openbar

http://www.twitter.com/openbarllc, beijing

HONG KONG FOOD DIARY 1. At New Punjab Club, we had the tandoori cobia, the saag paneer, the butter chicken, and naan. By the time we left, we also talked ourselves into the banana walnut pudding with popcorn ice-cream and a flight of Indian whiskey. Our server poured us a few splashes of Johnny Walker Black at the end of our meal. 2. It is possible that by the time I sat down at Pondi I was already tipsy from the old fashioned (neither improved nor ruined by a slice of marinated banana peel) at Potatohead across the street. Almost instantly, we agreed on the chicken pate appetizer and all of the signature dishes. I appreciate a magnanminous appetite in a dining companion, not in terms of how much we eat, but how willingly we say yes to things. A friend asked about New Punjab Club and I gave him an honest report. It was perfect, but it didn't feel inspired. I supposed it depends on what you look for in a meal. I noticed that my New York recommendations for him was full of places that I described as "fun", "chill", or "a surprise". When a menu feels "inspired," I mean that it has a certain spirit that strings the story along——when I read the menu and understand the decisions that you are making. 3. If it was up to me, every restaurant would be bar that serves food where you can sit for three hours, as opposed to a restaurant that serves drinks where you get kicked out or pressured into ordering dessert after an hour. Sitting is underrated as an activity. How many times do I have to convince someone, can——you shut the fuck up——we just sit here quietly for five minutes? I was only thinking about this because my friend was running late. HYC is out of the way and I only chose this place because it's the only place I could find the Okinawa gin in Hong Kong. No food but there is shisha. 4. Today, I lost count of how many days I've been stuck in Hong Kong. Still haven't had the piece of cake I wanted. And now my fucking eyebrows are overgrown. 5. Passed by Ori-gin and couldn't resist a lemongrass gin and tonic before dinner. Wishing the dude doused in Santal 33 the best of luck. 6. Wingman is a pretty good name for a Valentine's Day restaurant. If you are gonna make a booking, get a girl some flowers, have a plan...I feel like I am the only one still laughing. When we walked in there were already five tables of hetero couples at various stages of coupledom. I felt awkward for the ones who were already scrolling on their phones while barely through with half of their plate of wings, but at the same time I envied how at home they must be. It was only eight PM. My friend was mad worried about the guy who arrived after us with a girl who had flowers in her arms and they got turned away after some effort on their part to show the restaurant their reservation on their phones. "What would you do if you were them," I asked my friend——with the caveat that first of all, he would never put himself in that position. I don't care for plans in general if someone else is better at making them, but when it comes to dining out I BETTER GET SEATED AT 8 IF I SPECIFICALLY SET ASIDE TIME, ENERGY AND MONEY FOR MY ASS TO BE THERE AT 8. I get so pissed sometimes that restaurants have no choice but to calm me down with free champagne or dessert when their ‘reservation system went down’ or for some reason they failed to clear the last table. I don't care if this makes me sound like a brat because first of all, they overprice their food and underpay their staff. Second of all, there was an agreement and they broke their end of it. This is mostly a New York problem. Anyway, we had four kinds of wings: Buffalo, Singaporean fried spicy crab, coffee dry rub, California spice. The California spice one came under a pile of chopped chili pepper and fucked up our sweat glands. Because it was Valentine's Day, every girl got a flower. The couple who got turned away came back an hour later and got seated. 7. The rooftop at the Murray overlooks Government House, where Carrie Lam lives. From what we could see, the lights were all out. Where is she? What did she have for dinner? Who takes care of her? Who loves her? Who does she love? 8. You gotta respect anyone who walks through the door at J. Boroski after, like, 2AM, because it takes a lot of brain cells to order a drink without a menu, and it's not a place where you can be like, "Tanqueray on the rocks, please." What kind of flavor profile are you look for? Gin based, rum based, or whiskey based? How about citrus-y? But not fruity. Do NOT put a cherry in it. What the fuck is a "smooth finish"? I am ready to smash some bottles. After we gave the server a bunch of words, I realized I basically asked them to make a manhattan, and immediately regretted it. What else could you do with "something smokey, whiskey based, not fruity and not sweet"? But this is why I am giving J. Boroski, a genius, $25USD, instead of that bar where I could've been like, Tanqueray on the rocks, which, at 2AM, would've also been a great bar. They made something with whiskey that is like a sour but so light and perky it could pass for a margarita base. 9. I don't miss heytea when I'm in Hong Kong!

textures

  • warm, moist cake
  • glass noodle
  • bosco sodi paintings
  • edward yang's taipei
  • slightly uncomfortable linen

smells

  • surgical mask, fresh out of the box, when it goes on my face
  • malin and goetz sage body wash
  • thunder

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