Village Bus (村巴) in Fanling! WOW!

Here’s a bit of a culture-slash-history lesson for you. Do you know what this is?

Village Bus (村巴) from Hong Kong's Boonies

Village Bus (村巴) from Hong Kong's Boonies

Its a village bus!!! Bet you’ve never seen one of these in your life huh? I mean, they look like a normal delivery truck but a custom-built interior, and these things go way back … okay fine maybe like 30-50 years? This one has definitely been renewed. I was pretty lucky to have stumbled across this … and you’re pretty lucky that I’m lucky 🙂 Unless you actually live inside one of these villages that run these shuttle buses, these things are like trying to spot a hedgehog.

Well I suppose its nothing crazy. Its just an odd-looking bus that takes the village folks from A to B (B = civilization) so they can buy basic necessities and groceries, and then back to A. Why don’t they just buy a Toyota minibus?! I would’ve imagine the cost to custom-build a metal cage + interior on a delivery truck to be > Toyota minibus. What’s the economics behind that? Can anyone fill us in?

Anyway …

四眼仔腸粉 in Fanling

四眼仔腸粉 in Fanling

I saw this next to the truck – a place called 四眼仔腸粉, where some pretty darn smoooooth rice rolls are served. On most days later in the afternoon, you’ll see a queue for these rice rolls. I had this a while ago and when I was there this time, I didn’t eat there, so no photos to show. Sorry!

But remember I was talking about these famous pork knuckles from Kwan Kee around the corner and it was all sold out last time? Well, I had it this time!

Pork Knuckles Vermicelli + Beefballs

Pork Knuckles Vermicelli + Beefballs

Did I mention last time that the hot sauce from this place was voted 1 of 10 best hot sauce in Hong Kong from Drink Eat Man Woman magazine (飲食男女)? How cool is that?!

Close-up of the Pork Knuckle

Close-up of the Pork Knuckle

Its a different type of pork knuckle than what I had expected. Its a little dry, but none the less tasty. Adequately salted, with the right amount of meat, fat, cartilage and “bone glue” (骨胶) … but I didn’t think it was good enough on its own. You HAVE to dip it in a bit of hot sauce (even if you don’t eat spicy) to make it work.

Siu Yeh Rating: 7.5/10
I stand by my previous rating.

Chan Chi Ying Medical Clinic (陳志英醫館)

Sticking to my promise that Siuyeh.com is as much about local delicacies as it is to culture and all things tradition, I present to you Chan Chi Ying Medical Clinic (陳志英醫館) on Lockhart Road in Wanchai-borderline-Causeway Bay (under the bridge, next to OK convenient store). This place has been around for over 40 years now I think …

I sprained my left ankle recently (playing tennis … I know, so lame) and my parents recommended that I visit this “clinic” to have the folks there slap on some Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM), which is basically a bunch of herbs and spices mixed together and its supposed to heal any injury. We call it “铁打” (“Teet Da” in Cantonese) which roughly translate into … err “invincibility”? haha … okay, it literally translate into “Metal” and “Hit” so you figure it out. I think stunt doubles would live by these forms of healing whenever they smash through brick walls and free-fall down 20 storey buildings back in the heydays of Hong Kong’s kung-fu film industry (think Bruce Lee, early day Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Jet Li, etc.)

Between the 1950’s to 1980’s … everyone who injures themselves in Hong Kong would visit one of these clinics and its suppose to heal all … burns, sprains, headaches, old injuries, broken tendons, broken bones (yes even broken bones) … you name it. But with the introduction of Western sciences and medicine, these places are now slowly becoming obsolete. People still go … I mean, the place is packed sometimes, but I think people tend to go for the Western methods.

Anyway, back to the herbs and spices … no one really knows what’s in it because its supposed to be a closely-guarded secret. With every visit, you’ll have to wait about 1-2 hours. Once its your turn, they look at the injury and would place a really hot bag of TCM on the affected area … rub it around for a couple minutes before they put on the real deal – the secret sauce I was just telling you about. Normally, it is recommended that you leave the medicine on for at least 10-12 hours before you take it off. One visit to look at the ankle cost about HK$ 280 where they spend about 10 minutes on you.

Here’s what it looks like inside the clinic. See the picture of Chan Chi Ying on the top right of the photo below? The master is no longer with us, and the folks running the shop are apprentices of the late Mr. Chan … apparently, its really not the same without the master.

Chan Chi Ying Medical Clinic (陳志英醫館) 1

Chan Chi Ying Medical Clinic (陳志英醫館) 1

Bring newspaper or magazines with you if you’re going there … and prepare to wait a long time.

Chan Chi Ying Medical Clinic (陳志英醫館) 2

Chan Chi Ying Medical Clinic (陳志英醫館) 2

Would I recommend this place? Hmm, I doubt it.

In retrospect, I actually didn’t think it helped that much, other than the fact that the “secret ingredient” helped prevent my foot from swelling too much. But after the 4th visit, I started getting some ugly reaction (read: rash) to the stuff and I stopped going. Nothing like some good setamol and RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation).

The days of genuine 铁打 are over. To be fair though, they do sell this medicine oil, which is quite effective for bruises and headaches. Just rub a small amount on the area and keep rubbing … Otherwise, you’re probably better off at a Western clinic if you’ve got a sprained ankle or sth.

Chan Chi Ying Medical Clinic (陳志英醫館)
Lockhart Road near the big bridge

De Fa Chang (德发长) in Xi’an Not Quite As Legendary As It Claims

On my last day in Xi’an, I was recommended a dumpling restaurant near the Drum Tower called De Fa Chang. “You can’t really miss it … there’s this big sign” says the concierge. And when I got there … she was right.

The signage reads “千古风味饺子香 传奇品质德发长” followed by a line underneath that says “The legendary DeFa Chang Restaurant is renowned for its superior delicious dumplings” … hey, at least they got the English right 🙂 A good sign …

De Fa Chang (德发长) in Xian

De Fa Chang (德发长) in Xian

There are quite a few locals dining there (that to me, is also good sign!), at least on the first floor anyway. While I was eating, I saw a group of foreign tourists led by a Chinese tour guide into a lift heading to the second floor. Anyway, if locals are eating there, that’s good enough for me … but in a land of 1.3 billion, that’s not saying all that much.

Menu at De Fa Chang in Xian

Menu at De Fa Chang in Xian

When it came to ordering, I really had no clue what’s good there so I had to ask the lady by the till what her recommendation was. She suggested the following:

  • 虾脑水饺 or the “Shrimp Brain Dumpings” (the second item on the list below [in green] at RMB 22 for 15 pieces); and
  • 蟹黄蒸饺 or the “Crab Roe Steamed Dumplings” (the third item from the bottom of the list below [in pink] at RMB 16 for 10 pieces)

and just so I can try a little more, I got the 食神牛丸 (“God of Cooking” Beefballs) at RMB 6 for 3 pieces (the last item on the list below)

What Is Good Here?

What Is Good Here?

Somehow these beefballs look both very appetizing and nasty at the same time.

Paying Tribute to 周星驰's 食神! I think so!

Paying Tribute to 周星驰's 食神! I think so!

Here’s the 食神牛丸 … probably a tribute to Stephen Chow’s classic 食神 (God of Cookery, lol) movie. I made the mistake of thinking that the name was just part of a marketing strategy to get people to try them. I didn’t think much of the beefballs itself … until I found out (the hard way) it had soup in them … and so my first bite resulted in spraying beef soup all over myself (see photo below). It turns out, these beefballs are so aptly named.

酱爆 (i.e. Exploing Sauce) 牛丸!

酱爆 (i.e. Exploing Sauce) 牛丸!

There was definitely some beef taste to it, but it is not Chiu Chow Beefballs … I’m sorry.

RMB 22 虾脑水饺 ...

RMB 22 虾脑水饺 ...

These dumplings … I don’t really know where to start. It had a bit of the crab roe (蟹黄) taste to it … so I thought it was the Crab Roe Steamed Dumplings … but it’s the “Shrimp Brain Dumplings” … but I can’t really taste the shrimp. It was just pork inside a dumpling wrap. In retrospect, I wonder if they had given me the wrong dish. Anyway … this is one of those dish which you eat it just to satisfy your hunger. Sorry, it wasn’t all that good … I had to soak them in vinegar to eat them.

Dumpling Soup Trolley

Dumpling Soup Trolley

And while I was waiting for my other set of dumplings, I was given a “dumpling soup” on the house. Basically, this is the water they use to boil the dumplings (there are 2 kinds, one boiled, one steamed) … and like the “soba soup” (boiling water used to cook the Japanese soba noodle, before they’re then cooled), this is also good for your skin. Supposedly.

Dumpling Soup at De Fa Chang, Xian, China

Dumpling Soup at De Fa Chang, Xian, China

Chinese wastes nothing!

Crab Roe Steamed Dumplings

Crab Roe Steamed Dumplings

And after waiting what seemed like 15-20 minutes for these dumplings, I’ve already lost my appetite. But even if I had space to eat them, they were MILES off of Jia Jia Tang Bao in Shanghai. These so-called Crab Roe dumplings tasted exactly the same as the first ones I’ve had … which was either the pork and/or shrimp (brain) dumplings.

Here’s a slogan they can put on their banner: “At De Fa Chang … Everything tastes the same!”

Note: Photos taken with an iPhone.

SiuYeh Rating: 3/10

De Fa Chang (德发长)
Near the Drum Tower
Xi’an, China

Louis Steak House

In general, I think there are 2 camps of “steak houses” in Hong Kong. There’s the “authentic steak house” such as The Steak House at InterCon, Ruth’s Chris and The Mandarin Grill, etc. Then there’s the old-school local steak restaurants, such as Boston Restaurant (波士頓餐廳), and a few others that serve steak on a hot black metal plate where servers pour a copious amount of sauce on the steak and let it “simmer” in front of you (usually, your napkin is then used as a curtain to prevent all the sauce from flying all over the place and leaving a stain on your clothings)

Needless to say, the quality of the beef used in the second type of steak houses is usually sub-par and is known to be prepared with baking soda to make the meat a little more tender. That said however, local steak restaurants have a long history of culture and “style” so we can’t (or I can’t) draw comparisons between the two, because I’ll be comparing apples to oranges. Basically, some people like the first type and some like the second type.

I guess what it all actually boils down to is: Do you like to pour sauce (i.e. black pepper sauce or mushroom sauce, etc.) on your steak?

Anyway, I visited Louis Steak House recently (one of my dad’s favorite restaurants) and this steak house in particular, falls somewhere in the middle of the two camps I just mentioned, perhaps leaning a little towards the authentic steak houses. They meat is served very well, grilled … but if you want, they can prepare a sauce for you too.

This upscale local steak house has a long history (been around for more than 20 years I think!) and their decor and atmosphere has pretty much been the same in the last 2 decades. The decor is a very 1980’s Western restaurant with red and white checkered table cloth and a one-man band playing really cheesy songs from the Beatles, Elvis and hit songs from that era.

Most of the items on the menu are pretty good. In particular, all of their steaks, their fresh oysters, seafood soup, garlic bread, and their fish maw (花膠) … what’s not good, as we’ve recently discovered is their baked seafood rice. This is what we had:

The chefs are very creative in their food … in the traditional sense. Don’t expect them to come up with some new-age Bo Innovation X Wasabisabi-type dishes, but pretty much anything you request that is not in the menu, they can make for you (if they have the supply, of course).

Expect around HKD 500-700 per head.

Louis Steak House
1/F Malaysia Building
50 Gloucester Road
Wanchai, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2529 8933
Fax: +852 2865 1560
Website: www dot louissteakhouse dot supanet dot com