming tsunami of mediocrity washes over you.

However, one of my random FYN homies has been non-stop singing MyHouse’s praises which is why I decided to put my healthy scepticism to one side and get myself down to QRE Plaza in Wan Chai.  I feel like I’m spending all my time in Wan Chai at the moment.  WAIT, that came out fucking wrong.  I feel like I’m spending all my time going to restaurants in Wan Chai at either 239 Hennessy Road or QRE Plaza at the moment given all the new digs that have opened there (The Optimist, Zahrabel, Momojein, El Mercado (UGH but just don’t go) and Pirata).  As soon as you exit the lifts, MyHouse is killing it with its fuck yeah Mohamad Ghamlouch designed interiors. It’s got that spacious converted loft apartment feel of your fuck yeah non-HK dreams cause let’s face facts, you’re really stuck paying HKD27,000 a month for 350 square feet of Sheung Wan apartment feelings.   MyHouse is all natural wood and massive industrial globular light bulbs, bathing everything in fucking beautiful warm light. They’ve tucked plants just under the ceiling and large windows open up onto the salubrious view of….Hopewell Centre. The space is split between a massive cocktail bar, individual dinner tables, a private dining area, a DJ podium and a bar area.  It’s clear that it’s all carefully thought out with purposefully mismatched block coloured plates, curated art work, vinyl record sleeves stacked in bookshelves and wrought iron fixtures.

I had anticipated that MyHouse would be more like bar snacks to go with trendy cocktails but MyHouse’s Executive Chef Peter Birks has got some serious cooking game going on.  He’s managed to escape the grips of Dining Concepts and prior to cheffing it up at MyHouse he was the Chef de Cuisine for Carbone HK.  After some judicious Internet stalking it appears that he’s an Aussie Caboolture boy done good.  Go well my Strayan sonny!  However, upon reading the MyHouse menu I guess it’s best described as European with some strong Italian influences given the pasta and pizzetta section.  More importantly, I realise there are many things I want in my life.  This is where I flag down our waiter and he’s 100% across the menu and gives meaningful and well thought out suggestions.  Fuck yeahhhh, floor staff who know their shit.  Our waiter homie recommends that we order five to six dishes as well as being super helpful on helping us pick out some fuck yeah natural wine. I gotta mention that throughout the whole night the MyHouse service is super tight from start to finish and even though they’ve only been open for a few weeks there’s no relying on any soft opening bullshit. Fuck yeahhhhhh MyHouse, show those new HK restaurants that just cause your shit is new it doesn’t mean that your service has to be a red hot mess.

While we make decisions on the menu our bread arrives and it’s this large, open crumbed thing of fuck yeah glory.  Our table smears each piece with French salted butter and smashes through it relentlessly.  I’m having a bit of a bread related moment, because it’s just so fucking good.  Our waiter asks if we want more bread and my greedy-ass mouth has no other option but to declare “YASSSSSSSSS”.  We later pressed the MyHouse homies for the details behind their bread and they say that as their kitchen is too small they are getting the goods from Bread Elements.  Even writing this paragraph about the Bread Elements foccacia loaf is hitting me right in the feels because FML, why am I not eating this crumby bastard right the fuck now??

breadlife

In a nod to pretending to be into healthfulness we start with the “Truffle buttered asparagus with Iberico jamon, poached egg and parmigiano reggiano” (HKD148).  It’s exactly as promised and every element is fucking great.  However, I just don’t think I’d order it again because let’s be real, just how fucking exciting can asparagus with egg and cheese really be??  Fuck off vegetables, I don’t need to pretend to be healthy cause let’s face facts, I’m a fat fuck at heart and I’d rather spend my bucks on meat and fuck yeah carbs.

This is where the “Ox-tail, orange and sage ragu over crusty bread” (HKD118) arrives and OH MY FUCKING GOD.  While it’s simple in concept, it’s fucking unbelievable.  The ox-tail has been slow cooked until it’s falling apart with gentle orange peel overtones and sage for herbaceous fuck yeah feelings.  It’s served on a piece of that fuck yeah Bread Elements foccacia loaf which has been toasted in butter to make it even more fucking delicious, providing dem crunchy feels against the ox-tail ragu.  You better believe that we demanded even more bread so we could scrape every last bit of that ragu into my life from the cast iron pan.  Why would you order HKD148 asparagus when HKD118 fuck yeah ox-tail ragu is on offer?? Don’t fall into the healthful vegetable trap homies, you’re not impressing anyone!

cookiemonsterfuckvegetables

Our waiter had recommended a pizzetta which is fancy Italian nomenclature for ‘tiny pizzas’.  We ordered the “spicy salami, nduja, provolone pizzetta” for a very fair HKD98.  It’s about as wide as two fists and it’s deep crust style, its bottom crispy fried in olive oil and topped with fuck yeah salami and nduja.  Like seriously, what’s not to love about nduja – ie. a spreadable pork sausage mixed with roasted peppers and spices?  Predictably, there’s some arugula scattered about as well which I guess is an acceptable salad accompaniment when it’s on top of a salami pizza.

My generally insatiable lust for carbs almost met its match by the time I got to the pasta course. The “veal cannelloni with porcini béchamel” (HKD228) was small in size but rich as fuck.  The flavours were a fuck yeah symphony of balance.  Sure, the veal cannelloni was a good fucking thing but the true magic was the porcini béchamel sauce.  The dish is grilled to give the béchamel a browned maillard crust and just when I thought I couldn’t handle any more of these overwhelming feelings for béchamel sauce the subtle nutmeg spicing kicks in on the back end.  The only thing that can contain my unbridled emotions is to tearily wave the waiter homie over, begging him to bring me MOAR BREAD so I can get every last bit of béchamel into my being.

However, despite the fuck yeah pasta times this is all warm up for the star of the masterpiece, the “Porcini rubbed short-rib with aged balsamic” (HKD458).  This slow cooked Canadian beef short rib presents itself sliced into pieces, with a now-clean bone presented right down the middle.Unfortunately, there’s  more fucking arugula on it, and given the amount of arugula on the other dishes I was definitely at peak arugula levels by this stage. Yo MyHouse, diversify your garnishing portfolio and get some cress or something.  However, the most important thing to remember is the fuck yeah glory of MyHouse’s short rib which is sprinkled with large chunks of French sea salt which catch your tastebuds periodically to ricochet more fuck yeah feelings through your body.  The beef is pink and soft like butter, but charred on the outside.  This juicy fucker tastes so distinctly of beef and happiness that I’m not even sure if the salt I’m tasting is from the French sea salt flakes or whether it’s because I’m weeping tears of joy into my food.  My fellow dining homie that was with me at this point takes a moment to stop shovelling beef into her face, just to exclaim “Fuck, I think I’m at the Vatican because I just saw GOD”.

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At five dishes we were truly full as fuck and as a massive fat cunt, perhaps our waiter’s recommendation of six dishes was a bit punchy.  Or perhaps most normal patrons don’t take it upon themselves to eat a loaf of foccacia each on top of their ordered dishes.  Just to round off our MyHouse experience we took a bottle of red wine to the couched bar area and split a dessert, the salted caramel panna cotta (HKD88).  Layered in a stemless wine glass, I was most definitely into this.  Each layer had a different texture and flavour, going from chocolate to the salted caramel panna cotta to a foamy cream, all topped with some salted caramel popcorn to give it some crunch and dem salty burnt sugar feelings while we enjoyed some cool house tunes from MyHouse’s DJ.

So I’m totally willing to take this one on the chin and be proven wrong that restauranteurs actually can fully formulate a concept which has every potential to be a massive pretentious wank-off but instead throw down a massive fuck you to half-assed execution and pulls together something which is unique and killing it in an unprecedented SEVEN WAY FUCK YEAH slam of interiors, concept, food, music, drinks, service and price point.  Yassss MyHouse, you better believe my short ribbed filled body is READY.

Verdict:
FUCK YEAHHHHHHHH!  In a fairly flat year of only just ok new restaurants in HK, MyHouse has gotta be a strong FYN contender for one of the best new restaurants of 2015.  GET INTO IT ASAP FYN HOMIES, CAUSE THIS MYHOUSE SHIT IS JUST SO FUCKING RIGHT.

Where:
Cookieboy HK
Tong Chong Street Markets (Every Sunday til the end of 2015)
Outside the PCCW Tower, Taikoo Place
Quarry Bay, Hong Kong

FYN Note:  Cookieboy are only there every other Sunday, so check Cookieboy’s FB for details to avoid fuck no disappointment.

Cookieboy is also available at Sunday’s Grocery (66-68 Catchick Street Kennedy Town, Hong Kong) but I’m still growing my manbun so I ain’t ready for that hipster bullshit yet.

Phone:
N/A

Price:
HKD20 each or HKD100 for six.

The deal:
One of HKs overlords, Swire, have started a new Sunday market on Tong Chong Street, just outside Taikoo Place / PCCW Tower.  Given that HK is no longer in the grip of an insanely hot Summer, I dragged myself down there vaguely hopeful that I might get something fun for lunch.  I gotta say, I am totally behind the concept of these sorts of events in HK because fuck yeahhhh, I can get behind organic vegetable stores and small food production outlets trying to make a go of it in HK.  However, in execution, I’m not sure Tong Chong St Market got its shit right because after a loop around the market site all I saw was stall after stall of expensive, sad-ass sandwiches that were trying too hard, such as soggy ass chicken waffle sandwiches and vegan everything fun-free banh mis.  To add fuel to my emotional state, I then ran across the BLOGGER SQUAD who were getting dragged around en masse with their huge-ass cameras as stall holders gave them loud food fact chats via a megaphone, as the Blogger Squad nodded sagely and took down notes regarding all of these fuck no looking sandwiches which had been staged for them in the middle of a reserved media table. I hate-crashed the media table to get this pic of the Bread and Beast beef tongue and cheese roll that was waiting for its Insta Foodie moment, replete with its plastic cheese and fuck no looking bread – SHAME SHAME SANDWICH SHAME:

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But like a bastion of hope, blinking through all the carb related sadness there is one non-vegetable related stall that is worth the trip to Tong Chong St Markets and that’s Cookieboy.  Cookieboy was founded by Ryan Zimmer who has a shit tonne of pastry experience, and was most recently the Executive Pastry Chef for the JW Marriott HK. After quizzing the Cookieboy homies as to which cookie was their best one and getting an answer almost equivalent to “I love all my children equally!”, I decided that the best decision was to make no decision and to get a Mixed Batch bag, which gives you one cookie of each flavour.  I immediately called up Ms Two Serves so we could meet up for Cookie Judgment Day.  Overall, we fucking loved them.  What I fucking loved the most about all of Cookieboy’s cookies was that they’re soft, chewy fuckers.  No hard cookies here which means that they do not transport that well and will break apart quite easily by the time you get them home.  However, I’m willing to sacrifice structural integrity for a chewy fuck yeah texture.  It’s time to check out FYN’s ranking of the Mixed Batch sampler from FUCK YEAHHHH to fuck yeah:

  1. Peanut Butter:  This PB cookie might not be much to look at, but it promises “chewy peanut butter goodness”. I’m a total slut for peanut butter and chewy cookies so it’s pretty obvious that I’m gonna give this one a massive FUCK YEAH.  Let’s be real, who doesn’t want to eat a chewy peanut butter loaded cookie which gives you every excuse to get your homies involved just so you can ask them “HOW DO YOU LIKE DEEZ NUTS?”
  2. Apple Pie:  This is a seasonal special so I have no fucking idea how long it’s going to be around for.  Which is potentially a bit sad because who wants something this good to ever come to an end??  While the cinnamon Snickerdoodle cookie might form the solid as fuck foundation that this seasonal FUCK YEAH cookie is built upon, it’s the semi-dehydrated apple chunks and brown sugar streusel which gives you dem Autumnal feels. So bye, bye, Miss American Pie, got my cookie from my homies and the Fall feels were fucking FINE.
  3. Macadamia White Chocolate:  I am not sure how the financial metrics work when trying to produce an Australian macadamia cookie in HK which only sells for HKD20 because the last time I merely looked at a bag of Australian macadamias at Wellcome Supermarket I almost had to immediately declare bankruptcy.  Regardless, the caramelised flavours are strong and so are my fuck yeah feelings.
  4. Oatmeal and Raisin:  Oatmeal is healthy for you, isn’t it?  Lowers cholesterol and all that good shit.  Perhaps it’s not so beneficial for your health once you start mixing in butter, sugar and all that good shit.  But it sure makes it fucking delicious.  It’s like breakfast, but actually interesting.  Fuck yeahhhh.
  5. Chocolate Chunk:  Ms Two Serves was into this one and declared “Sometimes, all you need is a choc chip cookie”.  While I can appreciate her purist approach to cookie life, clearly I’m a fussy fucker who prefers fancy tricks like dehydrated apple chunks and Australian macadamias. While the Chocolate Chunk was still rad, I just wanted the chunks to be a bit bigger and offer a bit more texture.
  6. Double Chocolate Chunk:  Look, some of my best friends are black but I was just the least excited by this one.  Dark as night and chocolatey as fuck, I just wanted more from my cookies than chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.  But I get it, some homies just wanna rock out with their choc out – and if you’re that sort of homie this one is totally gonna be your fuck yeah chocolate time jam.

Cut to me half a week later and my Mixed Batch paper bag was down to a few woeful crumbs.  You better believe that I shamelessly used a spoon to scoop out every possible cookie crumb into my life.  When I could scoop no more, I aggressively tipped the bag directly into my mouth.  Of course, this is where my fuck no lack of coordination resulted in Cookieboy crumbs overshooting my face and falling wastefully straight down my shirt.  It was at this point that I was left with no other option but to fall down to the now crumb covered floor, arch my back like a wild animal and howl desolately, mouth in rictus, as I contemplated sadly the cookie-less void my life had now become. IT’S ALL TOO SAD, HOMIES. LET US PRAY.

cookiemonsteraddict

Verdict:
FUCK YEAHHHHH get involved homies because as I always maintain, carb life = best life, and who doesn’t wanna be living the best life??

Where:
Viet Kitchen (fuck yeahhhh functional website.  WITH MENUS. VIET KITCHEN, I’M CRYING HERE)
Lobby, Nexxus Building
41 Connaught Road, Central
Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2806 2068 (but they will only take lunch bookings for more than six people)

Price:
HKD98 for the starter and main lunch set. +HKD22 for the drink. After service charge, out at HKD120 a person.

The deal:
Chef Peter Cuong Franklin, previously of Chom Chom fame, has set up Viet Kitchen at the Nexxus Building (near the Hang Seng Building / walkway through Central Market).  I gotta make a FYN confession, I never went to the new Chom Chom even though everyone was losing their shit over it. This is because my kindred soul mate in nom, Ms Two Serves, went a few times and I was on the receiving end of several emotional whatsapp outbursts about her fuck no experiences which really just consisted of about 20 messages saying “Whyyyyyy?”, interspersed intermittently with “So salty” and “Pho Cheung Fan Rice Rolls??”.  Add in the hordes of people and the inability to book and I wrote Chom Chom off entirely. Chef Franklin is no longer at Chom Chom and he has since opened the substantially sized Viet Kitchen.  I decided to try it because I was looking for somewhere new for lunch with minimal drama in Central because I just find eating lunch in Central to be such hard fucking work.  As you can’t book Viet Kitchen, I aggressively implored my fellow lunch homie to leg it down Des Voeux Road with me as close to 12pm as possible because Viet Kitchen won’t take bookings for tables of less than six people.  Yasss bish ruuuun:

totororunbitchrun

Luckily the most cardiovascular exercise I’ve had in weeks gave me more tangible results than the gym ever did because we walked straight into getting a table.  I’ll note though that I found myself back at Viet Kitchen within the week and without the Des Voeux Noonday Dash ahead of the lunch hordes, we arrived at around 12:30pm and we only had to endure a relatively short 10-15 minute wait for a table.

One thing that I’m giving a major FUCK YEAH for Viet Kitchen’s proposition is that they are gunning to be an efficient as fuck lunch joint and it’s clear that their speedy wait times are no accident.  You are able to select your lunch from a clipboard while you wait and as soon as you sit down, your entrees are practically upon you.  The restaurant itself isn’t the size of a postage stamp and seats over 80 people meaning they can pack the masses in.  The lunch menu is straightforward with minimal options and no one has to verbally take your order – meaning that your lunch inputs are fed straight into the Viet Kitchen Lunch Machine and it’s barely minutes before your entrees are being served up to your table.  The staff are efficient and on their shit which means fuck yeahhhhhhhhhhh, supreme lunch efficiency!

For starters there’s a four choices – deep fried lemongrass silken tofu, caramel chicken wings, the Vietnamese soft spring roll stuffed with sole or a green papaya and mango salad.  But lolz, as if I was ever gonna get some sad ass papaya salad when there was deep fried, caramel chicken wings on offer.  The chicken wings are fucking awesome and Viet Kitchen will give you three pieces.  Slightly spicy but with a warm, caramel and garlic flavour. Obviously I could have eaten nine but I’m not known as the Angel of Chicken Death for nothing.  On another return visit I ordered the deep fried lemongrass silken tofu which were a small, though fuck yeah starter.  One of my lunching homies decided to respect himself and made the sensible choice and got the salad, which came with an extra serve of sadness on the side.  He barely touched his healthy as fuck salad, while he longingly stared at my golden cubes of deep fried tofu.  Face facts homies, good decisions never ever start with forsaking fried chicken for salad.

wayansbaddecision

I’ve tried two mains at Viet Kitchen now. The first time, I went for the traditional Saigon Beef Pho, billed as beef broth, medium rare beef, slow roasted brisket and rice noodles.  Viet Kitchen’s Pho has been quite the source of consternation on OpenRice (lolz) with crying faces all over the shop.  I’m not gonna declare it to be the best pho in HK nor am I gonna be an asshole and compare it to some hole in the wall pho joint that you’ve most definitely never heard of in Vietnam, but it was a solid fuck yeah and I enjoyed it.  Sure, I could have done with more beef and I’m always into getting beef balls and tripe as well in my pho.  I also would have preferred a firmer noodle with more bite vs the softer “hor fun” style noodle that Viet Kitchen used, but that’s HK Pho Life for you. You can add another HKD28+ to upgrade to the large bowl but I’m a greedy fucker and the normal size bowl was perfectly fine by me. Overall, the pho was solid lunch time fare but I wasn’t overwhelmed by unbridled fuck yeah emotions.

On my return visit, I got involved with probably one of my favourite sandwiches of all time, the majestic Banh Mi (Tiệm Bánh Mi Phương, I still burn for you, my love, my fire, my carb based desire).  Viet Kitchen aren’t fucking about and will send you straight to my favourite destination, CARB TOWN, loading up their banh mi with a side of lightly spiced french fries and sweet chilli ketchup.  Rules to live by:  Carb life = best life. Viet Kitchen lets you choose from three types of banh mi – The Pork Experience, Wok Fried Lemongrass Beef, and Turmeric and Dill Sole Fillet.  I ain’t got time for that new age banh mi bullshit so of course I went in for The Pork Experience.  As I’ve had so many sub-standard banh mis in HK I wasn’t exactly holding my breath, steeling myself for fuck no sandwich related disappointment.

But whoa, surprise on the upside cause fuck yeahhhhhh this was probably the best banh mi I’ve had in HK.  First of all, the French baguette they use is a fuck yeah because it’s crisp as fuck but not so crunchy that your mouth ends up being carved up into a mess by razor sharp shards of crust.  There’s a good amount of bread in proportion to the ingredients and they haven’t just packed it with low cost carrots to make up for actually giving you meat.  The pork banh mi is stuffed with thin caramelised pieces of pork belly, slices of Vietnamese pork sausage, pickled carrots, daikon and cucumber and fresh coriander.  To bring it all together, there’s a good smear of pork liver pate and sriracha mayo.  Yassssssssssss, sriracha, pork and bread based feelings followed by a french fry chaser is the sort of fuck yeah lunch time experience that I can wholeheartedly get my greedy carb loving ass behind.

It’s HKD22 to add a drink to your lunch and while there’s the bog standard options of canned soft drinks there’s also some of my favourite fuck yeah Vietnamese options – fresh lime soda, salted lime soda, Vietnamese iced coffee and Vietnamese iced tea.  I’m all about the Vietnamese iced coffee and Viet Kitchen’s  is a fuck yeah – strong, punchy black coffee being sweetened just enough from the condensed milk.  Fuck yeahhhh, just add a shot of Kahlúa and vodka and I’d happily drink these til I lost all sensation in my face.

If you wanted to, I think you could easily be seated and out of Viet Kitchen within half an hour.  However, despite the demand for tables though, our waiters were polite and never hassled us to leave before we were ready.  The good news is that even if you can’t be fucked braving the lunch time crowds and dealing with the table palaver, you can always just get a FUCK YEAH banh mi from their Viet Baguette take-away counter.  I’m not sure how big the non-lunch or weekend crowds are for Viet Kitchen considering its location is in the middle of Central not near the restaurants of Soho etc, but I know that Viet Kitchen is giving it a red hot go to be a bar/drinks venue as well.  Not sure how that’s going to go for them but fuck, systematic and organised lunch service gets a FUCK YEAH from me.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhh to efficient as fuck, affordable and tasty lunch sets. Make dat lunch money Viet Kitchen, you efficient restaurant homies most def deserve it.

Where:
Momojein (no proper website so check their FB page)
23/F QRE Plaza
202 Queen’s Road East
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2789 1949

Price:
We got out at HKD440 a person. But I was with Ms Two Serves which means most people would probably get out for less.

The deal:
Momojein only opened in September and its claim to fame is its imported Korean celebrity chef, Lim Hee-won.  I give zero fucks about celebrity when it comes to chefs because fame don’t make shit taste good but I understand that Chef Lim used to front some reality Korean TV show.   Ms Two Serves and I wanted to try somewhere new but when we were deciding to try Momojein in Wan Chai, we were so fearful that their claim to ‘Korean Inspired Cuisine’ could end up in mediocre and run-of-the-mill sadness.  As the ‘Korean inspired’ cuisine alarm bells went off, we did some due diligence and were vaguely reassured by their menu which contained no bullshit Mexican influences.  I don’t know why every single fucking Korean place is all viva Mexico because I have zero interest in sitting through some godawful Korean-Mexican kimchi stuffed burrito with some heinous fuck no name like the Miss Kimmy Kurrito.

The final deciding factor in trying Momojein was when Ms Two Serves pointed out that Momojein is walking distance from Stone Nullah Tavern and if it all went pear shaped, we could try and erase the fuck no disappointment with a second Redemption Dinner involving fuck yeahhh SNT buffalo wings. As the saying goes, failing to prepare is preparing to fall in a big bag of fuck no, sub-par food-related failure, and Ms Two Serves and I ain’t got time for that.

Momojein is a really fucking cute and modern space, their interior and branding nailing the clean, trendy feeling they were going for.  There’s warm wooden tables, brushed concrete floors and enough potted plants and greenery to make sure shit still feels comfortable and doesn’t veer too becoming a stark, austere echo chamber.  A clean and simple menu outlines Momojein’s modern take on Korean food in a modern sans serif font and Ms Two Serves and I revert to our default mode of wanting to order everything.  Well, except for the entire salad section which listed some unexciting healthy shit like “Watermelon and Beef Salad” and “Crispy Beef Brisket Salad”.  These salads weighed in at HKD132 each and seemed like an expensive way to get some artistic pieces of arugula, a tiny amount of protein and the faintest shred of pretence that you are making some healthy life choices.

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Ms Two Serves and I also examine what could potentially be the world’s most boring cocktail menu that anyone has ever bothered to write down.  Ms Two Serves asked whether she could have a vodka and soda with a splash of yuzu, which caused a mini meltdown because Momojein’s cocktail list didn’t push the boat out and include “vodka and soda”.  Fuck yeahhhh, let’s take shit truly back to basics zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz:

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We order the Kalbi Hotteok  (HKD82), which is described as a “juicy hand-crafted beef wrapped inside a chewy crepe bun that is then pan seared for the ultimate crispiness”, with ranch dressing on the side.  Ms Two Serves resolutely declares that “ultimate crispiness” is a concept that she can wholly get behind.  Hotteok (a Korean pancake) is normally stuffed with a sweet filling and Momojein are fancying up shit by stuffing it with beef, but fuck tradition because this Kalbi Hotteok is fucking delicious with its chewy though crispy fried rice flour bun and fuck yeah juicy beef filling.  While our waitress claimed we could share this, it wasn’t the most easily shareable food given that when you cut it open with the provided scissors, the hotteok leaks its fuck yeah beef juices all over the place.  Given its modest size, this fuck yeah beefy treat is not cheap at HKD82 (+10% service charge) but fuck, I’d probably still order it again.  However, the Flowered Chives Pancake (HKD108 +10% service charge) is really where the fuck yeah party gets going, this dish being the fuck yeah highlight of the starters that we ordered.  The flowered chive flowers are so fucking pretty and delicately flavour the pancake with onion and there’s a good amount of seafood mixed into the pancake. All of this works with the soy and chilli dipping sauce.  But what I remember the most is how this pancake truly captured dem fuck yeah “Ultimate Crispiness” feels.  No sad ass soggy bottomed bland Korean pancakes here.

For our main we ordered the Whole Kalbi and Coriander Salad which weighs in at a hefty HKD340 (+10% service charge).  Of course I was fearful that it was going to be tiny but Momojein’s prime beef rib turns out to be decent in size and could be shared between two to three people quite comfortably.  Even two greedy fuckers like Ms Two Serves and myself.  It’s fucking great – the beef is charred and served sliced with a fuck yeah Korean influenced BBQ sauce (read: BBQ sauce which is a bit sweet and spicy) and more ranch style white sauce.  You better believe that I went hands on with the bone to make sure no fuck yeah beef was left behind.  The accompanying coriander salad was refreshing but a bit half assed on the vegetable ontat as it didn’t really consist of anything more than coriander, a few shredded carrots and a light sesame dressing.  Yo Momojein, if you ain’t going to pad your salad out with any other sort of salad greens suggest that you only use younger coriander so your customers aren’t left chewing the woody coriander stems like cud chewing cows.

It’s at this point in time that we see this super cute Asian couple next to us throw down an order which belied their tiny, lithe frames.  As part of this order we saw the majestic as fuck fried Country Chicken sitting gloriously on their table, with a pile of golden renkon / lotus root chips stacked upon it.  Ms Two Serves and I rue the fact that of all nights, this was the night we decided to exercise a rare show of self-restraint in choosing the perfectly fine Korean chicken wings as starter instead of the far more impressive looking, whole fried chicken.  Cue to us being really fucking subtle and throwing some wistful stares at our neighbours’ table and their basket of rad as fuck looking chicken and their elaborate flat pieces of Grilled Bulgogi Pork which we wanted desperately in our lives:

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Ms Two Serves and I were after desserts but for whatever reason, our normally attentive Momojein waiters totally disappeared after our mains and seemed to be tasked with polishing all the cutlery instead and avoiding eye contact with us.  HK Restaurants, Y U never actively push dessert onto me??  After finally managing to catch the eye of a waiter and begging for a dessert menu we decided to the order the Black Sesame Tteokbokki.  Tteokbokki is a soft rice cake which is normally covered with a savoury sauce (usually a sweet red chili gochujang based sauce) but Momojein are continuing to mix shit up, adding some red bean jelly cubes and then covering it with a slightly sweet and salty black sesame sauce.  I was really into this dessert because I loved the dense, chewy tteokbokki rice cakes and the slightly salty-sweet black sesame flavour which was fucking delicious but a bit unusual compared to other desserts.  But I can totally concede that a lot of people aren’t going to be down with this black goopy sweet, salty black sesame rice cake and red bean mess for a dessert.  In which case, don’t order less conventional weird-ass textural Asian desserts to try and be a badass, just order the yuzu cheesecake or the banana hotteok pancake with ice-cream, ok?

So Momojein isn’t traditional Korean (ie. spicy red hot, bean sprouts in small dishes, spicy red hot, stewed beef, spicy red hot kimchi, pickles, spicy red hot) but I think at least their shit was coherent and the changes they made weren’t some douchebag bullshit that’s trying to demonstrate innovation just for the sake of creating something new or declaring obnoxiously how they’re some sort of global cuisine gypsy.  Combine the fuck yeah interiors with some innovative modern Korean food which is still fucking delicious and I’m so fucking down to get my casual Modern Korean on again at Momojein.  Particularly if it involves more grilled pork and fried chicken based fuck yeah moments.

Verdict:
FUCK YEAH to casual Korean inspired eats which aren’t a half-assed fusion mess in cute as fuck surroundings.  Momojein, imma coming back for your country fried chicken.

Where:
SAAM (fuck yeahhhh, fully functional website)
G/F, 51D Graham Street (just up from The Globe)
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2645 9828

Price:
The seven course tasting menu cost HKD788 (+10% service charge) with seven half glasses of wine at HKD 348 (+10% service charge), so HKD1,250 in total.

The deal:
Chef Patrick Dang summarises his background and cooking in three sentences on his website, “I was born in Hong Kong. I was raised in Australia. The globe is my inspiration.” and if you had to categorise his restaurant, I’d say it’s ‘Modern European’.  There’s been a fair bit of press around SAAM and the new ‘Back to School’ set tasting menu which is being offered in September / October and as a few FYN homies had told me that they’d really enjoyed the menu, my linen loving self decided to forgive SAAM for proclaiming shit like “We want to take away tablecloths; while maintaining styled elegance” and rounded up some homies to go and check it out.

However, SAAM do not make it easy for you to book a table at their restaurant, outlining a long list of requirements to achieve a booking on their website.  You need a minimum of four people.  You need to pay a HKD200 deposit per person via bank transfer and then whatsapp in the proof.  You can book online but despite the bank deposit requirement, you still need to hand over credit card details.  For reservations of less than four people you go through the same hoops but it’s on a ‘first come, first served’ basis (which really seems contrary to the whole fucking point of a reservation??).  On top of all of that, SAAM will only hold your table for 15 minutes, so don’t be late homies. Either way, SAAM’s reservation shit is NOT easy.  I imagine some of this comes from the fact that SAAM is relatively small, probably seating 20 – 30 people and flakey no-show fuckers (yes HK, I mean almost all of you) would really mess their economics up.

Chef Dang’s vision for his ‘Back to School’ menu is his homage to all the HK kiddies headed back to school in September and is a play on all those mass produced school lunches but of course all fancy and cheffed up.  Each course is named simply and there’s a twist with each course, with the promise of bringing some lightheartedness to the table and no doubt, meant to evoke that innocent childhood feeling inside every diner. Cue every fucking food blogger overusing the adjective  “whimsical” and potentially throwing in some carefully researched Alice in Wonderland quotes about Chef Dang’s mad creations taking you down a fantastical and wondrous culinary rabbit hole.

SAAM kick off proceedings with an Irish oyster amuse bouche (which is in no way connected to the School Day theme).  There is only one waiter for the entire restaurant which means it takes him a few rounds to serve everyone’s food but he’s also knowledgeable, friendly and succinctly explains all of the food we’re about to eat.  The first course is  ‘Nutella & Toast’, where a small pastry (the “toast”) is stuffed with “nutella” (which is in fact a truffle panna cotta), served alongside a scallop crudo and some hazelnuts. It’s interesting and tasty enough, but definitely benefits from being presented within the context of it riffing on the appearance of Nutella toast.

This gimmicky (though tiny) opening course is followed by the simply titled ‘Cereal & Yoghurt’ which was one of my favourite fuck yeah highlights from the night. A small dish of fuck yeahhhh foie gras parfait is topped with a thin layer of pineapple jelly.  SAAM have scattered savoury crunchy granola and small peppered pieces of pineapple on top, with a few small piped blobs of almond yoghurt.  I fucking loved this dish because it was full of fuck yeah contrasts – the crunch of the granola against the soft foie gras, the acidity of the pineapple cutting through the fatty foie gras.  I could have spooned this foie gras concoction onto little toasted crackers all day and into my face, even without being loaded up with a cutesy school food story.

It is at this point that I start to panic regarding whether I’m going to be swinging by McDonald’s to get some McWings afterwards as each tiny though elaborate course disappears swiftly.  The wine pairing provides a half-glass with each course and SAAM are definitely showing some precision in their pours.  It isn’t one of those scenarios when you order a matched ‘half-glass’ wine tasting menu and end up getting generous almost full glass pours and you drunkenly roll your lush ass out of the restaurant.  I enjoyed the wine tasting but I guess I’m just a fucking lush cause I wanted more wine.

The third course of ‘Sausage & Egg‘ was the most successful in terms of the surprise factor that SAAM were gunning for.  The dish arrives with a super convincing ‘sunny side up fried egg’ which has actually been constructed from coconut and the spherification of some butternut pumpkin puree (which mimics the membrane of an egg yolk).  WHOA, SURPRISE NO-EGG EGG YO!

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Our helpful waiter instructs us to mix the ‘yolk’ with the ‘egg white’, to form a dipping sauce for your ‘sausage’ made from lobster. Sure it’s a bit gimmicky but even this grumpy, cynical gloomy fucker can let a little slice of corny no-egg egg sunshine into my goth as fuck heart and enjoy the fuck yeah pumpkin, lemongrass infused coconut sauce with the lobster ‘sausage’ sprinkled with madras curry flavoured bread crumbs

Next up was the ‘Fish & Chips’ course which didn’t play too hard to trick the fuck out of you with fancy shit.  Despite it not having a M Shyamalan twist, it was one of my favourite fuck yeah courses.  A decent sized slice of poached turbot is served on a bright green bed of mushy peas.  A ‘potato crisp’ is made out of thin reconstituted potato wafer, flavoured with vinegar powder, cleverly hinting at chips splashed with vinegar.  A ball of deep fried tartar sauce is as tricky as this dish gets and it was just a well balanced, fucking delicious course.  All I wanted was MOAR TURBOT. Much tender. So wow. Many fuck yeah fish related feels.

The ‘Gluten free noodle soup’ is described as a gluten free chicken instant noodle.  That’s because the noodles are actually made from pureed chicken breasts.  Our waiter explains that it takes five hours to make these noodles, explaining that it’s super fucking tedious to remove all the tendons.  Sure, it’s clever and chock full of technique but fuck, I’m not convinced the pay off was fucking worth it.  HOWEVER, the superior abalone broth which took two days which is poured over the noodles is fucking spectacular. I’d happily skip the extruded chicken mousse noodles for a gluten filled bog-standard wheat udon noodle as a pay off to get triple the amount of dat fuck yeah broth.

Rounding the corner into the final savoury course, it’s the ‘School Roast Dinner’ which doesn’t stray too far from what anyone would perceive as a roast dinner, except it’s been poshed up to the max with a singular ‘potato fry’ and ‘umami gravy’.  The Australian Wagyu short rib is cooked sous vide and then grilled so it can get some semblance of brown onto it.  Fuck, I don’t really get behind sous vide that much and I dunno why fancy ass chefs are so obsessed with letting meat sit in a warm bath all day rather than just fucking cooking it properly in the first place?? Blah blah tender blah blah gentle cooking blah blah even temperature, fuck off I know I know, I’m just not fucking into it.

sousvidebathtime

Either way, the beef was still fucking delicious and ‘umami’ sauce was just a fancy way of describing ‘concentrated mushroom’ sauce.  I gotta be real that I would have preferred a bit more char on my beef, but due to the lameness of warm bathtime sous vide beef, I get that you have to avoid overcooking it.  I also don’t know if the reconstituted potato smashed into a singular mega-fry shape added much to the overall dish, but the sides were all a side note to the fuck yeah beef.

The dessert course is the simply named ‘PB&J’ and it’s a peanut butter parfait with a grape sorbet, served with some tiny champagne grapes and lego shaped banana pudding.  It’s nice to look at and quite the hit with our table.  I categorise this one under a solid dish which is cute enough. My less curmudgeonly homies seemed to enjoy this more.  The flavours were a fuck yeah but didn’t seem to necessarily come together cohesively enough for me.  I just wanted more from this dish to move it from an interesting concept to a solid fuck yeah dessert moment.

What I liked about SAAM was that it was trying to do something interesting and have its food tell a story.  Was every dish as successful as it had set out to be?  Fuck no.  Was my palpable fear of going through one of those modern, food for ants tasting menus fulfilled?  Not quite, but on a scale of 1 to ‘I gotta get McWings on the way home’ hunger scale, I was probably a 6.5.  Which means that if SAAM hadn’t been so tightassed with their bread (fun fact, you gotta hand over HKD9 per person if you want bread. Like, R U SRS SAAM, HKD9 is really changing the economic metrics of your restaurant, when I’m already handing over HKD1200+ per person?) I would have been fine. Were some dishes fucking about with fussy techniques, just to do something different and provide a surprise moment?  Fuck yeah.  But there was still the occasional major fuck yeah moment like the ‘Cereal & Yoghurt’ foie gras parfait or the ‘Fish & Chips’ turbot with the mashed peas.  Chef Dang is putting something different out there which is unique in Hong Kong and while some of that may result in 5 hour chicken mousse noodles which don’t really outperform your run-of-the-mill standard udon noodle, I gotta admire that it takes balls to do something like SAAM.  And I’d take that any day over all the Mexican-Korean fusion horrors which have taken over this city.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah on pay day, cause this modern creative shiz don’t come cheap.  But I’ll caveat it that SAAM isn’t going to be for everyone.  I’d only recommend getting involved if you want to try something different and you can jive with the wank-off fact that you’re sometimes eating the story as well as the food. HOWEVER, DEM CEREAL AND YOGHURT, FOIE GRAS PARFAIT FEELZ DOE.