FUCK YOU BRIOCHE Tag

Where:
Bistro November
50 Keong Saik Road
Singapore 089154

Phone:
+65 6347 1928

Price:
SGD78 (+17% tax) for the dinner tasting menu.

The deal:
Bistro November is a pop-up dining concept by Chef John-Paul (JP) Fiechtner which is, as the name suggests, only sticking around until November 2017 when the lease runs out.  I’m not sure what Chef JP’s plan is post this date and whether he’s going to keep living that fuck yeah Singapore good life with Bistro November resurfacing in another format / location.  Regardless of the short time frame this place is going to be open, it doesn’t feel too slapped together, with the Bistro November team keeping shit simple – using existing furniture and various pieces from thrift shops to give it that modern hipster feel.  It definitely has a Melbourne feel to it, except there isn’t some Melbourne asshole next to me telling me about how goddamn liveable Melbourne is, babbling about trams and small bars and for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever – Melbourne coffee.  Every other review will probably describe its interior as “quirky” but that word makes me want to punch myself in the face, so I’ll just go with carefully put together.  The website trots out the usual tat about using “local and seasonal ingredients sourced daily from the nearby Chinatown Wet Market” and it’s this ethos which supports a handwritten menu which changes daily.

Starting with the bread which is stated as being from “friends”, there’s a few different types and it’s served with a house-made miso butter.  The bread is largely A1 good times with some fuck yeah sourdoughs, except for the inclusion of my nemesis, fucking brioche which is predictably a bit dry and a bit crap. Maybe the 1,256th time I try brioche I’ll actually think “Wow, I much prefer this dried out piece of shit over bread” but I haven’t reached that point yet.  There’s some fuss by the waiter about their house-made miso butter which sounds like it should be exciting, with the fermented miso getting along with the creamy butter but in its execution it’s a hard lump which doesn’t spread, just disintegrating into weird, hard, fatty pieces (despite it being at room temperature).   Not sure what’s going on in the House of Home Made Miso Butter, but it appears you’re the rightful King of What’s the Fucking Point and Lord of the Crumbles. Bistro November move past their butter related failures and kick a goal though, with its Fromage de Tete (head cheese) cause there’s nothing like some jellied pig head meat terrine to eat with some fuck yeah bread to get a meal really started.

One of my fave fuck yeah dishes of the night is the barley porridge.  Fuck, I know right – who serves a porridge course unless you’re at breakfast at a health retreat, in prison or at the three bears’ house? Bistro November has fermented the barley and then mixed it with the prawn head butter (ie. the flavourful gunk inside the prawn head that all fuck yeah Asians in the know suck out of the prawn head).  It’s rich, deep in flavour and fucking delicious.  Yeah, I get into the spirit of being Goldilocks flaunting her white privilege while criminally supping on baby bear’s breakfast, because Bistro November’s porridge is, as the fairy tales go, SO FUCKING RIGHT.

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FYN side note:  Does this GIF now get FYN banned in China?

Our mega main is up next, with a golden pomfret served with beurre noisette.  There’s three of us and the waitress lets us know that it’s normally one fish between two people but with three people, it’s too awkward to split so they’ve given us two whole fish. GO FISH MY GENEROUS NOVEMBER MOTHERFUCKERS, I’m into it.  The pomfret is served whole and on the bone, so if you haven’t got homies who are a) not into fish b) can’t serve / debone a fish (ie. white homies), you are shit out of luck.  Lucky for us, we had enough fuck yeah talent at our table to get shit done and it is fucking sensational.  Fresh as fuck steamed pomfret, topped with onions, edamame and mussels, served with the browned butter in the sauce taking on an almost nutty flavour.  Our table tore through both fish in its entirety.

Less successful was the side dish of homemade soy curd and sour cucumber that was served with it.  It was one of those dishes which makes sense in theory but its execution let it down.  Like, I get that the acidity of the cucumber pickle should have played out against the fat of the beurre noisette, with the tofu bringing a textural and a slightly cooling contrast to the crisp pickle and complementing the the soft flesh of the pomfret.  However, in real life, I was more like “Why am I eating slightly grainy tofu with a piece of flaccid cucumber which isn’t sour or crunchy enough to cut through shit?”.  Cool idea Bistro homies and I know you fucking tried with that home made shiz but fuckkk, shit didn’t quite get to the end goal.  More importantly, why would you want to serve anything to detract from that magnificent fuck yeah pomfret??

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Dessert is chocolate heavy – a raw cacao based cake topped with ice-cream and dried chocolate.  I don’t necessarily get that hot and heavy for chocolate but this one was a fuck yeah because it wasn’t just a slog through a sweet, chocolatey one note mess. Well balanced with a good use of textures, the addition of shiso gave it a slightly spicy, herbal note and with a touch of salt, just brought a solid fuck yeah balance to it and a solid close to the menu.

Service at Bistro November was also tight as fuck, with our two waitresses bringing big smiles all night and attentive service.  In a Singapore blessing, they were actually walking the floor AND noticing when you needed help.

Overall, Bistro November is bringing something interesting to the table by riffing on locally sourced ingredients and mixing it with different techniques, flavours and ingredients that you might not have had before.  Which is interesting and for the most part, they land it.  Of course, with such an ambitious task to change their menu as frequently as they do, you also get the feeling that this is a space for the chefs to try some ideas they’ve had kicking around in their head and to see what lands before Bistro November reaches the end of its lease and the chefs re-emerge at their next venture.  I’d recommend Bistro November for adventurous homies who want to perhaps try something new which will hit some fuck yeahs, they’ll be a few mediocre points where the experiment hasn’t paid off but at least the service will be on point and you’ll have a fuck yeah time and the experience will show you something new about food as well.

Verdict:
Fuck yeah! But get into it ASAP homies cause in the words of Axl Rose, nothin’ lasts forever, even cold hot SG November rain bistros.

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Where:
Second Draft (FB Page)
G/F, 98 Tung Lo Wan Road
Tai Hang, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2656 0232.  YASSSS they take bookings – I’d also recommend making a booking because both times I’ve been they’ve seemed fairly busy.

Price:
Around HKD300 – 350 a person, including a couple of drinks.  Estimate around HKD200 per person for food (including 10% service charge).

The deal:
Second Draft is a collaboration between May Chow, the chef and founder behind Little Bao, and James Ling from The Tap Ale Project, who have their craft beer and simple eats in their Mong Kok restaurant/bar.  I’ll level with you, I didn’t have high hopes for Second Draft when I heard it was doing fusion modern food with craft beer, expecting that I’d be desperately trying to beg some beardy hipster waiter with tats to bring me some over-complicated food for ants which is trying too hard to be clever before I had to take out all the cash ever out of my wallet and then cruise for a second bang bang snack on the way home.   I never got into Little Bao because while I really enjoy the food at Little Bao, it’s exactly as the name promises – LITTLE.  Combine that with no bookings and its tiny (though delicious) baos the size of of a small child’s fist, it resulted in me cycling through this intense rollercoaster of fuck yeah and fuck no emotions whenever I ate there.  Such as “WOW this is fucking tasty” to “UH OH, how many of these little fuckers am I gonna have to eat to even touch my sides?” and then after some basic arithmetic I realise that the answer is “fuck tonnes x HKD78 each before tip = MY BANKRUPTCY, PLS TO HAVE IT”.

*cut to Sgt Noms’ matcha ice-cream bao sandwich melting under the hot, shower of impending bankruptcy tears*

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Second Draft is in the hip enclave Tai Hang, which I have a soft spot for even if it’s never really developed a knock out dining or bar scene.  But I guess that’s the hard to please game that hipster Tai Hang likes to play.  Second Draft is directly opposite where Stones (RIP) used to be and it’s a bright, simple space with sea-green walls, stencilled English/Chinese signs which say cute as fuck things like “NO SMOKING” and “BEWARE PICKPOCKETS”.  The back wall lists all the craft beers and hand pump beers that are available, our cheery waitress and knowledgeable bar dude telling us that that’s the best place for us to choose our beer from as they can’t keep the menus updated enough to keep up with their changing roster of beers.  I’m not the most knowledgeable fucker when it comes to beer but my more learned beer lovin’ homies are impressed with what’s on offer.  I stick to my Subject Matter Expertise and take down a Chen Pei Negroni (HKD120 +10% service charge), a lighter take on your traditional Negroni with Ford’s Gin, Aperol, Mancino Rosso and Aged Chen Pei (mandarin peel) and watch our bartender homie lovingly make this delicious as fuck cocktail with a beaker and a fucktonne of care.

The menu at Second Draft is split into Bar Snacks, Small Plates, Greens & Grains, Sandwiches, Fish & Meat and Chiella with the claim that they have taken traditional gastro-pub food and made it their own by riffing on traditional pub food by adding Asian touches.  Yes, I’m a sceptical fuck so I’ve already got my Why Are You Doing This? Pants at the ready to slip straight into when I get some bullshit Euro-Asian mishmash dish.  But I’m trying to be open minded so I keep them neatly folded to the side while I take a moment to appreciate that Second Draft have gone to the effort of having both English and Chinese on their menu which I give a massive fuck yeahhhhhh.

No self-respecting pub can claim to have their shit together if they can’t make good fries and Second Draft’s Tai Hang Fries (HKD68 + 10% service charge) are dusted with cumin, dried chilli and Szechuan peppers to give it a little bit of ‘ma la’ numbing spice, with a serve of aioli on the side.  There’s also chopped takana (pickled mustard leaf) fried into the mix which reminds me of the chai po (salted, preserved turnip) used by the Hokkien folk and is generally fried and used in omelettes or congee.  You wouldn’t think fries are something that are hard to execute but this week alone I’ve had two fuck no sad fries incidents in HK restaurants so GOLD STARS TO SECOND DRAFT, you know how to fry the fuck out of those potatoes and I showed my eternal appreciation by getting a spoon so I could eat the remaining spice and takana mixture left over when I’d decimated all the fries.

The Buffalo Wontons (HKD82 + 10% service charge for five wontons) are not stuffed with buffalo but are filled with Three Yellow Chicken and Chinese celery.  The name comes from the buffalo sauce which is where shit gets real, referencing the sauce normally found on a buffalo wing (but without the blue cheese), it’s just sour enough and a touch spicy.  To be honest, I can’t remember that much about the wontons but I do know that I wanted to bathe myself in dat fuck yeah sauce.

The Mapo Burrata (HKD138 + 10% service charge) references mapo tofu, and it’s optically creative by subbing out the white tofu with a white ball of burrata.  The ball of burrata is served on the pork “mapo” ragout, with some baby spinach leaves chilling on the side.  Finished off with a red, spicy Szechuan influenced sauce there’s that ‘mala’ spicy numb thing going on which plays against the coolness of the creamy burrata and the fresh spinach leaves.  Fuck yeahhhh, riffing on traditional Chinese dishes and actually producing something clever and delicious as fuck.  Definitely add this dish to your Must Order dishes if you find yourself at Second Draft.

It’s at this point that I realise that I’ve slipped into some sort of alternate HK reality slider because I realised we’ve been blessed with fuck yeah, top notch service all night.  What is this?!  Is our waitress attentive, friendly and totally on her shit?  Is she sniffing empty beer glasses and identifying what beer we’ve been drinking so she can get us another one before we even get a chance to desperately throw down thirsty face shade to try and get more drinks?  Is she equally fluent in English and Cantonese and busting out the charm and affable service bilingually across all the tables?! Is this really a waitress or a fallen angel from the Efficient Service Heavens as she changes all of our plates AND cutlery so we can enjoy our next round of food without it being tainted with all the dishes that have gone before??  I’m not used to this level of kindness in the wilds of HK Hospitality and I’m afraid that this vision of beautiful, efficient service is too good for this harsh and cruel HK world.  Don’t leave us our celestial hospitality angel, we want you, we need you, we love you.  PLEASE STAY.

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Someone had given me the red hot tip to smash up the Sandwich section at Second Draft and we went all in, ordering three of them – The Shanghai Dip, The Reuben and Fried Chicken sandwich (HKD98, HKD128 and HKD98 + 10% service charge, respectively).  Also, Bread Elements by Gregoire Michaud are doing their bread so at least you can be guaranteed that you’ll be avoiding the sad times and carb crimes that normally accompany most HK sandwiches.  The Shanghai Dip’s been getting some major promo at the moment as it was part of some Ultimate Sandwich Contest that’s been doing the rounds.  24 Hour braised pork leg and pickled cucumber is piled onto a ciabatta and served with a side of Stonecutter Scotch ale pork jus on the side, for you to get your dip on. It’s solid enough but I really thought I was going to enjoy this one more than I did, the dipping sauce and braised pork just being a bit too sweet for me to really get my full Fuck Yeah Sandwich on.

However, the Second Draft Reuben storms it home, using a dark beer bread and sliced pastrami, melted swiss cheese, pickled red cabbage and a young ginger dressing which in combination DING DING DING rings my FUCK YEAH SANDWICH bell so fucking hard.  In a major win, everything’s the right temperature which means that the sliced pastrami and its fatty streaks are still melting, the Swiss cheese is not a congealed slice of sadness and the toasted beer bread is actually still warm when it’s served.  Sure it’s not a traditional Reuben sandwich but I’ll take this one over some of the super sad ones I’ve had in HK.

We’d been seeing some fuck yeah looking fried chicken sandwiches being delivered to the other tables so we piled in for this one.  When it actually arrived at our table I realised that it wasn’t on any sort of appropriate bread but it was in fact constructed from, MY NEMESIS BRIOCHE.  In case you’ve forgotten about my feelings regarding brioche, please refer to my greatest contribution to the internet to date:

fuckbrioche

Sir Crunch-a-lot tries to calm me down as my face screws up into what resembles a cat’s anus, “Maybe the brioche won’t be that bad? I mean, it still looks really good”.  He’s not lying, there’s a fuck yeahhhh looking fried piece of Three Yellow Chicken with Nam Yu (fermented tofu) Mayo, Pickled Ginger Coleslaw on BULLSHIT BRIOCHE.  As predicted, I can’t get turned on for brioche and as I eat my fried chicken sandwich, the brioche goes from being slightly offensive to being downright BULLSHIT when it disintegrates into a thin piece of soggy, slightly sweet bread.  ASIDE from the BULLSHIT BRIOCHE though, the fried chicken sandwich contents are FUCKING AMAZING.  The fried chicken is fried perfectly and the pickled ginger coleslaw brings a fresh, zingy bite to it and cuts through the grease of the fried chicken.  Don’t freak out about the fermented tofu in the mayo because it’s more just a of a low bass note that rumbles through the whole fuck yeah sandwich affair.  BUT WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY do people still insist on using toasted brioche for savory foods???? *falls to the floor with flailing arms, hands in rictus gripped into flipping the bird and gnashes teeth, amongst broken dreams and inferior bread choices*

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Don’t get me wrong, the Fried Chicken Sandwich was still FUCKING DELICIOUS.  So delicious that I added another order of the Fried Chicken (HKD108 + 10% service charge) so I could continue to get my fuck yeah chicken on without the distress of facing MY NEMESIS BRIOCHE.

I wasn’t exactly sure what the Octopus and Pork Belly (HKD148 + 10% service charge) would be, billed as “Nam Yu Braised Octopus and Pork Belly, Chimichurri and Pickled Garlic”.  This was my least favourite dish of the night because I didn’t really get what it was trying to be.  There were pieces of octopus and some pork belly sitting in a tomato gravy and some baby peas just floating about.  There was something nostalgic about this dish for all of us, touching on something from our childhood of peas and gravy but ultimately I just didn’t know what the sum of these parts was meant to be and I was neither better nor worse off for knowing this dish.

HOWEVER, the Flower Crab Pasta (HKD198 + 10% service charge) doesn’t suffer from this fate at all and when it arrives, it’s a pile of thick Shanghainese noodles, stirred through with a butter sauce, hand dressed pieces of Flower Crab and shredded cucumber.  There’s a whole egg yolk on top, hidden under the empty carapace of the Flower Crab which is meant to be broken and mixed through the noodles before eating.  It’s fucking gorgeous and this dish also brings the FUCK YEAHHHH feelings.  There’s the dense chew of the Shanghai noodles and the sweet pieces of crab which is matched with black vinegar to bring that Shanghainese crab feeling.  The noodles are coated with creamy, fat fuck feelings from the egg yolk and butter sauce but it’s also balanced with the acidity of the black vinegar and the fresh cucumber slices which pierce through the richness, so it’s all the dark and the light, the ying and the yang and the fuck yeahhhhs and the MEGA MAJOR MIGHT JUST HUMP THE TABLE LEG FUCK YEAHSSSSSS.  Just like a 90s power love ballad, YEAH YOU CRAB JUST TO KNOW YOU’RE ALIVE:

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This crab noodle dish was so fucking amazing that I trotted my fat little legs straight back to Tai Hang no less than FIVE DAYS later so I could get Mr Pinchy and his Carb related friends back into my life again.  Except I fell into a trap for young players and as I expectantly sat at my table, dreaming of the crab related love and happiness that was soon going to be in my face, my smiley waitress broke the sad news to me that Second Draft don’t do the Flower Crab Pasta before 6pm.  My heart breaks into a million pieces, my eyes shine with disappointed tears and FML, this is what it sounds like when foodie blogging assholes cry:

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So all of my reservations about Second Draft turned out to be incorrect, because I fucking loved it so much more than I ever thought I would.  Casual eats with top notch service, reasonably priced food which is riffing on the East / West thing but isn’t a total shit show, good beer/drinks and I can even book that shit so I’m guaranteed a table?  Sign me up for that good shit, preferably after 6pm so I can get that sweet fuck yeah Flower Crab Pasta in my life ASAP.

Verdict:
Fuck yeahhhhhh!!  I might even be able to move past the offensive use of brioche because dat Reuben Sandwich, Flower Crab Pasta and Mapo Burrata giving me serious LIFE.

Where:
Why50
Shop E, G/F, Fu Fai Commercial Centre
27 Hillier St, Sheung Wan
Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 5239 8013 (but when I tried to call this number to pre-order shit, no one picked up)

Price:
HKD86 for a Cubano sandwich.  About HKD40 for coffee?  DON’T QUOTE ME ON COFFEE PRICES.

The deal:
Ms Two Serves got a sweet taste for Why50’s Cubano sandwich a few weeks ago and I was on the receiving end of a flurry of excited text messages.  But just like a raver desperately trying to catch that sweet high of her first pinger, her subsequent visits to Why50 were still all good Cubano times but plagued by execution issues.  Like when she called 20 minutes ahead to put her order in because Why50 apparently take fucking forever to make a sandwich and when she arrived she was still told that it’d be another 30 minutes while a girl behind the counter lovingly and delicately cut up a banana for 15 minutes which was eventually going to be pulverised through a blender.

So despite the warning shots of impending ineptitude flying past my head, I teed up Ms Two Serves to meet me at Why50 so I could try this Mr Cubano sandwich because fuck, I just want to believe that my big fuck yeah sandwich dreams can come true in HK:

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Based on the shitshow we were anticipating, I tried to call ahead to pre-order two Cubanos but one number I found online didn’t work and the other rang out.  I messaged Ms Two Serves and said that I couldn’t pre-order and she immediately exclaims “HELLZ NAWWW, ain’t nobody got time to wait for them to make sandwiches” and stomps down there ahead of time, putting in our order as the ONLY customer in the shop.  When I arrive at Why50, I realise that we’ve got another homie on the way so I try to order another Cubano.  That’s when I’m met by a blank stare by a waitress that we like to call Silverlox and she says “No Cubanos….We are sold out”.  I take a moment to pause and with an incredulous look at the empty cafe which hasn’t even really hit lunch time yet, I ask Silverlox “Really?  How??”  and she says they’ve run out of bread.  Why50, this ain’t good news for your lunch trade if our order for TWO Cubanos at 12:15pm has completely cleaned out Why50 ‘s lunch supply of bread.

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I look at Silverlox, wild eyed and desperate, while gesturing at their menu and asking “What else can I order instead?”, seeing that of the eight menu items, no less than THREE contain my darkest nemesis, brioche.  Sensing my weakness she looks at me glassily, saying that they have plenty of brioche left.  Ms Two Serves had already ordered the Brioche French Toast before I got there.  But ugh, I give this scenario a fuck noooooooo, seeing as I’m not a 4 year old French child who wants something to dunk into my cocoa and especially because my greatest contribution to the internet to date has really been the below:

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Denied our third Cubano, Ms Two Serves and I watch the Why50 Cubano machine slowly sputter into life, with its three-man kitchen staff indolently making our sandwiches.  25 minutes after our order, they appear and despite what I consider to be a fucking outrageous time to wait for a sandwich when there is NO ONE ahead of you in the queue, it looks fucking glorious.  Slices of ham, roasted pork, melted Swiss cheese pickles and mustard on two fuck yeah pieces of toasted Bread Elements bread which was all working together for fuck yeah sandwich times. There’s also a side of tomato and mango salsa on the side which is a nice touch and the sweet and sour thing it’s got going on, pairs well with the ham, cheese and mustard. It’s hefty and a big feed for one person and perhaps there is still reason to dream that good sandwiches are possible in HK.  Even if in typical HK service terms, it’s such a fucking drama to actually obtain one.

At this point, Ms Two Serves’ French Brioche Toast is 40+ minutes post order and still not in existence.  She chases it up with the kitchen to see if they’ve forgotten and Silverlox confidently reassures us that no, they haven’t forgotten about her order, it’s still in process.  LIKE WHY50, WHY ALMOST 50 MINUTES FOR BASIC TOAST BASED FOOD?  JUST LET ME CHECK MY WATCH TO SEE HOW LONG THIS IS TAKING:

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When the Brioche French Toast finally arrives it’s so fucking sad, even once I account for my burning hatred for fucking brioche.  It’s barely been battered by egg, so it’s effectively just toasted dried out brioche, with creme fraiche dumped on top with a few strawberries scattered around.  For HKD80 and almost 50 minutes of our precious time.  Ms Two Serves pushes it around her plate, lamenting her sorry excuse for French toast, swearing that she’s gonna make her own tomorrow for breakfast.  Which she did and texted me about, proudly declaring that it took her less than 15 minutes to make French toast that was properly battered.

I always think about HK restaurants who complain about their blood thirsty landlords who make profits a near impossible, due to their rent.  But then I think about HK restaurants who are leaving so much money on the goddamn table because they do stupid shit like not keeping me awash in liquor or turning shit around at a pace faster than a snail’s crawl.  Why50, I know you’re meant to be named after the fact that there’s 50 beans in every cup of coffee but fuuuuuck, that Sheung Wan rent can’t be cheap so Y U no have enough bread to make more than two Cubanos at lunch and more importantly, WHY ALMOST 50 MINUTES FOR BASIC BREAD BASED FOODS??

Verdict:
Fuck no because I just cannot with waiting 30+ minutes for a sandwich when you have less than five people ordering food.  Despite the fact that their Cubano sandwiches are a big fuck yeah which I would most definitely like to eat again.

Where:
The Pawn
62 Johnston Road
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Phone:
+852 2866 3444

Price:
Mains and starters are around HKD170 – HKD250 each.  I’d estimate HKD400-500 a person for three courses, without booze.

The deal:
When The Pawn underwent renovations it made the biggest fucking deal ever in the history of all motherfucking restaurant renovations in HK (citation needed). There was the furniture sale, the final call for drinks and then began their intense marketing blitz, replete with obnoxious hashtag #IMWORTHTHEWAIT plastered across their facade which has now changed gears to #THEWAITISOVER.  I seemed unable to read anything on any of the HK lifestyle/food press that wasn’t talking about Tom Aikens.  No seriously, did you fucking hear that Tom Aikens is coming out to Hong Kong to reference Modern Britain while using goddamn local ingredients and Asian spices?  There’s going to be ‘botanicals’ (yes, definitely a superior choice to using ‘plants’) grown on The Pawn’s rooftop garden (local herbs! Salad greens! Flowers!). No I don’t think you fucking understand – TOM AIKENS who has restaurants which have MICHELIN STARS (lolz, whatevs, just come to HK, we give that shit out in the immigration line) is coming from BRITAIN to steer The Pawn into an exciting new direction by taking shit over. Tom got so fucking excited he had to tweet everything TWICE (Y U DO THIS TOM? Y U DO THIS TOM?):

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WAHHHHHHHHHHH TOM’S MARKETING MANAGER, LURN 2 TWEET.

But fair play to their marketing team, cause I definitely did not miss the fucking memo that The Pawn was reopening and I was even watching nostalgic promotional videos (tram – CHECK. Historical HK photos – CHECK. Outside shot of the old Pawn shop sign – CHECK.  Artistic blur and street scene slowed down – CHECK.  Hong Kong guy wearing a white shirt sitting in his stylish library, flipping slowly through books on HK history – CHECK) about how The Pawn is the “voice in the neighbourhood” which redefined what the new Wan Chai is today. Whoaaaaa turn it up The Pawn, you’ve got a hardcore case of ratemyself dot com happening.

In respect of the old Pawn, it used to get mixed reviews from my homies. However, I’ve been more than a handful of times and personally gave it a fuck yeahhhh for a casual spot or when I wanted to take visitors to HK somewhere that had a specific old HK feel to it but they were just tapped out on noodles and dumplings.  The food was generally fucking solid if you were after British style eats and always reliable for balcony drinks. I’ve even had a Christmas dinner there once which hit that traditional festive Christmas thing spot on (fuck yeah, mince pies and mulled wine). This is despite the horrific fact I was forced to have boring as fuck turkey breast meat because not a single superior fuck yeah leg or thigh was available – yes, you better believe I called ahead of time just to fucking check.

The new Pawn has gone all modern dark grey walls, pale wood furniture, lamp shades with plants botanicals on it and stainless steel pots of fresh herbs botanicals on the table. It ain’t got that quirky old shit anymore but it felt a bit soulless to me, almost feeling like I was eating in a display for a furniture store. The menu is not large but the price points certainly are. There are a number of starters which are HKD200+ (and as evidenced by other sites, it looks like food for ants time – check the HKD230 venison starter back which looks fucking tiny) and some mains are even cheaper than starters.

It becomes pretty fucking apparent that The Pawn’s service is not on the fast track to success, resembling the speed of your average shopper in Causeway Bay on a Sunday, having a slow as fuck amble while ensuring that under any circumstances no eye contact is made with any outside surroundings or other people, keeping the gaze solely focussed on their mobile phone.  For a start, I waited for fucking aaaaaaaaages to order a glass of wine while I waited for Ms Chowdown as I made plenty of thirsty face at the passing waiters, who instead elected to diligently set up glassware for empty tables.  Given the economic considerations of the starters/mains, Ms Chowdown and I went for two mains to share – opting for the beef short rib to share and the duck bolognese.  After waiting another eternity  to place our orders, it took 15 minutes for the waitstaff to come back and inform us that the beef short rib was sold out so would we like to order something else.  Y U take 15 minutes??  We ordered the brined pork belly instead.

After more waiting for the bread to arrive, it offered sourdough and my continued nemesis, brioche toast.  Look, I have nothing against brioche when it’s done well but it seems fucking rare anywhere outside of France.  Why try and be fucking fancier than normal bread if you end up fucking shit up with dry-ass lame-o brioche bread?  The Pawn’s brioche toast was dry, flavourless and entirely unexciting and was a total FUCK NO for me.  I don’t even know if Nutella would have saved it.

The brined pork belly looked fucking awesome when it arrived – pretty as fuck without being unnecessarily fussy.  Two pieces of belly on top of a bed of fermented grains with fried onion rings.  The pork belly was coated with a ‘botanical’ miso glaze.  I have no fucking idea why The Pawn is so obsessed with the word “botanical” – maybe you can charge more for botanical sauce vs herb sauce?  Despite the choices in nomenclature, this was a solid FUCK YEAHHHH, with the crackling being super fucking crispy (I know, pork belly wank).  The duck bolognese was less exciting and Ms Chowdown and I aren’t sure whether the menu description really had us geared up what appeared.  It was essentially a duck shepherd’s pie, duck mince with potato mash on top (made with duck confit) and some cheese.  It wasn’t fucking terrible but it was a bit one note (both in taste and texture) and by the end of the dish, it just wasn’t that interesting anymore.  If I’d ordered this as a main just for myself, I’d have been disappointed as fuck.  No vegetables botanicals come with the mains, so you’re gonna have to order sides.

The restaurant manager or a more senior restaurant homie stopped in to ask how everything was going and I’m all about telling a restaurant when shit isn’t right at the time, versus saying “Oh my god, it’s all fabulous!” and then writing anonymous blogs online.  So after telling them that their service wasn’t snappy enough and asking why did it take 15 minutes to let us know something was sold out, he was really genuinely apologetic and asked whether we wanted a complimentary glass of wine (fuck yeah, I declined but I gotta note the fucking effort) and we ordered a sticky toffee pudding instead.  Pudding was a traditional style toffee pudding and was a fuck yeahhhh.  But that said, any British influenced establishment that can’t execute a toffee pudding should just close down immediately.  The Pawn actually comped it for us later, which was a nice fucking touch.

However, despite the feedback, it was’t like service took a turn for the better.  We waited for-fucking-ever for them to see us and bring us the bill.  When the bill arrived it was littered with errors (double charged us for the wine, added a bottle of water we didn’t have and had the wrong main).  Waited forever again for someone to notice us, discuss the bill, correct it and bring it back.  Finally, shit got sorted – but fuck me, I expected more from The Pawn given that it’s an established restaurant and a renovation shouldn’t affect service levels to the point where you’re laughing at the table because shit is really that laughably bad.  Even if you comp me dessert.

Verdict:

Per their hashtag, #thewaitisover for The Pawns’s renovation but you’re still going to be fucking waiting for fuck no service and largely average food (with botanicals).  FUCK NO.

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