KFC Hotrods, Supercharged sauce, Flatbread Sliders. Welcome to the world of watered down food for white people. This is a swathe of offerings featuring perverse names so moronic they could have been written into that falafel episode of The Simpsons. It’s flavour sauce!

Normally I eat this food to suffer the indignity; consider it a very mild eating disorder to keep my mind, body and spirit just a little too humble (or, to keep the ideal version of me at arm’s length so I am always yearning below a self-imposed glass ceiling because really I don’t deserve better please won’t you help me out of this hole help I can’t breathe help he-). But this time the name alone had turned me off, there was no intrigue, no willingness to make myself cry by way of food. But here we are. Content diem.

Flatbread Slider? I’m pretty sure that’s called a taco. Evidently their foray into Mexican street food didn’t work out for them last time. I can’t work out who their key demographic is with this. There’s a trend at home right now where vapid folk from high-income areas venture out to the suburbs for some ethnic cuisine. You know, the kind of meaningless people who refer to a 40 minute train trip as a mission, or the culturally-zilch twats who hail anything other than the norm of $24-brunch-and-million-dollar-Wes-Anderson-inspired-café-fitouts as unassuming (no no, I’m not talking about the people who actually dig sahlab and a legit zingy tabouli so please don’t @ me). This suite of bullshit is too shoddy, even for these hacks.

The Flatbread Sliders are presented as a manchildish bonbon, or a Molotov cocktail of mediocrity with “slider” written in a Speed-Racer-esque style font with zoomy lines and everything; all it’s missing are the garish Guy Fieri-ish flames. It lethargically unravels, like the saddest man on Earth carrying the weight of the universe limping out of bed early in the morning. Gaping misery. Sloppy, stiff. The flatbread: a thick, sour pancake; the barbecue sauce sweet like caramel; the chicken is as you’d expect, a bland protein propped up by whatever surrounds it. Iceberg lettuce scant, minimal. I didn’t receive the supercharged sauce because the order was wrong, but I’m thankful to avoid a repeat of last time’s vinegar bomb. Gross.

The temperature of the irregular and weird Hotrods is too tepid, barely inching above room temperature to the point the body braces for an absolute bacteria fest, I’ve never felt my tongue flinch before – I now know that 40 degree fast food is one hell of a stomach churner. The takeaway bag I received didn’t even hurts-so-good burn my hands. The Hotrods are void of KFC’s only redeeming quality: that hangover-friendly-yet-eventually-regrettable oily saltiness. I miss the nastiness. The spiciness tingles, and that’s as about as exciting as it gets, besides the impending anxiety of diarrhoea. Should I attempt a tactical vom? Should I cancel work tomorrow? I’d mention the aioli sauce but they’d forgotten that too.

Souvlaki, yakitori, satay, espetada, Hotrods. There’s a reason meat historically is enjoyed on sticks: it’s to grill that good good, charcoal permeating, smokiness, succulence. Not to parade around in a juvenile fistful. Not to be served lukewarm and insipid. I came across a change.org petition earlier today to bring back the KFC Hotrods: it had 25 supporters.

No matter where you are in the socioeconomic chain, KFC is always good. You’d be an idiot to think otherwise. In this case my advice is to stick with the classics. Ultimately the KFC Hotrods and Flatbread Sliders are for those old mates and old, old, distant-memory Facebook friends of ours who want to enjoy “street food”, but are too racist to go the whole hog, or bird, as it were. After eating this I feel just as miserable as night falls over this winter night and I wonder why I’ve done this to myself yet again. Hello darkness, my old friend. Please don’t shit yourself at work tomorrow.

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How you can you possibly illustrate a city as complex as Hong Kong in just under a week? The bustle, the history, the enormity, the tangle of new and old? You can’t. That would be impossible.

But to walk around, enjoy things and learn – that’s doable.

Holiday Notes: Six Nights in Hong Kong is my second self-published travel book. The ups and downs of a short holiday in 200 pages, printed in Australia. Places to eat, things to see, good coffee, brief rantings about This Modern Life! Hand-numbered edition of 100. This book is available to purchase at my online store! Here’s a look inside.

Holiday Notes: Six Nights in Hong KongHoliday Notes: Six Nights in Hong KongHoliday Notes: Six Nights in Hong KongHoliday Notes: Six Nights in Hong KongHoliday Notes: Six Nights in Hong KongHoliday Notes: Six Nights in Hong KongHoliday Notes: Six Nights in Hong KongHoliday Notes: Six Nights in Hong KongHoliday Notes: Six Nights in Hong KongHoliday Notes: Six Nights in Hong KongHoliday Notes: Six Nights in Hong KongHoliday Notes: Six Nights in Hong KongHoliday Notes: Six Nights in Hong KongHoliday Notes: Six Nights in Hong Kong

Some recent work for the new Madame Shanghai in Darlinghurst, Sydney.

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Madame Shanghai
Madame Shanghai

Digging through the vault: here are some photos of Hakiki Turkish Ice Cream in Enmore from a little while ago.

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There’s a little bit of darkness in all of us, and I’ve just found it in edible form.

Welcome Domino’s to your Limited Time Only debut. NEW! Bolognese Garlic Baguette, only $6.95 each says the internet. Garlic and herb bread! Aussie ground beef! Rich bolognese sauce! As I suspected, Dominos have taken components that already exist on their bland menu and uncreatively mashed the two together, or rather, one into the other, and burnt it in the oven.

Here’s the thing: garlic bread ain’t bad. Garlic bread is good. As foodie as you aspire to be, no one can resist the allure of the loaf once it hits the table, the warped aluminum a basic blessing. It’s the terrible rich bolognese sauce which drags everything about this baguette through the mud: it tastes exactly like that foundational slop used on $5 pizzas, that snouty base-level meatlovers stuff. The thing opens and reveals itself like a nasty clam: greased up and clumpy. The paramount yet putrid and wet bolognese has made the garlic bread mushy. Add to this the unnecessary rubbered up cheese (the sort of cheese that clogs and clags rather than delights) and a condescending smattering of condescending shallots for that gourmet touch: Taste the colours the stained bag reads, but I feel nothing. Garlic bread and pizza sauce palmed off as something new, what an absolute shocker. No fast food is ever prosaic, but this is stupid and void of fun. Miserable and so sad.

To see the familiarity of garlic bread doomed by a pile of shit is unpleasant. That rich bolognese sauce represents that little bit of darkness in all of us. I have it, you have it, we all have it: the bad memories, repressed trauma, scars of past relationships, romantic or otherwise. All our insecurities, quiet suffering, the bad, bad things that move beyond #relatable #content our followers will never see. Why don’t you ever #tbt to the worst time in your life? This rich bolognese sauce is all of us at our worst. It’s me at my worst. It’s something bad ruining us from the insides, if we let it. On my worst days, as rare as they are, I can feel everyone who’s ever wanted me to fail living inside my head, just really crammed in there, and I spend all the energy I have fighting the urge to exist how people perceive me because giving into these dumb, bad thoughts is simply not an option. It’s momentarily arresting (you could say, for a limited time only), I foresee the end of an unsustainable career, I want to crumble because there’s no reset button. At my worst, my extroversion grabs a hold of me and won’t let go: it turns its defenses, fires inwards, and wreaks havoc. If I let it.

The most successful people in life keep this little bit of darkness inside themselves in check, manageable, and used as a tool for wonderful perspective. Sadness doesn’t define a personality, but anybody who claims to be void of sadness is lying (cough #blessed wellness warriors). Sadness isn’t a parasite, it’s the part in us that helps us understand the light and shade of life, it’s a window to a world of understanding, a scope so vast and clear.

But, Domino’s, if you let that darkness consume you or let it go too far you’ll end up too soft, confused, burnt… and most likely in the bin without having even tried.

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I’ve written about my friends Grumpy Donuts before so there’s no need to get all gushy about Sydney’s best donuts again: but you should most definitely visit them at their sweet Camperdown store.

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Shooting at a half-finished venue days before opening, here’s some recent work for Sydney’s newest viking destination Mjølner.

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Flaounes Day

Assembly line like old times, construction like ravioli, kinda. Cheese, sultanas and two types of dough by experienced hands, the sort of hands who’ve seen more than I ever will in this lifetime, a crown of sesame seeds. These are flaounes, a traditional Cypriot bread prepared every Easter. A tablecloth is drawn over a temporary trundle where the accumulation begins: batch after batch after batch.

Lunch follows: barbecued things over coals, haloumi, olives pickled by papou, melitzanes glyko steeped by yiayia. These are the things you won’t find in any restaurant, only the homes of incredible immigrants. These small acts of tradition flown and sailed over seas are what make Australia so good.

You can’t undo years of taking your culture for granted, but there’s no time like the present to show appreciation.

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Hong Kong Airport McDonald's

“This is the worst McDonald’s in Hong Kong”, a young businessman with an American accent jokes beside me. “Hah, yeah, of all the places in the airport I don’t know why I decided to dine here”, I lie, “hahahaha”, and we both laugh, while my eyes remain sternly fixated on the lightbox advertising their limited time only Spicy Beef Burger. I’ve been in line for what seems like 20 minutes, it’s a bloody outrage, or at least that’s what I’d be saying if I were at home in ‘Straya.

I receive my order and apparently accidentally ordered a really large Coke – I offload the enormous cup to my new corporate friend and find a seat to dissect this international oddity before my flight to London. There’s only room in my stomach for one piece of garbage tonight.

Firstly, why the hell is Shrek on the box? Secondly, the “green” iceberg lettuce is more desaturated than a Kinfolk feature on whimsical rooftop gardens. Thirdly, the generous lashings of beef as advertised are actually four limp, perfectly square beef “patties”, the texture as manufactured as discarded, worn out yoga mats (not that I’d really know what that feels like), or some odd, old, thick cut lumpy brown ham. Biting into four back-to-back layers of spongy post-it-note sized beef flaps has me imagining some sort of gross mille-feuille in a bizarro parallel universe.

The sauce is sweet, and to their credit is at least a little spicy.

I nurse the sad burger in one apathetic hand and at a glance notice four floppy beefy tongues sluggishly toppling over one another. Four stupid razzing tongues right up in my face. They look like four :P emoticons. Oh god. The worst emoticon of all time, used solely by awkward boys and wielded exclusively by fedora-wearing men dipping their terrible toes into the unpredictable waters of female companionship via MSN Messenger or text message (“you’d have a nice time if you came to my bedroom haha :P”). Cannot unsee. :P is the biggest cop out, a linguistic tool reserved only for the spineless. I’ve never met a good man who used :P and I’ve never ended a friendship on good terms with a man who used it frequently. I remember them all. :P is not cute and this burger reminds me of the lame boys I used to know offline and converse with online: cautiously gauging interest, lacking the ability to stand by their own tasteless convictions and instead opting to hide behind the world’s most cowardly suffix of an emoticon. A tepid, confused and flaccid mess.

The above is an excerpt from my self-published book Holiday Notes.

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