fuck yeah noms

Where:
Le Garçon Saigon (the website is total bullshit, I wish I could get the two seconds back that I spent looking at this sorry excuse for a website)
GF/12 – 18 Wing Fung Street
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2455 2499

Price:
We got out at a very reasonable HKD380 a person for food and drinks.

The deal:
Le Garçon Saigon has only recently opened in November 2015 and despite it being open for about five seconds, every time I’ve walked past it (even on random weeknights), it’s been totally rammed.  It’s a concept which I can totally see the masses getting behind – a French-Saigonese style bistro serving Southern Vietnamese food in the “trendy” Star Street precinct, run by the popular Black Sheep Restaurant Group (Carbone HK, Chom Chom, Burger Circus, Ho Lee Fook, Stazione Novella, Boqueria, etc. etc.) who continue their march towards HK restaurant domination.  I always feel that the Star Street precinct is deceptively trendy, as in, it feels like there should be cool, hip shops and lots of trendy restaurants but when you’re actually there you realise it’s a massive commercial yawnfest of a Pizza Express, a Classified, an Oolaa, a stack of mediocre restaurants hiding behind cool facades and a couple of interior shops which have made solid typography choices and a carefully curated inventory of only five items for sale.

Le Garçon Saigon is perfect interior bait to lure the unsuspecting trendy restaurant punter in, nailing that new-old Saigon French brasserie feeling with shiny mirrors, teal walls, geometric mosaic tiling and purposefully weathered concrete murals painted with cute as fuck French motifs.  Nothing more perfectly captures the time when the French lorded over Vietnam than a mural with French cartoon people doing colonial shit like drinking wine and a dog reading a newspaper. Fuck yeahhhh, colonialism! Another wall faithfully replicates a deliberately shabby stencilled list of Vietnamese dishes with prices listed in Vietnamese Dong, which is ironic given that I’ve got no doubt that I’m about to get stung some serious HKD for the meal we’re about to order.

Despite everything looking slick as fuck, my main fuck no issue with Le Garçon Saigon is that the softest thing in the whole place is one banquette that runs down one side and every other surface in LCG is harder than the abs of an ardent crossfitter who has eschewed carbs and non-crossfit related conversation for years #strongisthenewdouchebaggery.  This results in Le Garçon Saigon’s dining room being rendered into a cacophonous as fuck echo den with every possible noise bouncing off the bare ceilings, the concrete walls, the tiled floor, the drapeless windows, the naked marble tables or the mirrored walls. I know that tablecloths are unequivocally the devil’s work these days in most restaurants but fuck, I’m not convinced the occasional potted palm was doing their bit for acoustic baffling. I’m an old fuck so I could barely hear the waiter nor the person sitting next to me and you can completely throw all hope to the goddamn wind that I’d ever hear anything being said by the people at the other end of the table.

One thing that is more striking than Le Garçon Saigon’s interiors though is the batallion of attractive as fuck and thoroughly charming French waiters that Le Garçon Saigon have recruited.  Our table discusses whether the Black Sheep homies parked themselves at HK International Airport, staking out every Air France flight that touched down to recruit every other SO HANDSOME French homie that wasn’t destined to crush some quantitative shit at a bank to be part of their Le Garçon Saigon SO HANDSOME waiter crew. I don’t think I can emphasise this enough, the Le Garçon Saigon waiters are really SO HANDSOME.

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While gazing upon his SO HANDSOME face, our SO HANDSOME waiter talks us knowledgeably through the menu, which predictably have cutesy French sections like “Les Woks” for the stir fries and “Les Grillades” for the skewers and an ambiguously named “Larger” sub-section.  Based on our waiter’s SO HANDSOME recommendations, we order a number of different things – a few starters, some salads, a couple of skewers, “Larger” dishes and some of the stir fries.

We were given the wrong salad to start but didn’t realise this until we’d started eating it.  The green papaya salad (HKD68 + 10% service charge) was mixed with beef jerky, small dried crispy shrimp, cashew nuts and a spicy tamarind vinaigrette. We also had a serve of the Morning Glory salad (HKD68 + 10% service charge) but due to one of my homies serving shit super unequally, all I got was a couple of chrysanthemum leaves and some jellyfish pieces, in a pickled ginger and chilli vinaigrette.  My other homies who got first dibs claim there wasn’t any morning glory in there but I can’t fairly pass judgment here.  Regardless of whatever titillating named vegetables may or may not have been present, both salads had enough texturally going on and some good fresh flavours but both vinaigrettes were really fucking sweet, even as the tart tamarind and vinegars unsuccessfully tried to cut through it all.

The canh ga fried chicken wings (HKD78 + 10% service charge for five wings) are covered in a salty spicy mix combining Chinese five spice and chilli and predictably served with a side of sriracha mayonnaise.  While the actual wings are cooked well with crispy fuck yeah skin, my more enduring memory is how even though I’m into salty, fried food these chicken wings were pushing the sodium chloride friendship to a new level because it was definitely too fucking salty.

From the “Les Woks” section we definitely order up on some Les Disappointing dishes.  The glutinous rice promises clams, lemongrass, peanuts, salted cucumbers, rice paddy herbs and pork floss (HKD108 + 10% service charge) and it’s unremarkable in the sense that I can barely remember anything about it at all except the rice being sticky.  The Banh Xeo is a Vietnamese style crispy rice based pancake which is folded over a filling of chorizo, prawns, fresh bean sprouts and large red chillis.  You’re meant to break up the banh xeo and fold it into lettuce leaves with fresh herbs, dipping it lightly in some num nuoc sauce (lime, sugar, chilli and fish sauce).  It looks fucking incredible but in execution, the filling is entirely underwhelming, a mess of largely beansprouts dotted with the occasional prawn or chunk of chorizo. Whoaaaaaaaaaa check out the chorizo repping for the modern East meets West influences bullshit massive. But in reality, the chorizo just feels like it’s out of place and trying too hard to be proving some sort of culinary culture crossing point.  This fusion chorizo concept continues to bomb out even harder when it’s eaten in combination with the num nuoc sauce, which just leaves me thinking once again “Why is everything here so fucking salty??”

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The press on Le Garçon Saigon has been banging on about its grill and we try almost all of the skewers on the menu.  Per order you get three skewers and you can get selections such as the Wagyu beef Tri-tip / Bo Liu (Vietnamese beef teriyaki) (HKD138 + 10% service charge), the Pork Meatballs / Nem Nuong (HKD128 + 10% service charge), the Kurobuta pork / Thit Nuong (HKD128 + 10% service charge) and the proteinless / funless Zucchini & Leeks (HK68 + 10% service charge).  Each skewer is presented with a tray of fresh Vietnamese herbs, lettuce leaves, pickled carrots, cucumber, peanuts, rice paper, rice vermicelli pancakes and dipping sauces, so you can make your own wraps with the meat.  The grilled meats are a fuck yeah, with a good charcoal taste but the problem is that all the sauces that everything is served with are either too sweet, too salty or an awful fuck no combination of being too fucking sweet AND too fucking salty.  There’s a balance in trying to combine the Vietnamese flavours of sour, sweet, salty and spicy but Le Garçon Saigon manage to bludgeon my enthusiasm for their skewers into a bloody lifeless pulp by showing not a shred of nuance and instead hitting me with SWEET SALTY SWEET SWEET SALTY A BIT TANGY OK BACK TO FUCKING SALTY the whole fucking time.

From the “Larger’ grill section we ordered the Whole Red Snapper (HKD208 +10% service charge) which looks beautiful as fuck, grilled in a bamboo leaf package.  Be careful my white homies because this fishy homie is served in one whole piece, bones and all and requires some skillful dissection.  I’m quite into it, enjoying the fuck yeah sweet snapper fish which is very fresh and the fragrant bamboo leaf flavour imparted from the grill until I hit a patch of scales and end up trying to detach the large snapper scales that have attached themselves unceremoniously to the roof of my mouth. Fuck no to that bullshit, I’m already socially awkward enough without being further sabotaged by my choices in seafood.

The grilled half yellow chicken (HKD168 + 10% service charge) looks fucking sensational, all crispy skin and some fuck yeah looking juicy meat.  I rue the fact that I’ve chosen to come with so many homies because I want to eat at least half of it on my own.  Like all of the proteins that have come before it, it’s had a sweet ass time in the grill and the meat is juicy as all hell and fucking great.  The crispy skin is covered in lemon, a chilli-salt spice mix and a thin chiffonade of kaffir lime leaves, which initially gives you a good sour, delicately fragrant and salty mix but just like everything else, crashes down in a crescendo of salt.  At this point, I would cry from all of the salt if I wasn’t trying to preserve whatever precious fluids were still within my body as it teetered precariously on the edge of dehydration thanks to the half a kilo of salt that’s been in my food.

We finish all of our dishes and in a telling sign, my hands are so sticky from making all of those rice rolls with the skewer meats  With no moist towelette or finger bowl on offer I take this sticky moment to reflect upon my feelings towards every single thing at Le Garçon Saigon either being so salty, so sweet or so salty and sweet OR seasoned appropriately but then littered with fish scales.

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Piling into the “Les Desserts” section we try every single one on offer (all HKD68 each + 10% service charge) and this is a FUCK YEAH highlight of the meal, as Le Garçon Saigon present their modern take on Vietnamese dessert flavours.  The flan is a riff on the Vietnamese coffee, using condensed milk in the flan and topped with a drip coffee syrup, served with a salty chocolate sable biscuit to cut through the rich, sweet flan.  It’s fucking delicious and goes some way to calming my rattled so sweet, so salty bad juju from dinner.  The pandan waffle is delicate as fuck but still crunchy on the outside and it’s served with strawberries, mascarpone ice-cream and almond crunch.  I was really into Le Garçon Saigon’s version of the traditional Vietnamese “Che” dessert – a combination of smashed meringue, roasted pineapple, taro and sago, served in a palm sugar and coconut milk sauce.  There’s a scoop of “smoked” coconut ice-cream (which isn’t that smoky) and some smoked, caramelised peanuts (which I think were too smoky), but this is a small gripe in an otherwise fucking delicious dessert.

With all of that done, it’s a fun evening in a cool, new spot and I can guarantee that it’s only a matter of time before someone bails me up and goes “OMG, have you tried Le Garcon Saigon yet? It’s just soooo cool!”.  But the fact that it’s totally packed out after a matter of weeks means there’s definitely a place for Le Garcon Saigon in HK and it’s for that person we all have met a million times in HK, the type of person who doesn’t really eat or care that much about food and just wants to feel like they’re on point with what’s trendy.  Bonsoir motherfuckers, I’m afraid that I’m all about the food and even LCG’s SO HANDSOME waiters can’t replace appropriately seasoned food for me.

Verdict:
Fuck no.  But if you’re someone who just wants somewhere cool to hang out, drink fuck yeah booze and you don’t really care all that much about the food, this is totally gonna be your new fuck yeah hang spot.  Go on, wear your Sunday best and take your yappy little dog and sit on one of those outside tables and suck down some drinks while waiting for someone to throw down some air kisses at. MWAH MWAH DARLING, HOW FUCKING CUTE IS THIS PLACE??

Where:
Moonshine & the Po’Boys
G/F, No. 4 Sun Street
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2776 2668

Price:
We got out at HKD850 a person with cocktails and the most fucking expensive oysters ever. Don’t make the same ordering mistakes and you can probably comfortable get out at HKD600ish for food and booze, if you’re getting the seafood boil.  Everything else was super affordable so maybe HKD400-500ish for food and booze if you skipped the seafood boil.

The deal:
We roll into Moonshine & the Po’Boys after hearing some promising things around the traps about its Creole and Cajun Southern style food. It’s going for that mismatched New Orleans feeling with its stylish chalkboards, clustered mason jar light fittings, metal buckets of herbs and kitschy boards. It’s not a huge space, probably sitting no more than 30 people, although there’s a second floor which they might get around to opening.  When we ask for our table, we’re pointed towards a table which is already half occupied by other people.  Not that anyone mentioned this little truth nugget when we made our booking. Fuck, I barely like some of my friends at the best of times so I feel that there should be some sort of warning before you’re forced to share a table with total fucking strangers.

We sit and look over the menu which are the most ratchet ass menus I’ve seen in a long time.  Printed on paper and shoved into all mismatched plastic sleeves, the menus are still strangely worn out even though they’ve been tackily tacked into their plastic covers by some raggedy scotch tape.  I’ve heard that the peeps who set up Moonshine & the Po’Boys are ex-bankers and as I try to decipher what to order, I ponder whether they swiped a bunch of used document folders on their way out of their last place of employment. Unfortunately the decision process was not helped by the fact that whoever designed the menus decided to use the tiniest fucking font in the whole goddamn world.  Yeah let’s squint this shit out together cause you know, 0.6pt font – I’M REALLY FUCKING INTO IT:

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It’s abundantly clear that service is all over the fucking place at Moonshine & the Po’Boys.  I’m throwing down plenty of thirsty face action in a desperate attempt to try and get someone to take my drinks order.  Waiters keep appearing and offering us the food ordered by the non-related party who we’re being forced to share a table with.  Fuck yeahhh, nothing beats seeing a waiter enthusiastically declare that you’re gonna absolutely love the Tomahawk Steak before you deflate his big steaky flourish by pointing him towards the strangers next to you who actually fucking ordered it.  It’s also really fucking rad when the waiters keep putting down someone else’s cocktails in front of you when you can’t even get the waiter to bring you the drinks menu. We observed a waitress whose sole function appeared to be to spin around in a confused manner around the floor. Finally we get our order in and after about half an hour of waiting, everything appears almost simultaneously.

Ms Two Serves and I mustered all our courage to try the Bayou Bucket, after the horrific fuck no bankruptcy inducing boil we had at the beyond awful and $oul crushing Holy Crab.  The Bayou Bucket is billed as a serving for four and it’s a Louisiana boil which combines a shit tonne of clams, mussels, tiger prawns, blue crab, Spanish scarlet prawns and king crab legs.  There’s also chunks of sweet corn, andouille sausage and new potatoes.  At HKD600 (+ 10% service charge) it’s not cheap but yassssssss there’s premium flesh laden crab and big-ass prawns for days.  There was no need to be polite and just nibble on one crab leg as you share shit around equally pretending that you’ve had enough crab because everyone got to eat their fuck yeah crustaceous fill.  While the menu offered a number of sauce choices, we weren’t actually asked what we wanted and ended up getting served with a fucking delicious Cajun garlic butter sauce and the boil sauce itself was fucking A1 great too.  The only thing that let this boil down were the molluscs – the mussels and the clams weren’t super fresh and consequently a bit bland.  But really, who gives a fuck about bullshit filter feeders when there’s fuck tonnes of crab?

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Next up was the half fried chicken for the very reasonably priced HKD100 (+10% service charge).  It’s served with a coleslaw which we ruthlessly pushed to one side because it was all about dat FUCK YEAH fried chicken.  It’s one of the best that I’ve had in recent memory, crispy as fuck without being greasy, well seasoned batter and this fried up motherfucker is bringing some serious juicy meat game.  It’s served with a cranberry sauce and this tart bitch helps to provide an acidic counterpoint to all of the fried chicken happiness. It’s at this point that we’re in a blissful fried chicken fugue, which allows us to forgive the abysmal service and the indignity of the mismatched, shabby plastic folder menus.

We had ordered a serve of the gator nuggets (HKD90 + 10% service charge) as a pre-dinner snack but due to the continued ineptitude of the staff, these were served well within the dinner zone.  Served with two sauces – Ranch and a Jack Daniel’s BBQ + Peach Chili puree, these would be great, I dunno, AS A PRE-DINNER SNACK.  Our other side, the Dirty Rice Jambalaya (HKD50 +10% service charge) is a carby fuck yeah, deep in flavour from the stock, sausage and the holy Jambalaya trinity of celery, peppers, and onions.  It was so fucking good that we scraped the bowl clean while one of my homies asked repeatedly if we’d tried the Jambalaya yet because she was super into it.

It’s fundamental to judge any place peddling Southern food on their grits and we ordered the Barbecue Shrimp and Grits (HKD100 + 10% service charge).  I honestly can’t believe this is only HKD100 because you get six huge prawns and normally if you even rub a prawn head on a plate in HK you’re looking at a HKD280 price tag. I was definitely prepared for grit disappointment cause well, Hong Kong, but these grits were fucking rad – creamy and with just the right amount of melted parmesan cheese.  Fuck yeahhh, the Moonshine homies most definitely pass the Grits Test.

We’d pretty much finished all of our food when our oysters finally arrive.  Ms Two Serves shoots an incredulous look at the waiter and says “I thought you’d forgotten about our oysters because we have received every other dish we’ve ordered” while I more plainly take our waiter to task asking bluntly “Shouldn’t our oysters have come at the beginning of the meal??”.  Our waiter sheepishly says he will check with the kitchen and reports back that because the first oyster they opened was bad that’s why the oysters had to came last.  O RLY Moonshine homie, is that what really happened?  Did the responsible kitchen homie open one oyster, discover it was bad and then proceed to take a break to chuff back six cigarettes before cooking five dishes for us and some food for all the other tables before he could find the courage to hold a shucking knife again to shuck six good oysters??

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With the bullshit explanation out of the way, our waiter apologised and finally agrees the oysters should have come first.  He then pauses to take my sustained angry glare in as my raised eyebrows threaten to come completely off the top of my head, smiles tightly and awkwardly leaves us. Rather than comping us oysters which, FACT, have taken more than an hour and a half to arrive at our table just as we’re starting to think about dessert.

Trying to move past the fact we’re closing our meal out on oysters, I asked where the oysters were from and was informed that they’re  from New Zealand.  They were good oysters, plump and creamy, served with lemons and some sort of a vinegar reduction (I’m not into sauce on oysters, so I can’t pass judgment).  I could have done without the finely chopped spring onions on my oysters because I just want my oysters straight up.  But it’s all a bit of a moot point because after all the strong flavours of the preceding food, I just can’t get into it.  I’ve never finished a meal on oysters and I’ll be quite happy to never ever fucking do so ever again.

However, Oystergeddon doesn’t end here – as the oyster prices weren’t listed on the menu, I’d assumed that they’d be less than the three oyster shooters for HKD300 given that the latter had fancy ass booze in them.  However, this assumption was entirely incorrect because when we check the bill it appears that each New Zealand oyster costs HKD100 (+10% service charge). It’s at this point that our entire table dissolves into seething mess of fucking outrage because as my Choice Bro FYN Kiwi Homies would understand, that is TWENTY TWO KIWI BUCKS (USD14+) PER SINGULAR OYSTER WHICH COULDN’T EVEN BE FUCKING SHUCKED IN TIME TO SERVE BEFORE ALL OF OUR FOOD?? R U for real Moonshine homies?? Kill me in the face with your punitive oy$ter prices and tardy shucking, Moonshine and the NO FUCKING WAY BOYS.

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For dessert, we split the Order the ebony & ivory (HKD80 + 10% service charge) which bills itself as a “chocolate brownie & cherries with bacon bits and peanut butter sauce”.  It’s served in a miniature cast-iron skillet and sure it’s delicious but despite all the description of cherries, bacon and peanut butter sauce, all I really get is chocolate brownie and vanilla ice-cream. Which is predictably tasty but my Moonshine homies, Y U promise me so many things and don’t deliver any salty bacon or peanut butter feelings?

Solemnly, I decide that I need to get a cocktail to try and blot away the memories of the Grand Finale mis-timed Oysters and order the Aged Manhattan (HKD120 + 10% service charge).  A waiter appears with my drink and sets in down in front of me and fuck me, call the NYPD because I appear to have been confronted with a major crime against one of the most majestic cocktails of all time:

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Like W T F Moonshine Homies, did you mistake my Manhattan with preparing a post-mix Coca-Cola that you’d get at fucking McDonald’s?  As soon as I see this slushie nightmare slandering the good name of the Manhattan, I ask my waiter what is this fuck no monstrosity in front of me and whyyyy would anyone want ice to rapidly melt into their cocktail to dilute it to all hell? I’m not really given any sort of proper explanation and receive yet another sheepish look, an apology and then another awkward disappearing act.  Rather than actually trying to simply fix shit by getting the bar to remake my cocktail so it’s not a total icey fuck no trainwreck.  I glumly sip on my ever diluting “Manhattan”, wondering whether it’s a watery mess due to the crushed ice or due to the tears of 1,000 NYC bartender angels who are bitterly sobbing from the booze soaked heavens above into my glass of interminable fuck no sadness.

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To be fair as a HK girl in the middle of junk season (ie. really fucking fair), a slick suited homie (who I suspect is an owner or investor) at the very end of our meal came over to ask how everything was and fresh with the horror of my crushed ice Manhattan slushie, I pointed to the watery “Manhattan” dregs in front of me and gave him more feedback.  He did sincerely apologise, offer us another round of drinks and promised that he’d make sure we were looked after the next time. A nice touch but again, why wasn’t my initial feedback taken onboard instead of the awkward to and fro between the bar, the acknowledgment that shit’s not right but doing absolutely jack all to make things better?

So aside from getting stung on the oy$ters, Moonshine & the Po’Boys is pushing out some kick ass food at super reasonable places.  It’d be a shame if they can’t tighten up their customer service to match their fuck yeah food.  Moonshine homies, I’m imploring you to get yo service shit together cause your fuck yeah food truly does deserve the best.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhhh cause the food was fucking tasty.  But Moonshine & the Po’Boys are still clearly working their shit out on the service front, so make sure you follow these FYN pro tips so you’re all fried chicken happiness and no bullshit oy$$$$$ter times:

  • Book a table for six so you’re not awkwardly sharing with random strangers.  Maybe if you’re less of an uptight fuck you can skip this one.
  • Be prepared for service to be well intentioned but clumsy.  If they fuck shit up, you better be ready to take the apology and just deal with it cause I didn’t see any efforts to fix things as they happened.
  • In case you missed the three paragraphs above, DON’T ORDER THE FUCKING OYSTERS. If you’re a loaded motherfucker, be very specific that your oysters have to come first.
  • When ordering cocktails, be specific on your ice requirements. Sorry Po’Boys, this ain’t a McDonald’s drive through and I can’t excuse that crushed ice bullshit, EVER.

Where:
Johnny Gurkha (FB page which is actually informative with menus)
GF/45A Graham Street
Soho, Hong Kong

FYN hot tip:  While officially listed as GF/45A Graham Street, it’s actually not adjacent to 45 Graham Street (the godawful Cencalo’s) nor on the ground floor.  Next to The Globe, look for a staircase and the clearer signage for Japanese restaurant Toriyama.  Head up the stairs and turn right into Johnny Gurkha.

Phone:
+852 6293 4941

Price:
HKD150 a person before tip.  I reckon with a bigger group you’d probably look at HKD120 – 150.  But what’s HKD30 for all you big dick swinging HK ballers?  No service charge.

The deal:
I’d been given a big hitting recommendation to check out Johnny Gurkha from a bona fide FYN Nepalese homie, so of course I took that hard hitting shit to heart.  After receiving reports that they were open for business again post a “renovation”, we swung in for dinner on a Saturday night.  At 8:30pm, the restaurant is empty and dead silent, and initially there’s no background music to break up the awkward silence.  While no one else joined us for dinner, at least the kitchen seemed to be doing an ok takeaway trade with the Foodpanda dudes popping in periodically to collect orders. It’s a basic dining room and I’ll be real, the floor could be a little cleaner, but it seems positively salubrious in comparison to the Saw-like grimey apartment ambience of the super ghetto Up 9 Nepalese “restaurant” in LKF.

Johnny Gurkha only opened earlier in 2015 and in a fuck yeah indicator, all of the staff in the restaurant and the kitchen are Nepalese. The friendly owner comes over to walk us through the menu and make some thorough and well explained recommendations which forces us to reconfigure what we were initially going to order.  I am filled with immediate regret that I’ve only got one homie with me, rather than dragging along a couple more so we could more comprehensively bang our way through all the fuck yeah sounding dinner options.

We get started with some complimentary pappadums and tomato salsa and order some mango yoghurt lassis (HKD42).  They’re cute as all hell, served in handled mason jars with tin lids and a solid reuseable stripy plastic straw pierced through the top.  I fucking hate cute but functionally useless stripy paper straws that become instantly soggy upon contact with a liquid (surely this is crucial properties for a fucking straw to have) so I can get behind this sustainable choice.  Unfortunately it wasn’t quite my thing as the mango lassi needed more fresh mango and I think there was some sort of syrup in there which gave it an artificial fuck no taste.

The kutta ko achaar (pork trotters slow cooked in a tomato based gravy, HKD68) had been recommended to us with a promise that it’s quite spicy.  Given that it’s chunks of pork trotters, if you’re one of those slack jawed pussies who can’t deal with fatty meat or bones in their food, don’t order this dish and go and order a chicken breast from somewhere.  But if you’re into pork trotters that have been slow cooked until they’re a tender, gelatinous delicious as fuck combination of pork skin and meat in a fucking glorious spicy sauce, slightly reminiscent of those spicy Sichuan chilli dishes, you need to most definitely get involved.  The sauce is an epic masterpiece, deep with the flavours of pork bones and fat, tomatoes, chillies and ginger with a vinegary acidic kick at the end.  If only I’d had the foresight to order some roti so I could have captured every last bit of that magical fuck yeah sauce.  Rules to live by, always and forever – carb life = best life.

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We also ordered the Yak Cheese (HKD88) which comes from the milk of spoilt Nepalese Yaks who appear to be living a life better than my current HK life, as the menu claims that they are breathing clean air, drinking pure water and eating wildflowers. Very biblically, it’s served with dried apricots, walnuts and honey (although in reality, strawberry jam appears to have been substituted for the honey). It’s similar to a mild to medium cheddar and a good palate cleanser after the amazing kutta ko achaar but I’ll be real, I’d rather have ordered another curry dish in its place and as much as I love Nepal, it’s not exactly known for its cheese prowess.

The next dish is what we’ve all been waiting for, Nepalese dumplings which are well loved by all and available in pork, chicken or vegetable.  YASSSSSS MOMOS.  The steamed pork momos (HKD60 for 10) are fucking delicious – thin skinned and stuffed with a fragrant coriander and pork filling.  As always, I want to suck back all of the spicy acar sauce that’s served with the momos, a blended cooked sauce of ginger, onion, garlic, tomatoes, ginger and red chillis with a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten it all up.  It’s only too sad when I’ve finished all my momos cause as the saying goes, NO MOMOS, MO PROBLEMS.

We split an order of the Himalayan soup (HKD32) made from fermented greens (gundruk) and other vegetables.  I’m not sure what the green vegetable they used (normally mustard greens or spinach are used), but whatever it was its stems were  fibrous fucks which detracted from the very tasty sour and spicy soup.  Maybe this would have been better if it’d come out at the start of the meal but either way, if there’s an option on fried chicken wings marinated in herbs and coated in crispy panko breadcrumbs vs a fermented woody stemmed soup, you can probably guess which way I’m gonna swing next time I’m at Johnny Gurkha.

Our final dish was the Trucker’s Thali, a solid value proposition of only HKD78 for a mixed plate of lamb curry (option on pork, chicken or vegetable curry), rice or roti, lentil soup, two types of seasonal greens, tomato acar sauce and a papadum.  Unfortunately, we weren’t asked whether we wanted rice or roti which meant we ended up with the inferior breadless choice of rice and I was forced to console my roti-less situation with fork tender, generous chunks of fucking delicious lamb curry.  All of the components were jam packed with fuck yeah flavour – the slightly spiced potatoes which had most definitely been cooked in some sort of delicious fat (ghee? The answer to superior fuck yeah deliciousness is often clarified butter), curried green peas and a yellow lentil soup. Who knew that such value was available for only HKD78 in Soho??

Johnny Gurkha isn’t anything fancy in terms of its decor and it’s not pulling any punches in terms of the food it’s selling.  But I can most definitely get behind a straight up, family owned business making affordable and super delicious Nepalese food in a Central HK location.  I hope they’re turning over a good volume of home deliveries because it’d be too sad if Johnny Gurkha fell victim to HK rents simply because no-one fucking knew about them and the idea of the Nepalese family sitting forlornly in their empty restaurant night after night is just too fucking much for me to bear.  Don’t worry Johnny, I will do my bit to give you my patronage but largely it’s for self-serving selfish reasons because let’s face the hard hitting facts, I desperately need your tasty Nepalese eats in my life again soon.

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Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhh!  I need to get back to Johnny Gurkha to more systematically take down their menu.  As always, MO MOMOS NO PROBLEMS!

Where:
Zurriola (you can check my original review out here)
18/F, The One, 100 Nathan Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2253 7111

Price:
Yo, I got my invite on.  I’ve included the prices below for the Zurriola menu items.

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The deal:
It’s no secret that I’m a massive fan of Zurriola since Executive Chef Daniel Birkner moved across.  If you catch me on my FY Noms FB (for real though, why wouldn’t you want a random internet homie to show up on your page to give you a ‘Fuck yeahhhh’ when you deserve one), I’ve encouraged any number of random internet FYN homies to check out Zurriola’s beautiful and inventive Modern European food when they’ve asked me for a recommendation.  Of course, it’s also imperative that you definitely finish up that rad as fuck meal with Zurriola’s seriously major cheese platter.  I can’t emphasise this enough, you are definitely living your life wrong if you don’t get all Kanye up in that French raw milk cheese deal and be all “Where are you Yeezy Cheesey??”.

Zurriola are running a game menu in November and December, in line with the European seasons.  As it’s allegedly Autumn in HK, this means we should be getting all romantic and shiz, wearing ridiculous Arctic suitable puffa jackets and cuddling up with big round goblets of bold reds and then celebrating the changing leaves by eating strong, robust game meats of delicious wild animals like deer and boar.  Let’s just push to one side the fact that it’s almost mid-November and most of HK is still puffa jacket free, but honestly I’m led to believe that HK will get cold at some point in time.  NO REALLY, I SWEAR WINTER IS COMING.

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To console myself with the fact that it feels like I’m always going to be a sweaty-ass mess in HK, I tried to hide my weather related disappointment by eating a fuck tonne of delicious wild animals paired with all sorts of earthy, warm ingredients like pumpkin, mushroom and celeriac.  I got my invite on here, so I managed to get a taste of everything even though Zurriola’s game menu isn’t meant to be eaten as a ‘tasting’ menu.  Rather, you should pick a starter and a main of your choice.  Before flinging yourself head first into all the French raw milk cheese with fruit bread that you can get your dirty mitts on.  So with my Deer Hunter pants firmly on, let me tell you about all the Zurriola game offerings that I obliterated my way through.

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  • Venison tartar (HKD178 +10% service charge):  I have always been partial to the meat of the majestic deer.  Maybe it’s because they’re so damn adorable or maybe it’s just because I fucking love bold, gamey flavours and rare as fuck meat.  So you can only imagine my unbridled enthusiasm towards small cubes of raw venison meat which have been dressed with dehydrated mushroom powder to deliver that fuck yeah umami earthy punch.  There’s also some thinly sliced cauliflower, cauliflower puree and micro-red shiso leaves to gently hint at some sort of cruciferous, anise style flavour. My fucking beautiful, beyond rare tartar – I’m swooning at the very thought of you.
  • Pheasant consommé (HKD108 + 10% service charge):  The pheasant consommé wouldn’t necessarily be for everyone but I reckon for people who can appreciate a super labour intensive consommé which has fucktonnes of flavour layers, you will be all up in this broth based shiz.  Just cooked pieces of pheasant with poached cubes of celeriac and celeriac puree are served in a clear brown consomme made from the roasted carcasses of pleasant pheasants and madeira.  The madeira gave it that warm, fruity roundness and reminded me of the overtones of red dates and herbs that you get in Chinese herbal chicken soups.  If only medicine was this fucking delicious and involved delicately prepared tender slices of pheasants.
  • Paté of wild boar (HKD208 +10% service charge):  This can be served either hot or cold and Zurriola served up the hot version.  It’s a mixture of strong wild boar meat and pistachios, served with mushrooms and pickled onions to cut through the rich boar meat. I could have eaten three of these.  I could have eaten it cold.  I could eat it right the fuck now and be fucking happy with my life.
  • Wild Boar Bourguignon (HKD348 +10% service charge):  This dish doesn’t look that big but it packs a heavy punch thanks to its rich fuck yeah flavours from the wild boar meat, braised vegetables and some water chestnuts for contrast.  It’s not Zurriola’s fault that HK is still so fucking hot that it seemed like this dish was two months too early.  I’d probably say this is your most ‘traditional’ style dish so maybe order this one if you’re into predictable through comfortably hearty fuck yeah dishes?
  • Venison loin (HKD540 + 10% service charge):  This is NOT cheap shit and I guess those wild running European Bambis aren’t cheap by the time you hunt them down and air-freight their chilled adorable carcasses to Hong Kong.  I assure you that this was a special fuck yeah moment though, beautiful pieces of venison loin served with a puree of creamy, sweet Hokkaido pumpkin, a flourish of a Hokkaido pumpkin ribbon twisted into a flower and just candied ‘black’ walnuts.  Of course it was all art and beautiful as fuck.  But not as beautiful as it was eating this gloriously tender fuck yeah venison loin.  I was so taken by the ‘black’ walnuts that I asked for more details.
    FYN Fun Fact – a Lesson in Nutz:  Black walnuts are actually green walnuts which are picked unripe before the nutshell is built. These labour intensive fuckers than require pricking with needles and are watered for 10-14 days, requiring more needle pricking every damn day because it allows tannic acid to be discharged at the prick holes.  When all that laborious shit is done, the nuts are boiled in a syrup or broth to taste. These needy nutty bastards are then usually packed and sealed either in mason jars or vacuum bags and left alone for roughly a year.  You’ll be pleased to know that regardless of how long these inky beauties took to take this form, I managed to snack these up in mere seconds.
  • Ballotine of Deer Loin (HKD580 +10% service charge):  Fuckkkkk, I can’t lie to you and pretend that any dish that starts with a five handle is anything but really fucking expensive  But if it’s pay day, I’d say this ballotine is a boneless fuck yeah wonder.  Zurriola take the deer loin and roll it into a round, egg like shape.  It’s then served with a celeriac puree, Black Trumpet Mushrooms and a jus sauce that’s so fucking incredible you’ll want to bathe in it. If it was socially acceptable I totally would have licked the fucking plate.
  • Deer Shoulder 48/48 (HKD378 + 10% service charge):  While it may have a title that sounds a bit like a Justin Timberlake album, it is to signify that the deer shoulder has been cooked at 48 degrees Celsius for 48 hours.  Our waiter brings out the cooked deer shoulder to show it to us before it’s returned to the kitchen for slicing.  The menu might simply declare it as having ‘Brussel Sprouts’ and ‘Salsify’ (the root of the oyster plant) but of course it’s all fancy fucker times with individual brussel sprout leaves and swooshy black liquid trails painted across our plate.  The 48/48 deer shoulder has been seared before serving so it’s does get some char to it and it’s not an insipid mess that was cooked in a warm water bath.  SO FUCKING DELICIOUS.

One thing that I just cannot jive with at Zurriola is their fuck no plastic placemats which look like carpet underlay material.  While I’m all up in the food and there’s a fuck yeah harbour view, I just don’t think the dining room is modern enough to be trying to pull of plastic underlay placemats while charging HKD500+ for mains.

Despite dreaming about the cheese plate all day, I didn’t demand satisfaction at this point.  If only because I’d eaten my way through a small mob of delicious, tender deer at this point in time and was full as fuck.  One thing to note is the warning that you might find the odd piece of shot in their dish in a nod to authenticity and a sign of quality.  Unfortunately, no bad ass lead filled treats for me and I can report that my game meal was just full of fuck yeah delicious sauces and wild game.  If you’re jonesing for dem venison and wild boar feelings, it’s time to get involved before the end of 2015.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhh, cause oops I did it again, got lost in the game oh baby baby.  But fair warning, if you’re gonna pile in for the expensive venison related items make sure it’s on pay day.

 

 

Where:
The Optimist
G/F, 239 Hennessy Road
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Phone number:
+852 2433 3324 (welcome to the future yo, online bookings)

Price:
HKD800ish per person before tip (no service charge included).  This included cocktails, wine and a mega-expensive steak.  You could definitely get out for less if you didn’t order the ball breakingly expensive rib-eye steak.  Maybe HKD500ish per person?

The deal:
239 Hennessy Road in Wan Chai is the new place for restaurants, now housing Zahrabel, Pirata and El Mercado.  I feel like I’m there every fortnight at the moment and to add to the mix, The Optimist has only officially opened this week after some sort of soft opening period.  Before I decided to try it, I loaded up their website and amongst the thoughtful graphics and cool typography came across one of my FUCK NO bullshit pet peeves – menus with no goddamn prices.  WTF restaurants who do this, is it because you like to trick people into your restaurant before fucking them in the ass with a dollar sign?? Yo HK restaurants, here’s a FYN fun fact – if people see a menu with no prices, people are just gonna assume that you’re really fucking sneaky and expensive as fuck:

FYN-optimist-no-prices

Regardless of the no price scenario, I was expecting good things from The Optimist given that it is run by the same crew as Pirata with Christian Talpo and Manuel Palacio setting up a three floor venue flogging Northern Spanish food.  The ground floor is The Optimist’s bar and the impressive Rocio Martinez Amoedo design is all green foliage, wooden tables and benches, geometric tiles and warm lighting.  That’s all dandy to conjure up the feeling that you’re drinking inside a greenhouse but what is more impressive are the cocktails.  I always maintain that the hallmark of a fuck yeah cocktail is when you can tell it’s strong but it doesn’t taste like it’s strong, meaning you want to launch yourself into six beautifully balanced delicious as fuck drinks and throw consequence to the goddamn wind.  I had the Gin and Ginger (HKD100) which is pretty much the cocktail of my wet dreams – gin, mint, lime, ginger beer and a large hunk of ice and I was definitely having my Sound of Music “these are a few of my favourite things, dog bites, bee stings blah blah” moment.   I also scammed some of my homie’s Old Fashioned which is one of my all time faves and oh my yasssss, it was fucking spectacular. It was truly with a fucking heavy heart that I grudgingly decided to stop drinking cocktails to actually have proper food.

The main dining room is on the first floor and it’s cute as hell with its peacock blue walls, framed drawings of birds and light oak furniture.  Passing through the artfully filled staircase, we get seated.  While we check the menu, we are presented with a board of bread, served with a tomato based sauce and some aioli.  The Optimist’s bread game is tight but it’s dwarfed monumentally by the fuck yeah aioli which is served with it.  I was seriously having a major fuck yeah moment and our helpful waiter filled our bread and aioli up once he saw we were empty.  After we smashed it again, he promptly came back and asked if we wanted some more.  I pondered how to stop the rampant thoughts in my head that were plotting how I could find a way to smear the aioli all over my body so I could luxuriate fully in its fuck yeah awesomeness.  Our waiter came back again, offering a third refill and this is what snapped me out of this eggy lust filled reverie because even though I was all “My body’s saying let’s gooooo”, but in anticipation of actually eating proper food I knew the right answer was all:

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Our attentive waiter came back to take our order and this is when I ask him what his favourite items are on the menu or what does he recommend.  In fuck no news, our waiter homie confesses that as he’s just started, he hasn’t actually tried the food yet and he’ll have to get his manager to give us some guidance.  It just bums me out when I hear my waiter homies haven’t had the opportunity to eat the food at where they’re working.  Like they’re expected to watch people having good times and eating fuck yeah noms, while they keep smiling and asking if everything’s ok but never getting to snack down themselves.  Sharing is caring (especially when it comes to food) and I thought of this sad fuck no insight throughout my whole meal, almost wanting to push aside a little bit of each dish for him so my undeservedly hungry waiter homie could get involved as well.

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At this point a waitress shows up with some croquettes which we didn’t order.  We politely tell her that they’re not ours and she walks away quite confused.  This is where The Optimist’s slick restaurant manager glides in to smooth things over, explaining that these were on the house as he wanted us to try their Iberian ham croquettes.  Fuck yeahhhhh, free food.  But regardless of it being my favourite price, my cheese and ham croquette drug dealing homie has absolutely gamed me with my first free taste because I’ll be handing over cash for these deep fried fuck yeah croquettes next time for sure.  Especially as I smeared whatever precious aioli I had left all over these golden fuck yeah treaties.

For a starter we order a serve of the Tudela artichokes with baby squid (HKD150).  I was all heart in mouth, expecting the usual HK Spanish style of tiny-ass starters, anticipating that we were probably going to receive a singular artichoke leaf containing the tiniest curl of a baby squid tentacle for too many HK bucks.  But whoa, surprise on the upside, this starter could be shared between a few people just to have a taste and the artichokes, just charred baby squid, Iberico ham and confit onions was definitely a fuck yeah combination.

The Optimist has its own hashtag / tagline of #wegrillthings and I understand that their premise is that you’re meant to go and check out the market-like display of fish and meat before seeing what appeals and sending your protein of choice off to the charcoal grill.  I never actually saw this display but based on the menu we decided to go all in and order the Txuleta rib eye steak which range from 900g to 1.2kg in size.  As there were only three of us and as it’s HKD____ per 100g (lolzzzzz, I ain’t gonna treat you like idiots, it’s HKD110 per 100g), we were hoping to get one closer to the 900g.  Predictably, The Optimist only had large fuckers at the 1.2kg end of things which meant that we were all in for a ball tearing HKD1,320.  HELP ME, I’M NOW POOR.  The Txuleta is an on the bone Galician 45 days dry aged rib eye which is served with a side of roasted peppers and baked potatoes.  When it is presented, it’s as large and in charge as its price tag and you are immediately hit in the face by the smell of iron filled, dry aged beef.  We order ours rare and it’s most definitely hitting this bloody mark and just one juicy as fuck bite in, it’s all blue cheese and nutty dry steak fuck yeah feelings.  I’m less excited by the sides, partly because peppers / capsicum are one of the few food items that I can’t get behind ever and in sadder news, the potatoes just weren’t that exciting in texture or flavour.  Maybe I’m just a predictable fuck who only wants any sort of roasted or baked potato in my life to be a crunchy starchy motherfucker.

Upon reflection, while the Txuleta rib-eye was fucking incredible there’s a niggling feeling of “OH MY FUCKING FUCK, DID WE JUST SPEND HKD 1,320 ON A STEAK?! LIKE USD170 REAL BUCKS??”.  And while I very much enjoyed the fuck out of it, I’ve also enjoyed the fuck out of other much more reasonably priced beef based treats at other HK restaurants, including the magnificent 1kg T-Bone Bistecca Alla Fiorentina upstairs at The Optimist’s sister restaurant, Pirata, which is almost half the price at HKD750.  I fucking get it, I’m paying for the 45 days of dry aging but I’m not convinced I enjoyed those funky old beefy bastard dry aged references so much that I’d pile in again for that $$$ price tag.

We also ordered a serve of paella, billed as “Charcoal grilled rice with Iberian meats – Secreto iberico, jamon, boletus, vegetables” (HKD290).  Paella in HK often ends in so much sadness (refer:  La Paloma) but The Optimist smashed my HK battle-weary paella expectations hard.  There’s an awesome depth of flavour to its rice, the complexity built from the rich as fuck stock it was cooked in, shit tonnes of butter (yassssss), all the fuck yeah Iberian cured meats and a slightly smoky undertone from the charcoal grill.  The small pieces of boletus mushroom also provide a good textural contrast to the al dente rice.  The fact that the rice has a good al dente bite to it might seem like a small point but I’ve had any number of pathetically undercooked or mushy-ass paellas in HK Spanish restaurants.  The only thing that could have made me happier was to get a bit more socarrat crusty rice at the bottom to give me some fuck yeah crunchy feelings but this was most definitely a fucking awesome paella.

My fellow dining homie also ordered a side of roasted peppers (HKD90) as she desperately hoped it to be similar to some green pepper dish she had in Spain.  Yes, there’s always some #wandercunt chasing that authentic traveldouche moment they had in one of their global adventures.  As I’m not into peppers, I’m gonna sit out on the judgment here but really, just how excited can you get about roasted vegetables though?

The dessert menu looked pretty tidy but I was more interested in going back to the bar downstairs to launch myself into at least two to three post-dinner cocktails.  Unfortunately for me, my dining partners had mistakenly put on their Soft Cock Pants versus the requested Hard Cunt Pants so they were all pitiful complaints of “I’m sorry, I’m just too full…I gotta go home” and while my lust for well balanced fuck yeah cocktails is strong I decided it wasn’t gonna be quite the same making my face numb on my own.  Note to self, I gotta make sure I’m clearer on the dress code next time I ask people out to dinner.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah!  While the service was at times a bit all over the shop, it was well intentioned and definitely not catastrophic considering how long The Optimist has been open.  I probably wouldn’t repeat the bank breaking Txuleta $teak but it’s a cool as fuck space with decent sized fuck yeah Spanish eats and an affordable wine list which should guarantee some fun times.  If anything, I’m absolutely getting my lush self back to crush their cocktail list.

FYN Update 06 January 2016:
GUISE – I’m an asshole at the best of times but I like to give credit where fuck yeahhhh credit is due. I recently revisited The Optimist Hong Kong and shit has improved since I went in November 2015. Things to note:

  1. Their website now has prices. I definitely gave them a pizzling for that on FYN. Yo Optimist homies, thanks for listening to the feedback
  2. Service is on point now and the waiter we had definitely knew the menu and had tasted the food. Fuck yeahhhhh feeding your staff.
  3. Cause ordering ball breakingly expensive Txuleta steaks at HKD110/100g wasn’t enough for me, I went even higher and ordered the Chateaubriand at HKD150/100g (HOLY FUCK). Chateaubriand was an expensive though delicious FUCK YEAHHHH though.
  4. Aioli still remains fucking amazing and I continue to want to rub it ALL OVER MY BODY.
  5. I ordered the Arroz caldoso seafood rice which is good but the seafood charcoal crispy rice is superior. Spend the extra HKD20.
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