fuck yeah noms

Where:
Papparich Hong Kong
4/F, The L. Square
459-461 Lockhart Road
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2414 7188.  

FYN Fun Fact:  You can also fax Papparich HK on +852 2696 4224.  FUCK ME DEAD HK, Y U SO OBSESSED WITH FAXES STILL? WHAT FUCKING YEAR IS IT??

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Price:
We got out at HKD210 a person and ate a very decent amount of food.

The deal:
I always maintain that Malaysian food is some of the most fuck yeahhhhh flavourful and downright fucking delicious food in the whole goddamn world.  There’s just no way that it could be anything other than off the charts epic if you consider that it’s the result of taking indigenous Malay cuisine and then smashing it together with the fuck yeah influences of Chinese, Indonesian and Indian cuisine with a few tiny shout outs to British, Dutch and Thai cuisine.  However, finding super authentic Malaysian food in Hong Kong has always been a bit of a struggle and while there’s a few places I think are fine, it’s always in the coddled context of ‘Malaysian food IN Hong Kong‘, because let’s be real, these mother fuckers would get eaten alive if they were serving the same shit in Malaysia Truly Asia.  So when I hear that Papparich, a Malaysian chain, has hit Hong Kong, I’m super pumped to try it because fuck yeahhh Malaysian food but I’ve played this game before and had my expectations burnt to a crisp, so I keep a lid on any expectations that my Malaysia Truly Asia roti and laksa dreams are about to be fulfilled in Hong Kong.

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Papparich Hong Kong is not meant to be anything fancy and it’s a simple, small dining room which probably seats around 30 people.  When we arrive on a weeknight, it’s almost at capacity and the distinct patois of Malaysia Truly Asia homies rings out around us (la), no doubt because Malaysia Truly Asia homies are always desperate for a good Malaysian makkan. We sit down and decide on what we’re going to order and the Papparich waiters are totally on their shit and efficiently sort us out, which is impressive for a fairly new restaurant which is at capacity.  Mr Vegetables makes a case for the Ipoh Kway Teow soup sounding interesting but he’s instantly slammed down by a group movement to stick to the Big Guns of Malaysian Cuisine cause fuck, if I’m gonna assess a Malaysian restaurant you need to be checking out the Malaysian Food Superstars such as satay, nasi lemak, laksa, char kuey teow and roti and not some soggy ass rice noodles in a clear soup.

We get started with the roti canai with curry chicken drumstick (HKD38 + 10% service charge).  Papprich HK are most def into their semantics because it is literally a singular roti sitting there on the plate.  Unfortunately, our roti is not that flakey and doesn’t have an iota of puff about it and while it’s crispy, it’s also high on fuck no disappointment. The chicken curry is tasty but not earth shatteringly good, which means that the sad roti has my full attention as a crucial warning indicator as to what this meal might entail because would any decent Malaysian kitchen let such a fuck no roti out of the kitchen?  While I contemplate this, our chicken and beef satay arrive (HKD68 + 10% service charge for 6 sticks of chicken satay and HKD78 + 10% service charge for 6 sticks of beef satay) and it’s accompanied by some unremarkable cubes of cucumber, chunks of onion and two small pieces of bread. Out of duty to carbs, I try the naan-like bread and it’s dried out and pointless.   The satay themselves are fine, the beef being the stronger of the two except for it being quite fatty in parts.  But most importantly, the satay sauce is a fuck no because it doesn’t really taste of peanuts or much of anything at all, which seems unusual given that it at least appears to be full of peanut chunks and it’s not fucking hard to make bangin’ satay sauce.

Next up is the Char Kway Teow (HKD78 + 10% service charge) which is the first solid fuck yeah of the night, sparking a small amount of optimism within me for the rest of the meal that is yet to come.  A good amount of char on the flat rice noodles means that it captures that necessary taste of the wok, with a decent mix of fish cake, bean sprouts and prawns to balance out the noodles. A serve of the kangkung (HKD68 + 10% service charge, also known as water spinach or morning glory – yeah titter away you immature assholes) is also excellent, stir fried with garlic and belacan (shrimp paste).

The Nasi Lemak with Curry Chicken and Sambal Prawns (HKD78 + 10% service charge) was absolutely down the line fine.  I was a bit bored by it because the curry chicken that it’s served with was exactly the same curry chicken that we’d already had with the roti canai.  This means I was given two opportunities to eat the same curry chicken which was neither terrible nor fucking amazing. Shit Papparich HK, Y U no show me some curry related thrills?

However, it’s my firm opinion that the best benchmark to measure any Malaysian restaurant boils down to whether their laksa is a fuck yeah or fuck no.  So the star of the masterpiece arrives and at first glance, Papparich HK’s Seafood Curry Laksa (HKD98 + 10% service charge) looks fucking great – stuffed with promise, large prawns, deep fried beancurd skin, mussels and squid.  It’s also scoring points for using my preferred mix of thick yellow egg noodles and white rice vermicelli.  But there’s disappointment all around once we get started on the soup because Papparich HK’s laksa soup lacks any sort of depth or complexity, tasting like Papparich HK merely mixed some sort of curry powder with plain water. It’s just too fucking sad when a laksa lacks a good stock base underneath it and Papparich HK definitely need to get back to the kitchen and start boiling some prawn shells or chicken carcasses down to make some kick ass stock to lift their laksa game.  To provide some additional insult to laksa-related injury, I take one of the impressive looking large prawns and suck at its head to get a mouthful of funky fuck no bad times and after de-shelling it to eat some of the prawn, it’s a slimy and mushy mess.  You know shit ain’t good when you think “I better not eat this because I could be throwing this fucker up in the next 24 hours”.  Which really, seals the deal on Papparich HK because  this is my feeling about Malaysian restaurants that punch out sub-standard laksas with mushy-ass prawns:

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At this point we’re all pretty well fed on a range of largely average dishes but I can’t resist the icy cool lure of Cendol (HKD48 + 10% service charge) for dessert.  Cendol is a Malaysian / Singaporean dessert which is made by combining shaved ice and red bean, before adding a number of different liquids to flavour the ice such as evaporated milk, gula melaka (brown coconut sugar syrup) and other ingredients for textural purposes (such as palm seeds or peanuts).  The signature ingredient of any cendol is the green noodles which should be flavoured with pandan and made from tapioca and green mung bean flour.  Papparich’s cendol is probably the best thing I ate on the night and fuck yeahhhh, I thoroughly enjoyed this well-balanced cendol shaved ice dessert.  Sure, I could nitpick and say that the cendol noodles needed more pandan or were a little floury, but overall, it was fuck yeah dessert times and after a meal with a lot of average moments, this was a fuck yeah way to finish off the meal.

Verdict:
Fuck no – I mean, It wasn’t terrible but it ain’t authentic enough for me to recommend it. Malaysia Truly Asia, the hunt remains on for deep love, honest and true in Hong Kong.

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

Phone:
+852 2983 1003

Price:
HKD430 per person including wine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sauce

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

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

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

Where:
Beefbar Hong Kong
2F Club Lusitano/16 Ice House Street
Central, Hong Kong

Phone:
 +852 2110 8853

Price:
HKD880 (+10% service charge) for the signature tasting menu.  We were out at HKD1,300ish including cocktails and wine.  HELP ME I’M POOR.

The deal:
Beefbar have recently set themselves up on Ice House Street, adding Hong Kong to its other random assorted global locations such as Moscow, Mexico, Mykonos and Luxembourg. Just by its awful name, you can guess that Beefbar is pretentious as fuck and if you were in any doubt, the restaurant is tackily emblazoned with “BEEFBAR, BORN IN MONACO”.  On an early weekday, Beefbar HK is almost at full capacity and to make sure you’re having an experience befitting of a restaurant BORN IN MONACO, as soon as you step out of the lifts, no less than three attractive smiling hostesses will gently wave you into the restaurant as you pass by what seems seems to be an excessive amount of floor staff at every turn.

Beefbar HK has clearly dropped a bunch of coin on its fit out, befitting of the luxury concept they are going for.  Beefbar HK is a cool monochromatic slick interior with a fucktonne of white marble, black leather and a tasteful scattering of brass, lit appropriately by pools of just dim enough amber lights.  I’m always bitching about restaurant acoustics but I gotta say that despite Beefbar’s excessive amount of shiny, sleek, hard surfaces, Beefbar’s acoustically sound ridged ceiling means at least you’ll be spared from enjoying your BORN IN MONACO experience in a fuck no echo chamber.  Enjoying the rare privilege of being able to enjoy conversation despite the almost full restaurant, I ponder the most ludicrously sized menu which annoyed the fuck out of me because what’s the fucking point of importing all those black leather chairs if you can’t even comfortably sit at one without your menu careening into your olive oil dish, your neighbour’s bread or some fancy ass wine glass. HAY BEEFBAR, WHERE EXACTLY IS MY FUCKING MENU MEANT TO GO??

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Despite the hundreds of wait staff that are milling around, it took a ridiculous amount of effort to get the smaller tasting menus for the entire table, the waiters taking two separate requests and three individual trips before our table was blessed with the fucking novel concept of one menu for one person.  Menu logistics aside, after chewing down some fuck yeah bread and a negroni aged in a claypot (how necessary is claypot aging? I’m not entirely sure, but at least my negroni was fucking A1 great), our gang decides to pile in for Beefbar’s ‘Signature tasting menu’, which consists of four sections, “Raw Bar”, “Burger Bar”, “Our Great Meat” and “Dessert”.

The “Raw Bar” component is split into two courses, a ceviche and a tartare course.  The first ceviche duo is the ”Octopus ceviche, cucumber & panzanella salsa” and the “Sea bass ceviche, saffron, fennel & mandarin”.  The octopus ceviche is fairly unremarkable and while the menu may try to fancy shiz up by calling it a ‘panzanella salsa’ (an Italian tomato sauce with breadcrumbs), it’s really just a one-dimensional tomato sauce with some croutons bobbing about in it.  The sea bass ceviche also suffers from the indignity of sounding far more impressive on the menu than it really is, delivering fresh sea bass with some pieces of fennel and mandarin which don’t really pop with any of the faint liquorice or citrus acidity that you would hope for, with the lack of seasoning not helping the whole boring ass affair.

But as we’re at Beefbar and not Seafoodbar, I’m prepared to put my ceviche related disappointment to one side and set my expectations higher with the tartare course.  This course consists of two types of tartare – a traditional beef tartare and a milk-fed veal filet tartare.  The traditional beef tartare is solid but not exceptionally memorable, and it’s the veal tartare that provides the first solid fuck yeah moment of the night.  The veal is more delicate in flavour when compared to the beef and Beefbar play to this, bringing out the veal’s more subtle flavours by pairing it with the strong tarragon with its shade of aniseed and providing a textural contrast with a slightly sweet hazelnut praline.  I would have happily ditched the beef tartare and double downed on the fuck yeah veal tartare.

Beefbar isn’t a warm space and by the second course, one of my homies had already asked them twice to turn the blasting air conditioning down which was threatening to send us straight into the icy grip of hypothermia. Beefbar kept this Arctic theme up with the temperature of their red wine and despite our wine being served before our first course, by the end of our second course we were all desperately clutching our wine glasses to try and transfer some of our rapidly diminishing body heat into our icy as fuck red wine, as clammy condensation still formed outside the glass.  I’m fine with a red wine coming out a bit cool from the wine fridge as it will normally be an appropriate temperature after a few minutes but I don’t want to be served red wine so fucking cold that I’ve got concerns that it’s still gonna be frigid as fuck by the fourth steak course.  We pointed out our near glacial red wine cooler situation to one of the waiters who fetched a more senior dude who just shrugged us off and said “We didn’t want you to drink too quickly!”.  Yeah sorry senior waiter homeslice, don’t quit the restaurant biz to take up stand up because I ain’t fucking laughing at your quips.

When ordering a tasting menu at a restaurant, I always believe that a restaurant should be showing you their best shit.  Particularly if they have the audacity to slap ‘Signature’ on it.  This is why the Burger Bar component of Beefbar’s signature menu beggars absolute belief because what is the mental process behind putting out a tiny ass dried out sweet brioche bunned burger that holds a small grainy and dry as fuck beef patty which is swamped with super spicy jalapeno mayonnaise and then thinking “FUCK YEAH, this red hot mess of a slider is definitely my SIGNATURE”.  Unless Beefbar feel that their signature is providing constant, fuck no disappointment to everyone in their lives.  My feelings on using brioche for a burger bun is well documented and this dried out mess does nothing to allay my firm belief that sweet brioche ain’t fucking cut out structurally for burger life.  UGHHH, BRIOCHE, MY NEMESIS.  Y U STILL A THING?  But the sad times don’t end with the slider, as Beefbar aren’t content to just call their entire menu a signature, billing their uninspired kale salad as a ‘signature kale salad’.  This signature signature double throwdown is nothing more but big chat because fuck, let’s be real, who the fuck wants to eat kale when they’re smashing a night out at a restaurant focussed on how shit hot their beef is anyway?  Don’t we save that trying to be healthy kale bullshit for weekday al desko lunches and green smoothies after the gym?

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Hopes for my steak course were not riding particularly high at this point with my spirit sapped by the brioche slider nightmare that had just transpired.  For the meat course, it’s a choice between the “Milk-fed Dutch veal filet 200g”, “American prime “Black Angus” beef filet 200g” or the “T-bone Colorado lamb rack”. I order the beef and while there is much written about how Beefbar cook their steaks, for all the fancy as fuck bluster and technique, I was considerably underwhelmed.  I always have my steak rare and my Black Angus beef fillet is not so overcooked to warrant it being sent back but it was definitely closer to medium-rare territory than rare.  All I could think of was how I wanted my steak to be juicier and more tender, with not a single fuck yeah steak synapse firing within my increasingly weary body. If any waiter had bothered to ask me how my steak was I probably would have replied “FINE”, through gritted teeth as I wished for slightly bloodier times.  It’s served with some fresh horseradish tartar which I can get behind, more so than the blueberry honey sauce which despite its feeble attempts at being an inventive steak sauce results in a slightly fruity, sweet sauce which resembles cheap BBQ sauce, doing everything it can to detract from the lack lustre beef.  I can’t remember ever eating blueberry anything with a steak and I can’t say I’ll be making it a life goal to make it part of my future steak endeavours.

Beefbar don’t stop the big talk and their menu declares that “All mains are served with our unrivalled mashed potatoes”.  I gotta say, Beefbar’s mash is a big fuck yeah and I decimated my serving, enjoying it far more than anything else I’d been served so far.  But truth, how fucking hard is it to make off-the-charts mash provided you add enough of the calorific good shit like cream and butter?  End conclusion, Beefbar’s steak failed to elicit any strong fuck yeah feelings at all and while the potato mash was a fuck yeah, I was devoid of any fuck yeah feelings for a steak that could at best be described as serviceable and at worst, bordering on being too overcooked. But WTF mate, am I at Mashbar or Beefbar?

We ask for the third time to turn down the arctic level air conditioner which continues to battle valiantly in the struggle against global warming, with each request to do so resulting in mass confusion amongst the increasingly flustered waiters. Our entire table is completely underwhelmed with the beef course and hope to find some salvation in the Dessert “Maison” section of the evening.  At some point, one of the waiters informs just one of our guests about how the soufflés take 20 minutes so we should order it now if we want it.  She replies “OK”, thinking that meant “OK, I heard you” versus “OK, giddy up the whole table wants soufflé, ship that good shit in”.  We were sitting at our table a bit confused as to why we’d been abandoned by the numerous waiters flitting about, until we see about five waiters busily setting up a side-table next to us where two large soufflés are presented with much aplomb.  One is a pistachio and cherry soufflé and the other is allegedly a chocolate, sesame & caramel soufflé with yuzu ice cream, with each soufflé designed to be shared between two people.  They look fucking perfect, rising like a puffy pale green or delicately brown cloud, an inch over a shiny, copper pot.  However the problem is that none of us really wanted soufflé as we’d had our hearts set on the carrot cake.  To our waiters’ credit, when we flagged the ordering mishap to them they very graciously took the whole mix up in their stride, not making a single bit of fuss and politely offering us a couple of additional serves of carrot cake as well. Fuck yeahhhhh, waiters who make the best of a shitty situation without throwing the blame in my face.  However, given the amount of puffy soufflé that was being served to our entire table, we said we’d settle for just one serve of carrot cake.

There’s no attractive way to serve blobs of pistachio or chocolate soufflé and we’re all presented with smeary plates of pale green and brown soufflé.  Even putting aside “the first bite is with the eye” bullshit, my first bite into Beefbar’s soufflé was one filled with unmitigated horror which is burned indelibly into my psyche more than a week later.  The pistachio soufflé tasted strongly of artificial pistachio essence, filling my mouth with what I’d imagine an eggy sponge soaked in saliva, liquid soap and perfume to taste and feel like.  It’s served with a side dish of allegedly sour cherries which are a sickly sweet mess which does nothing to hide the soapy pistachio soufflé we’ve been served.  For all its claims of being a fancy fucking chocolate, sesame and caramel soufflé it is at best a vaguely chocolatey, wet and eggy mess with not a hint of sesame or caramel.  The yuzu ice cream it’s served with is fresh and gorgeous, but who fucking knows how biased this view might be because anything would seem like ice-cream fit for kings and angels compared to the soufflé related crimes against dessert that were occurring right in front of me.  The borderline cruel Arctic air conditioning blast is returned to full force, just to make sure that our soufflés cooled down rapidly so the above atrocities could be even furthered by eating it stone cold.  I’m fucking horrified but I’m also like a mosquito drawn to a electric bug zapper and I return to choke down several more bites of both soufflés just to make sure that this is truly one of the worst things I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.  As I force down another spoonful, I quietly think to myself that this soufflé could be used as a blunt torture tool to break the spirit of hard men.  To make them confess to crimes they did not commit before they weep on their knees, begging for forgiveness or crying out for non-soufflé related mercy or some sort of sharp implement so they can fucking end it all.

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At this point, I look over at Ms Two Serves and I hold onto her for love and comfort, looking for safe shelter from this soufflé related abomination that we’ve just endured.  “Don’t worry”, she coos, smoothing my hair down and holding me close to her breast, “We’ve got delicious carrot cake coming to take this pain away”.  Together we stare at this apocalyptic souffle ridden wasteland, surveying the seven dishes of almost untouched congealed pale green and brown monstrosities strewn across our table.  A cheery waiter appears to present a plate containing three round orange discs the thickness of a HKD5 coin and this is when we realise that our “Carrot Cake” has arrived.

Now imagine everything that you love and hold dear about carrot cake, before you systematically strip it out and this is exactly how Beefbar must have conceptualised their abominable “Carrot Cake”.  I’m not even sure it’s legal for Beefbar to call this fuck no mess a carrot cake because fuck, that’s some misleading and deceptive conduct right there.  This “Carrot Cake” nightmare takes what should be rich, luscious carrot cake stuffed with walnuts, olive oil and brown sugar and turns it into three thin discs of dried out, grainy flavourless “cake”, topped with some sort of orange puree which tastes like processed apple sauce.  What should be tangy, thick and sweet cream cheese frosting that you want to rub all over your body to become the best version of yourself has been reduced to a tiny, watery creamy blob which serves no other meaningful purpose except to perhaps be some sort of symbolic representation of the watery tears that you want to let forth from your traumatised body, beaten into submission by this alleged “Carrot Cake” experience.  Then in what must surely be Beefbar’s “Carrot Cake” bon mot, a slice of plain roasted carrot is placed on top of it all.  I cut a piece of carrot off for Sir Crunchalot, feigning my best enthusiasm and jauntily telling him “You have got to try this!” before he realises that IT’S A TRAP, and with the betrayed eyes of someone who has been wronged he cries “Why did you do that to me??”

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Our waiters come to silently clear this dessert crime scene, heads bowed so they don’t have to make awkward eye contact with any of us, in case they might be forced to ask if everything was ok when clearly some bad shit had gone down because all the plates of dessert have been barely eaten.  We settle our substantial as fuck bill and leave with our wallets much lighter but our physical being laden with enough disappointment to see us through 2016 and beyond. That’s where I look at Sir Crunchalot at the end of the meal, press my hand into his and as my eyes well with tears and I tell him in a timid, broken whisper “That meal made me want to be alive a little less”.

Verdict:
FUUUUUUUUUCK NO.  If these are Beefbar’s signature moves, I’d hate to see their non-signature everyday meals.  Fuuuuck it might not even be mid-January 2016 but I’m gonna make the call, Beefbar’s soul destroying soufflé and “Carrot Cake” with a serve of broken dreams will be definitely making an appearance in FYN’s 2016 ‘This is Bullshit’ awards.

 

Where:
Osteria Felice
Shop 16-21 G/F Hutchinson House
10 Harcourt Road, Admiralty

FYN Hot Tip:  It’s accessible from outside Hutchinson House (not from within the building).  You’ll need to go to the corner, next to the Pacific Coffee on the Lambeth Walk side.

Phone:
+852 2516 6166

Price:
HKD1,100ish for two people excluding booze.  Note that we ordered enough for three to four people. I reckon you could probably get out for HKD300-400ish per person before booze with more sensible ordering.

The deal:
The Epicurean Group (the group behind any number of restaurants that none of you ever eat at – ie. Tim’s Kitchen, Xia Fei, Agave, Club 97 and Jimmy’s Kitchen) have recently opened up the Italian restaurant, Osteria Felice with minimal fanfare in the awkward Admiralty location, Hutchinson House. Osteria Felice has the veteran Executive Chef Brian Moore at its helm and is touting a  traditional Italian menu based solidly on no-fuss classics. Antipasto, pasta, pizza yassss are all things I can get behind.

Osteria Felice has taken up residence at the former site of Il Milione, the really OTT  bombastic gold filled Italian restaurant which outside of the press and the meaningless Michelin star, I never heard anyone IRL talk about ever.  Needless to say, I never ate at Il Milione because I could never find enough motivation to drop a big stack of cash to actually eat in an unnecessarily gilded though ultimately tacky Italian restaurant in Admiralty.  I sometimes wonder who even puts together these restaurant concepts? Like seriously, who thinks “You know what people in HK want?  They just wanna ball so hard over a bowl of pasta in Admiralty while basking in gold EVERYTHING. Fuck, let’s call it ‘THE MILLION’ in Italian and ship in a totally insane amount of gold fittings to make it feel more DECADENT!”.

Since these ill-conceived golden days, the Il Milione decor has been stripped down to something more accessible, keeping a clean well fit-out look with wooden oak parquetry floors and a large open kitchen at the back.  Osteria Felice is set up as half bar / half restaurant, with the bar portion relatively full of suits, presumably sucking back some after-work drinks to dull the arduous endeavour of working for The Man.  Given there’s barely anywhere to get a post-work drink around the immediate Central / Admiralty side of town, Osteria Felice should probably see some good trade here with a decent 2-for-1 happy hour from 5 to 8pm on certain drinks.

I firmly believe that any Italian restaurant worth its salt should be able to punch out a FUCK YEAH Negroni, so as I hustled my parched ass across Statue Square towards Hutchinson House, I put in an S O S emergency message to Sir Crunchalot, to ensure that I could hit my pre-dinner Negroni aperitif as soon as I got to the restaurant.  Sir Crunchalot reported back that Osteria Felice had a good looking selection of Negronis and his continual pursuit for luxury meant that he naturally ordered the most expensive one for me, the Barrel Aged Negroni which costs HKD150 (+10% service charge, versus the bog-standard HKD80 Negroni) which has been aged in an American charred new oak barrel for minimum 2 months.

When I get to the restaurant, we are the only customers eating in the dining room, but it’s an early weeknight just post-Christmas at a newly opened restaurant, so I don’t think this is necessarily indicative of their normal trade.  However, in far more upsetting news, despite the pre-ordering to ensure a running start on aperitif time, when I get to the table, my Negroni is nowhere to be seen.  I sit down while I feign some enthusiasm for trying out a new place, desperately trying not to let my Negroni-less disappointment ruin the entire meal.

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Our waitress is efficient but not particularly chatty and as we lay down our order, there’s not much chat or background on the dishes.  It’s not long before our first antipasti is laid down on the table, the burrata and smoked sardine crostini (HKD265 +10% service charge).  I’m pretty excited as I’m a total hussy for burrata and Osteria Felice’s menu notes that they regularly ship the best mozzarella and burrata from around Italy to ensure optimum freshness for their customers.  When our burrata and sardine crostini arrive, I’m pleasantly shocked because my general experiences of crostini in restaurants, had led me to believe that crostini was Italian for miniscule pieces of crusty bread that allows restaurants to provide a scant amount of bullshit topping for an unfair amount of coin.  Osteria Felice’s crostini game is super tight, providing us with two decent slices of toasted bread, topped with a generous amount of creamy fresh burrata and a large smoked sardine fillet. The burrata is off the motherfucking chain and when paired with the just salty enough, smoked sardine fillet, I’m filled with deep love and an unfettered desire to be completely engulfed in this cream filled embrace forever.  Unnnnnnnnnnnnf, Osteria Felice’s burrata, you better believe that I want to bathe with you in some cheese:

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Our second, generously portioned, starter arrives, the roasted bone marrow with grilled bread (HKD158 +10% service charge) which consists of three large half bones and it’s everything that you’d expect from the description.  The only thing that has me scowling at this point is that my pre-ordered Negroni still hasn’t arrived 25 minutes since the pre-order was put in and I bitterly cast my mind to Osteria Felice’s menu which had claimed “having an antipasto with an aperitivo is essential to having a good life” and my thirsty ass self is so desperate for my Negroni and this said promised good life. I chase this up and 10 minutes later, my aperitif arrives just in time for mains with not a single apology or facetious nicety attached to it which is some fuck no form. The barrel aged Negroni is solid but my judgment is too clouded by waiting so fucking long for my HKD150+ drink that I don’t feel I can pass an unbiased opinion.  Especially as a barrel aged Negroni really just needs to be poured into a glass.

There’s an extensive traditional Neapolitan pizza section, with most of them ranging from the mid to high HKD100s and we went with the Calabrese (spiced salami, eggplant, basil and smoked buffalo mozzarella, HKD198 +10% service charge).  Osteria Felice have some fancy as fuck electric oven which lets them bake their pizzas at a super high temperature in less than 90 seconds, in keeping with Neapolitan pizzas not being baked for extended periods of time.  The true measure of a Neapolitan pizza is always gonna be about the crust and it’s fucking great and exactly what I would expect from a Neapolitan pizza.  Fuck yeahhhh, I can get behind a thin sourdough base, slightly soggy in the middle and a dense, just charred chewy crust with the right amount of fuck yeah bite.  The toppings are well distributed and the combination of the tomato sauce, spicy salami, fresh basil and mozzarella cheese keep a good fuck yeah balance overall.  In a testament to the decent serving sizes at Osteria Felice, we had to box up half of this pizza to go which meant I got to test out what I feel is the true measure of a fuck yeah pizza – that is, how it reheats the next day.  Osteria Felice’s smashed this test with flying colours, as I made this the centrepiece of my nutritious and balanced fuck yeah breakfast the next day.

Our final dish was the roasted half duckling with grappa preserved cherry sauce (HKD388 +10% service charge). I’m normally fundamentally opposed to fruit and meat, in particular, feral as fuck apricot.  Like really, who wants that grainy ass sub-par ugly sister to a peach in a meat dish ever?  But I can deal with cherry with meat and the duckling was fucking rad.  The grappa preserved cherry sauce was bang on in its sweet-sour balance and resulted in fuck yeah times with the rich, tender duck.

One thing to note is that we ended up with a disgraceful amount of food for two people, which I can attribute to my low expectations on HK serving sizes given my experiences at every other new restaurant.  However, Osteria Felice are doling out super fucking generous serving sizes and what I described above could have easily fed four people.  Maybe it’s cause we look like a couple of greedy fuckers but I feel our waitress should have sounded some sort of warning.  For two people, one antipasto, half a pizza and a secondi / main would have been plenty.

FYN Artist impression of how I left Osteria Felice:

catfat

Italian food is so easy to hit the mediocre-to-boring mark as it relies so heavily on simple execution with red-hot ingredients.  But when it’s done well, it’s so fucking awesome and every dish we had at Osteria Felice was really well executed and it’s clear that there’s some high quality produce and ingredients underpinning their dishes.  It’s been awhile since I’ve been impressed by a pure Italian restaurant in Hong Kong and I’ve reflected quite a few times in the week post this meal about how much I fucking enjoyed it.  I definitely need to round up a decent number of solid nommin’ homies so I can properly smash through their menu and try their pasta as well.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah! My massively expensive, pre-ordered MIA barrel aged negroni escapades aside, I’m into Osteria Felice just punching out solid fuck yeah Italian food and giving me all dem burrata and pizza based feelings.  Will Osteria Felice survive its awkward Admiralty location though? I don’t know, but it’s well worth a look and I gotta get back for more fuck yeah burrata ASAP.

So it’s the end of the year and we all start to feel like guilty fuckers and decide we have to make some resolutions to become a fitter, happier, more productive version of ourselves.  Some of you wishful dickheads will think that drinking cold-pressed juice for a week is going to undo a month of hard liquor and fuck yeah fried foods.  Other assholes are gonna swear off the booze for a month in a quest for No-Fun January or whatever cutesy Sober Named month they’re gonna get behind.  Perhaps you’re planning to be one of those all gear no idea gym enthusiasts or you’re gonna lay down all the cash ever to join Ultimate Optimum Superfit Topcunt Personal Training Studio so some meathead can push you to your absolute sweaty fuckface no dignity limits by making you shove some sled contraption around followed by some fucking disgraceful burpees and a pseudo-erotic stretch session to close.

parksrecsjogging

However, I understand the innate desire to set some boundaries for 2016 because I fucking love a good new year’s resolution.  Particularly when I set my new year’s shiz at levels which are actually gonna result in me having a FUCK YEAH year.  In 2015, I made it my new year’s resolution to NOT go to a single Castelo Concept’s restaurant and this resulted in 2,000% less disappointment in my overall dining experiences in 2015.  But don’t worry my FYN homies, I have got you and here are some suggested FUCK YEAHHH new year’s resolutions to make sure you’re living your best life in 2016.

ONE: Put the goddamn phone away at the dinner table

So you’re really fucking excited about catching up with some of your homies.  You’ve all made the time to sit down together for a meal, try some rad as fuck restaurant out and you all arrive at the table and then everyone starts to mash wildly at their phone with the intensity of a thousand suns or yell out “STOP!!!” as they photograph their meal to absolute death from a million different angles, as the food grows colder much like your enthusiasm for socialising with human beings ever again.

naomihereforthat

So how’s this for an idea in 2016 – wait for all your homies to arrive and then put your phone away.  Have a conversation with actual people that you allegedly care about, seeing as they’re right in front of you.  Look at the menu, I mean, really look at the menu.  Have a discussion about what you want to eat, what looks interesting, what you’ve tried before, what sounds fucking terrible.  Keep your phone out of it.  Order your food and while you wait, talk to the people who are actually at the goddamn table.  If you really get fucking desperate to talk to people not at the table, smuggle your phone to the bathroom and furiously catch up on messages in the privacy of a toilet cubicle so no one ever suspects you’re a rude fuck.  Your food will arrive and instead of photographing the fuck out of it, just use your own goddamn eyes to look at it and eat it hot from the kitchen like the chef intended.  Maybe you’ll smell something fucking phenomenal or it’s absolutely like nothing you expected. Either way, talk about it with the people you’re with rather than posting it straight to Instagram and then watching the love hearts accumulate, in between bites of food and checking your Facebook.  Think about shit like how did the kitchen make something look like that?  Chew your food.  I mean, really chew your food.  Be a pretentious asshole and make bullshit comments about flavour profiles, balance, technique and contrast, like how the acidity of the lemon really cut through the fat.  But don’t check your email.  Don’t check your Tinder.  Don’t check your Whatsapp.  Don’t check your Facebook.  Don’t check your Snapchat.  Don’t check your Twitter.  Don’t check your Instagram.  If you’re with your friends, just enjoy it – who knows how many times you’ll get these chances to be together before they move or slip away? If you’re on a date, check your date out. If you’re with someone you haven’t seen for ages, get them to tell you what they’ve been up to. If you’re with someone that you love, look them straight in the eye and tell them that you fucking love them. Drink more wine.  Make sure everyone else has wine.  Tuck the memories of your favourite dishes into your head like where you were, who you were with and when you ate it.  Years later, you won’t need a crappy photo on your phone to remember how it all went down.

2016.  This is the year to fuck off the perfect shot and just enjoy being in the goddamn moment.

TWO:  Call your bullshit non-drinking San Pellegrino guzzling homies out when they try to pay less on a split bill

All of us have been in the below situation:


Enter waiter carrying the bill for the group to consider

Non-drinking San Pellegrino guzzling homie (NDSPGH):  Ohhhh, so you know I didn’t drink any of the alcohol, so when we split the bill, we should exclude the alcohol and split the rest evenly, yeah?

Wine drinking homie (WDH):  Well, I guess that’s technically true but… (looks down at the bill to the San Pellegrino sparkling water line item which is equivalent to the GDP of a small to medium sized African country)

NDSPGH: (intense silent stare at WDH)

WDH:  (intense silent stare at NDSPGH)

samueljacksoncatstare


ENOUGH IS FUCKING ENOUGH.  2016 is the year we can all give a big FUCK NO to all the non-drinking San Pellegrino guzzling homies and their bill related bullshit.  To all the San Pellegrino filled, sanctimonious as fuck, super hydrated jackasses, you can’t fucking claim amnesty on paying for wine if you drink the monetary equivalent in imported, fizzy flavourless water.

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THREE: Ditch your flakey asshole friends

Let’s be real, life’s too fucking short to be dealing with alleged friends who can’t cope with simple concepts like showing up to a dining venue at a set time without fucking shit up.  Sorry to all those flakey fuckers out there who can’t grasp basic shit like scheduling, the only shit I want flakey in 2016 are my goddamn croissants.

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FOUR:  Stop calling food a “guilty pleasure”

The number of times I hear people saying they feel guilty as fuck about the food they eat is fucking disgraceful.  Somewhere along the way we’ve managed to get all twisted about how we feel about food and what it can potentially do to our bodies rather than just enjoying the pure and unbridled joy of getting some FUCK YEAH NOMS.  We’re all so stressed out about eating carbs, gluten, saturated fats, sugars, grains, legumes or processed shit. NO MORE HOMIES, in 2016 let’s all stop with all that food related self loathing bullshit and here’s to only calling your food a ‘guilty pleasure’ if you fucking stole it from someone.  Other than that, eat the good shit in moderation and go for a goddamn run or some exercise related bullshit if you’re really fucking smashing back the eats.

FYN FUN FACT:  No one ever lies on their deathbed and thinks back wistfully upon their life and thinks “Fuck, I wish I’d eaten more lean proteins and salad”. NO ONE.

ALICEdontcare

FIVE:  Stop taking lame-ass photos of your champagne glass at the airport lounge

If you’re one of those ball bags who has ever taken a photo of your champagne glass at an airport lounge and uploaded it to any sort of social media, it’s time to make 2016 the year where you check yourself before you fucking wreck yourself.  Seriously, there’s no need to be bragging about that bullshit as all you’ve really managed to do is get your ass onto a plane for a couple of long haul flights every year to get that access.  How does the internal thought process even work? Do you settle your ass into the airport lounge and think “Fuck, this sure is the good shit and everyone I know needs to know about this and I should hashtag the fuck out of it as well so even random people I don’t know could potentially know about my free champagne and big pimpin’ life”?  So you set up your airport lounge vignette, placing your glass of complimentary champagne just off to the left, organise your boarding passes to make sure the “FIRST” or “BUSINESS” shit is showing,  place your branded wallet or travel folio just in view and artfully arrange your passport just so before you throw out a big shout out to @cathaypacific for the upgrade and then get your #wandercunt #instadouche #fuckwitlust ON.

Seriously, check these real life, big swinging champagne sculling travel dicks out:

OH HAY DANIEL TAO, how’s the United States of Ratemyself.com going?  Y U no first all the way doe?

It’s a long way home, but thanks to @cathaypacific for the great start.

A photo posted by Daniel T (@dtaroundtheworld) on

Maybe I’m just jealous of Jackie cause the way I roll is more like a jelly roll:

First class lounging and champagne in Hong Kong airport, this is how we roll 😎   A photo posted by jakkameily (@jakkameily) on

Jonne pondered the perfect hashtag, admiring the gentle curve of his champagne flute.  “#champagne” seemed obvious as he watched another plane pull out across the tarmac. Then inspiration hit like the sharp fizz of #moët which he had been born to love “#shampoo #Oneworld #frequenttraveller” flowed naturally, like honey from his worldly fingertips as they darted above his iPhone.  Jonne knew that this is what being #first was all about:

 

Hai Elyse BB gurl, I hope you got that hotty (sic) that you urge for:

Fuck yeahhhhhhhhhhh worldly douchefucks, balee dat everyone else is really fucking impressed.  Yo #wandercunt homies, it truly is a life well travelled…to Dickhead Town.

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Of course, if the above resolutions are too much fucking work, just make the very attainable resolution to eat more fucking carbs because as always, carb life = best life.  Go well in 2016 my FYN homies because together we can all have a FUCK YEAH year xo fucking xo.

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