We eat out a lot here at HK Magazine. Sitting around a table one lunchtime, we got to talking about the things we really hate about dining in Hong Kong. Six hours later, we were still going. Here’s what sends us into a rage so incandescent you could cook a steak with it. Badly. Two Seats to the Wind “Hello, could I book a table for 7:30pm please?” “Sorry, we only do two sittings: 6pm before everyone gets off work, and 9pm after everyone’s already drunk.” *click* CHILL OUT : Just give us a freaking table when we need it. Still or Sparkling? You’re at a fancy restaurant with a hot date, and when you ask for water, the waiter asks “Still or sparkling?” Learning to say “Just tap, thanks” with your dignity intact is one of the great milestones of maturity. CHILL OUT : Mana , the “fast slow food” café (92 Wellington St., Central, 2851-1611) has free drinking water and cups for all—you don’t even have to be a customer. “One, um... Ballbag Punch, please” We love a good cocktail. We truly do. What we do not enjoy, however, is walking up to a bartender and asking for a “Crazy Dick” or a “Super Fuck” or some other stupid, embarrassing, and almost always sex-based cocktail name. Vodka tonic, please. CHILL OUT : Stick with beer. But not craft beers, which also have stupid-ass names. A Website for Sore Eyes I wonder what time this place opens? Better check with that modern marvel, the internet. Oh, look, a circa mid-2000s Flash landing page that’s constantly stuck at 75 percent loaded. Hey, it’s playing tinny lounge jazz which does nothing to suggest any kind of ambiance. No menu, no prices, an unreadable map but six paragraphs about the chef’s “philosophie de cuisine.” Perfect. CHILL OUT : Direct all freelance web designers to motherfuckingwebsite.com. Book ‘Em, Already Listen, trendy restaurant with the four-hour queue: Why, oh why, oh why, won’t you just ACCEPT RESERVATIONS? We understand it’s because Young People These Days don’t have the wherewithal to plan stuff more than three hours in advance, and you don’t want to pack the place out with bankers who have PAs to make reservations for them. But honestly, this town has too many good restaurants for us to bother. Screw you. CHILL OUT : We’ll make you a deal: half of the restaurant goes to bookings, half to walk-ins. Everybody wins. Behind the Trend It feels like Hong Kong restaurant trends are ripped straight off those of London and New York, six months to a year late. So there’s bao, ramen, pulled pork, hot dogs, burgers, new-wave tapas, single-item menus… we would really love a true, home-grown Hong Kong food invasion. Curry beef brisket noodles should be on every trendy NYC menu come 2015. CHILL OUT : Go to Tsui Wah (outlets citywide, including 15 Wellington St., Central, 2525-6338) and marvel at Hong Kong’s true culinary creatives. Room to Breathe There are few things worse than cramped restaurants where only 3 inches of space divides you from total strangers at the next table. This applies to, well, everywhere in SoHo. CHILL OUT : Visit the expansive roof terrace at Hooray (Shop P502, 5/F, World Trade Centre, 280 Gloucester Rd., Causeway Bay, 2895-0885), where there’s ample room to breathe—and rage at the heavens, if you’re feeling it. We are. Burger Off Listen: we all know what goes in a burger. Bread. Cheese. Cow. What, exactly, about it justifies the $150 price tag you’ve just stapled to the inside of my cheek? CHILL OUT : For half the price of one restaurant burger, you can build your own grill with charcoal, barbecue nets and starter bricks from ParknShop . Stock up on burgers and buns for an extra hundred—or make your own with ground beef—and then organize an outing to a public barbecue pit. Charge your friends $150 each to come. Whines of the World There are few things as enraging as ordering a $350 bottle of bad wine from a restaurant, and then seeing it at the supermarket for $80 the next day. Yes, wine is where restaurants make their money: but could you sell us something we can’t find in Wellcome, at least? CHILL OUT : BYOB to restaurants with free corkage. Shelter Lounge (G-1/F, Universal Building, 5-13 New St., Sheung Wan, 2517-6211) is one of the latest. Shark’s Fin Duh. Why Are We Waiting Picture this: Persons A and B go out on a date. They order at the same time, and yet one meal arrives long before the other. Does Person A wait for his food to acclimatize to just-below room temperature, while the conversation politely veers around the rapidly cooling linguine that sits between them? When Person B insists that the other should tuck in, does she continue making conversation to which Person A must respond, pasta-mouthed? When Person A is finished eating and Person B’s food arrives, does the entire drama repeat itself? This right here is why people don’t go on dates. CHILL OUT : One word. Buffet. Door Bitch Hey, let’s roleplay. OK—you walk up and ask for a table. Our turn: “It’s a Friday, and you showed up at this high-class but-not-quite-so-popular restaurant without a reservation? Allow me to scoff in your face, you ugly poor person. HAR!” Hover Craft Servers who stand around you waiting for you to sign the bill, when you obviously need time to discuss it and split it amongst yourselves. CHILL OUT : Pay for your meal upfront at a deli or a boulangerie. Try Passion by Gerard Dubois (74-80 Johnston Rd., Wan Chai, 2529-1311) for a good sandwich that comes hover-free. Check Checkers Servers who loudly announce the bill total, stand there until you pay, and then count the change in front of you as if expecting you didn’t pay enough. Did you? Star-Crossed The Michelin guide came out and suddenly your local wonton place is one- starred, twice the price and six times the queue. Little fat white tire man, you suck. CHILL OUT : Din Tai Fung (two locations, including G/F, 68 Yee Woo St., Causeway Bay, 3160-8998) has kept the prices low and the food great, despite its Michelin nod. As for the queue… go early, or sit “group” style where they throw a bunch of small parties around a 10-person banquet table. Hot Pot Sore Spot Communal hotpotting is fraught with faux pas. Here are some of the most egregious sins to cross our tiny metal nets. Boiling the Beef Please don’t take it upon yourself to scrape an entire plate into the pot—now half of it is going to overcook or go missing in the broth. Waft a slice through the broth with your chopsticks until it’s juuuuust done, on a slice-by-slice basis. Raw Meat Arrrrgh, you can’t dump an entire raw chicken into the broth just when we’re about to fish out the dumplings! Now we have to wait for the chicken to be done, and everything else in there is going to be overcooked in the meantime. What are you—insane? Repurposing Your Broth Anyone who tips the saliva-tinged contents of their bowl back into the communal pot deserves to be pelted continuously with still-frozen fishballs. CHILL OUT : Hipot (3/F, Holiday Inn Express, 11 Yiu Wa St., Causeway Bay, 8300-8023) gives each diner their own personal pot, so you can be as vile and disgusting as you like without upsetting your friends, too much. So Shellfish Assholes piling their plates with oysters, lobsters and other “premium” dishes at the buffet, leaving the plate empty for the next person in line. CHILL OUT : Three On Canton (3/F, Gateway Hotel, Harbour City, 17 Canton Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, 2113-7828) gives each diner three oysters at a time, although you can go up as many times as you like. Oyster & Wine (18/F, The Sheraton, 20 Nathan Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, 2369-1111) has a system at its champagne brunch where you order as many oysters as you like and they’re shucked and served to you table-side. You’ve still gotta fight with your rival fellow diners for the rest of the seafood bar though. Dead Meat "Medium rare” is not a statement of relative scarcity. It is how you should cook our steaks. CHILL OUT : Visit one of the town’s actually good steakhouses. Try Morton ’s (The Sheraton, 20 Nathan Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, 2732-2343) for a classic steakhouse vibe or Blue Butcher (108 Hollywood Rd., Sheung Wan, 2613-9286) for a more NYC feel. Then ask for your steak rare, because it’s better like that anyway. Financial Services Service charge in this city is messed up. Some places don’t include it, most places don’t give it to the staff, and sometimes servers straight up ask if you forgot to tip. Then there are the restaurateurs who don’t pass on credit card tips to servers. Basically: this all sucks. CHILL OUT : If you want to tip your server for awesome service, hand them cash. And hope it’s one of the places where it doesn’t all go into a communal tip jar. SORRY WHAT I DIDN'T QUITE CATCH THAT HEY THERE I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH YOU OVER DINNER BUT THIS MUSIC IS SO LOUD THAT I CANNOT HEAR MYSELF CHEWING, WHICH IS SURPRISING GIVEN THAT MY COCHLEA IS ACTUALLY INSIDE MY HEAD Passing Stools Dude! Your restaurant serves high-class street food. Can you manage chairs instead of high-class uncomfortable stools? CHILL OUT : Limp pitifully around the restaurant or groan, clutching your back, every time a server passes by until someone takes pity on you and brings you something better to sit on. When Democracy Doesn't Work You’re going for a Chinese meal with people who don’t really understand the concept of Chinese food, so in the interests of being “fair,” everyone orders one dish each. This inevitably means that you end up with five deep-fried chickens, six plates of fried rice, way too much grease and no vegetables. One person needs to be to in charge or chaos reigns. Greasy chaos. CHILL OUT : Remove the element of choice entirely by going for a menu that’s been chosen for you. Xi Yan Private Dining Restaurant (3/F, 83 Wan Chai Rd., Wan Chai, 2575-6966) selects the dishes it serves to diners, although you can call ahead if you have dietary restrictions. Priced Off The Market Year after year, Hong Kong diners are forced to bid farewell to some damn fine food because rising rents become too much for small businesses to bear (RIP Gough Street’s Ngau Kee). Not cool, property bubble. Not cool. CHILL OUT : Pressure the government to hand out hawker licenses to food trucks, so your fave restaurants can rove the streets and spend money on quality ingredients rather than soaring rents. Don’t Be That Guy Everyone hates that guy who… …is super rich and insists on taking charge of the order, and then spends way too much money on wagyu and caviar without asking and then makes everyone split it at the end. Although they’re not as bad as… …that guy who orders a salad and then makes everyone calculate exactly what they ate down to the last dollar so they’re not out of pocket. …is temporarily vegan. How do you know if someone’s a vegan? Don’t worry—they’ll tell you. Same goes for the fake-gluten-intolerant. …takes the last piece of everything at dim sum. …insists on going to a really expensive champagne brunch or trendy new restaurant for their birthday. Once in a while it’s fine, but when all your friends decide that their special occasions need to be commemorated by dropping a grand on a meal, you may have to consider moving back in with your parents just so you can finance your baller-ass lifestyle. That, or make better friends. …offers their snooty, unsought opinion on every dish that comes out—and just hates on everything. …panics towards the end of the buffet and piles 10 plates high with food, before realizing that they can’t possibly eat it all. …is super rude and condescending to the waitstaff, making you cringe every time they call someone to the table because you’re embarrassed by association. …says “I can cook this way better at home” EVERY TIME THEY GO OUT TO EAT. We’re looking at you, mom. …calls the waiter over to complain about the food—after they’ve eaten their entire meal. …doesn’t let anyone start eating until they’ve Instagrammed the shit out of everything. …the couple who are either a) In such a boring-ass relationship that they silently scroll through their phones for the duration of the meal; b) Have been going out for SO LONG that there’s nothing left to talk about, so they silently scroll through their phones for the duration of the meal. …is just one of a big group of diners who suddenly become cheapskates and don’t leave a tip for a 15-person meal. Reasons We Hate Ourselves Filling up on bread. Getting too smashed. Not knowing anything about wine and just choosing the second cheapest bottle on the menu. Always ordering the same thing. Bringing friends to restaurants and pretending that we’re some kind of expert about the place. Flirting awkwardly with the staff. Asking the waiter what they recommend and having to order the lobster because you’ve backed and flirted yourself into a politeness corner. Being overly pally with the chef when sitting by the open kitchen. Having to be “over” trends just because everyone else is; maybe we still genuinely like ceviche, OK?