Samsen

Samsen

Where:
Samsen (FB Page)
68 Stone Nullah Lane
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

FYN Hot Tip:  It’s pretty much opposite Stone Nullah Tavern and next to the 7-11.

Phone:
+852 2234 0001 (I suspect they probably don’t do bookings because they’re pretty tiny and they’re already rammed, so why would they want to take bookings from you HK flakey assholes??)

Price:
We went as a party of two and got out at HKD300 a person.  If you went with more people, it’d probably be less than that though (maybe HKD200 – 250?).

The deal:
Adam Cliff, formerly of Chachawan fame, has set up a small Thai joint in Wan Chai.  I have always fucking loved the food at Chachawan but I don’t actually go all that often because I’m a grumpy fat fuck who hates waiting so the whole no booking palaver and then being jammed into a tiny, noisy as fuck space doesn’t jive with my corpulent existence.  Ms This is Bullshit and I are dead set keen for fucking delicious Thai food all of the time so we tumble into Samsen on a Friday night, which has only been open for five days. It’s a cool spot which doesn’t seat all that many people, with an open kitchen which allows you to see the chefs hauling some serious ass.  The interior is cute as fuck, all stripped down concrete with Thai-style cabinets holding Thai themed curios as potted devil’s ivy plants trail downwards in the space above the dining area.  Samsen is already pretty packed despite having no social media blitz or publicity, but we manage not having to wait for a table and sit down to examine Samsen’s straight forward menu which is split into five categories – wok fried dishes, sides, soup noodles, drinks and sweets.

As it’s FRI-FUCKING-YAY, we’re all about getting some hard liquor into our lives ASAP and unfortunately there’s only beer under their alcohol section.  We ask our extremely sweet though ultimately not very helpful waitress if there’s any non-beer alcohol options and she kindly points us to the fruit juice section.  I ask again, perhaps thinking she didn’t understand me and she directs me to the non-alocholic fizzy section.  Not willing to take the health hint, I look at her, eyes wild and tongue parched, frazzled jobitis desperation seeping from every pore as I ask whether they can give me some rum or vodka to put in some juice and she offers me a young coconut instead.  FUUUUUCK, I don’t need electrolytes or your judgment Samsen, I just need hard liquor to take the pain away of my everyday working for the goddamn man existence.

vodka

I ask another waiter just to make sure and he politely apologises because they’ve only been open for five days and I accept my boozeless fate as I glumly sip down on a healthful calamansi lime soda as we make some choices for dinner.  Our waitress appears again with a stack of notes to indicate off-menu items and to also cross off half the soup noodles which aren’t available.  She’s extremely endearing but her ability to explain the dishes is not amazing, but it doesn’t matter because she’s smiling like it’s going out of fashion and considering the normally very sullen landscape of HK waitresses, I’ll take any shred of enthusiasm and beatific smiles that someone will hand out to me.

The dishes fly out of the kitchen at break neck speed with all three of our dishes arriving within seconds of each other.  We start with the fried marinated pork collar with tomato and chilli dip (HKD68).  Crispy as fuck pieces of pork are fried with garlic and whole kaffir lime leaves and the tomato and chilli dip is spicy, piquant and with just enough sweet to make it pop.  I could have shovelled this into my face like some sort of porky, low carb savoury popcorn treat all day.

We also predictably ordered the Pad Thai with prawn (HKD118) because as I outlined in my Mak Mak review, I use the phrase “Shoulda had the pad thai” to explain that feeling when you try to lead a new and adventurous life and do something different to mix your boring, shit up and then all you’re left with is the fuck no sinking feeling of disappointment and wistful dreams of fuck yeah, reliable favourites.  Why would I take any chances at Samsen and be all too bad so sad, shoulda had the pad thai while  staring down a plate of pad siew or some omelette when I’m all about that sweet, sweet pad thai option? Thank fuck for being predictable because Samsen’s pad thai is fucking MAJOR.  It looks fucking awesome, shreds of fresh green papaya, white de-tailed beansprouts, fresh spring onions and crushed peanuts all piled onto the flat rice noodles.  The prawns are a very decent size, plump and juicy as fuck and there’s a bang on balance between sweet and sour, more flavour from the dried shrimps, fried cubes of tofu for texture and a good amount of wok hei / char in the noodle.  There’s some green leaf on the side which I’m not sure what it is and I can’t get any explanation from the waitstaff but it doesn’t matter because fuck yeah pad thai is life and who cares about learning shit about vegetables when you’ve got carbs and you’re alive??

But as Rihanna sings in my favourite summer jam of 2016, BABY THIS IS WHAT I CAME FOR – the Wagyu beef boat noodle (HKD128).  Ms Siuwaan had sent me photos a week ago and I was all “This needs to be in my face naooooo”.  Beef boat noodles (kua tiao ruea) originates from being sold from boats on the canals of Bangkok and it’s rice noodles in a strong flavoured soup, with many accompaniments.  The soup gets it colour and viscosity from using cow or pigs blood and is seasoned with dark soy sauce.  Samsen’s boat noodle is just on fire with so much flavour that I’m getting emotional writing about it right the fuck now.  The fairly thick soup stock is already bold from the beef stock, blood and soy sauce but then it’s also spiced with all sorts of good shit – I’m just an asshole food blogger with no actual knowledge as to what’s going on in Samsen’s fuck yeah broth but I’m guessing there was potentially lemongrass, pepper, coriander, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and galangal (maybe??) getting all up in the soup stock club.  Either way, it’s deep soup love and you then combine that with the thin rice noodles, the fuck yeah spiced chunks of tender Wagyu beef, beef balls, fried pork rinds and the large stems of Thai watercress / morning glory / kang kong and it’s mighty fuck yeah noms emotional times for me.  YASSSS, LIGHTNING DOES STRIKE EVERY TIME YOU MOVE.

incomingfeels

We didn’t pile in too heavy on the mains because Ms This is Bullshit and I know that there’s three Thai desserts that we wanna slam down.  There’s a special item on, the tab tim krob (HKD52), which was explained pretty poorly to us as “red rubies” and that was about it, but we get it anyway.  It’s fucking delicious and refreshing as fuck – a cool slightly sweet coconut milk soup, with some pandan overtones, over crushed ice with pomegranate and these slightly gelatinous red dumpling-esque items floating about.  I try to grill the wait staff on what the red dumpling things are and one of them tells me it’s a “red ruby” from Israel and they think it’s a fruit.  Through some FYN investigation I can tell you there’s some crossed wires going on with their waiters.  I think what the waiter meant to tell me is that the pomegranate seeds are from pomegranates that Samsen have sourced from Israel and the red dumpling things chilling out in the soup are the “tab tim krob”, which translates to crunchy rubies or pomegranates and are actually small pieces of red dyed water chestnut covered in tapioca flour, to give it that gelatinous bite.  Technicalities aside, it’s super appealing, icy fuck yeah times and perfect for hot as hell HK summer times.

Ms This is Bullshit is all about the young coconut ice-cream (HKD58), which is two scoops of coconut ice-cream topped with toasted peanuts, shaved coconut meat and sweet corn, all served in a coconut shell.  We round off our triple dessert efforts with Thai mango and sticky rice (HKD52) which is always one of my fuck yeah Thai faves despite its simplicity.  Yasssss, get that condensed milk, sweet mango and sticky, glutinous rice into my life and then make sure you drink any sort of liquid to ensure that it swells up in my stomach and has me rolling around all night feeling like I’m gonna burst from good times and replete happiness.

fat-cat-roll

With that we roll ourselves out of Samsen, straight into Stone Nullah Tavern for whiskey and reflect upon how much we fucking loved Samsen and just how rad the food was.   Sure, the service is slightly clueless and a bit all over the place, but our waitress was so well intentioned and smiley that I can’t even be mad.  But ultimately, there’s a fuck tonne of love and care being poured into what they’re doing and in this city littered with privileged bankrolled no-thought bullshit ‘concepts’ opening all the time, you just need someone to give a fuck about what they do at an affordable price point to make you feel that it’s all gonna be ok.  Even if you can’t get hard liquor to wash it all down with.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhhhhhhhhh! It’s probably gonna be a total shit show to get a seat but fuuuuck, I need to get my fuck yeah boat noodles on again ASAP.

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